Conduct of Courses




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Conduct of Courses
Leadership Training
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Syllabus: Session Notes

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1. The intention is that the Course should be organized on a District or regional basis (depending on local needs and conditions) under the personal leadership of the A.D.C. (Scouts) or District Scoutmaster, with the active approval and support of the D.C.

2. While the primary object of the Course is to supplement the training which Patrol Leaders receive from their own Scouters, a secondary function may well be to enable the Scouters themselves, through active participation in the running of the Course, to gain further experience in working the Patrol System. With this in view, as many Scouters as may be conveniently accommodated should be invited to assist. Experience has shown that the normal minimum is six.

3. Scouters who attend as Observers should be encouraged to watch activities from behind the boys, rather than to position themselves near the focal point, and they, rather than the boys, should be expected to take notes. Experience has shown that on such occasions spectator Scouters tend (quite understandably) to draw together for light conversation among themselves, thereby distracting the attention of the boys. A tactful word at the outset of the Course, with perhaps the issue of notebooks, might be the best way of coping with this situation.

4. The personal leadership of the Scouter in charge remains the most important factor in the conduct of this or any other Training Course. Discipline should be applied firmly but with a light touch. The highest standards of smartness, punctuality and good order should be established at the outset by example rather than precept and maintained throughout. Good humor should be the keynote.

5. Great care should be taken in the appointment of the Quartermaster, whose responsibility it will be to ensure that whatever gear is needed will be readily available at the right place at the right time (see Quartermaster notes). He will need assistance.

6. Particular attention should be taken of the spiritual needs of the Patrol Leaders. Something more than perfunctory prayers at the end of the day will be required if the Course is to make its mark. In this respect personal example is, as always, of the utmost importance. The Court of Honor should be responsible for the choice of prayers, as well as the Order of Service at Scouts Own and the actual physical preparation for the Service and for the Investiture Ceremony.


It must be recognized that a Course of this nature can only hope to achieve a limited objective. If we attempt too much we shall fail.

The training of a Patrol Leader is a long and subtle process which can only be undertaken by men who are in constant touch with the boy under training and therefore in a position to study his needs and so give him the individual attention which he will certainly require. No such function can be performed by this brief Course. 

Our Aim should be to supplement the training the boy receives from his own Troop Scouters, the technique being to illustrate what the Founder (with the Troop Scouter as interpreter in chief) has written in Scouting for Boys and elsewhere to pick out of the story the bits that are vital and lend themselves to graphic illustration, and then to design activities, physical, mental and spiritual, which, present those ideas in three dimensions.

The aim may be summarized thus:

1. To demonstrate typical Scouting activities within the framework of a Troop in which the Patrol is paramount.

2. To demonstrate the importance of the Patrol Leader as the lynch pin in the whole scheme of Scouting for Boys.

3. To demonstrate the technique of "learning through doing " by the immediate application of Scouting skills newly acquired.

4. To give as many boys as possible experience in both leading and following (See Leadership Training).

5. To give Patrol Leaders (and if possible their Scouters) a wide variety of ideas for Patrol Activities which they may take back to their own Troops.


A study of the syllabus will show that "sessions" in which Scouters talk while boys sit listening have been deliberately avoided. The technique should be to involve the Patrols in a good deal of interesting and amusing activity, and then, at reasonable intervals, pause for moment to look back in a brief review of what has been done and why. The principle should be that Scouters on the Course only talk about things that are done, and that the doing should come first.

The program has been arranged in a series of Troop and Patrol Meetings and Activities. Technical training as such is of secondary importance, although a reasonable amount might well be included in the process of training Patrol Leaders to lead and organize. A more important function of the Course, however, will be to illustrate methods of applying orthodox training in an imaginative and adventurous way, with the Patrol always as the unit.

The Course may be run in a variety of ways:

(a) A long weekend in camp, hostel, or Scout headquarters (Friday evening till Sunday afternoon). Resident or Non-Resident.

(b) Two weekends in camp, hostel, or Scout headquarters (Saturday afternoon till Sunday afternoon).

(c) A series of two or three weeknight meetings followed by a weekend in camp, hostel, or Scout headquarters.

There is, however, no standard time table for the Course and it may be varied to suit local conditions, provided the syllabus is fully covered, but alternative (c) on the face of it the least promising is surprisingly successful, not least because it gives ad hoc patrols a chance to shake down before full pressure comes on at the weekend.

To allow maximum time for leadership training, it may be found possible to enlist a Service Patrol of Rovers or Scouters to cook and serve meals, but when this method is employed the boys themselves should be expected to carry out such chores as peeling potatoes, washing dishes, etc. How much chores boys should carry out depends on their response to the tempo of the course. On some high pressure courses a breather of this nature is essential but where the natural responses of the Patrols, irrespective of the reasons, are slower then breaks of this nature may not be desirable. 

Full advantage should be taken of the opportunity as a practical exercise in the operation of the Fifth Scout Law, the Court of Honor acting as spokesman for the Troop in thanking the Rovers for their services at the end of the Course. It can hardly be expected that boys will think of doing this for themselves without a certain amount of prompting from the Scouter in charge, and it is in matters such as this that the Course can perhaps discharge a special function.

Meetings of the Court of Honor (the Patrol Leaders with the Scouter in charge) should be held at regular intervals throughout the Course and before each activity so that Patrol Leaders are thoroughly briefed in advance. One of the trickiest, but also the most rewarding, "gimmicks" is to have the log of the previous Committee Meeting very carefully prepared and read out using the correct procedure. This alleviates an air of artificiality which can be difficult to combat. On the whole the Court of Honor Meetings are the most difficult to organize and they require much careful thought beforehand. Instructions for Patrol Activities, Games and Projects, should be transmitted through Patrol Leaders and never directly from Scouter to Troop, except for Troop in Council.

The activities outlined in the syllabus are indicative only and may be varied at the discretion of the staff without prejudice to their main purpose, which is training in Patrol Leadership and organization.

Patrol Leader Training






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Last modified: October 15, 2016.