Patrols & Leadership

A leader is best when people barely know he exists; not so good when people obey and acclaim him; worst when they despise him. But a good leader who talks little when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say ‘we did it ourselves.’” —Chinese philosopher Sun-Tsu

Troop Positions of Responsibility   – Troop Leadership Positions (in BSA format)  

Junior Leader Handbook (in Troop 980 format – by Tr Bryan Van)

The following leadership positions count toward Boy Scout advancement. For more information, see:

Patrol Method 

Patrol Leader  (PL)

The patrol leader is the top leader of a patrol. He represents the patrol at all patrol

leaders’ council meetings and the annual program planning conference and keeps

patrol members informed of decisions made. He plays a key role in planning, leading,

and evaluating patrol meetings and activities and prepares the patrol to participate in all

troop activities. The patrol leader learns about the abilities of other patrol members and

full involves them in patrol and troop activities by assigning them specific tasks and

responsibilities. He encourages patrol members to complete advancement requirements

and sets a good example by continuing to pursue his own advancement.

 Senior Patrol Leader (SPL)

The senior patrol leader is the top leader of the troop. He is responsible for the troop’s

overall operation. With guidance from the Scoutmaster, he takes charge of troop

meetings, of the patrol leaders’ council, and of all troop activities, and he does

everything he can to help each patrol be successful. He is responsible for annual

program planning conferences and assists the Scoutmaster in conducting troop

leadership training. The senior patrol leader presides over the patrol leaders’ council

and works closely with each patrol leader to plan troop meetings and make

arrangements for troop activities. All members of a troop vote by secret ballot to choose

their senior patrol leader. Rank and age requirements to be a senior patrol leader are

determined by each troop, as is the schedule of elections. During a Scout’s time as

senior patrol leader, he is not a member of any patrol but may participate with a Venture

patrol in high-adventure activities.


Assistant Senior Patrol Leader (ASPL)

The assistant senior patrol leader works closely with the senior patrol leader to help the

troop move forward and serves as acting senior patrol leader when the senior patrol

leader is absent. Among his specific duties, the assistant senior patrol leader trains and

provides direction to the troop quartermaster, scribe, historian, librarian, instructors, and

Order of the Arrow representative. During his tenure as assistant senior patrol leader he

is not a member of a patrol, but he may participate in the high-adventure activities of a

Venture patrol. Large troops may have more than one assistant senior patrol leader,

each appointed by the senior patrol leader.


Troop Guide (TG)

The troop guide is both a leader and a mentor to the members of the new-Scout patrol.

He should be an older Scout who holds at least the First Class rank and can work well

with younger Scouts. He helps the patrol leader of the new-Scout patrol in much the

same way that a Scoutmaster works with a senior patrol leader to provide direction,

coaching, and support. The troop guide is not a member of another patrol but may

participate in the high-adventure activities of a Venture patrol.

Quartermaster (QM)

The quartermaster is the troop’s supply boss. He keeps an inventory of troop equipment

and sees that the gear is in good condition. He works with patrol quartermasters as they

check out equipment and return it, and at meetings of the patrol leaders’ council he

reports on the status of equipment in need of replacement or repair. In carrying out his

responsibilities, he may have the guidance of a member of the troop committee.



The scribe is the troop’s secretary. Though not a voting member, he attends meetings

of the patrol leaders’ council and keeps a record of the discussions. He cooperates with

the patrol scribes to record attendance and dues payments at troop meetings and to

maintain troop advancement records. A member of the troop committee may assist him

with his work.



The historian collects and preserves troop photographs, news stories, trophies, flags,

scrapbooks, awards, and other memorabilia and makes materials available for Scouting

activities, the media, and troop history projects.



The troop librarian oversees the care and use of troop books, pamphlets, magazines,

audiovisuals, and merit badge counselor lists. He checks out these materials to Scouts

and leaders and maintains records to ensure that everything is returned. He may also

suggest the acquisition of new literature and report the need to repair or replace any

current holdings.



Each instructor is an older troop member proficient in a Scouting skill. He must also

have the ability to teach that skill to others. An instructor typically teaches subjects that

Scouts are eager to learn—especially those such as first aid, camping, and

backpacking—that are required for outdoor activities and rank advancement. A troop

can have more than one instructor.


Outdoor Ethics Guide (former: Leave No Trace Trainer) (new in 2016)

The Leave No Trace Trainer specializes in teaching Leave No Trace principles and

ensuring that the troop follows these principles on outings. He can also help Scouts

earn the Leave No Trace award. He should have a thorough understanding of and

commitment to Leave No Trace. Ideally, he should have completed Leave No Trace

training and earned the Camping and Environmental Science merit badges.


Chaplain Aide

The chaplain aide assists the troop chaplain (usually an adult from the troop committee

or the chartered organization) in serving the religious needs of the troop. He ensures

that religious holidays are considered during the troop’s program planning process and

promotes the BSA’s religious emblems program.



The bugler plays the bugle (or a similar interest) to mark key moments during the day

on troop outings, such as reveille and lights out. He must know the required bugle calls

and should ideally have earned the Bugling merit badge.


Den Chief

The den chief works with a den of Cub Scouts and with their adult leaders. He takes

part in den meetings, encourages Cub Scout advancement, and is a role model for

younger boys. Serving as den chief can be a great first leadership experience for a



Webelos Den Chief

A Webelos den chief can help plan and assist with the leadership of Webelos den

meetings and field activities. He can lead songs and stunts, and encourage Webelos

Scouts to progress into the Boy Scout troop.


Order of the Arrow Troop Representative

The Order of the Arrow representative serves as a communication link between the

troop and the local Order of the Arrow lodge. By enhancing the image of the Order as a

service arm to the troop, he promotes the Order, encourages Scouts to take part in all

sorts of camping opportunities, and helps pave the way for older Scouts to become

involved in high-adventure programs. The OA troop representative assists with

leadership skills training. He reports to the assistant senior patrol leader.


Troop Webmaster

The troop webmaster is responsible for maintaining the troop’s website. He should

make sure that information posted on the website is correct and up to date and that

members’ and leaders’ privacy is protected. A member of the troop committee may

assist him with his work.


Junior Assistant Scoutmaster

A Scout at least 16 years of age who has shown outstanding leadership skills may be

appointed by the senior patrol leader, with the advice and consent of the Scoutmaster,

to serve as a junior assistant Scoutmaster. These young men (a troop may have more

than one junior assistant Scoutmaster) follow the guidance of the Scoutmaster in

providing support and supervision to other boy leaders in the troop. Upon his 18th

birthday, a junior assistant Scoutmaster will be eligible to become an assistant Scoutmaster.

(Edited: Sept 2017 by Tr Bryan)

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