Tuesday Talkback: How to pick an unforgettable patrol name

moustache-patrolThe Mustache patrol of Troop 242 has it figured out.

They’ve found a patrol name that’s Scout-created, clever and a little bit wacky. With a name that great, it doesn’t matter that nobody in the Mustache patrol has his own mustache.

The Mustache patrol has even taken the concept beyond a name and emblem and come up with the impressive patrol flag seen above.

This patrol, of which my magazine colleague Bryan Wursten’s son is a member, illustrates that Boy Scouts are limited only by their imaginations — and, we hope, Scout-appropriateness — when it comes to naming their patrol.

For today’s Tuesday Talkback, I’ll share some ideas to help Scouts select the perfect patrol name and open up the discussion in the comments section. Lots more after the jump.

Consider something that unites the patrol

Maybe the patrol with a bunch of strong swimmers calls themselves the Sharks. The guys into scary movies could be the Zombies or Vampires.

And those Scouts with a seemingly endless supply of snacks could become the Corn Chips patrol, Rice patrol or Spicy Taco patrol.

Again, there’s no limit to a Scout’s creativity here.

Add an adjective to a “standard” patrol name

Patrol emblems sold directly from the BSA at Scout Shops and at ScoutStuff.org include a mix of critters and historic characters.

You can add a dash of spice to those names by including an adjective before the standard name. Use alliteration to help make the new names really soar.

Instead of the Dragons, why not the Daring Dragons? The Scorpions could add Stupefying to their name. And the Owls? Well they’re simply Outstanding. (But then again, I used to be one.)

Check out what BSA licensees offer

At least two official BSA licensees offer officially licensed patrol patches that expand the emblem selection.

Check out what ClassB and Advantage Emblem offer for hundreds more ideas. The designs are unique, fun and can help foster patrol spirit.

Some of my favorites:

From top left: Tiki, Basset Hound, Ninja Monkey, Burnt Toast, Bacon, Pedro, Duct Tape, Carabiner, Abominable Snowman

tiki-patrol Basset-Hound-patrol ninja-monkey-patrol burnt-toast-patrol bacon-patrol pedro-patrol duct-tape-patrol carabiner-patrol abonimable-snowman-patrol

An emblem’s name is only a suggestion

Remember that just because the product page calls it the “Abominable Snowman patrol” doesn’t mean that a patrol must pair that name with that patch. They might prefer the shorter-named Yeti patrol. Nothing wrong with that.

Keeping that in mind opens the name possibilities into the realm of infinity.

Find a blank canvas and create your own

blank-patrolSpeaking of … Are your Scouts still not satisfied with all these options?

That’s where the blank patrol emblem comes in. With this powerful patch, Scouts can create any design they want and wear it with pride, knowing they have a patrol emblem unlike any other.

Let Scouts have the final say

While you might not be the biggest fan of a patrol’s chosen name, as long as it’s Scout-appropriate and not in use by another patrol I can think of no legitimate reason to veto one.

Even if the name is extremely silly and seemingly unsustainable, wouldn’t it be better to let them use the name and tire of it themselves? If they decide to change it later, they’ve learned an important lesson the proper way.

What do you think?

What are some of the best patrol names you’ve seen? Have you ever had to veto a name? Why? How do Scouts in your troop decide their patrol’s name? Make a name for yourself in the comments.

Mustache patrol photo courtesy of my magazine colleague Bryan Wursten


    • There is no rule about Venturers having Patrol Names, and our Crew adopted Molly the Flamingo as our Crew mascot. Molly is emblazoned on our Crew patch and on our Crew T-Shirts.

      We also have a plastic yard flamingo mounted on a staff which we take everywhere we go. We often also gift flamingos to fellow Scouts and Venturers when we are out and about. We’ve arranged to get a flamingo at Scouting events to 12 states now, as well as the UK, Denmark, Sweden and Portugal! At least two National Venturing Cabinet members have been gifted a “Mini-Molly” and the legend continues…

      • I love those Flamingos! When I was a scout, my patrol was called “The BOB Panthers,” spelled: B-Q-B, we named everything in our Patrol “BOB!” Whilst we followed the Patrol Method, when one member of the Patrol became the SPL, he was called the “BOB” King! We pretty much had a Monarchy. It set us apart from the other patrols.

