As a proponent of wearing the pin on the uniform, and being a career military guy (25+ AF), I'll tackle this one.
To keep a potential screed to minimum, I'm all for proper uniforming. I've proudly worn my military uniform for many years now. And privately, I disagree with some of the rules, but I've got to set the example. So I do, without grousing (except amongst a few close friends).
However, BSA uniforming is not now, nor will it ever be, on par with the requirements of military uniforming. The scout uniform is bought and worn by volunteers. The uniform guide is an administrative pamphlet written by well meaning people in Dallas TX. From my research, violations of BSA uniforming policy are not punishable.
So, to those who say "what rules do you pick to violate" and "it's a slippery slope" here is my response: use common sense. Does the violation bring discredit upon the BSA? If so, don't do it. If not, it's administrative violation and who gives a flip. I sure don't.
In closing, a few thoughts about "uniform police." I have found that uniform zealots, both military and BSA, tend to lose sight of what the uniform is actually designed to achieve.
The uniform is a means to an end, not the end.
I have no problem with the strictness of military uniforming. But off duty, in a volunteer organization like the BSA, if a scouter wants to wear a little gold pin on their pocket flap, they should do it. It brings credit, not discredit, to all involved--the Eagle who gave it, the scouter him/herself, and all who see it. It only chaffes some uniforming committee people in Dallas, and a few uniform policemen.
I've been associated with scouting since the early seventies, and I've never seen uniform nit picking like I have in the last couple years. Ironic that scout uniforming overall is the worst I've seen. I see this as an indictment of uniform police, not validation of their methods. When one appeals to the wearers' sense of pride and teamwork, proper uniforming is a snap.(This message has been edited by desertrat77)
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- May 2008
When uniforming is no longer a method of Scouting, I might be willing to listen to your argument.
I've seen Scouters wearing as many as 6 Mentor Pins. Nothing impresses me less. Where do we draw the line on this? How about a dozen? Four on each collar would look pretty cool... sorta like General Patton.
Proper uniforming either matters or it doesn't. For me, it does.
- Oct 2010
Thanks all for you replies. It was not my intention to start an argument. I know everyone means well even when we don't agree. It seems clear it is not part of the official uniform.
BDPT, while uniforming is a method, it does not automatically justify blindly following a non-binding administrative pamphlet "just because it says so and that's that."
As for your example, if someone wanted to wear four pins on each collar, so be it. Won't get any grief from me. Silly looking? Perhaps. Out of reg? Yep...and so what. In the eyes of the beholder. It's a free country, and this is a volunteer org.
Again, common sense is the key.
Proper uniforming does not happen by thumping people over the head with the regulation. In my experience, the opposite happens. Nit picking begits resentment, and resentment leads to subtle or flagrant violations, and generally lends itself to less credibility for leaders and followers.
One sets the example and appeals to followers sense of unity and pride. And their sense of professionalism. The "big boy/big girl" factor. This, in my military and BSA experience, is how you gain longer-lasting, higher levels of excellent uniforming.
I think some of the above applies to BSA as well. We are sweating wearing an Eagle Mentor Pin, meanwhile, uniforming across the BSA is at an all time low. Why? Not because of the "illegally" worn Mentor Pin. Because a) scouts and scouters have little pride in the uniform as it is currently designed and b) there are too many unenforceable, annoying rules that tell you how to wear it.
I stand by my position. I've got the results to prove it.(This message has been edited by desertrat77)
- Feb 2005
Kudos Desertrat77, I feel you hit it out of the park... we are a volunteer organization and heck it's hard enough to have boys show up just for the meetings with them also active in sports, extreme sports or girls etc...
Thank you for sharing...
- Nov 2007
I wear my mentor pin on my neckerchief - right under the slide. I keep meaning to make a neckerchief slide that has a place for mentor or dad pins...need to get around to that someday. Shows off the pin very nicely and, to the best of my knowledge, doesn't violate the insignia guide.
- Nov 2010
Desertrat is correct. However, I want to build off one of his points: isn't circumventing the insignia guide part of that "little pride in the uniform" that he was lamenting? I'm not a uniform policeman, nor do I aspire to be. However, I take care to wear my uniform correctly when representing my district.
