What is in a name? When it applies to a Boy Scout patrol it could mean a lot. It might offer a hint to the patrol members’ interests. It may describe the patrol’s attitude or personality. But then, it may mean nothing at all. It may just be a name most of the members agreed upon.
There have been a lot of patrols during the twenty eight year Troop 68 history. A few patrols have nearly faded from troop history. A few have accomplished great things. And a few will be remembered for being unique, or troublesome.
Some patrols did not last long. Members quit or Scouts moved to other patrols. Patrols change their names. Other patrols last for five or six years. Once in a while one patrol will absorb a smaller patrol, thus increasing its membership and lasting awhile longer.
Usually, at least in our troop, when a new patrol chooses a name they will open the BSA catalog and pick one from the many patches already available. I call these the “traditional” patrol names. Troop 68 has had patrols named the Flaming Arrow, the Falcons, the Wolves, the Cobras, the Lightning, the Bats, the Scorpions, and the Flying Eagles.
Patrols have used the traditional patches but tweaked patrol names to make it more their own. The Soaring Hawks, the Ferocious Tigers, the Blazing Buffaloes, the Rad Reptiles, and the Hazardous Hawks fit into this category. We have even had the Wild Boars and the Pink Panthers.
Some patrol names fit the interest of the patrol members. For example, we once had a patrol who really liked to play the Dungeons and Dragons role playing game. They named their patrol The Warriors. We have even had a Dangerous Dragons Patrol.
Of course, there has also been a few unique names. The Hillbillies and the Black Talons come to mind. I thought the Charging Chipmunks was very original. (For some reason I kept seeing thousands of chipmunks running down the hillside toward our campsite.) The most unique name came about when a patrol decided to name themselves after their favorite shoes, and thus became known as the Chuck Taylor Patrol.
As a scoutmaster, I have found a patrol name to be a great way to remember a group of Scouts. Sometimes, the memories are not so squeaky clean. For example, when I was a Boy Scout in the mid-1970’s we had a patrol called the Cougars. It seemed most of the troop’s troublemakers were in the Cougar Patrol.
Fast forward twenty years later. Troop 68 has a patrol called the Courageous Cougars. In time this patrol would boast of three Eagle Scouts. This patrol also happened to be one of the laziest patrols who also liked to push the envelope any chance they got. They nearly succeeded in getting this scoutmaster to resign his position during one camping trip. (Fortunately, we all got past that and are now friends who still stay in touch.)
A patrol name can be important. It can be a name to rally around during a competition. It can be a victory cry! It can help a patrol build an identity that lasts for years. Former troop members still refer to themselves as a member of their Boy Scout patrol.
I was a Falcon when I was a Boy Scout. I was a Penguin during Scoutmaster training. I was a Jedi when we had enough assistant scoutmasters to form our own patrol for weekend outings. I became a Bobwhite when I participated in three weekends of Woodbadge. And I am proud to be a member of each and every one.