Excerpted from BSA Troop Committee Guidebook
Copyright 1990, Boy Scouts of America, ISBN 0-8395-6505-4
Let’s take a look at how a troop functions. In order to support the troop’s operation, you will need to know its structure.
The Scoutmaster is the adult leader responsible for the image and program of the troop. The Scoutmaster and his assistant Scoutmasters work directly with the Scouts. The importance of the Scoutmaster’s job is reflected in the fact that the quality of his guidance will affect every youth and adult involved in the troop.
The Scoutmaster can be male or female, but must be at least 21 years old. The Scoutmaster is appointed by the head of the chartered organization.
The Scoutmaster’s duties include:
- Train and guide boy leaders.
- Work with other responsible adults to bring Scouting to boys.
- Use the methods of Scouting to achieve the aims of Scouting.
- Meet regularly with the patrol leaders’ council for training and coordination in planning troop activities.
- Attend all troop meetings or, when necessary, arrange for a qualified adult substitute.
- Attend troop committee meetings.
- Conduct periodic parents’ sessions to share the program and encourage parent participation and cooperation.
- Take part in annual membership inventory and uniform inspection, charter review meeting, and charter presentation.
- Conduct Scoutmaster conferences for all rank advancements.
- Provide a systematic recruiting plan for new members and see that they are promptly registered.
- Delegate responsibility to other adults and groups (assistants, troop committee) so that they have a real part in troop operations.
- Supervise troop elections for the Order of the Arrow.
- Make it possible for each Scout to experience at least 10 days and nights of camping each year.
- Participate in council and district events.
- Build a strong program by using proven methods presented in Scouting literature.
- Conduct all activities under qualified leadership, safe conditions, and the policies of the chartered organization and the Boy Scouts of America.As you see, the Scoutmaster has many responsibilities.
To fulfill his obligation to the troop, the Scoutmaster, with the assistance of the troop committee, recruits assistant Scoutmasters to help operate the troop. Each assistant Scoutmaster is assigned specific program duties and reports to the Scoutmaster. They also provide the required two-deep leadership standards set by the Boy Scouts of America (there must be at least two adults present at any Boy Scout activity). An assistant Scoutmaster may be 18 years old, but at least one in each troop should be 21 or older, so he or she can serve in the Scoutmaster’s absence.
Types of assistant Scoutmasters include:
- Assistant Scoutmaster – New Scouts
- Assistant Scoutmaster – Venture
- Assistant Scoutmaster – VarsityA troop should recruit as many assistant Scoutmasters as possible. It has been found that many successful troops have three or more.
The Scout troop is made up of patrols. A patrol is a grouping of six to eight boys who work together. Each patrol elects its own boy leader, called a patrol leader.
The new Scout patrol is composed of new members who have not entered the seventh grade.
The experienced Scout patrol is for those boys who are age 12 and older.
Venture patrols are made up of boys who are age 13 and older who want more challenging high-adventure experiences.
Varsity teams are made up of boys who are age 13 and older who want team sport activities.
Both Varsity and Venture Scouting activities may include the participation of girls, but the young women may not register as crew or team members. When girls participate in Venture and Varsity activities, a woman 21 years of age or older must be present along with the adult male leader.
The Troop’s Youth Leaders
The troop is actually run by its boy leaders. With the guidance of the Scoutmaster and his assistants, they plan the program, conduct troop meetings, and provide leadership among their peers.
Junior Leader Positions
- Senior patrol leader – top junior leader in the troop. He leads the patrol leaders’ council and, in consultation with the Scoutmaster, appoints other junior leaders and assigns specific responsibilities as needed.
- Assistant senior patrol leader – fills in for senior patrol leader in his absence. He is also responsible for training and giving direction to the quartermaster, scribe, troop historian, librarian, and instructors.
- Troop Historian – collects and maintains troop memorabilia and information on former troop members.
- Librarian – keeps troop books, pamphlets, magazines, audiovisuals, and merit badge counselor list available for use by troop members.
- Instructor – teaches one or more advancement skills to troop members.
- Chaplain Aide – assists in troop religious services and promotes religious emblems program.
- Junior assistant Scoutmaster – a Scout 16 or older who supervises and supports other boy leaders as assigned.
- Patrol leader – gives leadership to members of his patrol and represents them on the patrol leaders’ council.
- Assistant patrol leader – fills in for the patrol leader in his absence.
- Venture crew chief – leader of a troop’s Venture crew.
- Varsity team captain – leader of a troop’s Varsity team.
- Troop guide – advisor and guide to the new Scout patrol.
- Den chief – works with a Cub Scout den as a guide.
- Quartermaster – responsible for troop supplies and equipment.
- Scribe – the troop secretary.
The Patrol Leaders’ Council
The patrol leaders’ council, not the adult leaders, is responsible for planning and conducting the troop’s activities. The patrol leaders’ council is composed of the following voting members: senior patrol leader, assistant senior patrol leader, patrol leaders, troop guide, Venture crew chief, Varsity team captain.
The troop’s activities are selected and planned at the annual program planning conference. The troop’s yearly plan is then submitted to the troop committee for approval. The troop committee either approves the plan or makes alternative suggestions for the patrol leaders’ council to consider. At its monthly meetings, the patrol leaders’ council organizes and assigns activity responsibilities for the weekly troop meetings. The troop committee interacts with the patrol leaders’ council through the Scoutmaster.