From “Keys to Scouting Leadership” available at www.scoutingtrails.com
One of the greatest motivators of youth is the effective use of the Patrol Method. The Patrol Method is an inspired method of Scouting. If you will use it, you’ll see great growth and progress in the lives of your boys.
THE PATROL METHOD, THE GRAND KEY TO SUCCESS:
Baden-Powell, the founder of Scouting, once stated that the “Patrol Method” is not just one of Scouting’s methods, but that it is THE METHOD of Scouting! He had used the Patrol Method from Scouting’s beginning day in 1907 on Brownsea Island.
He tried his experiment of Scouting on twenty boys from varying walks of life. He organized the boys into four patrols: The Bulls, the Curlews, the Ravens and the Wolves. All week long they worked, lived and played in those patrols. The experiment was a grand success and the Patrol Method has been the method of Scouting ever since.
Baden-Powell was indeed inspired! He knew that the Patrol Method was the heart of Scouting. Often he said that “THE PATROL METHOD is not just one of Scouting’s methods It is THE METHOD!”
The longer I am in Scouting, the more convinced I am that this is true. In the patrol is opportunity for involvement, for recognition and for belonging. The patrol can be the ultimate in team spirit, camaraderie, and brotherhood. In the patrol, all the high ideals of Scouting come together. The patrol is the practice of leadership, the chance to serve, the avenue for real growth. It is in the patrol that one feels the true Spirit of Scouting.
I’ve been many of patrols in my day. There have been good ones and a couple that were not so good. The most fun, or best patrol, came after I’d been in the program for more than fifteen years. I guess it took that long to truly give of myself and to realize the brotherhood and spirit possible through the patrol.
Anyway, this special patrol experience came as I was attending a National Camp School learning how to be a Camp Director. After much deliberation, the five of us Camp Directors decided to call ourselves the “HOGS”!
How’s that for a name? Talk about plain …! Why would anyone want to be the “hogs”? The name of “Hog” doesn’t sound near as exciting or impressive as the mighty “Jaguar” patrol I was in as a kid. Looking back though, what can you do with a jaguar? After all, who even knows much about them, anyway? There is probably no one who even knows what kind of a noise they make. A jaguar sounded like hot stuff though, so we went for it.
Back to our hog patrol …! Everyone knows that the Camp Director is the boss in camp and we didn’t want any of the other patrols to forget it. That’s how we decided on the “CD BOSS HOGS” as our official name. (I’ll have to admit we were a little seedy.) The other patrol of Camp Directors was the “icicles”. That name was appropriate, if I do say so myself. Boy, were they cold!
I’ve never had so much fun in my life as I did with the “CD BOSS HOGS”. There was so much that could be done with the name of “Hog”. Everyone, for instance, has seen hogs and knows how they communicate. The hog is so commonplace that it’s attributes are well known to all.
We were just kind of joking around and came up with a couple of classic jokes about the name of “Hogs”. We got such a laugh over them that we decided to play it to the hilt. From that time on, we were the life of the party. We let our hair down and had a “snortin'” good time throughout that whole week. We may have driven everyone else up the wall with our overabundance of patrol spirit but we got the job done and sure had fun doing it.
We first made a flag with a pig on it. It was complete with a tail for each one of us in the patrol. We also elected Darryl as the patrol leader with Glen as his assistant. Scott was the scribe, Nick became the flag bearer, Paul was the quartermaster and I was happy to become the cheermaster.
I made up several cheers which we gave anytime that it was appropriate and a few times that it wasn’t. I also made up two patrol songs. I wrote new lyrics to an old camp staff song and another song to the tune of “Yankee Doodle”. We could be heard all over camp singing our songs and yelling our cheers. It was great fun.
On Monday of that week we received the “Service Jawbone”, and had the task of setting the tables and doing the dishes at each meal. With our patrol spirit even that work was a fun time.
At the evening flag ceremony as we concluded our service, we had a royal presentation to pass the “jawbone” on to the next worthy patrol. We marched out, formed a square, and then rolled out a piece of old red carpet. I was the narrator and song leader. Scott and Glen were the royal escorts. Paul was the carpet-roller. Nick was the “bone-bearer” (with the bone carefully resting on a silk pillow).
Darryl performed the coronation with great dignity. As he knighted the patrol leader of the Icicles our patrol gave a big pig snort. We then blessed everyone with our “Angel Pig Chorus” and our uninspired rendition of the “Hog-Alleulia Chorus”. There was not a dry eye in the place.
The Tuesday evening program for the week included a campfire program with skits from each patrol. We again went all out. We enacted “Pig Tails”, a mixed up version of “The Three Little Pigs” (or more appropriately, “The Pee Little Thrigs”). The script was written and narrated by Darryl. I had the honorable role of “mother pig”, Paul was the “baby pig”, Scott was the “father pig”, Nick was the butcher. Glen was outstanding in his performance as “hog grandmother.”
Then again on Wednesday night we were in rare form. We showed up for the evening’s festivities sporting cloven hoofs made with black tape taped on our shoes. Again, we were the life of the party.
We also had our serious moments together. At Thursday’s closing campfire program our “CD Boss Hogs” staged a patriotic ceremony with the flag and a reading from the “Boy Scout Handbook”. The ceremony was impressive.
As the camp school training ended I recorded the following entry in my journal: “We’ve learned a lot about camp this week but the greatest learning experience of the week was our patrol and the patrol spirit that we’ve had. A patrol is really where the fun is. Patrol spirit makes a patrol tops in attitude, productivity and fun. I guess that’s why Scouting is built around the patrol method.”
I think I’ve only seen a few patrols that have compared at all with the “Boss Hogs”. But as I analyze it, it is patrols like these that really made Scouting happen.
Best wishes along your Scouting Trails … Kevin
(To read more of Kevin’s writing, see “Scouting Trails” Books at Scouting Trails)
© Kevin V. Hunt 2016