  1. The first troop I served as an Assistant Scoutmaster had an outstanding SPL who had served as a Den Chief for 3 years in his cousin’s den before they crossed into the troop. As new scouts they wanted to be the “Dave Patrol” but we thought that might be a bit ;excessive. So they named themselves after Dave’s beloved 1970 Chevy Impala (partially beloved because Dave’s father and grandfather both built Impalas in 1970 at GM’s St Louis plant.)
    They found a non-standard patch with a Chevy logo that was about the right size, and used “305 horses, ready to go!” as a patrol yell.

  2. The Impala Patrol was part of Troop 57 in Greenville IL in 1988-90. (Cahokia Mound Council then, Lewis and Clark now)

  3. Troop 289- OH (Wickliffe) We have the Bacon Ninja patrol and the Thunder Monkey Patrol. The Bacon Ninja’s have a cute patch. We had to have a patch custom made for my son’s Thunder Monkeys….everyone in our district get a good chuckle out of them.

  4. Troop 70 Wilmington, DE: Our Troop has 2 traditional patrols, but the “new boy patrol” gets to pick its own name for a year. Last year’s was the Nuclear Llamas and this year’s is the Tardis Squad. Let’s hear it for creativity!

    • The Tardis Squad reminded me that “The Time Lords” would be a great patrol name – but I never suggest things to patrols and leave it to their own to sort it out.

  5. Our Troop (T1434 in Potomac, MD) has 3 patrols – names seem to change yearly, but they are currently the Potatoes, the Psi-Wolves and the Better Patrol. Potatoes used to be the Tridents and Psi-Wolves used to be the No-Names.

    Troops where adults cook separately from Scouts on campouts also offer great opportunities. I’ve seen the Wizards, the Rocking Chairs, and the Coffee Pots.

  6. My friend’s son used a blank, design-your-own patrol patch, but put nothing on it. They were the ghost patrol.

  7. Our older boy’s came up with the “green gots” as a play on words for not mexcans which most if not all of them have hispanic origins in ther family. I let all the patrols pick their own names. Mike B. Scoutmaster Troop 82 “All the way” El Paso Texas

  8. When my younger son’s Bears were about to become Webelos, we started the conversation and let them run with it. One of the boys thought of the Geico commercial with Gunny as a therapist, “Why don’t you chug on over to mamby pamby land and get some self-confidence, you jackwagon!”
    Next thing I know, all eight of the boys are chanting that phrase from memory.
    Our Cubmaster declined their request to be the “Jackwagon Patrol.”

  9. The leaders in our troop have patrol patches that say “Ask your SPL”. My youngest son was a Bacon Ninja as a Webelos Scout. My oldest son is part of the Flaming Eagle Patrol; the boys couldn’t chose between the flaming arrows and the eagles, so they combined them. My middle son, was an Armored Turtle; this changed after a few years because they didn’t like being called the turtles all of the time.

  10. IMHO best ever patrol name: The “Hey, Chris” patrol. It was chosen because both SPL and ASPL had the first name. So, at roll call everyone would hurt themselves trying not to laugh as the PL reported:

    “Hey, Chris, all present and accounted for, sir!”

    The down side of being so verbally creative is they never came up with a patch design. And, obviously, the humor only really worked if Chris or Chris was taking roll!

  11. Back in the late 70’s there was a brief fad of “generic” products in all the stores, which were sold in plain white boxes with the name of the product in stencil-like black letters (a box of rice just said “RICE”, and so on). One of the patrols in the troop decided to become a “Generic Patrol”. Their patch was a white patch with the word “PATROL” in block letters. They had a flag, too – carefully stenciled “FLAG”, of course, and a patrol yell (“Yell!”).

    There was also a “Duster” patrol, named after my car. They used the whirlwind-with-a-face logo from the Plymouth’s fender as a patrol patch.

