A major goal of Scouting is to develop leadership skills in our sons. Youth leaders are elected by their peers to help run the troop. The highest youth leader is the Senior Patrol Leader, or SPL. The SPL runs the troop activities, with the Scoutmaster’s help, following a plan decided at monthly Patrol Leaders Council (PLC) meetings and a general planning session of the Leadership Corps.
Parents of new scouts have a natural tendency to want to lead the scouts, as was necessary in Cub Scouts. In Boy Scouts the parents do not run the meeting; the youth leaders do. Parents please try and curb your instincts; don’t do something for your son that he can do for himself. Sometimes the best education is to fail and overcome your failure. The lessons learned are not forgotten and the young man (your son) will develop self-reliance and self confidence.
The leadership corps is made up of older scouts including the Senior Patrol Leader (SPL), Assistant Senior Patrol Leader (ASPL), Junior Assistant Scoutmasters (JASM’s), Scribe, Historian, Quartermaster, Librarian, and Order of the Arrow (OA) representative. Smaller troops may not have enough older scouts to fill all of these leadership positions.
The PLC is made up of the SPL, ASPL, all Patrol Leaders and the Scoutmaster. They meet regularly to plan the programs for Troop Meetings and camping trips.
Our troop is organized into patrols of six to twelve scouts, each with an elected Patrol Leader. The Patrol Leaders and Assistant Patrol Leaders have a key role in helping the SPL and adult leaders accomplish the goals of the troop. New scouts work with an adult Assistant Scoutmaster and/or a Junior Assistant Scoutmaster (an older boy, usually a Life Scout or a high school junior or senior), to learn the skills needed to advance and grow in our troop. This working together is called the “Patrol Method” and is a cornerstone of successful scouting.
“The patrol method is not a way to operate a Boy Scout troop, it is the only way. Unless the patrol method is in operation, you don’t really have a Boy Scout troop.”
—Robert S. S. Baden-Powell