Scouts-L Mail Archive for September of 1999: Patrol Flags
Fri, 3 Sep 1999 10:37:03 -0700
Rik notes that Wood Badge taught him the importance of patrol symbols like a
flag. Remember, though, that it wasn't the flag that "made" your Wood Badge
patrol. Heck, I don't remember what my patrol's flag looked like. At Wood
Badge, they never missed an opportunity to build patrol unity and patrol
spirit with inter-patrol competitions, assembly by patrol, uniform
inspections by patrol, patrol cheers, etc., etc. The flag just symbolized
that spirit. Troops need to follow the Wood Badge model.
Here's a thought: If the goal is to build patrol spirit, then what if,
instead of the usual every-man-for-himself, merit-badge-mill approach to
summer camp, we turned that week into a Wood Badge-like experience, focused
on building teams, teaching leadership and instilling pride? What an awesome
troop that would be! If somebody out there is running a summer camp this
way, let me know. I'll be there next summer.
At the very least, take advantage of every opportunity the camp offers to
build teamwork. Run the COPE course, participate by patrol in camp-wide
games, do troop and patrol cheers while waiting in line at the dining hall.
(Of course there is something like this available, though not for every boy:
It's called JLTC. Remember how you felt about scouting after Wood Badge?
Imagine if all of your top youth leadership felt the same, and wanted to
recapture it back at the troop.)
Other random thoughts on patrol flags and patrol pride:
I plan to use more team-building games and exercises (lots of them in Woods
Wisdom and other sources) in the coming year. I'll try to steer the PLC away
from choosing free-for-all games or ones that involve dividing the troop
into two big teams, and toward patrol-level stuff, especially activities
that require a high level of cooperation and group problem solving.
I got frustrated getting our patrols to make flags, too. I finally brought a
big box of materials - fabric, felt, paint, markers, and some really handy
stick-on felt letters I found at the fabric store - to a troop meeting and
had them spend most of the meeting making their flags on the spot.
I tried the feather-and-bead recognition idea that Rik suggests but response
was underwhelming. Maybe I didn't stick with it long enough. Try having them
work toward a reward: Patrol with the most feathers/beads in three months
gets a pizza party, for instance.
The boys in my troop have gotten more excited about patrol hats and t-shirts
rather than flags. The hot patrols that everyone wants to be in are the
Green Berets (guess what they wear) and the A-Team (cool t-shirts). I'm
pretty flexible about "Class B" uniform, so long as (1) everyone in the
patrol dresses alike and (2) their shirt carries the troop number and/or
patrol name or symbol. The Green Beret's hats look so sharp I let them wear
them to troop meetings as part of their Class A's.
We hold frequent uniform inspections. Score them by patrol and reward the
best patrol. Immediate rewards work better than delayed ones and food works
better than feathers.
Let's hear more ideas on this topic. It's something we all struggle with a
need to do better.
SM, Troop 761
Thousand Oaks, CA