Welcome! This forum has a treasure trove of great info – Scouters helping Scouters! Just a heads up, though - all content, information, and opinions shared on this forum are those of the author, not the BSA.

Scouting Forums

Den unity with multiple AOL patrols

Due to volunteer availability, we are going to be starting this year by combining two smaller AOL dens into one. We will have 9 AOL Scouts as of this writing. In their separate dens last year, they each formed a patrol, so the combined AOL den will have two patrols in it.

For those of you who have run larger Webelos/AOL dens, how have you maintained den unity with multiple patrols within one den? Was it a problem for you?

It is a mindset change - it is not Den Unity it is patrol unity and competition. We always pushed “Tan Shirts, you are the oldest Scouts, you wear tan - they wear blue - act like the oldest and be a team.”


We have two AOL dens this year, but with several of each not going to resident camp, they operating as a single patrol at camp. The one had already picked a name, and the other thought the patch they had was cool and is now considering a slightly different name that could use the same patch. At first I thought they should pick something different, but upon further reflection, I like that they are all still part of something bigger than their own patrol. Your mileage with that may vary as your situation is slightly different.

Oh and at pack meetings other than award time - they were never referred to as a den - it was Phoenix/Woodsmen/other? Patrols.

1 Like

I’m with @DonovanMcNeil. The Webelos program (4th & 5th grade) is the time for scouts and adults (parents and leaders) to being the mental transition to “troop life”. I was a scout as a youth, so I relied a lot on the way that my SPL and SM managed our troop in modeling how our “mini-troop” would be managed. Although we were still “Den 10”, the scouts were “Phoenix Patrol of Den 10” and “Pokemon Go Patrol of Den 10”. Can you tell I had them name themselves? :wink:

As much as I could, I delegated things to the patrol leaders, either directly or through their den chief. That included routine stuff like taking attendance and getting latecomers up to speed, as well as helping plan “special” activities along the lines of “We’re going to be doing at least one hike with the troop. Where does your patrol want to do a hike? Get opinions from your scouts and vote on a top two. Here are a bunch of my hiking guides for the local area. I have post-its with info for some of the ones I’ve taken, but don’t feel limited by those. Try to keep it under 10 miles for some of us old guys, yeah? Talk to your den chief to see if he has any recommendations or comments on the locations you’re considering.”

I walked them (and our den chief) through the logistics of the bigger tasks. Each of the PLs and APLs got a Patrol Leader Handbook, which I asked them to read and use. It was still pretty clear that we were a den, in that we sat together and I managed things like adventure/rank/awards approval and presentation, but I called them up “by patrol” to do awards as much as the schedule would allow.

All of these things were really helping to prepare both them to take over and me to let go when we transitioned from the pack to the troop. I’ll bet there are varying opinions among our scouts and unit scouters on how well that worked, and I frequently have to remind myself to lead with “Did you ask your patrol leader?” when I get questions. However, all told, I think it prepared the scouts and the adults well for the transition.


It is harder to teach the parents than the scouts


We’re old and set in our ways… :grin:

1 Like

You all relieve my mind. I will point out to the den leader that we are supposed to be gently transitioning to the patrol method anyway, so patrol unity more than whole den unity is OK. His take was, why merge two smaller dens into one if they are not going to do things all together as a den? They have already chosen their patrol names, and they are at different levels of AOL advancement. But if teaching patrol method is the ultimate goal, then having them do things in their smaller patrol groups is actually what we want. Thanks all! I’m a fairly new Cubmaster who has never had a kid in Webelos/AOL, so I am still learning.

1 Like

Excellent advice. I’m going to pass this on my den leader. I think it will help him a lot. He is still in the den unity mindset, because he has had a den of five that then became one patrol. That’s how I was thinking too, because I don’t have experience with Webelos/AOLs. Thank you.

Something else you may not realize, but a much of what the Webelos scouts will be working on is the same as what the scouts will be learning when they transition to a Troop. In particular, the AOL year requirements very closely mirror the first rank in Scouts BSA, Scout Rank. Here’s Scout Rank requirements for reference: https://www.scouting.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/3321621-01-Scout.pdf

If you run your Webelos/AOL Den essentially like a Troop (Patrols, Patrol Method, etc), then when they cross over, they all should be able to relatively easily earn their first rank (Scout) because they will come in familiar with and knowing most of the Scout Rank requirements already, and even a few requirements from other subsequent ranks. If you look at both years of Webelos requirements, there is overlap with Scouts BSA rank requirements.

Obviously a Den functioning like a Patrol won’t be exactly the same as being in an actual Patrol in a Troop, but done well, your AOL scouts will find the transition to Scouts BSA to be fairly easy because they will already have a sense of how a Troop/Patrol functions and what the expectations are of the scouts both as participants and as the leaders of the troop.

I am also my youngest son’s Den Leader and when his den advances to Webelos next year, one of my goals is to make sure that they are able to confidently transition into a Troop without feeling intimidated by the Scout Led aspect of Scouts BSA.

This topic was automatically closed 7 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.