Fwd: The Boys Ask Green Bar Bill About the Patrol Method

posted Aug 7, 2017, 11:50 PM by Chicora District   [ updated Aug 7, 2017, 11:50 PM ]

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Subject: The Boys Ask Green Bar Bill About the Patrol Method

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Jun 08, 2017 11:28 am | Clarke Green
A virtual question and answer session with Green Bar Bill about the patrol method from the December 1943 Edition of Scouting magazine. If you aren’t familiar with Bill “Green Bar Bill” Hillcourt check out these articles to learn more.
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The Boys Ask Green Bar Bill About the Patrol Method

GENTLEMEN, we’ve been pushed entirely out of the picture this month. We invited a bunch of Patrol Leaders to this Round Table, because we wanted to find out what questions boys ask about the Patrol. Then to make them feel at home we asked Green Bar Bill, the BOYS’ LIFE expert, to join us. Before we realized what was happening the boys turned their backs on the rest of us and started asking Green Bar Bill questions. All we can do is sit back and let them talk it over. And that may be good for us! ·
Lincoln Jones, Patrol Leader, Troop 75, Columbus, Ga., leads off with:

“How important is it for a Patrol to hold Patrol Meetings outside of the Troop Meeting and what should the fellows do at these meetings?”

GREEN BAR BILL: “Let me say right off the bat that these are my own ideas and you may not agree with them. But this is a Round Table and we’re here to exchange ideas. The answer to Jones’s question is: VERY. What can be accomplished during a Troop meeting of an hour and a half in training the fellows? Not very much. So if the weekly Troop meeting were all the Scouting your fellows got for a whole week, they wouldn’t have much. But there’s one thing the Troop meeting can do. It can inspire the Scouts to get busy and do something about their Scouting; it can suggest to them things to do until they meet again for another Troop meeting. That’s where the Patrol meetings outside of the Troop meetings come in. It’s here the fellows can really settle down to work on advancement, on projects, to train for stunts and demonstrations to put on, to fix up camping equipment, and to plan the big events that are ahead for the Patrol.”
Monroe Fisher, Patrol Leader, Troop 20, Concord, N. C.:

“Should the Patrol Leader be selected by the members of his Patrol or by the Scoutmaster?”

GBB: This is my opinion – your Troop may not agree. “In a brand-new Troop where the boys don’t know each other too well, it may be advisable for the Scoutmaster to pick the temporary Patrol Leaders. But the ideal arrangement is to have the Scouts select for their leader the fellow they look up to and want to follow. Scouts are generally pretty smart and usually pick the boy best suited for the job. If they pick the wrong one – well, then I’m in favor of having them stew in their own juice for a while until they can find a way of solving the problem that will meet with their Scoutmaster’s approval. That will teach them what to look for in a leader.”
Jack Eskridge, Patrol Leader, Troop 1, Lawndale, N. C.:

“What are some of the things you can do to get your Scouts interested in advancement?”

GBB: “Take ’em hiking! Get them out-of-doors. Give them real Scouting. Follow a compass direction. Have them use a map. Cut fire wood and light a fire – by permission, of course, and cook a meal. Learn the trees, the birds, the stars. Try Scout’s Pace until everyone has mastered it. Signal with flags or smoke or fire. Follow the animal tracks you come across. Judge distances and heights. Fake some accidents that may occur in the wilderness and have the fellows care for the ‘victims.’
If you go on like that for a while, before you know a word about it, all of your Scouts will have done most of the things that are required for Second and First Class advancement. Then it’s a matter of a little pushing on your part to get them to finish up and a bit of pinning them down to be ready for the date of the next local Board. ‘Element’ try, my dear Watson,’ as Sherlock Holmes would have said.”
Jesse N. Margolin, Patrol Leader, Troop 198, Woodmere, N. Y.:

“ls it necessary to have Patrol Leaders’ meetings with Troop officers and why?”

GBB: “BUT DEFINITELY! Without those meetings your Troop wouldn’t be using the Patrol Method – that’s why. Patrol s are gangs of boys led by boys. The Troop consists of those Patrols working together. But how can they work together unless the leaders meet with each other and decide what needs to be done? So, the Patrol Leaders sit down with the other officers of the Troop to plan Troop meetings, hikes, camps and service projects. The Patrol Leaders report on their Patrol activities and get help · and advice on improving them. But those meetings have another very important function: It’s here that the Scoutmaster trains his boy leaders for the job of leadership in Patrol and Troop. The Patrol Leaders’ Meeting, or Patrol Leaders’ Council or Green Bar Council, as it is often called, is the heart of the Troop, the key to the Patrol Method.”
Jim Kiser, Patrol Leader, Troop 2, Bessemer City, N. C.:

“Is a boy a Patrol Leader because he wears two green bars?”

GBB: “Bingo! Here, right off the bat, we have the $64 question! The answer is NO – most emphatically NO! Some may insist he is – technically, at least. Well, I don’t give a hoot for technicalities like that. A badge alone does not make a boy a Patrol Leader. His actions do! It is the way he can get his boys to follow him, the way h e thinks up ideas and l e t’s the gang execute them, the way he keeps the fellows on the go that proves him a leader. Unless a boy is a REAL LEADER OF A PATROL he should never be given the privilege of wearing those two green bars.”
Anthony J. Murphy, Patrol Leader, Troop 18, Lowell, Mass. :

“In many Troops the Patrol Leader picks the Assistant Patrol Leader. How should this be done? Should it be the highest ranking Scout or the most capable Scout, for in many cases the highest ranking Scout is not the most capable of the Patrol?”