We are supposed to set examples for Scouts to emulate (and we should reward them through uniform inspections). How do we explain to Scouts that a certain pin carries enough weight to make you an exception to the rules? Besides, we already have mentor recognition on our uniforms: those round patches that say things like "Scoutmaster," "Coach," and "Advisor."
Eagle707, thanks, that's something to mull over.
To borrow from another uniform thread: there was a time in scouting when full uniforms were the norm, and the only guidance most scouts and parents had was the scout handbook...very basic stuff. And the example set by leaders. Uniform police? I never saw any until I was an adult scouter in the '80s. Some folks, particularly older scouters, had some very eccentric touches to uniforming, but no one said anything--I think we saw it an individual flair, or their right as an old timer.
Here's the irony: the more rules there are, the less any are followed. That's the status quo as I see it.
There are basic principles that should be followed--but there is a line where it's just nit picking and overkill and food/drink for uniform police. I put the prohibition against mentor pins in the latter category. Every one knows if something is really out of whack--like sewing your OA flap on the wrong side. But a mentor pin? Good grief, only a few souls know what the IG says, and even fewer care.
The key question is "will it bring discredit?" If the answer is no, they I say do it.
I don't view the BSA insignia guide as holy writ. The key word is "guide."
So where is the line? Who decides? You and me and any other adult who volunteers their time to the BSA. We are all quite capable of knowing what's important and what's not.
I'm also a big proponent of freedom.
- Aug 2008
there was a time in scouting when full uniforms were the norm, and the only guidance most scouts and parents had was the scout handbook...very basic stuff.
I agree it was basic, and I never saw an IG until I helped the scout shop move to a new location. BUT I can tell you that even with the information still on the inside back covers, people STILL do not look at the information.
- Jul 2007
Yep; have had parents tell me they cannot find any of the info. Tell them to look in the handbook, on the inside covers, and they act as if that is not feasible. Maybe they are visually regressed, or cannot read. Makes you want to scream sometimes.
- Jul 2002
Folks, please do not describe those that strive to follow proper uniforming in a demeaning manner.
I will wear mine with pride, because it is insane not to. So, by choosing to follow proper uniforming I'm regarded as insane?
The scout uniform is bought and worn by volunteers. So is the military and has been for close to 40 years.
In closing, a few thoughts about "uniform police." I have found that uniform zealots, both military and BSA, tend to lose sight of what the uniform is actually designed to achieve. This is a common thread in this forum. Someone asks the "correct" way to do something, someone replies with the correct answer and then they are pilloried for their response. For myself, I would never dream of coming up to a Scouter and telling him that his mentor pin does not belong on his or her uniform. But, if asked, I would state that no, the BSA has stated that mentor pins are for civilian wear. By stating such, why do folk imply that we are "uniform police" or somehow think we feel that uniforming is the most important thing in Scouting. Personally, I think it is just rationalization by folks who know they are doing something they are not supposed to do. Reminds of the joke about the guy who asks a lady if she would ... Well, we've already established that, he says. Now we are just negotiating price. Is it less wrong to steal one cent than to steal millions of dollars?
While uniforming is a method, it does not automatically justify blindly following a non-binding administrative pamphlet "just because it says so and that's that." It certainly does not imply not following it.
Proper uniforming does not happen by thumping people over the head with the regulation. We are sweating wearing an Eagle Mentor Pin. Who is thumping? Who is sweating? Who is picking nits? The question was asked, a proper reply was given. Nothing more, nothing less.
At summer camp, the camp staff asks that the uniform (field) be worn to dinner. Some of the boys grumble about it - some of the adults too. As the Scoutmaster, the SPL or I reminded them of this fact before we headed out. Did we "require" it? No. We signed up to do the flag ceremony in the next few days. I asked the boys to practice (I usually had the younger boys do this to fulfill requirements). As a troop that had chosen to wear a neckerchief, I asked the flag ceremony team to be properly uniformed. A few more grumbles - I can't find mine some would state. Borrow one or if need be you can use mine, I'd offer. Well, they would quickly find their own after that. It just so happened, the evening before we were scheduled, another troop's team performed the ceremony with their uniform shirts and swim trunks! I didn't say anything but when we got back to our base camp later that evening I asked the boys what they thought of the flag ceremony. They were embararssed for that troop. I asked why and it was because of their appearance they stated. I had no
uniform issues the following evening!(This message has been edited by acco40)
Acco, while you obviously take a balanced approach to uniforming, please don't include yourself with the aforementioned zealots.
