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Chapter VII

You want your gang to become a real Patrol—and only a hiking Patrol is a real one.

We can break Patrol hikes generally into two classes. One—where you don't want to be tied down by fire making and cooking. This may be because you have other specific training to do such as signaling, tracking, nature lore or pioneering and want to use every minute of your time for that purpose or maybe your hike will take you through territory where fire building isn't permitted. Or you may have another good reason for making short work of the eating business.

Anyway, on this type of a hike you bring along prepared food that can be eaten quite quickly and requires little clean up afterwards. This hike is planned for simple, quick meals.

The other type of hike is where fire building and cooking have a prominent place in the program. It is easy to see that fire increases your responsibility as a Leader, and that cooking means more planning and preparation before you set out. On the first few hikes of this variety let your boys prepare their meals individually. This will train them for their Second Class cooking requirement. Later, your Patrol will want to go in for real Patrol cookery to prepare for camping, with the boys taking turns in cooking the meals for the entire Patrol.

Planning The Hike

Let's go through the necessary planning for a Patrol Hike. What do we want to do? For every hike you need to have a definite objective. Check on your advancement on your Progress Chart and see where weaknesses in the Patrol lie. Then set about growing your hike around that weakness. Where?—If your Patrol organization is working already, you'll turn to your Hikemaster for recommendations as to where to go. If you don't have a Hikemaster, put the same question to all the boys in the Patrol, then weigh the suggestions and decide on the route and place that will best fit the object of the hike.

Here are a few general hints:

If your Patrol is new, make a hike short. Two or three miles out and the same distance back will be enough. If there is bus service available you may decide to go by bus to a certain place from which a short hike will bring you to a suitable spot.

Later on, increase the amount of walking. It's all a matter of training.

A good rule to follow is this: Keep away from main highways. They are dangerous, they have few beauty spots and hiking on a concrete surface is tiring.

When?  In most cases the answer to this question is Saturday or some holiday. You can start out early in the morning and need not return before night. There's no school homework waiting for you. Everybody's mind is free—everyone's ready for adventure and a good time.

For a half day hike, Friday afternoon after school, is good.

Then there is Sunday, if the boys can't make it on a weekday. In the matter of Sunday hikes you need to know and follow the  policy on Sunday activities.  If your boys have fulfilled their religious obligations and if your Scoutmaster and your boy's parents approve, you may undertake a Sunday afternoon hike.

How ?  This gets you into the actual preparation for the hike. You have to find out about transportation, decide on equipment and figure out expenses.

You must inform the parents and your Scoutmaster of Patrol hikes — Where you are going and when you expect to return.

If you intend to start your hike well out of town you need to check on bus, street car or even railroad transportation. If you have the real cooperation of the parents, you may be able to line up a couple of family cars to take the Patrols to an appropriate starting point.

If your Patrol den is conveniently located, you will want to start your hike from there. If not, the home of one of the Scouts may prove to be the best place for assembling. If you are going by bus or train, the smartest trick may be to meet at bus stop or railroad station.

Transportation costs money. So, before the gang decides on any extensive hike that involves cost of transportation, he had better make sure that all the boys can afford the trip.

For your first hikes, each Scout brings his own food from home.

Final Plans

The hike has been discussed. The whole gang has been in on the decision. Now it's up to you as a Patrol Leader to sum up what has been agreed upon and get the last few details straightened out.

Be sure that all your boys have everything down pat—when to meet, where to meet, what to bring. No, they won't remember it all, unless they write it down. Insist that they jot down the details on a slip of paper or in their notebooks.

Just one more thing and you're all set: before starting out, get together with your Second and make up a short program for the day. That will help you get the greatest possible results out of your hike.

Patrol Camping

Your Scouts will like their hiking, but the experience they look forward to the most, from the day they become Scouts is — camp. One of the greatest things you can do as a Patrol Leader is to turn your Patrol into a camping Patrol, with each Scout a trained camper. This takes time.

Camping is really just advanced hiking. It takes more planning and more equipment.

After you have conducted several one day hikes, then comes the greatest adventure of all—the weekend camp. It is planned in exactly the same way as a hike, but much more equipment is needed. Certain standards are required of the Patrol Leader before he takes his Patrol on an overnight camp. To mention a few:

  1. You must be a First Class Scout.
  2. You must have had camping experience under other leaders.
  3. You must have conducted successfully several one day hikes, where meals were cooked by your Patrol.
  4. You must have the permission of the property owner to make camp, light fires, etc.
  5. You must submit your complete program for the approval of your Scoutmaster.
  6. You must have the consent of the parents of each boy.

If your camp includes a Sunday, it is also necessary to secure the cooperation of the church authorities. Some Patrols have done this by inviting the minister to conduct a Scout's Own, at such an hour as will enable him to visit camp between church services. In other instances Patrols have enlisted the support of the church by asking the minister to draw up a simple service to be conducted by the Patrol Leader.

For your first weekend camp, you will probably find it helpful to have the Scoutmaster or Assistant Scoutmaster present, not to take charge, but simply to advise if things go wrong.