  12. Bryan:

    I loved the article on patrol names. Now at age 59, it took me back to the 1969 Jamboree where I took a picture of a patrol flag I will never forget. I do not know where they were from, but the “Atomic Oysters” flag was cool. Picture an open oyster with a lime green mushroom cloud coming out of it. My patrol out of north Alabama was the “Thumper” patrol…….picture a hot pink circle with a……ahem…..white Playboy bunny logo put together by the older boys…….we had no idea, but everyone wanted to trade for them ! What a Jamboree, too ! Neil Armstrong stepping on the moon and Lady Baden-Powell in attendance. Forty-five years later memories of the coldest shower I have ever taken still give me nightmares ! I enjoy your work – keep up the great articles !

    Joe Priester

  13. My son’s Webelos Patrol was “officially” the Skull Patrol, but went by “Boneheads.”
    Give me an S
    Give me a K
    Give me a U
    Give me an L
    Give me another L
    What does that spell?

      • Once a den advances to Webelos, they are supposed to emulate more of the patrol method. And they can choose to take on a patrol name if they like.

      • Webelos even though their a Den are encouraged to use a Patrol Patch, have a Patrol Name, and a Patrol Yell. The idea is to differentiate Cub Scouts (Tiger/Wolf/Bear) from Webelos.

  14. In our troop there is a Lazy Boy Patrol. You have to be in high school and have acheived life rank to be in the patrol. The majority of hoys that make it to the
    Lazy Boy Patrol end up becoming Eagle Scouts so I guess they aren’t really all that lazy. The patch has a recliner on it.

  15. My boys chose the name “flaming buttheads” but then I asked them “What will the patch look like”. The decided to make another choice. They became the Radioactive Dragons and found a patrol patch that actually glows in the dark.

  16. Long, long ago at JLT, we were required to come up with a unique name that no other patrol all summer had used and we were the last week. It also had to be SM approved, so “Bums” was out. We became “Knights of the Road.” Our patrol yell was sticking out our thumb and shouting “Got a dime?”

    At a camporee once when such things were popular, there was a “Generic” patrol. Their yell was “Patrol!” Their flag was a white piece of cloth with “FLAG” written on it in block letters.

  17. When I was a youth, i was in the Blue Beaver and 7-Headed Hydra Patrol using the patrol patch with the blue beaver and the dragon respectively

  18. Our troop has a feeder pack and in the AOL we have them pick a patrol name – this year was the Yellow submarines and thier patrol song is a scout variation to the classic Beatles tune. As our patrol merge or graduate out we retire That patch and name. Our adults are even creative. The young scouts (that just turned 18 and a slight bit older) have named themselves the peanut gallery (patch is a peanut in a top hat) Our adult leaders are the Grumpy Old men (patch is a rocking chair) and the the former scout masters and committee chair get the retired patrol (skull and cross bones). I find that this helps with the scouts identy and having the adults in the patrols have a very similar affect as the kids.

  19. How about the Fantastic Flaming Flying Chickens? That was my oldest son’s patrol when they were one year in. The patrol flag was a hoot!

    Our adult patrol has, for many years, been simply known as the Geezers. Our flag contains caricatures of some of the early members; our patch simply an old guy with a coffee cup. We have fun telling our new 19 year old ASMs they are now Geezers.

  20. What a fun article.
    But to take this a little serious. MANY years ago, when I became the Patrol Leader of the oldest Patrol in our troop, I asked the SM if we could change our name. After considering it for a while the SM said we could if we had a unanimous vote. You see we were the Rebel Patrol with a rebel flag as our patch and patrol flag. I thought that this was offensive and did not show scout spirit. I proposed the name Bat Patrol. I sold it to the other scouts by telling them that we could repaint the patrol box with batman logo and use the batman theme nanananana Bat Patrol! It was a success and that was a great learning experience.

    • I recently turned down the patrol name of “Assassins”. But other than that, I’ve never had other inappropriate names reach me. We have a patrol that recently adopted the name of the Prometheans. I haven’t seen an emblem yet, but if it has an Eagle eating the liver of Prometheus – then I might be in trouble.

