I recently started reading a book called A Scout Leader’s Guide to Youth Leadership Training: Working the Patrol Method. It is by Rob Faris, Ted Knight, Harry Wimbrough, and Joseph Durel – all Eagle Scouts.
I don’t have as much free time for reading as I’d like to, but I’ve read the first few sections and I am really impressed with this book. Training youth leaders and really implementing the patrol method are things which our Boy Scout troop continues to struggle with.
Since I am not finished with this book yet, I can’t review the entire book. So I am going to review it in pieces. Today I am reviewing the general format, the introduction, and section one. If you have read the book, add your comments on any of these sections below. We can have a “virtual book club”. Next week, I’ll review sections 2 and 3, so if you have the book, read along and join in.
The book is well organized and practical. Some of the things I like about the format is that it includes “leadership yarns”. These are stories used to illustrate the concepts. These make the book very readable. They are interspersed in the sections, providing concrete examples of how the concepts are applied or not applied in typical Scouts BSA Troops.
There are also a good number of quotes from Baden-Powell, which is a big plus. While the world has changed a lot since his time, his original theories are still relevant to modern troops.
The introduction gives a basic overview of what is being presented, but also provides some other interesting nuggets of information. It emphasizes that in many cases adults are doing too much of the “doing” in our troops. This book emphasizes that while that might lead to an efficient, well run troop, that is not really what the Scouts BSA program is all about.
In the introduction and throughout the book, the authors return over and over again to the point that the purpose of adults in a troop is not to make sure plans are carried out efficiently. The purpose of the adults is to train our youth leaders. I think that is why I am so enthusiastic about this book. We have a great troop, but getting the adults to step back and not carry everything out for the youth is difficult.
And to be honest, I have to admit that I probably intervene more than I should from time to time. Usually this is just for expediency. It is so much easier just to do it myself sometimes. But this book is a good reminder to step back and remember what we are trying to do.
Section 1: Understanding and Telling “The Why”
Section 1 is about communicating to the youth why we are doing things via the patrol method. Youth leaders should understand the purpose of Scouting. They in turn, should communicate the reasoning to the younger members. I think this is a really good point. This section has some good leadership yarns about the importance of communication. It also offers some practical examples about how to work this into the troop program through the Scoutmaster Conference or Board of Review.
The only thing I wish is that it had more about how to get the parents to understand the patrol method and why we are using it. It doesn’t do any good to have a handful of adults who understand the program and are trying to really fully implement the patrol method, but then to have other adults step in and try to do things more efficiently by doing things themselves. Hopefully there will be more about this later in the book.
If you are interested in this book but you don’t have a copy yet, it is available on Amazon. I’d love to hear other Scouters’ thoughts on this book and how the patrol method is going in their troops. So leave a comment below.