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  • The Girl Scouts are missing out

    Hi all

    My wife and I took a train from Oklahoma City to Ft Worth with some friends last weekend and on the train with us were Girls Scouts. I dont know their age, but I would guess about 10 years old. It was interesting listening to other passengers talk about the girls, they didnt know what group the girls belonged with. Until you got close enough to read Girl Scouts on their green T-shirt, they just looked like any other group of girls with the same color T-shirts.

    That got me reflecting back on a movie Dodgeball. Its a silly movie about adults playing a professional version of the game Dodge ball. In the movie, the rag tag group of adults have to play a Troop of Girl Scouts to qualify for the National tournament. Those Girls Scouts were dressed in the old Traditional Girl Scout uniform, not T-shirts. There was no doubt of their organization.

    I've read on this forum in the past about changing the Boy Scout uniforms to a more progressive Polo Shirt style that would present a better image to the public. Ive thought about that a lot and wondered if the Boy Scouts really needed an new uniform image. I'm from a different generation and so who knows, but I now think it would be huge mistake. I remember taking our scouts into restaurants while traveling to camps and activities and it was typical for other restaurant patrons to walk over and visit the scouts. Folks just dont go walking over to teenage boys to chat. They had a common interest with these boys and they wanted to talk about it. Most ask where the scouts came from, but in general stories of their scouting experiences squeeze into the discussion. Once a truck driver stopped to talk with our scouts during a gas stop to appologize for the t-shirt she was wearing imply something about sex postions.
    It was the uniform that motivated a total stranger to approach a group of total strangers to appologize for her behavior.

    Back to the Dodge Ball movie, it is obvious that the producers were more comfortable with the old school Girl Scout uniforms to identify the organization. The uniform says it without additinal dialoge. I dont think they felt a green T-shirt would pull off the same effect. I also believe this about the boy scout uniform as well. I see the Boy Scout uniform used in TV shows and movies a lot to imply a boy scouting organization. Many times the name of the group is something other than Boy Scouts, but the uniform is still a very close copy of the present BSA Boy Scout uniform.

    I dont know where this idea that a simple Polo Shirt would give the BSA a better image than the more traditional uniform worn today. After listening to the passengers on the train, I know that the Girl Scouts have not improved their image. Folks dont recognize them now.

    Now one last thing, to be fair I admit best image scouts can present to the public comes from their actions, not the uniform. I know this from an experience when our troop of 80 very smelly dirty scouts and adults going home from a week of summer camp and a day of white rafting stopped at a busy Pizza Hut in a small town in the Texas panhandle. Because we didnt plan well that day, we were only wearing what we wore for white water rafting. Nothing indicated we were a troop of Boy Scouts. Truth was we adults were a little embarrassed with our dirty smelly group. Anyway, to give each group a break, the adults sat on the opposite side of the restaurant from the scouts and we didnt really pay attention to the scouts side. About 15 minutes after we arrived, the manager of the Pizza Hut brought several pitchers of soft drinks and pizzas to the adult table. When we told him we had not ordered yet, he said that our scouts were so well behaved that the first $100 of pizzas and drinks were on the house. What really stood out to him was how the 60 or so scouts responded instantly to the SPL putting up his sign to get their attention.

    I threw that in to be fair. But my point is the same. I think the best uniform image the BSA can present to the public is the traditional uniform.

    I love this scouting stuff.

    Barry

  • #2
    I lost count of the times the Pack, or the Troop in uniform for an event had someone come up and mention some anecdote about Scouting.

    Sometimes the Cubs/Scouts aren't really paying attention to the person, or just smile and wave.

    But I remember 1 older gentlemen in a retirement home who remarked on my son's shirt Cub Shirt and his blue belt with Cub armor (many belt loops). He also stood up on his walker, saluted my son, who was so embarrassed by the attention saluted back before hurrying off to help with the Christmas dinner trays (the reason we were there).

    I hung by his room for a second, and asked if was a Scout? He said he was only was a Boy Scout for a year before joining the Navy... at 16.... he said it was the proudest he ever felt being a Scout...

    I thanked him for his Scouting Service and Service to his country (I'm a disabled Veteran). As I got ready to leave I spotted a framed Navy Cross by an old black and white picture of a young sailor near his bed.

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    • #3
      My daughter is a girl scout - just bridged over to Juniors after two years as a Brownie. Girl Scouts DO have a uniform, but they aren't too picky about it, and allow alot of variance in how its worn (at least around here). The girls don't have a hat that they need to wear (there's an optional one, and I have never seen anyone wear it). They are SUPPOSED to wear a white shirt and tan pants (their choice) and wear either a uniform sash or vest. That's it.