      • Why turn down the Patrol Name “Assassins”? Personally I’d be fine with it as. But then again I would believe that the name came from the movie or the video game.

        • I’m old enough to remember 1963 and 1968. In U.S. history, real-life assassins would be Lee Harvey Oswald, John Wilkes Booth, Carl Weiss, James Earl Ray, John Hinkley, Mark Chapman. How about Jared Loughner? These folks would be the reason I denied the patrol name “assassins”.

  21. Our troop has the” woodchucknorris” patrol, the “Gremlins”, “Invisible monkeys” and “Sasquatch”. Since starting their venture patrol, the boys went with a zombie patch and sewed them on upside down. From a distance it looks like a V until you get close enough and realize it’s an upside down zombie.
    Love the creativity.

  22. My sons patrol named themselves the wolf bats the flag shows a hand drawn wolf with bat wings. It sprang from one wanting batman and one wanting wolf and so they combined them. I thought it was very creative.

  23. Somewhat related….My son’s patrol picked something simple, Vipers. There were no viper patches that they liked so the patrol (and it’s parents) agreed to have custom ones made from drawings the boys did. A troop committee member found a stock cobra patch and “recommended” that they get it instead because it was cool looking. Without parents knowledge took a vote pushing the stock patch and once she got the majority of votes she ordered the cobra patch. This almost broke up the patrol. Half the boys refuse to wear a cobra patch when their name is Vipers.

    • Not cool. The scouting program belongs to the scoutmaster and the troop activities belong to the boys. The Committee is there to support the scoutmaster and the boys, not he other way around. “Armchair quarterback comment”: the scoutmaster should have stepped up to refuse the stock patches and supported the boy’s decision; if the committee member had a problem with the boys’ decision, they should have brought it to the attention of the Scoutmaster first.

  24. Our senior patrol, normally Devide and Conquer, decided to change their name to The Legion of Evil for a Superhero Camporee … Oh yeah they won first place overall in that Camporee.

  25. My son’s patrol has been “The Scavengers” since they crossed over. Another patrol has gone through several names including the Pyros, Autobots, and are currently The Golden Guppies. One of our newer patrols called themselves “The Rookies”

  26. My son has been a member of the Zombie Slayers Patrol since Webelos. The boys crossed over together and carried the patrol name with them!

  27. We extended the patrol name concept and came up with a Troop Name. The first Webelos Den to crossover when we stood up the Troop in 2010 were the Dragons. The boys translated that to the Water Dragons Patrol. When we got more boys, they wanted a different name for the patrols, so the Troop became the Water Dragons; we also have Steve the Dragon as a mascot so the troop historian can document our exploits through Steve. Slowly, we are not only being know as Troop 321, but as the Water Dragons.

  28. We are the “Snipes”. The little mysterious bird you can only hunt at night. Our patch is glow in the dark eyes ona black background.

  29. The older patrol in my troop just named them selves the “Hedgehog Patrol” Their emblem? A blue ball (see Sonic the Hedgehog)

  30. When my husband, an ASM, attended his Introduction to Outdoor Leader Skills training … his group called themselves the Broken Hipsters. He created a hilarious flag with a skeleton who had a top hat and a broken hip.

  31. We have nuclear gummy bears, blue lightning dragons, and the adults patrol is up hill both ways…our yell: when we were your age…

  32. My sons buddy created the Coldcut Patrol. Their flag had a baloney sandwich on it . Their patrol call was “Ah Baloney” and their patrol song was ” My baloney has a first name its O-S-C-A-R” And you older leaders probably know the rest.

  33. One of our Troop’s patrols is called the Nothing Patrol and they use the blank patch shown in your story line. It is constant giggle when someone asks their patrols name and they answer ‘Nothing’

  34. When my son first joined Troop 101 at Fort Campbell, KY., the older boys called themselves the “Duct-tape Badger patrol”. Seriously. Not kidding. Military of course…duct tape and 550 cord can fix anything…lol.

