I remember very clearly the time I first sat down with my new Patrol to choose a Patrol name. We had some suggestions from the Boy Scout Handbook and an old printed list of a couple-dozen creative names. We didn’t think much about what should go into choosing a good Patrol name; we just decided to go with whatever sounded coolest.
As you might imagine, our panel of six scouts finally ended up on a tie between six different names!
Not too promising, but it was progress. Finally, after much debate, it came down to a contest between the two Scouts who were most insistent on their choice. I will admit, one of those was me; I was dead-set on the ‘Panther Patrol’. The other Scout earnestly insisted that we should be called the ‘Barracuda Patrol’.
After getting nowhere slowly, I decided we needed an impartial judge to make the final decision. Being the very fair Patrol Leader that I was, I appointed myself to be this arbiter… and a brief and thorough consultation with myself yielded the result: we were now the “Panther Patrol”!
Little did I know how we could have instead come up with a name that was ten-times cooler and would’ve made us a stronger Patrol.
Let’s talk about that!
You’ve got a new Patrol, the first thing you do is set about picking a good name, right? Actually, no. You see, you want your Patrol name to really mean something for your Patrol. If you pick a name just because it sounds cool, that’s about all it’ll be worth. Instead, wait a little bit before trying to pick a name. Start doing a lot of Scout stuff with your Patrol. Go on camping trips; have Patrol meetings; and do service projects together.
As you’re doing this, have the whole Patrol keep an eye out for any good ideas. For example, I went on one camping trip with my Patrol a couple of years ago at a national wildlife refuge. Towards the end of a long hike, we came around a bend in the trail and saw an enormous buffalo standing about 15 feet in front of us! I think we startled him just as much as he startled us, and he took off into the woods.
A moment like that would’ve been great for basing a Patrol name on!
Not only was it tied to a vivid memory we could talk about for a long time afterward, but it also captured the spirit of our Patrol.
We were out hiking because we loved to explore! Just like the buffalo, who constantly roams the countryside, our Patrol was always eager to explore new places and go off the beaten path.
That’s just one example – if you give it a little time and do a lot of stuff together as a Patrol, it won’t be long until you all come up with the perfect name too!
It’s worth spending effort on, because the Patrol name is the biggest thing that identifies your Patrol. A true Scout Patrol has an identity – a life of it’s own! Your Patrol name has got to reflect that. Remember, you’re building something that will hopefully last for many years to come. You’re cultivating a Patrol spirit that can be passed down to younger Scouts as they join the Patrol. Your name can have a large impact on the experience of many other Scouts down the road.
This is because a good Patrol name is more than memories – it’s a constant plan of action for the Patrol.
How so? When you choose a Patrol name, don’t just make it something generic. Give it an adjective that will uniquely apply to your Patrol. For instance, when my Patrol ran into that buffalo, we shouldn’t have just called ourselves “The Buffalo Patrol”. That’s too boring! Instead, we should’ve been “The Roving Buffaloes” or “The Exploring Buffaloes” – something that sets the tone of what we want our Patrol to be.
To keep the tradition alive, we would be the Patrol in the Troop that always went on the most hikes and did the most exploring. We wouldn’t just *be* the “Buffaloes”, we would *own* the reputation of the “Exploring Buffaloes”! It would be our thing that set us apart and became our identity.
This kind of thinking doesn’t just apply when you’re getting a new name for your Patrol. Use it even if you’ve already got a good name. Talk with your Patrol about what your name means and what kind of special characteristics it has that you can apply. If it’s just a plain name, give it an adjective!