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Patrol Leader Handbooks


Items from the Past

Books and Other Printed Material

First Edition—1929/1949 Printings 1-18—542,000 Copies

Cover for the first 18 printings showed a patrol leader sitting by a campfire in front of his tent dreaming of driving a covered wagon, going on an African safari, or driving a dogsled in the Arctic. The revised 1950 printing changed to a color drawing of a patrol leader carry the patrol flag beckoning to his patrol. Written by William Hillcourt, and filled with black-and-white line drawings, this book was received with great enthusiasm. It was somewhat revised in 1950, but BSA did not label this a new edition

Fourth Edition 1990/2002—

This is a return to the generalized junior leader handbook. The author is Thomas M. Dwyer who is a former senior editor of Boy’s Life magazine. The cover pictures a patrol leader and a younger Scout, along with photos of junior leader badges of office. The book contains many photographs instead of  line drawings. 


Second Edition 1967/1972—415,000 Copies

The second edition was titled “Patrol Leader’s Handbook”. This edition was not written by Hillcourt and was not as thick with less content than the first. The author was unknown. The cover showed a patrol leader leading his patrol on a hike. It had 4 printings amounting to 415,000 copies.

Patrol and Troop Leadership  Edition 1972/1980

There was no handbook specifically for Patrol Leaders during this period, only this much more general leadership book with limited information how to run a good patrol. The cover is the standard two-tone green of the period. It had 7 printings amounting to 420,000 copies. The author is unknown

Third Edition 1980/1990

The actual third edition was titled “The Official Patrol Leader Handbook”. The author was unknown but William Hillcourt and Keith Monroe were credited with being contributors. The cover contained Joseph Csatari’s “Eagle Scout Project” of a patrol leader leading a Cub Scout, Boy Scouts and a dog toward his Eagle service project.

Fifth Edition 2002/Present

Author is Robert Birkby

Title is “The Patrol Leader Handbook”, cover shows patrol leaders with a patrol flag and patrol leader emblem. It is filled with full-color photographs and artwork. It is coil bound to lay flat. 

First Edition—1950/1967 Printings 19-34—980,000 Copies

There were 34 printings amounting to 1,522,000 copies. Even though it was revised in 1950, it is still considered as one edition. 

Handbooks of special note

Silver Jubilee Edition—Golden Jubilee Edition