Transition from Adult to Youth Leadership – The Patrol Leader’s Council by CLARKE GREEN on JULY 13, 2009
A healthy patrol leaders council (PLC) is the heart of a youth led troop. It should gather often to discuss and plan the troop’s program. The senior patrol leader (SPL) chairs the PLC, the Scribe keeps minutes and the meeting is open to patrol leaders (PL) and any other youth leaders, although the SPL, ASPL and PL's are the only voting members, any youth's opinion should be heard by the PLC.
I’d suggest that the PLC meet before and after every troop meeting for a few minutes and once a month for an hour or so. In lieu of our regular Monday troop meeting the PLC meets on the Monday after our monthly outing. Monthly meetings are a bit more formal than those held weekly, this is were the PLC will do the bulk of its planning, discussion and decision making. It should follow an agenda, maintain minutes and use salient elements of the rules of order. The PLC also meets every night when we are camping.
As a rule the Scoutmaster is the only adult who actively participates in meetings of the PLC, and only at the invitation of the SPL. Other adult leaders may observe but must not speak unless they are spoken to. Scoutmasters and their assistants tend to have all the answers and/or a great deal to say about planning and presenting the Troop’s program. However helpful or informative they may feel they are being their input tends to diminish the process of Scouts finding some important things out for themselves. The role of adult leadership when the PLC is meeting should be clearly understood and strictly followed.
Weekly meetings are much less formal – ten minutes before the troop meets, ten minutes after. Before meetings the PLC reviews plans and checks to see that all is in readiness, after meetings they discuss that evening’s meeting, address any concerns that arose and review plans for the next week.
A Scoutmaster who listens carefully at these meetings will see many opportunities to interject a bit of coaching and mentoring into the proceedings. He may want to ask some questions that will help focus the efforts of the PLC. In forming a new troop, or in a PLC that has significantly changed due to leadership elections, or in the case of a troop transitioning to youth leadership the Scoutmaster may have a somewhat more active role in the PLC but it must be a measured and disciplined role.
At the end of each meeting of the PLC the Scoutmaster should have the opportunity to make some brief remarks. When a PLC is running smoothly these remarks should be something along the lines of ”You seem to have a handle on things, you’re doing a good job, unless you have any questions for me I’m finished.”