Battling Weekly Amnesia


I recently read a detective novel where the main suspect–who, of course, was not guilty–couldn’t remember anything about the time of the murder. And that meant he couldn’t defend himself until the detective shook him out of his amnesiatic state.

Amnesia is one of those strange medical conditions that seemingly only crops up in novels and strange-but-true magazine stories. But when I was Scoutmaster, I witnessed it every single week.You see, the members of our patrol leaders’ council (from the senior patrol leader on down) would promise to do things before each Thursday’s meeting and would somehow forget their promises untilt they showed up at the Scout house. Even adult leaders occasionally showed symptoms.

Fortunately, I came up with an effective method for battling this baffling ailment. Each Tuesday, my senior patrol leader had a simple assignment: to call me to discuss the agenda for that week’s troop meeting. In 15 minutes or so, we would review what the PLC had planned, and we would each hang up knowing what we needed to get done in the next two days. That usually meant he would make several more phone calls to make sure other Scouts were ready to go come Thursday night.

There are lots of ways to connect the dots between a PLC meeting and subsequent troop meetings. It’s definitely a good idea, for example, to briefly convene the PLC after each meeting to discuss the plan for the next week. But having a midweek conversation like my SPL and I did is also important. Otherwise, your youth (and adult) leaders may succumb to weekly amnesia and arrive at the next troop meeting totally unprepared for what they’re supposed to do.

Need more great troop program ideas? Check out the new edition of The Scoutmaster’s Other Handbook, which is now available in both print and e-book formats at


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