The Boy-Led Patrol

"The patrol method is not a way to operate a Boy Scout troop, it is the only way. Unless the patrol method is in operation you don't really have a Boy Scout troop." -Robert Baden-Powell

Patrols are the building blocks of a Boy Scout troop. A patrol is a small group of boys who are more or less similar in age, development, and interests. Working together as a team, patrol members share the responsibility of making the patrol a success. They gain confidence by serving in positions of patrol leadership. All enjoy the friendship, sense of belonging, and achievements of the patrol and of each of its members.

Patrol size depends upon a troop's total enrollment and the needs of its members, though an ideal patrol size is eight. That size is appropriate not only for effective patrol and troop meetings, but also for hiking and camping without leaving a trace. New-scout patrols are sometimes smaller, allowing the flexibility for patrol members to invite friends to become Scouts and join their patrol. However, patrols with fewer than five members are seldom very efficient.

Each patrol selects a name for itself, decides on a yell, and designs a flag. A patrol takes pride in its own identity, and its members strive to make theirs the best patrol possible. While they see their patrol as their home in Scouting, they often cooperate with other patrols during troop games, adventures, and opportunities to learn skills and to complete requirements for advancement.

Regular Patrols usually are composed of Scouts who have completed the First Class requirements or who are in at least the seventh grade. They are groups of peers similar in age, achievement, and interests. Most of them have been around Scouting long enough to be comfortable with patrol and troop routines, and are well versed in camping, hiking, cooking, and Scouting's other basic skills.

New-Scout patrols are for 11 year old boys who are just joining. The new Scouts function together as a patrol during their first year in the troop, working toward their goal of completing the requirements for the First Class rank. Some troops phase their new Scouts into regular patrols after three to six months.

An older, experienced Scout will be appointed by the senior-patrol leader, with the advice and consent of the assistant Scoutmaster, to serve as a troop guide for the new Scout patrol. The troop guide helps new Scouts through the early challenges of troop membership. An assistant Scoutmaster should work closely with the troop guide and the new Scout patrol to ensure that each Scout has every opportunity to succeed right from the start.