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The importance to Patrol Method

Does this still hold true in 2020?

Are you asking philosophically, or whether or not units implement their respective programs this way, @ELIZABETHNOTTINGHAM?

Philosophically, I have to agree with Baden-Powell. At a fundamental level, people get to know one another and become friends in smaller groups. We learn each other’s idiosyncrasies and learn to work together in smaller groups. Most of what we do as scouts is best executed in smaller groups. A troop of seven may well function as a patrol, so there’s no material difference. For a troop of 70, 10 patrols of seven will likely permit for better interpersonal interaction than one great lump of scouts.

Consider a crew going to a high-adventure base. These teams work best when they are close-knit and have become accustomed to one another’s strengths and weaknesses so that they can adapt and compensate for them. This is best accomplished in a small group where you can get to know your fellow scouts and scouters. Our Philmont crews always do their own prep as a crew, even if they may not all be from the same patrol. They bond as a crew, and learn to work, fail, and succeed as a crew.

As far as implementation goes, that is spread across the map quite widely, even within the troop I serve. Some of our patrols tend to go on the same outings together (or at least the majority of the patrol members), and work together well. Other patrols tend to have one or two scouts who go to any given outing, but seldom the entire patrol. In the past, we had a lot more esprit de corps among our patrols, and they tended to operate more as patrols, I believe because of that.


Like you Charley, I’ve seen the patrol method kinda sorta used kinda sorta successfully in the troops I’ve observed. I am also seeing that trying to have a fully online troop meeting that is successful for the 11 year olds as it is for the 16 year olds hasn’t been working either.

As a response both of the troops I participate in are moving to more patrol-based events. One even is proposing having only a single troop meeting a month with the rest being patrol-based meetings, and the other seems to be leaning in that direction too.

I’m hoping that even after we get back to in-person scouting some of these changes may stick, as one thing for certain having a weak patrol method is not building the leadership in the patrol leaders, and certainly not the delegation skills in the SPL/ASPL that one would expect to come out of scouting.


Thank you. To help scouts get the confidence needed to take the reigns of their patrol, I think better training would help. The videos that are for adults my.scouting might actually help the scouts understand that they can be the leaders. I don’t think a one evening intro to leadership skills is enough and reading it doesn’t seem to make it real either. I think kids may learn better via a video. Do you know if there are such videos available?

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