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Pee Wee Harris' patrol was the Raven Patrol. Roy Blakeley's patrol was the Silver Foxes. These literary characters were part of Percy Keese Fitzhugh's commissioned work back in the early years of American BSA. Pee Wee, Roy, Westy and Tom all had their origins in these boy's books.
But alas, it was the "caw, caw" used by the early BP style of scouting where the boys pretty much ran things, went to camp and basically didn't have much adult input in the processes. These un-PC pre-1972 books I think may be banned from the boys now that BSA has been enlightened.
I tried to look it up on google quickly, but no luck today.
I have always been told that Raven was one of the original WB patrols (and still used at the Gilwell Training Center). I have not staffed a course with Ravens, but I have a few Scouting buddies who have attended and are Ravens. I have also known a few panthers (more taken from Jungle Book, rather than the original Wood Badge).
Additional Patrols are usually used when a course is so full (and successfully recruited), that the Course Director and Course Advisor decide to go beyond the usual eight patrols.
Where do they fit in... While entering Gilwell Field, or song order. Since the Ravens are normally an overflow patrol, they go 9th in order just after the Antelope.
So... If the story is correct. The Ravens did not just come about, but more that the Raven patrol is ocassionally revived.
It used to be in some parts of the country when a course got particularly large there would be a 9th patrol which would be Ravens. I particularly know this happened in Southern California.
It used to be that there was not an ironclad limit on the upper size of a Troop. So when some courses got up around 50 participants, the course director would target 9 patrols of 6 participants (54 participants) and add a Raven patrol. If the course got still larger, there would sometimes be a Wolf patrol added as a 10th patrol. The other alternative was to make the patrols larger.
I was on a course in 2003 where the Course Director had been a Raven.
With the current guidelines, it is exceedingly strict that there will be a maximum of 8 patrols of 6 participants and there will be no 9 patrol Troops.(This message has been edited by NeilLup)
Perhaps, it's more related to the country that they did wood badge or Cub Scout Wood badge? A member of my local council has completed wood badge in a couple countries other than the USA and his critter/patrol is not the typical US critters. We also have a member who is a raven from a Cub Scout wood badge course.
The 8 patrols (Beaver, Bob White, Eagle, Fox, Owl, Bear, Buffalo Antelope) are US only. Each country that has Wood Badge has its own patrols, some of them are much less "picky" about patrol names than we are and some really don't use patrols that much.
We had a staff member who is Norwegian and he took Wood Badge in Norway where he was a woodpecker. He would sing "I used to be a pecker." We had another man who took it on Guam and was a Goony Bird. When there was Exploring Wood Badge, the crew names were things like Kit Carson, Jim Bridger, Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett.
There could well be Ravens as a prime patrol name in some other country.
As far as the limit on patrol size, I can tell you for a fact that whoever at BSA national handles this does make exceptions. My course had got approval for eight patrols of up to eight members each (ie, 64). We ended up with 57 or 58.
I'm not sure when the first Raven patrol became part of Gilwell order in the Greater St. Louis Area Council, but now, when a course has eight full patrols and a Raven is on the course staff, the SM often exercises the option to substitute the Raven patrol for the Antelope patrol. When there's a gathering of Wood Badgers and the Gilwell song is sung, we do nine verses to include both Antelopes and Ravens.
I have been looking and have found several articles about how the Ravens came about.
The oldest article stated that Baden-Powells first group of boys were "were arranged into four patrols: Wolves, Ravens, Bulls and Curlews". Information taken from- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brownsea_Island_Scout_camp
and More Recently i found this link.http://ravenlinks.com/new_page_1.htm
I had found a few more but forgot to book mark them so I am having trouble finding them again.
However I am still looking for more.and will share them when I do find them.
The Really Fun Part is I am a Raven as of the course I just took C3-312-14-1 in GLSAC. And we are a great patrol, we rocked it all very little Storming and a lot of Performing as a group. Rowdy Righteous Ravens