Patrols

Cambridge District Scout Archive

The idea of a Patrol as being the core unit of Scouting is clear from BP’s original works. The very first description of a scarf states that it should be patrol colours; the primary identification was with the patrol.

The Troop is not an afterthought but a collection of Patrols.

In well established Troops individual patrol work was the core of the training and activities. This relied on a number of older Scouts remaining in the Troop, something that has been difficult to achieve within some troops.

  • (See Structure/ Trends/ Retention in Cambridge – and other Retention pages)

A solid troop that enables such work needs to be built and many troops struggled to step outside the limits of their founding institutions.

In the following examples the Troops have several features that facilitate the patrol work. Often they have access to a dedicated space for more than one evening a week. Several examples are from schools with pupils up to the age of 18. Groups that have Rover Crew, a feature that supports holding on to older Scouts, also have a depth of experience and a wider support team.

A number of District and County competitions are for Patrols; the Query and Alert competition and the Hele Camping Trophy. ‘Made’ patrols (composites), were prohibited in some events and others had a total age limit. The Query competition gave extra marks for demonstrating that all members of the patrol had played a part in providing the answers.

Patrol camps, lead by the Patrol leader and without Scout Master supervision, were part of many troops, often only minimally recorded. In 1946 one troop recorded only 38 leaders nights against 1488 Scout nights camped, suggestive of many patrol camps. The 12th stop listing after 7 camps and 1300 nights with ‘etc., etc.‘. In contrast other troops list 10 boy nights and 2 leader nights for the year, or 70 leader nights anad 74 boy nights.

  • (See Activities/ Camping/ District Camping Records)

1915 The 17th formed a small Belgian Patrol of four (Scout News Cambridge Journal)

Cambridge Archive

1910 2nd Cambridge This Troop, active from 1908, was reduced to being ‘patrols within’ the 1st Cambridge District Troop at Cherry Hinton. The patrols were able to maintain a separate identity and emerged to reform back in Newnham. The Cherry Hinton Troop was based outside the town boundary and a clear distance from Newnham, a factor that probably diminished any inclination to amalgamate.

1913 1st Cambridge Sea Scouts, based at their new riverside Headquarters, report ‘With regard to the Trooop it is run on Patrol lines. Patrols each have a separate evening, when, in addition to ordinary routine, instruction is given by the patrol leader in rowing, sailing and watermanship generally. Troop parades for outdoor work are held every alternative Saturday afternooon.’ Headquarters Gazette Sept 1913

1933 Haslingfield, later Harston and Haslingfield. The patrols each met in their own village (Harlton/ Little Eversden, Harston, Haslingfield, Newton, and Hauxton) and each aimed to specialise in one area of Scouting. It is not clear if this was successful. In this case each patrols met in whatever building their village could provide. Many years later a Patrol plaque was discovered in the wall of a barn.

1939 13th Cambridge ‘also had several London Scouts (evacuees) to stay with us owing to the onset of war on the 1st September 1939’.  This group of six was later placed in a separate patrol, Swallows. 

1942 With the advent of Air Scouts and War Service Scouts some Troops ran specialist patrols within one troop. War Service Scouts were 15+ and at the end of the war became Senior Scouts.

  • (See also Structure/ Sections/ Air Scouts in Cambridge)
  • (See also Structure/ Sections/ Sea Scouts in Cambridge)

1946 Senior Scouts became a separate section following the war but had, in practice, been a feature of many Troops from the very early days. The 13th Cambridge temporarily ran Senior and Junior patrols (pre WW1) as it experienced a major intake of new Scouts after a period of no new members. This was frowned upon by District but was not intended to be a long term measure.

  • (See also Structure/ Sections/ Senior Scouts in Cambridge)

JWR Archivist June 2020