“OK, Spartan patrol and Unicorn patrol: You guys start setting up tents,” says Chris Schwartz, senior patrol leader of jamboree Troop D424 out of the West Tennessee Area Council.
“Phoenix patrol and Cougars: cots and kitchen stuff,” he continues. “And leadership corps, you fill in where needed.”
Just like that, three dozen Scouts spring into action. Over here, Scouts unfold and assemble cots with robot-like precision. Over there, tents take shape in no time. Nobody cares which tent or cot will be theirs, only that every tent, cot and dining area gets assembled before anyone unpacks their personal gear.
Troop D424 represents another impressive example of a boy-led troop getting things done without intervention from adults. But there’s more that caught my eye: Troop D424 is comprised of 12 different troops back home, meaning most of these Scouts met for the first time at pre-jamboree meetings.
That’s why SPL Chris wanted to split up tasks by patrol.
“It will force them to work together, and they’ll bond more,” he says. As expected, Chris gets called away by a Scout before we have time to finish chatting.
But the troop’s Scoutmaster and assistant Scoutmasters had plenty of time to talk — as should be the case in any boy-led troop.
“That’s called the patrol method,” Scoutmaster Mike Snyder says. “That’s the way Scouting is supposed to be run. And it’s the way the troop has been for years. Sometimes it works, sometimes it fails miserably.”
But it’s Baden-Powell’s vision, and Snyder doesn’t dare tamper with it. What it means is that adults step in only when absolutely necessary. And the rest of the time?
“Patch trading,” jokes assistant Scoutmaster John Vanhoose.
A few campsites down from D424, Scouts relax on dining tables in a half-setup campsite. Some sip water while others play cards. Camp setup will happen later for this troop, and that’s fine. Two troops, two different philosophies about the order of things upon arrival at camp.
Those Scouts look cool and comfortable, but Chris knows that there will be time for his troop to relax once the campsite is complete. Until then, what’s his task?
“A little bit of everything,” he says, smiling. “It comes with the job, I guess.”
More photos of D424: