This is the third in a five part series on the importance of the Patrol Leaders’ Council. Part 1 covered the overall significance. Part 2 covered the PLC’s accountability to weekly programming. This third part covers the PLC’s second main objective and that is the accountability to each patrol in the troop. This includes the following goals:
- Accountability of each patrol
- Gear needs
- Attendance records
- Performance review
- Start, Stop, Continue for patrol management
The PLC is structured in such a way to improve the quality of the troop via each patrol. It has to measure success and identify areas of improvement. The best way to do that is to gather up all the patrol leaders for an accounting of how their patrol is doing since the last PLC. Here is where the scoutmaster can hear how the program is working at the patrol level through the eyes and impressions of it’s leaders. In a PLC each patrol is represented by either that patrol leader or assistant patrol leader who can answer to what the patrol is doing or needs help in doing. The senior patrol leader (or assistant) will preside and work through each patrol asking some basic questions:
- What is the status of your patrol?
- How many scouts are active?
- What is the condition of your patrol items?
- What are your needs or concerns?
- Are you ready for the next campout?
- Any Patrol “Stop, Start, Continues” ?
Keeping it to three main topics will keep the flow of the meeting concise (for teenagers) and should allow enough time for discussion or ideas for improvement. This should also be done in an open forum among all the patrol leaders so they can hear other concerns or share in improvement plans. We ask patrol leaders how many scouts are active to keep in their mind about who is and isn’t attending. This is so the patrol leaders can talk to the scouts the next time they see those missing scouts or can contact them to make sure everything is ok. Everyone likes to belong to a group and hears when they have been missed. This helps in keeping scouts active in the troop.
PLCs are a great way to keep on top of equipment needs and condition. Teenagers are the best type of people to put equipment through battle testing. In general, people will take care of something when they have put either financial or sweat-equity into it. This is also a great time to introduce proper maintenance planning which is to say it’s always better to replace items nearly broke before a campout or event rather than going through complications of broken equipment. The patrol leaders can share their experiences so others can learn from them.
PLCs are also great way to learn how others are coping with needs. Somebody needs help with a certain scout skill. Somebody needs help with low patrol attendance on campouts. Somebody needs help with new patrol game ideas. In our troop, patrol leaders are leaders in the troop and not just the patrol. If they notice a patrol leader needing help the others come to the rescue. The patrol members know that a patrol leader is another leader in the troop. Another patrol leader can step in and correct a situation if needed.
Patrol leaders should know what the next campout is about what has to happen to be ready. (This will be next week’s post – 4 of 5). Things like what their patrol duties will be over the campout, what the patrol menu will be like, who is cooking, or who are tent buddies are just some of the considerations of what they need to prep for the upcoming campout or activity.
Finally this is a time to share any of the patrol Stop, Start, Continues with the rest of the troop. (See previous postings on the Stop, Start, Continue report). The patrol leaders share their plan for the next month. The senior patrol leader should keep close track of these to keep the patrol leaders accountable for what they say they are doing and to keep the patrols improving. Previous month’s reports should be brought out for comparison. When people know they will be asked questions, especially in a public setting, they tend to be better prepared. The SPL should make sure there is a respect as well as accountability at the PLC. The patrol leaders should be listening closely to see if anything from the other patrol reports matches up with their own patrols. There are a lot of lessons learned here and the group as a whole moves forward with success.
Good luck out there scouters!
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The author, Tony Zizak, is a long time scouter, Eagle Scout, and the scoutmaster of Troop 119 Ellettsville, IN. He has been to scout camps across the country and was a certified Program Director, Aquatics Director and a Scoutcraft Director. As a youth Tony received his Vigil Honor and served as a Lodge Chief for Tseyedin Lodge #65. Reach out to him for any questions you may have on this article.
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Members can download this article here: PLC 3 of 5 (4 downloads)