I hope you don't feel that you are being personally attacked by this discussion; certainly that is not my intent and I apologize if you feel such. My confusion stems from the fact that you seem to opine that this is a binary, one-or-the other choice - that either you care about uniforms, or you care about people. In fact, you even state:
But why do you imply that it must be one or the other? Do you truly think that we don't focus on the youth and having fun, and that we go to bed at night thinking about patches and pins? Heaven forbid; the very suggestion is silly. Rather, I believe in doing ALL of these things - and with a specific, meaningful goal: to help make these young people into better adults, better citizens, and better family members. I believe in making Scouting fun just as much as I do in getting these kids to look and feel their best, because these things help make them better people. But uniforms aren't the end goal. Fun is not the end goal. These are certainly tools that we use to engage young minds and hearts - but they aren't the end goal.
You needn't worry about offense; I have learned not to be overly concerned with something a stranger on an internet forum posts about something I already understand, and I certainly wouldn't be so petty as to be offended by anything you say. Speak freely here! But do please note that here, you are suggesting that people who do focus on the uniform, somehow, DON'T focus on the person, and just because they pay attention to how they dress in the uniform. You even use large capital letters to make this point. Yet that's not quite reasonable, is it? Just because somebody really cares about the uniform, that does not make them any less interested in the person than you are. The emphasis on one is unrelated to the sentiments of the other. Yet in that same vein, the way a Scout (or leader) wears the uniform does tell us a bit about who he is, and what he believes, and what he thinks of himself. The clothes, in fact, help us focus on the person. That's why we do this.
I would like to state, emphatically, that we are all on the same side. We all want to help these young people grow into responsible, mature adults, and we do it with all manner of methods - making the program fun is a huge part of it. So is the uniform. So are the outdoors, and the patrol method, and service. The whole POINT of these things is to focus on the person - just as you said. If we didn't care about each youth who walks into our meetings with all our hearts, we wouldn't care about any of these things. But we do, and so we do all we can to make sure every Scout has the best, richest experience possible. You say let's make it fun, and focus on the person. I agree 100%. But I also say let's do MORE. Let's get our uniforms right. Let's do the patrol method correctly. Let's do EVERYTHING we can, and let's do it RIGHT - BECAUSE THE SCOUTS DESERVE IT.
@MrjeffI respect that you don't want to engage in a discussion on this and that you don't see yourself changing your mind. Permit me to choose some quotes from your comment:
I fully understand your perspective here. In fact, the longer I volunteer, the more often than I make the same argument. However, I'm commenting as I think this sets up a false choice.
Programming is the most important thing we do as Scouters. Scouting has to be fun - without doubt. But, I also think Scouting is about role modeling. Scouting calls is "adult association". How we as adults conduct ourselves is important. Choice comments that we make from time to time are important. If Scouts see us show up in well presented uniform, that says something. If in the midst of a 90 minute troop meeting you make a comment to a Scout to tuck in his shirt - that is noticed.
Whether in large part or in small part, Scout leaders serve as role models. I'm not suggesting for a minute that a leader needs to be endlessly talking about uniforms. But, when those moments present themselves - well placed uniform comments help provide life lessons.
Again - It's not that uniforming is more important than fun. It's that there will be many opportunities between the fun to help Scouts internalize why uniforming is important. When one ignores the impact of those lessons they become missed opportunities.
I get your point here. I'd suggest that our Scouting community is confused about what standards we should set. Scouters, just like Scouts & parents, are confused by the dichotomy of Scouting as a "game" and as a "game with a purpose". Are we here simply to have fun or are we here to have fun and help these kids to grow in the process? If subscribe to the latter and believe that uniforming provides a golden opportunity to help Scouts learn some important life lessons.
On "uniform police" - again, as I stated above, we need to raise standards in a way that provides some dignity. Being that Scouter who runs around telling others how their uniform is wrong isn't the answer. But, when placed into a position of authority, we should be setting the example and encouraging others constructively. A unit leader or seasoned leader that discourages proper uniforming is doing those newer adult leaders a disservice. Those newer adults leaders look to us for the example.
I became a Neighborhood Commissioner and was assigned a group of Troops with veteran SMs. One troop has known as the "Battalion" due to the leadership style of the retired Marine Major who was its Scoutmaster. i learned it was true; his voice was the only voice you heard during troop meetings. (Fortunately, its patrols met independently every week.)
The DC counselled me to be helpful before any thought of being a teacher/counselor. So updates, offers to help, information on resources - my job for months until I had some "cred' with the unit Scouters, and then questions before statements. "Softly, softly." I hope i would have figured this out on my own., but I only had to follow his advice. It was an interesting two years.
My relative youth was a problem to overcome. I am not sure if being the SM of a strong troop helped or hindered. (At least T43 was known not to "poach" from other troops.).
You already are sensitive too the "fine line." 👍
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