As a troop’s Senior Patrol Leader (SPL), you’ll have many regular responsibilities, but one of the most important is your duty to organize and lead Patrol Leaders’ Council (PLC) meetings. You probably already know about these meetings, and maybe have even attended a few — but, in this article, I’ll be teaching you everything you’ll need to know to organize and successfully run a PLC meeting of your own!
What’s a Patrol Leaders’ Council (PLC) meeting? A Patrol Leaders’ Council is typically held as a monthly meeting where the Troop’s elected SPL, ASPL, Patrol Leaders, and Scribe gather to plan upcoming troop events. These meetings often last around 75 minutes and can be broken down into 9 separate sections.
PS. This article is based on the experiences and research of Eagle Scout, Kevin A and Cole 🙂
Why is it so important that your Patrol Leaders’ Council meetings are run effectively? Great question! Well, the quality of your Troop’s program depends on the PLC’s ability to plan good future events and learn lessons from your past events. These PLC meetings represent the foundation of your troop.
Often, what makes a Patrol Leaders’ Council meeting successful or unsuccessful is the SPL (Check out my article on How to be a Great SPL). When an SPL prepares for a PLC meeting well and runs it smoothly, ASPLs, Patrol Leaders, and others in attendance are empowered to take action. This means that for the next month everyone will be on the same page, working together, to make your plans a reality!
Just like when organizing SPL Elections, there is no one right way to hold PLC meetings. When coming up with your own meeting format, you should take into account what works best for your troop and PLC members!
So that you can have a strong foundation to work from, I’ll be structuring this article based on Scouts BSA’s Patrol Leaders’ Council recommendations. However, feel free to change and adapt this PLC meeting model to suit your Troop’s needs. With that being said, let’s get into the first aspect of running a successful monthly PLC Meeting: Preparation before the meeting!
How to Prepare a Patrol Leaders’ Council (PLC) Meeting
As we’ve learned from the Scout Motto, we should always do our best to “Be Prepared.” This is especially true when planning your PLC meetings! Coming up with an agenda, identifying important points to cover, and preparing some questions about the past month’s events are all important steps to organizing a successful PLC meeting.
It’s always a bad (but unfortunately common) idea to wait until the actual Patrol Leaders’ Council meeting to plan out what you’ll be covering. I’d recommend taking at least half an hour, beforehand, to come up with a clear PLC program.
To start your preparation process, here’s a general outline of how you can run your Patrol Leaders’ Council meetings (according to Scouts BSA):
|PLC Meeting Segments||Run By|
|1. Opening and Call to Order||Senior Patrol Leader|
|2. Roll Call and Reading of the Log (minutes)||Troop Scribe|
|3. Patrol Reports||Patrol Leaders|
|4. Old Business||Senior Patrol Leader|
|5. Main Event Planning||Senior Patrol Leader|
|6. Troop Meeting Planning||Senior Patrol Leader|
|7. New Business||Senior Patrol Leader|
|8. Scoutmaster’s Minute (if necessary)||Scoutmaster|
|9. Meeting Review and Closing||Senior Patrol Leader|
Later on in the article, I’ll be reviewing each of these aspects of a Patrol Leaders’ Council meeting in more detail. By the time you’re finished reading, you’ll know exactly how to run every section of a PLC meeting to create a great month-long plan for your troop. Once you understand this, your meetings will become even faster and more productive! 😉
If you want to go the extra mile as an SPL, I’d recommend typing up a general outline before each PLC meeting. This is what we used to do in my troop! At the start of each meeting, the SPL would hand their agenda out to everyone in attendance.
What makes this so useful is that the written agenda could serve as a reference for the Patrol Leaders and ASPL over the course of the next month! This helped them to remember their responsibilities, and made it so that our plans were often accomplished!
When planning a Patrol Leaders’ Council meeting, you should also consider how much time you have available. If you know there’s a big topic that needs to be discussed, you may want to spend less time going over unrelated ideas. It’s often helpful to include time frames in your agenda so that the council can follow along and stay focused.
Lastly, you should also prepare a list of materials and resources you’ll be needing when running your PLC meeting. Most meetings will only require pens, papers, and notebooks. However, if you’re doing something else that requires pictures or a demonstration, make sure you’ve prepared the materials needed to present it thoroughly.
