Since Baden-Powell first introduced the concept in “Scouting for Boys”, Scout Troops have always used specific formations to bring order and discipline to Troop Meetings. Most commonly, a Troop “falls in” to the formation at the beginning and end of meetings and on any occasion where special announcements are made.

However, many Scout Troops have forgotten the full utility of formations. In the past, there were many different formation shapes, each with a different purpose for different situations. Scouts were drilled in these formations, and had a lot of fun trying to make each formation faster and neater than the one before.

There is a lot of benefit to these formation drills, and it would be good to bring them back to more common use among Scout Troops. For one, drilling for quickness and neatness in formations helps set the right tone and spirit of the Scout meetings. It’s very important to establish a good Troop Culture. Formation drills can really help with that.

Smartness in uniform and correctness in detail seems a small matter to fuss about, but has its value in the development of self-respect, and means an immense deal to the reputation of the Movement among outsiders who judge by what they see

~Lord Baden Powell

This is very true. Sharp-looking and tight formations help each Scout to feel proud of the group they belong to.

These drills also reinforce the chain-of-command. The Patrol Leader’s responsibility is visually represented by the position he takes relative to the other members of his Patrol. The same is true of the positions of the Assistant Patrol Leader, the Senior Patrol Leader, and the Scoutmaster.

Finally, formation drills are just fun to do! Every time I’ve seen one in action, the Scouts take part enthusiastically. It really is a fun game to try quickly maneuvering between different formations.

Basic Guidelines

Patrol Leaders should have a defined position for each formation. In formations where the Scouts are arranged in front-to-back lines, the Patrol Leader is usually in the front. In formations where the Scouts are in left-to-right lines, the P.L. is usually either in the farthest position to the right, or he is standing out in front of his Patrol. Assistant Patrol Leaders should always be either next in line by the Patrol Leader or should be the opposite end-cap of the line.

In the past, the Scoutmaster mainly led the Patrols during the formations. This is a good practice for formal occasions, but I believe it is important for the Senior Patrol Leader to be in charge of drilling and training the Scouts in this matter.

Whoever leads the Troop in the formation obviously needs to be in front and visible. Wherever he calls the formation, he needs to make sure make sure there is enough room to accommodate the group.

There are several ways to call the formations. The first is by simply announcing them verbally. If done this way, the commands need to be loud and clear. The second way is to use a whistle or other audible signal. Make sure each of the signals are different enough to be easily distinguished. The third way is to use hand signals. This way has been very popular in the past. The leader usually give a single “alert” call, followed by the hand signals. It is silent and efficient, and it requires the Scouts to be ready and alert.

Troop Drill

Called by "Troop" or use troop call to attract attention and silence in Troop. A hand single is shown to get the Troop into required formation.

Troop then assumes the At Ease position-feet a comfortable distance apart, right hand clasped in left hand behind back, head up, eyes front.


  • Your weight should be distributed equally on the heels and balls of your feet. When you come to attention, bring your heels together smartly with your toes forming a 45 degree angle.

  • Keep your legs straight without locking your knees. Hold your body with your hips level, your chest lifted, and your shoulders square and even. Your arms should hang straight, but not stiff, with the backs of your hands outward. Curl your fingers so that the tips of our thumbs are alongside and touching the first joint of the forefingers. Your thumbs should be straight and along the seams of your trousers. The first joint of your forefingers should touch the trousers or skirt. Keep your head erect, and look straight to the front.

"At Ease"

  • Command: AT EASE

  • On the command AT EASE, you must keep your right foot in place and remain silent and in position in formation.

  • The hands are uncupped during this movement.

  • Once the arms are in the back of the body, your fingers are extended and joined, pointing towards the ground, palms facing outward.

  • The right hand is in the palm of the left hand. The right thumb is over the left thumb so they form a letter X.

  • Remain immobile and silent with head up and eyes straight ahead.

TURNS. From the Attention.

"Troop-Right Turn".

Turn on right heel and left toe-snap left foot up to right.

"Troop-Left Turn"

Turn on left heel and right toe-snap right foot up to left

"Troop-about Turn/Troop-Right-about-Turn"

Turn right about on right heel and left toe-snap left foot up to right.

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