  35. AAC Troop 463 has a patrol that opted to be the “Python” Patrol. However they soon discovered that there wasn’t a python patrol patch. After finding out the prices for custom patches, they started searching the internet. They discovered that Scouts South Africa have a python patrol patch. They enlisted the help of one of the dad’s who contacted the Scout Shop in South Africa abd was able to order enough patches for about the same price as a BSA patch. The Scouts have a unique patch and they learned something about the world wide Scouting movement.

  36. What a great read!
    My older son is in a troop with very creative patrol names:
    The creepers
    Flying penguins
    Bacon ninjas
    Black ops.

    My younger boy is a weeb and his den chose trailblazers and used the frontiers man patch.

    They are about to make their flag and I’m going to promise myself to let them do it all by themselves!
    (Wish me luck)

  37. As a young Scout, I was a part of:

    – Flaming Arrows patrol (two flaming arrows, not one)
    – Hey You patrol (emblem had a U in the center. Cheer was “Hey Hey You You, Hey You! That’s Us!”)
    – Lazy Eights (number eight tilted sideways)
    – Eagle patrol (black eagle on red; later, it became part of my personality…)

    The best patrol was the “31-Ws” (Patrol yell/cheer: “Beep Beep, Honk Honk! Dixie Dieway!”)
    The patrol had members living on both sides of the “Dixie Highway”, US 31-W in Rose Terrace Community, Fort Knox. Our emblem was a US highway shield with “31-W” in the center.

  38. My Special Needs Troop just broke into Patrol’s 2 weeks ago. I let them decide what to call themselves. I was very impressed with the outcome. Now I have the “howling wolf” patrol, that howls as their patrol yell. And the “Beastly Gorilla” patrol, that pounds their chests and yells “MIGHTY SILVERBACKS” as their patrol yell. Fun fun fun!

  39. One year our senior patrol entereda superhero themed camporee as “the legion of evil”. Fyi they came in first place overall.

  40. When I joined we were the Cousin It Patrol. We have had at one time or another the Generic Patrol, the Flying Banana Patrol (the Flying Eagle patch really looks like a banana), the Prize Patrol (you may already be a winner), the Border Patrol, and the Man Patrol (the symbol is the man figure on a restroom door).

  41. My Troop doesn’t change Patrol names with out a major reorganization, usually merging two Patrols who have shrunk, which tends to happen more to the older Scouts. When I joined the oldest Patrol was the Cold Fusion Patrol. Mine was the Dark Matter Patrol and we took a blank patch and cut out the middle, it was full of dark matter. When a younger group reorganized mid summer they came up with the Sweaty Little Fat Kids Patrol, which was appropriate for them. We also had the Border Patrol, led by a couple of Scouts with recent Mexican heritage. At Camporees we’ve had the Sock Patrol and Subway Patrol, when they forgot their flag and tied a sock or a Subway wrapper to a stick.

  42. My son was in Pedro patrol for awhile. He absolutely hated it because a couple of the boys would hee-haw like a donkey during the cheer and he thought it made people think they were a**es, He was so embarrassed and nearly wanted to quit scouts it bothered him so much. Thankfully, he was able to switch patrols to one with more of his friends and a less embarrassing name. It’s the only patrol with a rather “uncool” name…in his opinion of course. I’m sure other kids have no issues with it.

  43. My youngest son’s patrol is called the Radioactive Gummy Bears, or RGBs for short. There is a bright green gummy bear in front of a radioactive sign. They love it! When it is their patrol’s turn to bring desserts for the Court of Honor, you can always be sure to find a few different uses of gummy bears in them.

  44. In the early 60s, I was SM for a troop at Ft. Huachuca, Arizona (Cochise Council). One of our patrols was the Rockhounds, a bloodhound sniffing a very large shiny diamond.

  45. My son’s patrol is the Narwhals-the Jedi of the Sea! Their patch has a Narwhale with a neon green horn which looks like a light saber. As a Webelos 2 his patrol was the Game Masters with a game console on the patch.

  46. Back in the late 1970’s, when I was SPL of my troop, one patrol named themselves the Fonz Patrol, after the Happy Days character. I always thought “Phone Patrol” after the 1990’s commercial (featuring actor Ed O’Neill) would’ve been a cool name.

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