I’ve written many times about the importance of the Patrol System and the importance of Patrol Leaders firstly to their Patrols and then to the functioning of their Troops. The honour of this position is a challenge for the development of Scouts that are ready to take this step but is it something that every Scout should do? Is this position one that every Scout should “have a go at”? Is it a rite of passage?
As I visit various activities and functions I am alarmed to hear what some Scout Troops are doing with the Leadership of their Scout Troops. A few fictitious positions I’ve heard of are:
- Senior Patrol Leaders – a position in which the Senior Patrol Leader is responsible for the Patrol Leaders. This Scout is sometimes appointed so another Scout can have a go at being Patrol Leader or because the Scout Leaders don’t want to let them go up into Venturers. A quick look at the literature and you can see we are about progressive development. If the Scout has out grown the Scout Section then it is time to move on. Holding them back only impedes their development opportunities and it also diminishes the authority of the REAL Patrol Leaders.
- Troop Leader – same as the Senior Petrol Leader.
- Acting Patrol Leader – This is a bit like the “Claytons PL”, the PL you’re having when you’re not having a PL. The Troop Council should make a decision and appoint the most suitable person and then get on with. Make a commitment and then commit to making it succeed by training the new PL
- JPL Junior Patrol Leader – I actually thought this was a Jamboree Patrol Leader but it is a Junior Patrol Leader. Not sure where this fits in between the real one and the assistant. Maybe they just need to grow up a bit and they can be a Senior Patrol Leader?
- AAPL Assistant Assistant Patrol Leader – I think this ones stems from the let everyone have a go approach. A few more assistant and everyone will have someone to lead.
Some of us need to take a serious look at what we are doing and why. None of the above positions exist and nor should they. The current Troop structure is based upon a leadership structure that ticks a whole lot of boxes for the development of Scouts with different abilities across a wide range of development. Not every Scout will be a leader, not every Scout has the skills nor they should have a turn at it. If they were all leaders who would they lead?
So who appoints the Patrol Leaders? This is a decision for the Troop Council which consists of the existing Patrol Leaders and the Scout Leader (not the Assistant Scout Leaders). The Scout Leader should exercise some diplomacy and guidance to ensure it’s not a popularity contest but at the end of the day it is a decision for the whole Troop Council. If it isn’t unanimous that’s great, if not then it may need to be voted on and you may need to be a gracious loser.
The position of Assistant Patrol Leader is a decision for the Patrol to make. We as Leaders have no input into this position. While in a lot of cases the next likely PL may be chosen it is not a given. There is not rite of succession from APL to PL.
AS for the other positions above – they don’t exist!
Scouter Skills Day
The Scouters Skills day in September went really well. We had attendees from a number of Regions all descend on Petrie Den for the day. Everyone was really involved in the activities and I’m sure we all learnt something to take away with us from the day.
Check out the Branch calendar for next year’s dates so you don’t miss out. There’s one in each term.
Well it’s not far away now, 63 days at the time of writing and counting. Jamboree Troops have all been making contact with each other and making final plans. I’ve had the pleasure of visiting some Troop get togethers and the excitement is certainly building amongst the Scouts as it draws nearer and starts to become very real.
Souvenirs and Contingent / Jamboree packs will be distributed at the end of this month or early December and packing of all of the Pallecons and containers will happen shortly after that.
I’m looking forward to catching up with all the Scouts and Leaders at this great event in January.
“Scouting is a game for boys under the leadership of boys under the direction of a man.”
Sir Robert Baden-Powell