The Best Patrol Leaders’ Council (PLC) Meeting Agenda
When it comes to running a Patrol Leaders’ Council meeting, it’s especially important to take great notes so that you’re always aware of the next steps to be taken. While your scribe will be taking notes, I’d encourage you to take notes as well. It’s crucial to record what tasks everyone will be doing, and the dates they expect to be finished.
Remember, as an SPL your job is not only to lead the meeting, but also to encourage participation and discussion. Avoid talking too much. Instead, make sure to give your PLC members the opportunity to comment on the various topics that come up throughout the meeting.
Now that you know the importance of taking great next-step notes and encouraging council participation, it’s time to break down each of the segments of a successful PLC meeting:
1. Opening and Call to Order: 5 Minutes
A PLC meeting opening is usually done through a simple announcement. Just direct everyone to settle down and get into the PLC meeting mindset. Reciting the Scout Oath and Law, thanking everyone for their attendance, then calling the meeting to a start is the best way, I’ve found, of doing it. If you’re wondering, there’s no need to present the colors here (unless your Troop wants to, of course).
2. Roll Call and Reading of the Log: 5 Minutes
At this point, have the troop Scribe take note of who is present and who is missing at the meeting. This can be done through a roll call, or you could simply have the Scribe write down this information while the meeting is beginning.
In most troops, Scribes also take a bit of time to review the previous meeting’s minutes (the outline and important notes). Afterwards, the council can quickly deliberate on the success of their troop goals since the last meeting. However, if time is of the essence, you may want to skip part this and head straight into Patrol Reports.
3. Patrol Reports: 2-4 Minutes Per Patrol
This section gives patrol leaders the chance to update the PLC on how their patrols have been doing. The patrol leaders themselves usually deliver their patrol reports in whatever way they’d prefer. If you’re trying to save time though, you may want to plan questions for your patrol leaders to answer, as this can improve clarity and meeting efficiency!
Below are some helpful questions that you may want to have each patrol leader answer in their patrol reports:
- How has your patrol been this past month? Any obstacles that you want to discuss? Any successes you want to highlight?
- How has your patrol attendance to meetings and events been this past month?
- Are there any patrol events you’ve been planning for this upcoming month? How has the planning been going? Will you be needing assistance from the PLC?
It’s also important to keep your patrol leaders accountable for the things they’ve discussed in previous PLC meetings. Make sure to stay aware of what they’re doing by checking in on their progress with planning events and solving issues within their patrol. PLC meetings are great places to offer guidance and constructive advice! 🙂
4. Old Business: 10 Minutes
During this part of the meeting, any unresolved items from the last Patrol Leaders’ Council should be brought up and decided upon. Your Scribe may have already touched upon these topics, but now is the time to get into the nitty-gritty! To best learn from your successes and failures, it’s important to spend a bit of time reviewing how the previous month’s events went.
This segment should be run like a big conversation, where everyone is free to provide their input. Below are a few questions you can ask to spark a productive PLC discussion around the previous month’s events:
- How did the event go? What was successful about the event? What were some parts about the event that could’ve been improved?
- Is this an event we want to repeat in the future? If so, are there any changes we’d like to make?
- Did you hear any comments from the scouts who attended the event? If not, how can we best collect feedback in the future?
5. Big Event Planning: 15 Minutes
If your troop has any big events coming up, use this part of the meeting to discuss your plans. Who’s responsible for getting what done? During this section, make sure to encourage your fellow PLC members to voice their opinions about the event. When people feel like they’ve contributed to an idea, they put in much more effort to make sure it’s a success!
During this time, it’ll be a good idea to create a solid event plan and assign duties to your leaders. I’d recommend telling your scribe to take extra-detailed notes at this point, as the plan you’re making here will be vital to your troop’s success in the coming month.
Below are some useful guiding questions that should help your PLC to have an effective event planning discussion:
- What is the goal of the event?
- Who needs to be there?
- Where and When will it take place?
- Why are holding this event and how are we going to make it happen?
- What are some things that need to be done in preparation for the event? Who will lead the completion of these tasks?
After discussing your answers to these questions, your PLC should have come up with a solid event idea that everybody understands. At this point, you shouldn’t need to spend a bunch of time discussing the event in further detail. Unless the event is days away, the planning can continue after the meeting and not take all night to finish (#beenthere). 🙂
Once you make sure that everyone is able to contact you if they have any ideas or concerns, all that’s left is to assign tasks. As every event is different, the types of tasks that’re necessary for its success may change. However, in most PLC meetings I attended, these were the main tasks that had to be taken care of:
- Ask patrol leaders to explain the event to their patrols. They should try to get the scouts hyped for the event so that there can be early signups.
