There’s a new Patrol Leader Handbook and Senior Patrol Leader Handbook

The leadership lessons learned in Scouting aren’t taught in schools, but you can find them in a book.

That is, provided that book is the Patrol Leader Handbook or Senior Patrol Leader Handbook.

These essential guides for Boy Scout leaders have been updated for 2017. They include ready-to-use tips to help Boy Scouts become effective leaders at troop meetings and on the trail.

Pick up a copy at your local Scout Shop or at

Judge these books by their covers, and you’ll see designs that’ve been freshened to match the 13th edition of the Boy Scout Handbookreleased in 2016.

But what’s inside really counts.

Top: The newest versions, released in 2017. Bottom: The previous versions, released in 2002.

What’s better about these books?

It’s more than just a fresh design.

In 2016, a task force of volunteers led by Bob Elliott gathered to review the Senior Patrol Leader Handbook and the Patrol Leader Handbook. 

Among their findings:

  • The handbooks needed more information to help new leaders learn how to lead.
  • Not every Scout can participate in the BSA’s youth leadership training programs, including the Introduction to Leadership Skills for Troops (ILST) and National Youth Leadership Training (NYLT), so concepts from those courses should be included in the new handbooks.

The new editions help patrol leaders and senior patrol leaders lead more skillfully. That means better leadership and more fun.

What’s new in the latest editions:

  • Key concepts from ILST and NYLT are included.
  • Various styles of leadership are defined and contrasted. This includes controlling, doing it all yourself, intimidation, wanting everyone to like you and servant leadership. The handbooks give examples of when and how those styles may (or may not) work in the Scouting environment.
  • A focus on servant leadership as the preferred method of leadership in Scouting. Servant leadership, put simply, is a choice to give more than the leader receives.
  • A discussion of the stages of team development: forming, storming, norming and performing
  • A discussion on the Leading EDGE and how a youth leader’s approach must be adjusted as their troop or patrol progresses (or regresses) from one stage to the next.
  • An expanded section on commonly encountered scenarios that challenge the leadership of senior patrol leaders and patrol leaders.
  • The inclusion of the new Scout Planning Worksheet, a resource to teach all Scouts essential planning skills.

Where can I buy them?

The books are $11.99, and you can buy them at your Scout Shop or at

Where can I find high-res images of the covers?

Use these in promoting these new handbooks in your troop, district or council.


  1. Going to have to get one and read it. I know when I got the older PL HB for the Oldest Scout, I was greatly disappointed. Thankfully the troop library had an old one written by William “Green Bar Bill” Hillcourt in the library, and he read that one.

    • But Martin, treeware requires no batteries or power supply. It can survive an EMP. If it falls off a table, it still works. In an emergency, parts can become tinder or even TP. Call me a luddite if you must, but I think I will stick with the tried and true – books.

      • They’re a good read during idle toileting time.

        Seriously, one can focus better on both subjects at hand.

  2. I’m glad to see an update!

    However, I don’t understand why we can’t put the leadership tips into the regular Handbook.

    Every Scout should learn how to follow (ask good questions, how to take notes, keep an open mind, obey, etc) and how to lead, not just the ones wearing green bars on their shirts.

    I liked the legacy version, and I’m looking forward to checking this one out!

  3. How are you going to get scouts to carry around a larger handbook if you add these extra sections to it. It will get heavier & bulkier. Also our scouts are finding that if they do not buy a cover for their books they fall apart long before they are done with them.

  4. I found a lot of continuity errors in the Patrols Leaders Handbook, things that might confuse a new young Patrol Leader. Did the editor phone it it? Disappointed even after cross referencing with other Scouting Troop literature. Topics were good in both books. Also disappointed that inside the back cover was an ad for the National Supply Division. I would think an advertisement for Boys’ Life would have been better for the intended audience.

  5. IF i told you I had a book that told you how to be an effective leader, told you everything you needed to do and how to do it well. you did not have to read long chapters to get to the point.. would you buy it? Our Scouts need more practical and applied skills, simple yet complete forms to follow. Go back to the old patrol handbooks from the 1980’s. Checklists, Inspection forms, Forms that can be written during patrol meetings and PLC meetings….example reflection scenarios, more graphics/pictures to convey a point. You should ask the question…. is this content that I’m adding to the “new manual” going to have a direct result if I include this in the book or is it a historical novel. I challenge you to create skits or ceremonies that cover the topics of leadership. More Action Oriented Learning.

  6. I give the new books to Patrol Leaders along with vintage 1967 editions of the Patrol Leader handbook. They love the 1967 edition and tend to leave the current editions to the side. People probably say this a lot, but all they really need to do is re-print the old edition with a few updates. the boys love the pictures/artwork, as well as the do-it-yourself ideas near the back of the book. The new books make them feel like they are in school.

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