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Adding a Senior Patrol Leader

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The 3rd Edition SM HB (1938 printing) covers the SPL. Written by GBB. That is the earliest edition I have.


When we had 2 patrols, we didn't have an SPL. I performed the duties of the SPL, while also training the PLs for the job. When we added a third patrol last year, the boys decided they were ready for an SPL and elected one. Our oldest boys just turned 14 so they are still maturing, and they are growing with the jobs. We don't have cross-over until the middle of March so I don't yet know the total number of boys we are getting. I know we are going to add one patrol, maybe two. Looking back, I think it was a good idea to elect an SPL with just three patrols, as the boys were able to learn the job with a smaller group.

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Some excellent points have been made. There are a couple of things to clarify. First, each patrol has a patrol advisor to them getting the resources they need for their program. Second, we are really having to work with the Scouts to help them develop their program. In our younger patrol, it is easy, since all but the PL are first year Scouts.


However, for the older patrol, they were given the opportunity to develop projects and carry them out over several troop meetings. The first one went great, as they were preparing for the camporee. However, the next project they wanted to do never got past the brainstorming stage and their meetings ended up revolving around sitting around as a group and shooting the bull. These kids are all friends and get along great, but they weren't getting anything done. Now, we adults are working with them to help get some structure back to their meetings and actually get something done. They will still be able to develop their program, but we are trying to help them get more focused on doing actual Scouting rather than just hanging out.


Now, as our younger patrol is finishing their first year, they are working to develop their own program. We're going to try and get them started on the right foot so their meetings stay productive.


Again, thanks for the feedback.

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>>Nope, I like the 6-8 patrol members recommended by BP for each PL be retained and that the PL be responsible for them. This would then imply that the SPL could comfortably handle the responsibility for 6-8 PL's (PLC) and that the SPL not have to try and deal with 64 people, i.e. "run the troop".

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Stosh, thanks for the perspective of the SPL being like a TG to the patrol leaders. Though that is the way I have generally understood the SPL position to be (at least the main part of it), I neeed the refresher, and yesterday's timing couldn't have been better.


Last night, I Life SMC with our SPL, who, admitedly can be bossy. He is the only scout (above the ran of Second Class) who wants the job, so he is, in effect the defacto SPL. He does a reasonable job, but is met sternly by the other scouts (that is another story, not for now). We have just created another patrol and recruited 10 new scouts, doubling the active membership of the troop. I encouraged him to back off from trying to the Troop leader (yes, he sometimes tries to be the PL for every scout, PLs included) and instead be be like a Troop Guide to the PLs, rather than being their "boss."


He liked the idea, and even referenced it in his BOR an hour later. It will take some careful mentoring on our part to make it work, but without your explanation, we wouldn't be working toward that now.



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My former SPL was quite bossy in his approach to leadership. I spent a lot of time working with him to develop more of a guide style of leadership rather than directive style. It did a lot to tone down the problem. The first "lesson" he learned was to always phrase his comments as only a suggestion to the PL's. This way it became apparent to him that the leadership lies with the PL not himself. This way he learns to develop leadership in others while doing so himself.


I have often used the illustration of a coach who guides, directs, etc. in the game, but doesn't actually play the game. Same if I change it up to an orchestra conductor who guides/directs the group, but makes no noise him/herself.


As an adult leader I can only suggest to the boys the program direction they might consider, I can't do it for them without taking away their opportunity to lead. I spent the last year assisting this former SPL to take on a more adult leader approach of guiding/suggesting to the boys rather than directing them.


Some of my more successful PL's have begun to figure this out and have applied it in other areas of patrol leadership. I'm not getting the "bossy" or "pushy" complaints anymore and more and more of the boys are feeling they have ownership in the program processes.


Also by focusing leadership on a smaller scope, it makes the jobs a lot easier. Usually the PL can handle 7 other boys if he's really good and the SPL with his background can assist 3-4 PL's without a problem.


When your troop gets bigger you can consider an ASPL that takes care of training, leading, assisting the POR spots like QM, Scribe, etc. This way the ASPL gets leadership opportunities and the Troop Officers get someone they can turn to and not bother the SPL all the time who is focused on the PL's.


I try and limit the focus/scope of all leadership to less than 7 others. That means the PL's most of the time have the biggest responsibility in the troop.


The real TG is often times the SPL's right hand man who focuses his attention on the NSP developing and training the boys of that patrol in the PL responsibilities and is the liason person for the NSP who would be seeking much if the SPL's time otherwise and allows him to be more focused on the older PL's.





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Thats a very interesting scenario, and one that speaks to the strength of the patrol method. I assume is a temporary measure, put in place until your PLs gain experience and confidence. Adding a 3rd, later and 4th, patrol, will make this model all but impossible. However, You now have two worthy candidates for SPL. Frankly, SPL will be an easier job than what either of these patrol leaders are doing now.


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Here is a suggestion that may help you out.


Now you have 2 Patrols and you are looking at adding a 3rd. You are also wondering how to integrate a SPL into the mix.


Here is my suggestion:


Take the two PL's - Have one become the SPL and one become the Troop Guide for the New Scouts coming up. Then you can allow the remaining patrol members to elect new PL's.


After the new Scouts are in for a while you can either integrat them into the other two patrols or you can reorganize the troop into 3 patrols and have the Troop Guide ready for another group of New Scouts.

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"(I try to encourage further apart so the younger guys aren't getting in the way of the older guys)"

This doesn't sound right to me! It sounds like it is time to intermingle old and young into two strong patrols, vice the little peer groups you have in place now. You said that you have patrol advisors for each patrol that do...those are called ASM's. You have two patrol leaders, I will assume that one is more 'senior' than the other. Therefore you have a 'senior' Patrol Leader. It is the essence of 'boy-led' that is the hardest aspect to introduce to boys. Your 15+ group needs to get involved with the 13- group and become a true troop. Your Troop Advisor, I will call him the Scoutmaster, should get the training required to teach this leadership method. There have been several books written to try and describe it. Pick one up at the local library.


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