Boy Scouts belong to patrols; Boy Scout leaders don’t.
These adults fall outside of the typical troop structure in which a senior patrol leader helms a group of patrols, each led by a patrol leader.
But in some troops, just for fun, these adults form their own patrol — if in name only. In some troops, they’re called the Geezer patrol. In others, perhaps in a nod to an adult leader’s place on the sidelines, they’re known as the Rocking Chair patrol.
Should troops have adult patrols? If so, what makes a good name for an unofficial adult patrol? And what’s the BSA’s official stance on adult patrols?
The BSA’s stance on adult patrols
Here’s the official response from the BSA’s Peter Self. As usual from Peter, it’s nuanced and well-crafted.
Baden-Powell was once quoted as saying, “The patrol system is not one method in which Scouting for boys can be carried on. It is the only method.” As patrols are formed, it is intended that their membership will remain together throughout their Scouting years. Beginning as a new Scout patrol, they become a tightly knit unit, which is dependent upon one another and yet finds strength and independence in their brotherhood. It is in the safety and camaraderie of the patrol that lessons of leadership and cooperation are learned from each other. The patrol name and the emblem which reflects that name are two of the ways that this group uniquely identifies itself.
While adult leaders are invaluable and necessary in this growth process, they need to be accessible to each of the Scouts, in every patrol, and not insulated from the Scouts in their own tight group. For this reason you will not find mention of adult patrols in our literature and why we do not form our adult leaders into patrols in the course of our normal program operations.
Having said all of this, there is no specific statement in our literature which prohibits adults from wearing a patrol emblem, but if you compare closely the pictures of the Boy Scout uniform to the adult leader uniforms on the last two pages of the Guide to Awards and Insignia, you’ll notice only a few differences. One of these is the absence of a patrol emblem on the adult uniform.
So while adult patrols aren’t an official part of the BSA’s program, nobody is going to stop you from forming one. Especially if it’s a name and little else.
Oh, and there’s no uniform police that will rip the patrol emblem from your adult leader uniform, either.
With that in mind…
Does your troop have an adult patrol? If so, what’s it called?
For today’s Tuesday Talkback, let’s continue the conversation in the comments section.
Questions for discussion:
- Should troops have adult patrols?
- If so, what role should adult patrols serve?
- What are some of your favorite names for adult patrols? (I’m partial to the Rocking Chair patrol myself.)