A duty roster is a patrol’s plan of responsibilities for a smooth and fun campout. To put it simply, duty rosters allow patrols to assign key jobs to specific Scouts, which helps make sure that every important function during a campout — from cooking to cleaning to fire-building — is taken care of.
In this guide, I’ll give you a quick rundown of what jobs to include in your duty roster, the responsibilities of each job, as well as some key tips to set your duty roster up for success! Plus, I’ve even made you a printable template so that your duty roster planning will be a breeze! 🙂
What is A Duty Roster?
Got my printable duty-roster template in hand? Great! Now it’s time to learn how to use it. If you’re a younger Scout, you may not have encountered a duty roster before. Duty rosters aren’t typically used in meetings but are very helpful for overnight trips where responsibilities must be shared.
Below is an Example of What a Complete Duty Roster Should Look Like:
As you can see, duty roster duties are assigned by each meal. For example, I (Cole) am the head Chef for Friday dinner but later work in kitchen clean-up for Saturday breakfast, and as fire master for Saturday lunch. In an ideal duty roster, every Scout will have the opportunity to try every role they’d like.
Btw — If you’re planning meals for an upcoming camp, you should check out my article on Camp Cooking Tips and Recipes. In it, you’ll learn some of my best hacks for amazing camping food!
Sometimes, a troop may not have enough members in attendance for every patrol to have its own duty roster. That’s fine! Simply combine patrols and assign multiple Scouts to certain roles like cleanup, or allow people to have a few meals off of work. Once you know the general duty roster structure, you can freely adapt it as needed! 🙂
How Do You Plan A Duty Roster?
So, to recap, duty rosters are your master plan of responsibilities for each meal during a campout. But, who decides on this plan and the responsibilities of each Scout? The answer: You plan your duty roster as a patrol, under the guidance of your Patrol Leader, a week or two before camping.
While you can plan your duty rosters in any way you’d like, below are the duty roster preparation steps that tended to work best in my troop:
- Plan your camp menu: Know what times meals are being cooked so you can assign Scouts to those duties accordingly.
- In some cases, meals can be made by your Scoutmasters or provided by outside sources. Plan around these occurrences in your duty roster!
- Make sure to decide on who’s buying and bringing the food. This is super, super important!!
- Assign head chefs to the duty roster: Sometimes, you’ll have a patrol member who can cook a certain meal waaay better than anyone else. If possible, I’d recommend having that person lead the cooking efforts for their best meals.
- Assign assistant chefs to the duty roster: If a Scout wants to help out with a meal, but has less experience cooking, they should have the opportunity to participate as an assistant chef.
- Since cooking roles are usually the most desired jobs, make sure that the workload is split evenly so that everyone has the chance to try it out once.
- Assign remaining roles: Make sure that every Scout has an equal workload and is assigned to a role that they have the skills to complete.
- For example, a Scout without their Firem’n Chit shouldn’t be fire-master, and a Scout without their Totin’ Chip shouldn’t be working with kitchen knives.
- However, they can likely earn those during camp! For prep guides to get started, check out my overview articles on the Totin’ Chip and Firem’n Chit. 🙂
- Take note of any special circumstances: Some camps take place in areas where you might need to fill additional duties. For example, bears and the need for bear bags. Brainstorm potential risks and roles to mitigate those dangers.
- You should use the “Additional Patrol Notes” section to list any other duty roster ideas/additions/changes that your patrol comes up with.
- Finalize your duty roster: Add any additional roles, as needed, and agree on your duty roster plan as a patrol.
- Make sure that everyone has a copy of the duty roster or takes a picture, and you’re good to go!
Tips For Duty Roster Planning
Now that you know the steps for setting up a duty roster and have done all your camp planning, you should be good to go, right? Wrong! 😛 There are still a few important things that you should consider when assigning Scouts to available duty roster roles:
- A Scout’s experience and ability
- The needs of a specific outing
- The expected attendance of the outing
Below, I’ll briefly go over each of these points in more detail…
1. Experience and Ability
When planning who does what in a duty roster, consider Scouting experience levels. As mentioned earlier, younger Scouts may not have their Fireman’s Chit, so they’re probably not a good fit for duties involving fire starting and maintenance. Prioritizing experience and ability will help your campout run smoothly.
