Circles/Patrols -- How Long Should they Stay the Same?

Barbara Harrison, Guide Guider, White Oaks Area, Commissioner/Admin Trainer, Highland Glen Area, Ontario, Canada:

Regarding the question on whether or not patrols should be permanent, I agree with Rosemary. Our patrols stay together for the Guiding year and then the following year there are new patrol leader elections and the mix often changes. I do think it is important, though, that girls are allowed to be in a patrol with a friend. That is not to say that the patrols should become cliquish with a separate group of friends in each, but rather that girls (especially new girls) should be allowed to have at least one friend in their patrol if that is their wish.

Over the years we have all worked in groups - sometimes with people that we are acquainted with and sometimes not. In my experience, the best groups are those that want to be together rather than those that are thrown together. So it should be with patrols. There are plenty of opportunities during the meeting to mix the girls up through games and activity groups. It is unlikely that all the girls on one patrol will be working on the same program activities all the time so they will have the experience of working with girls other than those in their patrol.

In my opinion, we need to provide a positive leadership experience for the patrol members by setting them up for success rather than throwing roadblocks at them in the form of difficult interpersonal challenges.

Kathy Pechmann, White Oaks Area, Ontario:

My patrols always stayed together but the turnover of older girls leaving and new girls starting kept it interesting. We had our patrol leader elections each year but because it was for "their" patrol the girls took it very seriously. Just a different way. It varies from place to place and unit to unit. Whatever works for your unit is the best.

Bev Evanchu, East Kootenay Area, British Columbia:

I know of several companies in BC who elect from within the patrol. The PL. then selects her second. When the PL elections occur again (sometimes at the year's half way point), then both are required to step down. They may or may not, depending on the company and number of girls involved, be allowed to let their name stand for election again. Members of the Patrols are usually set for the year but will/may be switched around the following year.

Sara Crawley, Leader, Junior Troop 500, Service Unit Manager, Western Mass GS Council:

This is something I have been struggling with. In the past the patrols in my troop have changed twice during the year. This allows for girls to work with different people and allows more different people to take on the leader role. However, I am strongly considering going a different route next year, partly because I don't think the girls are having enough time to learn their roles. And because of this the patrols don't work as effectively as they might.

What I am considering is having the same patrols all year. If I do this, my thought is that at the beginning of the year I will ask each girl to list 2 girls she would like to be in a patrol with and from this I will create the patrols. Then each patrol will choose a leader and the leader will appoint the assistant. I want them to be able to work closely together. Each patrol will also choose a treasurer and scribe. These girls would make up the Court of Honor which would meet once a month. One of my plans for the summer is to try to devise a patrol leader's training course.

One of the ways girls will work with members of the other patrol will be through troop kapers where there will be one person from each patrol responsible and this buddy team will do the kaper. Also perhaps event committees will sometimes be made up of girls from different patrols.

I'm curious what others see as the pros and cons of this.

Pat, Northern BC, Canada:

Most years each circle stayed for the year, with perhaps the circle leader switching in order to give more girls a chance at the responsibility. However, some years I have scrapped the originals and started fresh after the Christmas break.

I usually change circles each year, despite the hassle with changing the emblems (I'm sure not all were sewn on by the end of the year) so that each circle represents a balance of ages, abilities and temperaments.

Stephanie Martin, aka Former Brown Owl:

> I usually change circles each year, despite the hassle with changing the
> emblems (I'm sure not all were sewn on by the end of the year) so that each
> circle represents a balance of ages, abilities and temperaments.

This was the way I have handled it in the past too. The leaders would prearrange the Circle giving consideration to the above mentioned things, and then we would let the Brownies choose their own emblem. First ones to decide got priority, but it had to be a group consensus. It was really interesting watching this.

Looking back, I think I liked to change the Circle Emblems because I always got bored with them after a year. This was one reason I particularly liked the new Circle names with the New Program (even though it took half a year before everyone could say Djinns!!)