postheadericon The Patrol Method

The Patrol Method is central to how we do things in Boy Scouting. It was set in place by Baden-Powell, and has not changed significantly since then, with one exception. Originally, each patrol had boys in it from Tenderfoot through Eagle, so each boy had older boys in his own patrol who could teach him the skills he needed.  In recent years, most troops organize boys of similar ages together in patrols, and use Troop Guides to teach skills to Scouts in younger patrols.  This still keeps the strong boy leadership of a boy-led troop, but is more fun for the boys, as they naturally congregate with boys of similar age groups.

In the Patrol Method, a group of individuals carrying out an activity is called a patrol.  As much as possible, that patrol is allowed to carry out the activity on their own, without interference.  On a campout, that means that a patrol sets up its own camp, separate from where the other patrols are set up (the Senior Patrol Leader will assign the patrol areas at a troop campsite.)  The patrol also organizes its own cooking, clean-up, and camp chores.  It builds and watches over its own fire, and does all the things needful for a safe, fun campout on its own.  Unless there is an issue of safety, violation of location or Scouting rules, or significant property damage, we want the boys to learn from their own mistakes as much as possible.

Just as the boys on a campout are organized into patrols, the adults on a campout are also organized into a patrol.  This is partly to set an example for the boys of how a patrol functions, but the biggest reason is so that the adults have a way to stay active but out of the way of the boy patrols.  Scouting is for the boys, not the adults, so the adult patrol does not compete with the boy patrols in things, and the campout is generally the only place in which the adults function as an adult patrol.

The other thing that is nice about an adult patrol is that it lets the adults cook some food that the boys might not be motivated to cook for themselves, until they find out how good it smells on a campout.