The Senior Patrol Leader in a New Troop

 

A well-functioning Scout troop is run by the Scouts through a Patrol Leaders’ Council (PLC).  Led by the Senior Patrol Leader, the responsibility of the PLC is to plan, prepare, and present their troop’s Scouting program.  In order to effectively exercise this leadership, they need to be equipped with the necessary tools and skills. Along these lines, Scouting provides excellent leadership training. Frequently, a troop just starting out will not automatically come equipped with trained youth leaders. Therefore, in order to give their Scouts the rewarding opportunities to take the lead and run things, a new troop will conceivably need to consider a measured approach.

BRAND NEW LEADERS WITH A TROOP OF BRAND NEW SCOUTS

    • New Scoutmasters and Assistant Scoutmasters should log into my.scouting.org and from the menu select “My Dashboard.” Next,  click on “Training Center” and select “Scouts, BSA.” Sign-up for the Scouts BSA-Scoutmaster Training and complete the 6 sections in the Before The First Meeting module.  Soon thereafter, return to the SM/ASM Specific training program begun on my.scouting.org and complete the sections marked First 30 Days.
    • Before the first few meetings, members of the troop, assuming the role of a troop planning team, need to familiarize themselves with the selected meeting agenda, including all procedures and the needed materials . Successful troop meetings are both cohesive and fun. They must move along. Though the furnished meeting plans are ready-made, to assure success, preparation is still necessary and will definitely pay off.
New Scouts with an Experienced Scoutmaster
  • Because the youth members are new, initially the troop’s adults will be closely coaching them through each step of their meeting’s agenda. Youth members should be given repeated opportunities to conduct parts of opening and closing ceremonies, present skills, and introduce activities. This creates the semblance that from the outset, they are playing a part in the way things are handled. But, until which time the Scouts themselves can take the reins and run their meetings, adult leaders will initially need to serve as “banks” to the” river,” so the “water” doesn’t run everywhere creating the negative impression the new troop is disorganized.
  • After the first few meetings, it should become apparent which youth member(s) are most ready to be nominated as the new troop’s first senior patrol leader. Hold an election. The troop is now ready to commence plans for carrying on the training session: Introduction to Leadership Skills for Troops (ILST).
  • Training youth leaders is an ongoing process, and the time it takes for the Scouts to skillfully and effectively run things varies from troop to troop. For new troops with fledgling patrol leaders’ councils, there can be an extended period of on-the-job training during which time, the Scoutmaster can continue to provide active guidance and support. But, once the patrol leaders’ council has been provided with the basic tools and skills needed to conduct their troop’s meetings, it’s about time for the adults to stand back and let them lead.

NEW TROOPS WITH BUILT IN SENIOR PATROL LEADERS
Some new troops might be presented with a different scenario where there’s an obvious choice, making electing the first SPL very simple.

Venture Crew Member serving as the Senior Patrol Leader
  • One of the Scouts can be older than the rest.
  • Perhaps the den chief from a den of Webelos Scouts is joining the new troop.
  • Maybe one of the new Scouts had a sibling who was a senior patrol leader in a troop and therefore already has some knowledge of how Scouting works.
  • The new troop is fortunate to have Venturer or Sea Scout from a nearby crew or ship join their ranks.
  • The new troop is fortunate to have a Venturer or Sea Scout who attended NYLT.