By Jonathan Gunson
May 18, 2016

Fostering Pride in Your Patrol

When I was a deacon, my ward split and I became a member of a newly created ward, which meant I was also a member of a newly chartered Boy Scout unit and deacons patrol. At the time, few of the members of our Patrol had much interest in Scouting. We saw it mainly as a weekly nuisance that delayed our pickup basketball games. Fortunately, we were blessed with a wise Deacon’s Quorum President and Patrol Leader who recognized the power of Scouting and was inspired to use the tools prescribed in his Patrol Leader Handbook to help foster patrol pride and strengthen our quorum.

unnamed-3A name, a chant, a yell and a flag are all simple things, yet when they are implemented by an enlightened patrol leader, they become powerful tools for unifying a patrol and strengthening a priesthood quorum. A patrol name becomes a shared identity. It lets each boy know they are important members of a group with individuals who support them and uphold their values. A patrol song/chant/yell becomes a rallying cry. It gives voice to the voiceless and helps unify the message and personality of the patrol. A patrol flag becomes a symbol and a sanctuary. It is a physical representation of the patrol’s pride and invites patrol members to join together in fellowship and friendship.

Whether your patrol chooses to take a traditional approach to Patrol Pride or an unconventional one, working together to create the best patrol possible will unite your patrol, strengthen your quorum and create a culture of cooperation and service that will edify all involved.

A Name

In our former ward, we were the “Trailblazers,” a name we’d inherited from the Scouts who’d formed that patrol decades before any of us were born. We didn’t like the name. It was archaic and lame. It made us think of dweebie “super scouts” who wore their uniforms to school and sang childish trail songs everywhere they went (no offense). We felt embarrassed associating ourselves with that brand of Scouting, so we refused to call ourselves Trailblazers and accosted any of the older Scouts or leaders who referred to us by the name.

“The Trailblazers are dead!” our leader proclaimed at the start of our inaugural Patrol Meeting. “We can be whatever we want to be, and we never have to hear that name ever again,” he declared.

We all cheered!

After 45 minutes of spirited deliberation, we unanimously chose to call ourselves the Hoogachaka Monkeys. The name was inherently obnoxious, implicitly rowdy and innocently subversive. It was the spirit of our Patrol captured in six silly syllables.

Our name was pure nonsense. It exasperated our own leaders, perplexed outsiders and disgruntled camp directors and leaders of other troops and patrols. Yet with every botched pronunciation, every look of momentary confusion and every disapproving glare, a name with no intrinsic meaning developed real significance to the members of our patrol. It became a source of great pride for us and knit our hearts together in fellowship and friendship.

A Song/Chant/Yell

As the Hoogachaka Monkeys, we showed Patrol Pride in our own way. We didn’t really have a Patrol Song, but we did have a chant inspired by the hit song “Hooked on a Feeling” by Blue Swede. I guess it was even less of a chant and more just constant droning, and boy, was it annoying. We didn’t shout it. We didn’t use it to whip us into a frenzy. We would just repeat, “hoogachaka, hoogachaka, hoogachaka,” over and over, sometimes for hours at a time, creating an unnerving, rhythmic hum that slowly drove people insane.

Untitled.001In contrast, our Patrol Yell was sporadic and staccato, but equally as obnoxious. With no warning, we would each begin yipping, “YOW! YOW! YOW!” with no prior notice and no coordinated rhythm, and then, before people could turn their heads and pinpoint the source of the sound, we’d fall completely silent and act as confused as those around us. Our yell had nothing to do with our name or our chant. It was just a noise we’d make, but it became our official yell because it was something we enjoyed doing and enjoyed doing together.

Our Patrol chant was simple: a one word refrain, incessantly repeated. Likewise, our yell was nothing more than a sound we shouted at random. Their simplicity made them easy to learn and participate in. In our patrol, many of the younger boys were shy and soft spoken, yet our chant and our yell gave voice to those who had yet to found their own. While chanting, we had to constantly observe each other to assess how engaged we all were in our endeavour. We remained resolute by giving each other looks of encouragement as we continued our droning. This routine created opportunities for each of us to make eye contact and interact with each other and to observe that we were all working together toward a common goal, even if that goal was to be as irritating as possible without making people angry. Because of these shared experiences, the more reserved Scouts quickly became comfortable interacting with others in the Patrol. They sought help from older boys and found ways to contribute more fully to our activities and conversations.

A Flag

Perhaps the least traditional thing about our patrol was our flag. Unlike the elaborate craft projects brandished by other patrols, our flag was just a large red and white umbrella. It was always open, indoors or out, rain or shine. To disapproving outsiders, we’d simply recite the Scout Motto, “Be Prepared,” and smugly declare that our flag was always open to protect us from sudden rainstorms, oppressive sunshine or spontaneous dive bomb attempts from murders of angry crows.

Regardless of why we always kept it open, our flag was easy to spot from far away, making it easy for members of our patrol to know where they could find the comfort and fellowship of friends. We also used our unique flag to acknowledge the accomplishments of members of our Patrol. When a boy in our patrol reached a goal or accomplished something extraordinary, one of the boy leaders would publically recognize them and invite them to stand underneath the flag while that leader held the flag for them and escorted them wherever they went. Often these great achievements were as absurd as the flag itself, but we were always happy to acknowledge them to build a boy’s confidence and increase the camaraderie within our patrol.

Using these tools, the Hoogachaka Monkeys became a formidable presence at every event we attended. As a united group, we won every interpatrol competition we entered, claimed many spirit awards and served each other and our communities. Together we grew as scouts, as men and as priesthood holders. The friendships we built as members of a patrol and a quorum have sustained us all through difficult times and continue to bless the lives of each Hoogachaka Monkey today.

jonny gunsonAuthor: Jonathan Gunson | Marketing Intern, Utah National Parks Council

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2 thoughts on “Fostering Pride in Your Patrol

  1. Darryl AlderDarryl Alder

    Patrol spirit with a millennial twist! Good to know Scouting methods survive the generations. Thanks for sharing such a fun story.

    Reply
  2. AvatarMaloree Anderson

    Seriously, after reading this article it made me want to create my own ‘life’ patrol and have such a crazy name, chant, yell, and flag. Thank you for sharing your experience and how the Boy Scouts help build the confidence of young men and united them in an unique way.

    Reply

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