Proper uniforming is a spectrum, not an either/or issue. To approach it from the stand point of all/nothing, do it 100 percent or you are a scofflaw, that's the rub.
While the military is all volunteer, that's where the similarities with the BSA end, as far as uniforming. Military uniforming isn't a goal, a method, a desired outcome, whathaveyou. It's mandatory. Even then, there is a time and place for good judgment.(This message has been edited by desertrat77)
- Jun 2002
Ya know, Acco, even though we come to different judgements on the mentor pins, I pretty much agree with that last post.
As I posted earlier, we're a full uniform troop. Your story about the flag ceremonies is pretty much an annual thing for us.
Our guy are trained that a complete Scout uniform requires all six parts -- hat, necker, shirt, belt, pants and socks. Unlike your troop, at summer camp, you don't leave for dinner until you are in uniform. (And frankly, that's not so much about the uniform as it is about following rules and keeping up with your stuff.)
But if you've got those six basic parts, we don't really worry too much about the detail. As it relates to things like patch position and what insignia to wear or not to wear, my approach is to let the boys know what is proper and let go from there. If a boy is especially proud of a patch he earned as a Cub or maybe he's wearing a mile swim patch as a temporary activity patch, good for him. At an appropriate time, I'll make sure he knows that the mile swim patch is intended for his swim trunks not his uniform, but if he leaves it the uniform, I really don't care.
I have two brothers in the troop who both earned two levels of religious emblems as Cubs. They both wear two religious emblem knots on their uniforms. At different times, I've struck up conversations about the knots, usually starting with what they did to earn the awards and what a big deal it is. And I mention that instead of wearing two knots, they really should wear one with the two devices indicating the program in which the awards were earned. It was not big deal for either of us. A couple months later, the older brother came up and asked me to explain the devices again. Viola! Learning has occurred. Not long after the older brother showed up with a new uniform shirt with one knot and two devices. Of course the little brother inherited the old shirt, but I'm sure we'll cycle through eventually.
I think that's the way it needs to work. We're here to teach boys to make ethical decisions. We teach them what is right and let them practice their decision making skills from there. Getting screamed at by someone pounding a knuckle on copy of the Insigina Guide doesn't allow room for ANY decision making, only compliance.
- Jun 2011
Desertrat: Really? You honestly believe "the more rules there are, the less any are followed."
The original poster asked if there was a "proper", and the first response was correct in saying "no".
There are two ways people go against the IG standards: 1. things done incorrectly with the uniform because of not knowing the correct standard, and 2. things knowingly disregarded.
The latter reason for deviating from the IG has absolutely nothing to do with how many "rules" there are. When I see scouters disregard something they KNOW is part of the uniform / IG policy, I perfectly understand when the scouts in that troop also disregard the uniform standard. Scouts pick up on even the smallest of things.
Do you feel the same way about advancement standards? If a scout turns in a blue card to his SM after he's completed the MB but never got a leader's signature before starting on the badge, is that OK? Is it OK to modify a rank requirement "just a little bit"? Where do you draw the line versus what the national organization has defined as the standards? I hear it all the time: "We follow most of the BSA standards, except for a handful we don't agree with." I guess we need to bend the definitions of trustworthy, loyal and obedient; but what the heck, they still follow the remaining 75% of the Scout Law to the letter, right?
I don't think it's nitpicking. There's an analogy we use in the software industry regarding even a small deviation from standards: Just a teaspoon of ['sewage'] in a barrel of wine taints the whole barrel. Either you follow the standards, or you don't. If you know the standards yet pick and choose what standards to follow or ignore, expect other scouts and scouters to do likewise, and don't complain when they deviate in a way that bothers you.
I don't buy the slippery slope theory, particularly when comparing uniform wear with advancement or with software design. Some rules are hard and fast, others are guidelines.