New Scout Patrols and Troop Guides
alan houser (houser@CEDR.LBL.GOV)
Mon, 22 Aug 1994 10:41:37 PDT
We have worked with the New Scout Patrol idea for 4 years, and I think
that we have finally gotten it down right. The key player is the Troop
Guide; he must be well-grounded in his Scout skills and a good communicator.
You need one Troop Guide for each New Scout Patrol.
We start off the incoming Webelos in a New Scout Patrol. A lot of them
feel more comfortable this way, as they have known most of their Patrol
mates from coming up through Cubs together. The Troop Guide helps them
get organized, elect a Patrol Leader, select a name, a yell, and design a
flag. Half way through the year, they have another PL election to give
someone else the opportunity to try it out (though in one case, they liked
what he was doing and re-elected the same PL!).
The Guide actually becomes part of that Patrol for the year. We tried it
with the Guide being part of an older Patrol, but it was too schizophrenic
for him. He didn't know when he should be with his own Patrol or when he
should be with his charges. So, we put him with the new Patrol so he
could devote all of his attention to them. This idea came from the Guide
and the PLC as they were trying to figure out how to make things work more
At the beginning of the year, he works with them on setting up camp, duty
rosters, and other basic skills. He teaches the Patrol Leader what his
job is. Later during the year, he monitors their advancement and plans
advancement opportunities during the outings. So that he does not feel
like he is "stuck" with the "little kids," he is allowed (encouraged) to
participate in the Venture Crew program. He also participates in all PLC
The new Scouts stay in their Patrol for the entire year; no one "graduates"
into another Patrol. Even if they had earned First Class, it would have
fouled up their preparations for Camporee. But beside the point, it was
THEIR PATROL. They had a lot of pride in what they had accomplished
together. The Cobras, one of last year's two New Scout Patrols, won the
Troop's Patrol Spirit award: they all reached First Class, they had the
highest attendance at meetings and on campouts, and they had the highest
average number of nights camping during the year (28.4 nights per boy!).
The dropout rate from last September to this August for both New Scout
Patrols was ZERO. In all, 11 of 13 New Scouts have reached First Class or
will earn it within the next month. In the previous three years, only 2
New Scouts had earned First Class within the first year.
After the first year, the New Scout Patrol becomes another regular Patrol,
without a Troop Guide, who returns to his "old" Patrol (or for one of them
this year, is promoted to the Senior Patrol -- and he may become the next
SPL). If someone wants to move to another Patrol to be with a new friend,
that can also be accommodated. No one is "kept back" to be placed in the
next year's New Scout Patrol just because he hasn't made First Class.
Besides, someone needs to be Assistant Patrol Leader.
The bottom line in this is that it took three years of experimenting with
the program to figure out how to make it work well. As many others have
suggested many times, program ideas from National sometimes need a little
tinkering and customization to work for your situation. We have been
happy with the results after the last two years, and even the older boys
who were skeptical four years ago are now true believers.
Alan R. Houser
Scoutmaster, Berkeley Troop 24
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City