GBB: “I, too, believe in having the Patrol Leader pick his Assistant. Of course, while picking, he should think of the good of the Patrol and not so much of his own preference. He might have a very good friend among the Patrol members, but if he were smart he wouldn’t pick his friend unless that fellow were a good leader and acceptable to the other Scouts of the Patrol as a leader when he himself couldn’t be present. The Assistant, like the Patrol Leader, should be picked for leadership first, rather than for rank or age.”
Bill E. Jenkins, Patrol Leader, Troop 1, Maiden, N. C.:

“Should the Patrol Leader be older than the boys in the Patrol or should he be highest in rank?”

GBB: “It all depends. It would be a simple matter if the oldest boy were of the highest rank and also had the greatest amount of leadership. There are fellows like that. Such a fellow would be the one to pick. But if you don’t have any like that around, I’d put leadership first, rank next and age last. I’ve met First Class Scouts that weren’t worth a hoot as leaders. I’ve met fifteen-year-olds that couldn’t get along with twelve-year-olds on a bet. So give me a fellow with leadership and I’ll take a chance on his age and rank.”
Delbert G. Schmidt, Patrol Leader, Troop 21, West Bend, Wisc.:

“What can I do for discipline at meetings?”

GBB: “My Grandmother would have had the perfect answer for that one. When I was a tiny tot I wasn’t quite the angel I am today (no interruptions, please!). At times I’d cut up and make a nuisance of myself. What did my Grandmother do? She smeared my fingers with molasses and gave me a feather to play with. The result was that I got so busy trying to pick off the feather that I didn’t have time to be a nuisance. Get the point? Have your meetings so packed full of things to do that the fellows just don’t have the chance to stop for a moment to get into mischief.”
Fred Ellert, Patrol Leader, Troop 7, New Britain, Conn.:

“Should a Patrol Leader divide the work and responsibilities among his Patrol members or should he be in charge of everything?”

GBB: “An emphatic YES to the first part of the question and an equally emphatic NO to the last. For two reasons: First, to produce an effective and efficient Patrol, and, second, to give each fellow a chance for leadership. A Patrol is a small democracy. But a democracy can’t be strong unless each member of it accepts his responsibility and does his part. Give each fellow a chance to help in planning the work and a job to perform in working the plan. There’s a swell chapter on this Patrol organization in the Handbook for Patrol Leaders. Look it up.”
Walter Levine, Patrol Leader, Troop 38, New Haven, Conn.:

“How do I get my Patrol members to come to Patrol meetings?”

GBB: “Why do you go to the movies? Because movies show something you want to see! Why do Scouts go to Patrol meetings? Because they contain things they want to do! There’s your answer. The trouble is that in many Patrols the fellows would be much smarter if they stayed away; there’s nothing but fooling around. In the good Patrols it’s different, for two reasons. First of all, because they themselves have helped to plan meetings that are crammed full of things they want to do. They know they’ll have fun. And second, because they have accepted the responsibility for parts of the meetings and have to be there to carry through their job. In Patrols that work this way the fellows don’t want to miss a single meeting.”
Stephen Rumeny, Patrol Leader, Troop 3, Gardner, Mass.:

“Should the Patrol led by the Patrol Leader be able to go on hikes?”

GBB: “This is where I am going to stick my neck out. There are lots of Councils where the general rule is ‘No Patrol Hikes without adult leadership.’ They had good reasons for making that rule. They had had reports of irresponsible Patrols running wild, scarring up trees with axes, starting grass fires, destroying gates, chasing farm animals, ruining crops. So they said ‘nothing doing.’ And the rest of us have had to suffer for it ever since.
Fortunately, the Patrol Leaders in our Troop have become more mature and better trained. They know their responsibilities. They can make their fellows see sense and can get them to act like Scouts. So I feel that a qualified Patrol Leader should be able to get the permission of his Scoutmaster and h is Council to take his Patrol hiking. What do I mean by ‘qualified’? This: That he is a First Class Scout; that he has taken part in at least three Troop hikes and a hike of the Patrol Leaders’ Council; that he has been a successful Patrol Leader for several months. Besides, before taking the hike, he should insist upon written consent of the parents of each boy; he should be familiar with the country to be covered and he should have secured permission of the property owner if fire building and cooking is on the program.”

“Well, that was quite a dose for one session, wasn’t it?”

“I would like to say one word before we give this meeting back to the Chairman of the Round Table: I have expressed my own ideas in answer to your questions. I think they are sound, because I have tried them out. But some of your Troops may do it differently. I’m not saying my way is the only way, I just know it’s the way that works best for my Troop. It was good to have this chance to get together with you fellows. I hope we can do it again sometime to talk over our Patrol problems.”
Well, Green Bar Bill, we’ve enjoyed listening to you answer Patrol Leaders’ questions. There are a lot of questions we would like to ask you, too, hut it’s time to close now, so we’ll have to discuss the whole subject with our own Troop Staffs and see if we agree with you and how we can make our Patrols click better than ever. The meeting is adjourned.

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