In order to achieve or create anything of genuine worth or lasting value, all organisations and all groups of people need leaders. Scouts are no exception to this rule.
Scouts are arranged into Patrols of between 4 and 7 youngsters; each Patrol is led by a Patrol Leader and an Assistant Patrol Leader. The Patrol Leader (PL) and Assistant Patrol Leader (APL) are normally Scouts who have shown some form of ability and aptitude in leadership. They are generally selected for promotion by the adult leaders of the Troop, in consultation, as appropriate, with existing senior Scouts.
Not all Scouts can be promoted to Assistant Patrol Leader or Patrol Leader. Which Scouts do we promote? Not all of them can have the chance. Firstly, there are too many – it is a simple question of numbers – and secondly, some Scouts show little or no aptitude or ability for leadership.
Whom do we select for PL and APL? As a leadership team we give this considerable thought. It is not a conclusion arrived at on the basis of a few “back of envelope” calculations and personal preferences. We try to find youngsters who will be willing and able to shoulder the burden and duty of leadership. Finding such youngsters is not straightforward; it is not difficult to pick the wrong person, nor is it difficult to pass over the right person.
A common misunderstanding even amongst many adults is that promotion comes by right with seniority. This is not the case. As in the real world of work, so it is in the Scouts – age, experience, seniority and family background will get a person only so far. No Scout has the right to promotion. There is no ladder of seniority up which a Scout progresses in order to be promoted. Merely being older than the other Scouts, or remaining in the Troop for a long time, will not get a Scout promoted.
There are a number of requirements we at the 1st Oxted expect of ALL Scouts. Youngsters who struggle morally or otherwise with these requirements may find their time at the 1st Oxted difficult.
- Scouts should be helpful at all times;
- Scouts should be willing and able to follow instructions;
- Scouts should be committed to the work of the Troop;
- Scouts should have a positive attitude to that work in all its guises – not just the activities they enjoy most;
- Scouts should be smartly turned out in correct uniform;
- Scouts should attend – and arrive on time at – more than 60% of Troop meetings
- Scouts should attend St George’s Day and Remembrance Day parades.
These are the minimum requirements to be considered a good Scout. Some Scouts are able to meet all the above requirements most of the time. We find that other Scouts meet few of these requirements only some of the time.
The task of being a leader, from an APL in the Scouts right up to being President of the United States, is a duty and a service and frequently a burden. No-one is ever promoted for their own benefit. In the same way, PLs and APLs are not promoted for their own benefit but in order to benefit the rest of the Troop.
For Scouts to be candidates for promotion to PL and APL, they need to be well above average in most if not all of the qualities outlined above. Such Scouts do exist and they stand out, because they excel in these requirements some or most of the time. The qualities we seek for promotion are the same as those that are sought in the real world of work:
Patrol leaders in particular need to have demonstrated leadership potential through ALL of the following:
- Being willing and able to lead and seize the initiative;
- Being pro-active, helpful and co-operative with the uniformed leadership;
- Having taken an active role in at least one summer camp.