      It is lower cost than my son's cub scout uniform, but at least his uniform doesn't change (aside from wear or size) until he hits Boy Scouts. Every 2 years the girls change program levels and need to buy new stuff.

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      • #4
        My daughter is a Brownie right now (GS equivalent of Wolf/Bear).

        She routinely wears some kind of GS t-shirt or in more formal settings the tan pants/white shirt. On top of that is usually her Brownie vest.

        I find that the GS clothes + vest are not quite a obvious as the CS uniform. Yet, my daughter's Brownie vest has the same number, if not more, patches than my son's CS uniform.

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        • #5
          I've commented on other threads about the lack of visibility the GSUSA has in regards to their uniforms. I've been told the only time you can tell a group of girls are Girl Scouts is when they are selling cookies.

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          • #6
            I would love to see GSUSA get back a real uni. A decent shirt, zip-off capris or a skirt with a GS trefoil embroidered on it, and the vest/sash/tunic. For Adults, too. I am so tired of the rag-bag look.



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            • #7
              I'd love them to have a more visible uniform too.

              However, when I think of the cub scouts so often we end up in our "class B" uniforms - a pack t-shirt and whatever shorts you want. I like that the girls start off with their class b's all the time and then have a vest they put on over that. So as much as I like uniforms, I have to admit I find merit in what the GS do.

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              • #8
                Uniform use...

                I have a friend who is a GSUSA leader out in Indiana. She
                recently emailed me a copy of a local Council memo the stated, quote,

                Troop - - - will present to the girl a PRAY patch, as well as the religious knot used by our brothers in the Cub Scouts. Both the patch and the knot can be put on the uniform, along with the medal that may be awarded by the girls religious organization/church.

                She said she had emailed to GSUSA National for claification, and had been told that it was "not appropriate" and the local Council would be counseled about the use of foreign badges (!).

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                • #9
                  This was only half right. The medal can be worn on the front of the vest and the round patch on the back. Knots are not used in Girl Scouts, so I don't get why she'd have one.

                  And "foreign," that is not GSUSA official awards, can go on the back.

                  With all teh turmoil about uniforms, awards, etc the last few years, it's been hard to keep up. Plus we don't have a very good uniform guide with written requirements.

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                  • #10

                    I think too many here are using their own personal prejudices and stereotypes to justify what THEY want the scout uniform to be, too many are stuck in their personal vision of "the good old days". Time for you guys to come into the 21st Century and see what the boys actually want. After all it is the boy and not the uniform that makes him a scout.

                    Change is part of life and I am willing to bet by the end of this decade we will see the uniform undergo some big changes.

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                    • #11
                      There is one part of the uniform that identifies Scouts - boys and girls, men and women - immediately and clearly everywhere in the world, and that is the neckerchief. It is THE symbol of Scouting world-wide, so much so that Scouts all over the globe are once again observing World Scout Scarf Day on August 1st. Scouts and former scouts from every country are proudly wearing their neckerchiefs all day. What a shame that American Scouts are increasingly out of step as they abandon the neckerchief.

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                      • #12
                        They are already testing out an alternate field uniform in MD consisting of UA shorts, socks and colored t-shirt that denotes either your rank or adult leader status. Since you need a new shirt for each rank, it can get very expensive IMHO.

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                        • #13

                          Nike: My understanding is that the "foreigness" originated from the BSA knot NOT being a GSUSA badge. And , no, neither I nor my Indiana friend knows where the not would come from. But then, Scoutshops don't always ask if you're a Scout when they sell things.

                          SWNecker: I heartily agree. Even the GS used to wear necksers. When our Troop holds it's February CoH, I give a short talk about neckerchief history and sponsor a Necker slide (woggle) contest. I obtain the prizes from local businesses ( Coupons for free ice cream, McD's fries, Cal Tacos, ) and it is becoming more popular each year.

                          E92: A good point. The Baltimore Area Council is the center of this UnderArmor "test". I get the impression from my Baltimore friends that most Troops view them as a "class B" Tee shirt thing, but not a replacement for the whole uniform. But that's just anecdotal.

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                          • #14
                            Just want to point out that the traditional girl scout skirt & culottes were not exactly conducive to outdoor adventure.

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                            • #15
                              >


                              Optimal for selling cookies, perhaps?


                              I seem to recall seeing Girl Scouts wearing vests decorated with badges, troop numbers and such. That seems like quite a practical way of displaying Scouting bling.

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