However, even if a Scout isn’t capable of fulfilling a duty, they should at least be able to learn from others. It may be beneficial to assign a younger Scout and an older Scout to a specific duty to provide the less-experienced Scout with a valuable learning opportunity. 🙂
2. The Needs of an Outing
Before creating your duty roster, it’s important to consider what duties will be required for each outing. These duties will likely differ based on what you’re doing and where you are. For example, during a campout in the snow, you may need to have more FireMasters in charge of anti-cold preparation.
Before you go on your trip, meet with your patrol and plan out what needs to be done. A little bit of brainstorming can go a long way. From there, you can start to create a duty roster that fits the needs of your trip. A key part of being prepared is to keep your outing needs in mind during this stage.
3. Expected Outing Attendance
When assigning duties, you’ll have to keep the number of Scouts attending top of mind. On bigger outings, assigning a few Scouts to a duty is feasible since you’ll have the numbers. On smaller outings, you may need to get creative and overlap duty assignments.
There are two suggestions I have for solving this problem: The first one would be to assign pairs of Scouts to each role. The other way you could go about it is by creating blended patrols, specific to the outing. This way Scouts can combine meal plans and have more help in completing duties.
Duty Roster Role Responsibilities – Explained
Before you assign duties or volunteer yourself for one, you should know what’s expected of you. Each duty is extremely important for keeping a campout running smoothly, so it’s important that everyone gets it right. That’s why below, I’ll quickly explain each of the duty roster role responsibilities! 😀
Both the head and assistant chefs are in charge of food preparation and proper sanitation. The head chef typically handles the cooking and combining of ingredients, while the assistant chef prepares ingredients by chopping, peeling, washing, etc. Below is a handy list of each role’s responsibilities:
- Ensure proper sanitation
- Prepare patrol’s meal using the recipe
- Delegate responsibilities to the Assistant Chef
- Maintain cleanliness while cooking is underway
- Set general mealtime ETA
- Assist head chef
- Prepare food for cooking
- (Includes peeling, slicing, washing, pre-heating, etc)
- Help keep area clean
- Set Patrol table
- Boil cleanup water
Cleaning up is extremely important, especially considering your Outdoor Code and Leave No Trace principles. However, it’s not difficult to do if your troop cleans up after every meal! That’s why, there are both kitchen and campsite cleanup duties on your roster, which I’ll be outlining below:
- Prep dish wash stations
- Wash/sterilize/dry dishes
- Clean cooking surfaces
- (Dispose of waste properly)
- Put away cooking supplies
- Store dish wash station
- Could be multiple Scouts
- Clear/Clean eating area
- Properly store food
- Dispose of garbage
- Get everything into Patrol box
- (Put away all scattered supplies)
- Pick up campsite trash
- Could be multiple Scouts
The responsibilities of the FireMaster should be to gather materials for the fire, tend the fire for cooking, and make sure it’s out when the campsite is empty or everyone is in bed. Those in charge of the fire should be responsible and exercise extreme caution, as an unattended fire is very dangerous.
The WaterMaster is responsible for providing the group’s water used for drinking, cooking, and putting out fires. Scouts involved in retrieving water will need to be proactive about jug refills so that everyone’s needs are met. Also, make sure there are plenty of Scouts to help the WaterMaster(s) carry the water back to camp.
Now that you know how to plan a duty roster, as well as the responsibilities of each role, it’s time to put what you’ve learned into action! Above, you can download and print my ultimate duty roster template to use in your patrol planning. It has the important info already added in, so you’ll be extra well-prepared! 🙂
If you’ve never used a duty roster before, you may feel that they’re unnecessary. However, a duty roster allows patrols to know what’s expected of them in advance and prepare for their duties. This helps every Scout to be more aware and responsible, leading to a more enjoyable time!
Going on camping trips are some of the best times you can have as a Scout, so I encourage you to attend as many as you can! Once you’ve earned your Camping merit badge (my guide) and know what to pack for camp, I promise you’ll have some pretty extraordinary campouts!
Without a duty roster, people can slack on duties, meals will take longer, and many important functions of a campout will be neglected. That’s why I hope you use what you learned in this article to make an awesome duty roster of your own. Wishing you a great upcoming camp! 😉