Re: Webelos Patrol Leaders
Sat, 1 Nov 1997 18:30:28 -0500
The idea of Webelos Patrols and Patrol Leaders troubles me a great deal. The
opinions I will give here are just mine and should be considered as such.
However, I can speak with some knowledge about what had been intended as I was
cochairman of the national task force which wrote the Webelos Transition
program and was a member of the national task force which developed the 2 year
We had a number of objectives in the programs we developed. Among them were:
1) Develop an outstanding self contained Webelos program which would stand on
its own and be easy and fun to run.
2) Lead and encourage the Webelos Scouts to becpme Boy Scouts. Make it easy
for them to stay and hard to drop out.
3) Not anticipate too much of the Boy Scout program so that when the boys
did become Boy Scouts, they wouldn't say it is the "same old stuff" and drop
The latter point is very key. I had a close friend who was an excellent
Scoutmaster with a very active troop. When his son became 8 years old, he
took him on family 50 mile hikes, etc. and the boy was an excellent camper.
They when the boy was 11, his father was heartbroken because the boy wouldn't
join the troop. He said he had "done everything that Boy Scouts do already."
The purpose of Boy Scouting, and of Cub Scouting too, for that matter is
training in citizenship, character and physical and mental fitness. However,
the boys don't know that and as I heard once in a training course, "No boy
joined the Boy Scouts to have his character improved." The boys join for fun
and excitement and we use that lure to keep them around for citizenship,
character and fitness. If we use up Boy Scout type fun and excitement before
the boys become Boy Scouts, then we can't deliver Boy Scout level citizenship,
character and fitness.
Another problem with Webelos patrols and Webelos patrol leaders is that the
boys really think that they are in patrols and are patrol leaders. In my
opinion, except for very rare exceptions, a 9 or10 year old does not have the
maturity and personal experience to do what a real patrol leader does. Very
few 11 or 12 year olds have this ability. They really cannot run independent
patrol meetings with no adults present (and shouldn't try) and certainly
cannot be independent leaders on campouts with few adults present. (As a
youth, my patrol had independent, no adults present campouts. I don't think
we do that anymore, but patrol activities in a good troop are extremely
independent.) So the Webelos patrol leaders and the other Webelos Scouts with
intense adult supervision think they are doing what real patrols do AND THINK
THAT IS WHAT BOY SCOUT PATROLS DO TOO. We adults may know better. But the
Webelos Scouts don't. How could they. We adults have told them they are in a
It is not that calling Webelos Scouts patrols and patrol leaders doesn't work;
it certainly does. Rather, it is not NECESSARY to do that and if you do, you
are anticipating an important part of the lure of Boy Scouting before the
Webelos Scouts are mentally, emotionally and physically ready to do what Boy
Please, if you must do this, don't call the Webelos Scouts patrols and don't
call the leaders patrol leaders. Use some other name and title. Crews (used
to be used by Explorers), squads (may be too military), gangs (even
worse),team (used in Varsity Scouting), group or whatever. The patrol method
and the name patrol is a tremendously powerful part of Boy Scouting. Please
don't water it down. Leave it for Boy Scouting.
BTW, Part of the problem may be that 2 years really is a long time to be a
Webelos Scout. I believe that the transition to a troop should begin about
January or February of the second year and the Webelos Scouts should be pretty
well integrated into the troop in a new boy patrol by April or May. In this
way, the Webelos Scouts will be well prepared for summer camp when it comes
Thank you for caring and for your excellent work with Webelos Scouts. I do
believe that the Webelos program, considering both the program itself and the
characteristics and needs of boys that age, is the best single program we have
in the BSA.
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City