By Liz Merrell
May 15, 2013

The Language of Scouting

The Boy Scouts of America offers many positions of responsibility to boys within troops. These positions give boys a chance to learn leadership skills while leading the troop. Similar to political positions, these positions are held for a certain term, such as six months or a year. This gives several different boys the chance throughout their scouting careers to perform different responsibilities. While the descriptions of these positions can vary from troop to troop, there are some general responsibilities all Scout groups require of their leaders.

Senior Patrol Leader

This is the highest position a boy can hold in the troop. This boy presides over troop meetings, events, campouts and more. He works closely with adult scoutmasters to make sure the goals of the troop are being achieved. He stands as an example for the other boys. Generally, this is a position given to an older boy in the troop. Senior Patrol Leaders have demonstrated they live the Scout Oath and Law, and can wisely lead the troop. There is also an Assistant Senior Patrol Leader who assists the Senior Patrol Leader.

Patrol Leader

Boy Scout troops are broken up into patrols or smaller groups of boys. The Senior Patrol Leader is like the President, and the Patrol Leaders are like Senators in Congress. Patrol Leaders preside over the patrol and run patrol meetings. They also work with the Senior Patrol Leader and Assistant Patrol Leader to lead the troop.


The Scribe keeps records of the troop. His task is to keep track of attendance, dues, rank advancements and more. While this position doesn’t carry a leadership role, it is a position of respect similar to Patrol Leaders or Senior Patrol Leaders and it is still an important function. This position is for boys who have a strong attention to detail and who can be counted upon to keep accurate records.


Boy Scout troops typically have equipment, especially camping equipment.  It is natural for equipment to wear down or break over time. The Quartermaster keeps track of equipment and makes sure everything is in good working order. The Quartermaster also keeps accurate records of the equipment locations and informs the leaders and Scoutmasters if equipment needs to be fixed or replaced.


Historians keep track of the work and traditions of the troop. They often take photos, assemble scrapbooks and gather souvenirs. These mementos can be displayed at meetings and award ceremonies. Historians help honor the history of the troop by keeping track of the history and sharing it with the other scouts.

Author: Liz Merrell | Utah National Parks Council, Finance Director

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