Qualities of the best patrols

Green Bar Bill recounts the qualities of good patrols.

A TROOP’S BEST patrols exhibit enthusiasm, teamwork, and camaraderie—that special spark known as patrol spirit.

How do your patrols measure up? Here are some tips for building patrol spirit and a way to reward success:

  • Choose a good name. This is a key step toward building patrol identity. Use descriptive words, like Roaring River Rats or Fearless Falcons.
  • Create a distinctive patrol yell.
  • Make a patrol flag. Draw the design on canvas or heavy cloth and mount it to a wooden staff. Carry the flag wherever the patrol goes.
  • Develop members’ talents. Does anyone have a specialty? Maybe some are great cobbler cooks or outstanding actors for campfire skits.
  • Team up for patrol competitions. These contests are fun and strengthen bonds of friendship and cooperation needed to achieve group goals.
  • Show off patrol quality by earning the National Honor Patrol Award, which requires fulfilling the following requirements over a three-month period:
    1. Have a patrol name, flag, and yell. Put the patrol design on equipment and use the patrol yell. Keep patrol records up-to-date.
    2. Hold two patrol meetings each month.
    3. Take part in at least one hike, outdoor activity, or other Scouting event.
    4. Complete two Good Turns or service projects approved by the patrol leaders’ council.
    5. Help two patrol members advance in rank.
    6. Have at least 75 percent of members in full uniform at troop activities.
    7. Have a representative attend at least three patrol leaders’ council meetings.
    8. Have eight members in the patrol or experience an increase in patrol membership.

Each unit leader determines if a patrol qualifies for the National Honor Patrol Award, an embroidered gold star (BSA No. 00367) worn under the patrol emblem and purchased at Scout shops or council service centers. There is no application form.

—Scott Daniels

Methods for improving patrol teamwork, adapted from material by the late William (Green Bar Bill) Hillcourt or from other sources, appear periodically in this column.


  1. Interesting to see how the requirements have changed (and not changed) since I was a Scoutmaster in the early to mid 90’s. When we reorganized the troop from time to time, we never gave a patrol more than 7 members . . . so they’d have to recruit to get the award. Our Scorpion Patrol won the award (Then called the Baden-Powell Patrol Award) in 1992 or 1993. The boys were VERY proud of thier stars, and I egged them on by “manufacturing” a 4 inch yellow star for their Patrol Flag.

    We ALSO had a patrol compitition by quarters in our Troop, with points given weekly for various uniform and behavior goals. Winning patrol got Baskin-Robbins gift cards. (As I recall, a typical patrol could earn about 150 points in a normal week, and there were LARGE bonuses for members advancing in rank. . . and 1000 points for earning the B-P Patrol Star.

  2. This us a great article, and a reminder of true patrol & Scout spirit. I remember reading Green Bar Bill’s patrol description in my Boy Scout handbook. I’m an Eagle Scout, a Cubmaster, and father of a Webelo, and this short little article was a great read for myself & my son.

1 Trackback / Pingback

  1. How Scouts' friendships strengthen patrols - Scouting magazine

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.