Having decided you can meet the necessary standards which your Scoutmaster demands, the next important item is equipment. Obviously, you must have tents, and you will need the kind which can be carried easily by the boys. You will have to decide at your Patrol meeting whether you prefer pup tents, each to accommodate two Scouts. Pup tents can be made so that each Scout carries half a tent on the hike. If you choose to have two tents for the Patrol naturally your Second will have charge of one tent and you, the other. Whatever you decide on, the important thing is that your Patrol should work for funds during the winter to buy your own tents or the materials with which to make them.

Cooking utensils can be borrowed from home until you are able to buy them for your own. Having got this far you are ready to plan your first camp. You should give some time at each Patrol meeting to the various details, and there are so many that you will naturally start a few weeks before the camp.

Site:  Three important factors to be considered: shelter, water and wood.

When?  This will depend on your Patrol. Some boys prefer a camp from Friday evening until Saturday night. There may be others in your Patrol who work on Saturdays, and who cannot leave until Saturday evening. Consider all the different angles.

How?  You must first organize your Patrol for camp, so that on arrival at the site everyone has a job to do. Broadly, you will divide your Patrol in two parties. You will take one half of the Patrol and prepare the first meal, gather firewood, etc., and the Second with the other half of the Patrol will erect the tents, dig the grease pits, etc. There are other items which need careful planning such as personal equipment, Patrol equipment, menus.

In all your planning keep in mind the weight of your equipment and foodstuffs. Eliminate unnecessary things, and divide the load amongst the Patrol with due regard for the difference in size and strength of the boys.

Finally, conduct your Patrol camp just as a good Troop camp would be conducted; rising at the proper time, tent inspection, rest period, Sunday observances, lights out; all must be carried out strictly according to your plans. Great care must be taken with swim periods. The area you are to swim or boat in must have the approval of your Scoutmaster. This is important so that proper water safety precautions may be observed. See the  PO&R . Do not, under any circumstances, allow anyone to swim alone, no matter how proficient he may be.

Leave your campsite showing no signs of occupation and thank the owner.


The Founder, Baden-Powell, said "Camp is a Scoutmaster's great opportunity". It is the Patrol Leader's great opportunity also if the Camp is operated on the Patrol system. Only in Camp do Scouts live together under the complete influence of the Scout program for any continuous length of time. Under these conditions the Patrol can really grow both in spirit and in technical advancement.

In Camp the Patrol operates entirely on it's own —whether it succeeds or fails depends on its previous training, your ability, and the spirit which prevails among the Patrol members.

Training For Camping

Training for camping begins as soon as a boy joins the Patrol. At Patrol meetings and on Patrol hikes he learns the basic skills that he will need, not only to be able to camp, but to live comfortably and enjoyably in camp.

Short Term Patrol Camps

The preparation and operation of Patrol weekend or short term camps is pretty well the same. The goal that you should aim for is to be able to take your Patrol on your own to camp.

Patrol camps are planned by the Patrol-in-Council. There you discuss the program, the menus, transportation and the Patrol Treasurer will collect the allocated to members of the Patrol. Usually the Patrol Leader will make up the final program, possibly the Patrol Cook and another will draw up the menu and purchase the stores. Patrol Quartermaster will organize the equipment, someone else will arrange the transportation and the Patrol Treasurer will collect the necessary camp fee and provide the funds for purchasing food and incidentals.

Naturally you, as Patrol Leader will submit all plans for the camp to the Scoutmaster and discuss these plans with him thoroughly. No Patrol may go to camp without the Scoutmaster's permission.

Arriving in camp, the Patrol will set up its own self-contained camp including sleeping tent, stores tent, kitchen, dining area, latrine and ablutions arrangements. The Patrol Leader is in complete charge of his Patrol and responsible for discipline and organization.

Long Term Or Troop Camps

Troop Camps are planned by the Court of Honor in conjunction with the Scouters. Original planning for the annual Summer Camp should take place nine to ten months prior to Camp being held. The selection of good camp sites is part of the training of a Scout so whenever possible the Court of Honor should visit the sites so that they may learn and have the opportunity to express their own choice. Once the site is chosen then the Court of Honor should also select possible Patrol sites and make a map of the site to facilitate planning at home. Back at Troop Headquarters the copy of the map, together with any photographs or other relevant data, should be posted on the notice board to begin promoting the next summer camp. 

The Court of Honor will help in compiling menus and drawing up food orders and also with the program. Camping with his Patrol gives each Scout identity as an important member of the team and the experience will develop his ability and self reliance. In a well organized Patrol there are no chores, because every boy has his responsibility and takes pride in seeing it through to a satisfactory conclusion for his pals. In this respect each Patrol Leader should draw up a roster for the daily routine so there is no likelihood of one or two boys being "joed" for the same jobs. Working for the Patrol and his pals is an important function in character building, therefore the practice of each boy doing his own washing up etc., is to be deprecated. Many excellent books are available on camping and these should be studied by the Patrol Leader and the Patrol as a whole.

The Patrol Leader

The Patrol System






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Last modified: October 15, 2016.