The Patrol Leaders’ Council ( PLC ): Why it matters… Part 4 of 5

The PLC has a major function on campouts. There is a lot do to before, during and after a campout. Things like equipment needs, duty rosters, patrol menus, activities, rank advancement and skill sign-offs are your typical areas of focus. In part 4 of 5 we will be going over how the PLC should handle campouts. 

The PLC accountability for campouts include:

  • Theme Planned
  • Camp Duty Rosters made at a high level
  • Lessons Learned from the previous campouts
  • Annual Event Planning

Theme planned: As part of the PLC accountability goals for troop programming, campouts should/could be included to wrap up that month’s particular subject (read part 3 of 5 for more information on this). This is to say that all the skills that the troop has went through is usually the focus of the next month’s campout to test and bring full circle the subject content studied and practiced during the weekly meetings. These campout can focus on rank advancement, merit badge requirements, leadership training, etc. Our troop also has the “laid back campouts” scheduled in where there is no real theme other than the scouts having a fun time goofing off and hanging out. If scouts want to go after sign-offs they can if they want to go fishing they can, etc etc etc. It’s important to have these kind of campouts too. They may be laid back but there are still duty rosters and some structure. 

Duty rosters made at a high level: There are patrol duties on all of our troop campouts: water, campfire, service. Water patrol makes sure that all the water jugs are filled for cooking, cleaning and drinking. Campfire patrol makes sure that there is enough wood for campfires and gets the fire started. Service patrol usually has miscellaneous duties assigned at camp by the adult leadership. The patrol leaders should know beforehand if their patrol has drawn a particular patrol duty on one of the days during the campout to get prepped for it. The PLC assigns the overall duty, the patrol leader assigns the scouts who are attending the campout. This is also the part where the PLC figures out who is doing all the teaching or training of the skills. We just came from a campout two months ago where the scouts figured out who was teaching what subject and when. If an adult leader is needed to teach then an adult leader is asked and scheduled. On that particular campout the scouts did all the training. The adult leaders audited. Sounds like a dream doesn’t it? 🙂 To be honest that doesn’t happen all the time just yet but it was definitely a step in the right direction.

Lessons Learned (Start, Stop and Continue): Here is where the PLC can really move forward quickly. By writing down past successes, things to avoid or things to make sure get done will serve the troop much better than relying on the scoutmaster or other adult leaders to remember for the next campout. If they do this step properly they can shortcut a lot of potential issues during the campout which makes things go a lot better for everyone involved. Remember PLC membership isn’t permanent for years and years. Sometimes it can be only a few months. The trap of not doing lessons learned is that the same mistakes will be done time and time again because there is different membership in the PLC over short periods of time (usually) and people forget things. The adult leaders get frustrated because they find themselves going over the same issues over and over again. Documenting previous problems and solutions takes away the issue of people needing to remember stuff especially if they weren’t there to begin with… 🙂 These lessons learned should be categorized and reviewed before the next similar event.

Annual Event Planning: In general, annual event planning for the troop is a mechanism to give a rough thumbnail of a schedule and location for the troop’s monthly events a year out in advance. For this goal the PLC should be ranking campouts if they want to put that particular type of campout or activity back in rotation for the next year. Our troop usually debriefs after each campout and discusses if we think that location, event, or type of campout is worth doing again for the money spent or experiences made. The troop PLC may decided to do that event again or do that event at a better time of the year or not do it at all. By taking a little time after each campout to do this, the annual event planning takes so much less time to accomplish at the end of the year. This is also a time to consider new events that we may want to try. This will give the older scouts a reason to stick around the troop more. Sure, we have some favorites that we do every year but scouts and scoutmasters need some variety of events and activities too. 🙂

The accountability objective for campouts is a big deal and accomplishment for the PLC to tackle in an hour, along with the other major objectives it has to consider. We have found some ways to make the time. For my troop, we have small PLCs each night on a campout to do quick recaps or go through what needs to happen the following day. I am trying to get my PLC to email each other through the week on important issues or items that need to get resolved before the next activity, campout, etc. It’s hit and miss currently. Each time your PLC reforms you will need to rehash some things, reset expectations, etc but by having a lot of this already documented it should prove to be an easier transition. The scouts begin to value all those lessons learned so they don’t repeat them and they have much better time in scouts too.

Good luck out there scouters!


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The author, Tony Zizak, is a long time scouter, Eagle Scout, and the scoutmaster of Troop 119 Ellettsville, IN. He has been to scout camps across the country and was a certified Program Director, Aquatics Director and a Scoutcraft Director. As a youth Tony received his Vigil Honor and served as a Lodge Chief for Tseyedin Lodge #65. Reach out to him for any questions you may have on this article.

#ScoutsBSA #PLC #Youth-Led

Members can download this article here. PLC 4 of 5 (8 downloads)