- Make a list of necessary materials for the event’s success. Plan who will be bringing/buying/organizing said items.
- If some sort of permission is necessary to make the event happen, assign someone to be your troop’s point of contact. Assign the contact a buddy to keep them accountable.
- Discuss possible obstacles or problems that may come up during the event. Consider ways to navigate around or solve them in the coming weeks.
6. Troop Meeting Planning: 10 Minutes
This section is dedicated to planning your troop’s meetings for the next month. In my troop, each month a new patrol would be in charge of leading meetings around a chosen Scouting topic (like hiking, wilderness survival, personal fitness, etc). During PLC meetings, the patrol’s leader would share their plans for the upcoming troop meetings they’d be running.
Here’s an awesome troop meeting idea: When I was a scout, we sometimes planned scout-led merit badge seminars. During these, a few younger scouts from a patrol could use the EDGE Method to help the rest of the troop complete a new and interesting merit badge!
This idea is fantastic for troop meetings because it gives a few motivated younger scouts the opportunity to act as leaders, and everyone else can earn another badge while learning a useful skill. Obviously, this won’t work for every merit badge but, lucky for you, here are the 3 Easiest Merit Badges that’ll be perfect for a scout-run merit badge seminar!
If your troop doesn’t assign one patrol to take charge of the upcoming month’s meetings, this troop meeting brainstorming session can be done with the help of your entire PLC. Keep in mind though, this approach will likely take up a lot more time.
Regardless of who is planning what, here are a few questions you can discuss to ensure your future troop meetings will be planned well:
- What is the goal of each troop meeting this upcoming month? What will the scouts be learning and doing each week.
- What materials will be needed for each troop meeting? Who will be in charge of getting them?
- Are there any upcoming Scouting events that might interfere with a troop meeting? How can we adapt our plans to make sure that this works out?
- Can all of the troop meeting ideas be finished in a timely manner? Otherwise, can you set aside time within another meeting to finish up what’s left?
7. New Business: 10 Minutes
If the Patrol Leaders’ Council has any new business to discuss, it should be brought up in this part of the meeting. During times where your troop isn’t so busy planning events, this is also a good opportunity to begin brainstorming new activity ideas.
Below are a few questions you may want to consider when discussing new business:
- Why you want this new event to happen? What are the results we’re hoping to achieve?
- Will the event be needing materials/resources that have already been allocated to a different event? If yes, what can we do to make sure both events are still successful?
- What needs to be done in order to make this event successful? What should we do so that we’ll be sure the planning is finished on time?
8. Scoutmaster’s Minute: 5 Minutes
This is an optional segment, but in a lot of troops Scoutmasters or other adult leaders often provide their feedback on how your PLC meeting went. They may offer some constructive criticisms or discuss things that went well.
Make sure to take note of what say so that your next PLC meeting will be even better. This is the key to making your PLC meetings more and more effective throughout your term as SPL! 🙂
9. Meeting Review and Closing: 5 Minutes
At last, the final PLC meeting section! In your review and closing, you should briefly highlight the major talking points of the meeting. Take careful note to reiterate any duties any responsibilities that were assigned so that you can be sure everything will be properly handled once you adjourn.
You can then close with a recitation of the Scout Oath and Law. Afterwards, be sure to thank everyone for their attendance. PLC meetings can take up a lot of time, and part of being a great leader is to express gratitude for those who support you! There you have it, you now know how to run an effective PLC meeting!
Altogether, by following this schedule your PLC meetings should take no longer than 75 minutes. Over time, you might even be able to make your own Patrol Leaders’ Council meeting routines more effective, so just use my recommendations as a starting point! 🙂
If you’re reading this article, you’re probably an older scout who’s planning to either get into college or land a great job. I know you’ve got this! To help you out on that journey, I want to humbly recommend two articles I’ve written for scouts exactly in your shoes: How To Write A Killer Eagle Scout College Essay and How to List Eagle Scout on Your Resume.
I truly hope these resources will help you to achieve your goals!
Great work reaching the end of this article! I hope you learned a lot of new and useful information. I’d encourage you to share this post with your entire Patrol Leaders’ Council so that you can all be on the same page during your next meeting. Hope to see you here at ScoutSmarts again soon and, until next time, best of luck on your Scouting journey!