Leading makes use of many skills….


A Scout troop recently made a bus tour of the Southeast. Most nights the troop camped in parks and campgrounds. The four patrols set up their camps in their usual fashion without difficulty.

One night the troop stayed in a motel. The Scoutmaster told the senior patrol leader that five boys would sleep in each of seven rooms. He then gave the Senior Patrol Leader the task of assigning boys to rooms.

The Senior Patrol Leader laid out seven pieces of paper and announced that Scouts should sign up for their rooms and select their own room leader.

Before the Scouts began moving into the rooms he Scoutmaster asked to see the room assignments. The Senior Patrol Leader was very proud of what he had done and handed over the sign-up sheets. The Scoutmaster then discovered that two rooms had only five boys between them, and five boys had no place to sleep at all. Of course, the problem was quickly solved, but how did it come about in the first place? Poor planning!

Someone must have known in advance that staying in the motel would involve different arrangements than the usual patrol setup. You can’t just pull into a motel and register 40 people in an instant. How could it have been handled better?

In this case the patrol leaders’ council should have done the planning, not just one person. The first task was to consider the situation: 35 boys in seven rooms, each room with a room leader. Next, the resources should have been reviewed: five beds in a room, four patrols of eight boys plus the Senior Patrol Leader, assistant Senior Patrol Leader, and quartermaster. (Do you see an obvious plan already?)

Planning is almost always faster and easier if you know what you are planning. More specifically, you have to know what you are trying to accomplish. So in considering the task, think about the outcomes. What do you want to happen? What will be the result? Will there be more than one desired result? If so, will they conflict?

As a plan develops, you need to consider alternates. (For instance, what would this troop have done if it turned out that some rooms held four and others six?) Have a Plan B ready in case something upsets your plan.

Finish your plan, make assignments, and write the plan down so everyone can understand it.

To plan anything, follow this course:

  • Consider the task.
  • Consider the resources.
  • Consider alternatives.
  • Reach a decision.
  • Write it down and review it with the group.
  • Carry out the plan.

You can use these steps in planning just about anything: a hike, teaching a skill at a troop meeting, a window display, summer camp, a service project. After a while the six steps will come to you naturally.

Improve every time you plan by evaluating what you did last time. How can you do it better? Did you use all available resources? How do you know? Were all alternatives considered? Did everyone participate? Did they enjoy it? Were they satisfied with the outcome? Did everyone understand the plan?

"Leading makes use of many skills…." is adapted from Patrol and Troop Leadership, the handbook on leadership development written for Patrol Leaders and published by the Boy Scouts of America in 1972.

Much of the original leadership development material contained in the Handbook, including the eleven skills of leadership, remain at the core of today’s leadership experience in Scouting. Patrol and Troop Leadership covered nine of the skills presented at the Council Junior Leader Training Conference and other leadership development programs in Scouting.

Knowing and Using the Resources of the Group
Setting the Example
Representing the Group
Controlling Group Performance
Sharing Leadership
Effective Teaching

  "Learning About Leadership" is adapted from Patrol and Troop Leadership, the handbook on leadership development written for Patrol Leaders and published by the Boy Scouts of America in 1972. It provides some excellent background and insight into the BSA’s approach to the subject of leadership.
  From 1990 to 1993, the Junior Leader Training Conference program received an intensive review. A new Junior Leader Training Conference Staff Guide was published in 1993. Comments on the 1995 Revisions takes a close-up look at the most recent changes published in the 1995 printing.
  The Troop Leader Development Staff Guide (1974) presented a short history of leadership development and how elements of the White Stag program were incorporated into the leadership development efforts of the BSA in The Historical Background of Leadership Development
  Since the first experimental leadership development courses at Schiff and Philmont in the 1960’s, the National Junior Leader Instructor Camp has set the standards for Junior Leader Training courses in councils across the country. A unique experience in leadership and learning, NJLIC leads the way by providing the most up-to-date training for those junior leaders selected to lead their local council courses.
  Conducting a Council Junior Leader Training Conference. Offered for the first time this year at Philmont, this program covers all aspects of conducting a successful Junior Leader Training Conference. It will be conducted during the Boy Scout Conferences, from June 22-26, 1997.

Return to the Pine Tree Web Home Page

Your feedback, comments and suggestions are appreciated.
Please write to:
Lewis P. Orans

Copyright © Lewis P. Orans, 1997
Last Modified: 9:37 PM on 4-19-97