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Uniform Costs

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My point exactly. It is not that the uniform isn't a good quality for what it was made to do. It is not a good quality for what some people use it for.


Bob White

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Hi All - I know it has been a long time since I have been on. Had a mild heart attack (too much stress I was told) in Feb, and my ISP sold, so no access until today.


I see that the general arguments have not changed.


1. The overall quality of the uniforms is not up to par (I got an "experienced" cub shirt today with the left pocket a full inch lower than the right!)


2. A lot of folks with more "dollars than sense" spend a lot more for sporting equipment and name brand junk.


3. The uniforms were not designed for all purpose use.


What we have done here helps with the "Class A" (Tan and green) uniforms. They are worn to troop and patrol meetings, and any time in the public eye for a non-work activity. They are also worn to non-winter camps (district) for morning and evening colors and ceremonies, but time is allowed for change to troop/patrol uniforms (usually troop t-shirt and jeans) for the daily activities, where the Class A's might be damaged.


It works well for us. Now if I can just get my assistant scoutmaster to wear his uniform occasionally!


Paul Johnson

T-4013, committee chair

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A major part of the cost issue that few people have discussed here is that the Scouts outgrow their impractical uniform at an alarming rate. Pants mostly. A uniform pant that is constructed similar to the Army BDU with double knees, double seat, great pockets and growth tabs for letting out, thereby allowing the Scout to grow into the pants, makes too much sense (they can be had as shorts too, a variety of colors [even green] and made in the USA). I have been accused of being a fanatic over uniforminty since I insist that Scouts and leaders wear the troop hat and neckerchief, tuck in their shirts, and button their pockets. I'll put their appearance up against 99% of the troops I have seen. But I have to admit to be lenient on the pants. I would have to buy at least three pair of official pants a year just to keep up with my own son's growth. The several boys in the troop who come from broken and low income homes could never keep up. And while we are being fanatical...there is no such thing as a class A uniform or class B uniform in the Boy Scouts. Oh by the way, those are military terms and I find it ironically oxymoronic (or words to those effects) that those who are "bothered" by the use of military like pants use the distinctly military terms to describe something that doesn't exist. The Scout uniform SHOULD be practical enough to wear camping and hiking and not just for meetings and courts of honor. We wear our shirts, hats and neckerchiefs to EVERYTHING and stow or ground the shirt and neckerchief if there is a physical activity requirement or practical reason to do so. Nightly campfires are conducted in uniform no matter the venue. I also believe we as leaders have an OBLIGATION to tell the leadership at all levels above us what we think about the uniform. I certainly do.

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Hi all:


Boys grow. Can't get around that.


I think that it would be IMPOSSIBLE to create a uniform that 1. Will work for both ceremonies *and* outdoor activities; and 2. Would be a design that everyone will be pleased with. I would be willing to bet that even in a troop of 12 boys, there will be three different feelings of an "ideal" uniform.


Many groups wear uniforms; athletic teams, work crews, safety technicians, and of course military units. If you will examine the use of the uniform for each group, they all have various uniforms for various tasks.


Take an athletic team like a baseball team. They have uniforms for play (team outfit), and a different uniform for travel (sport coat and slacks). Work crews (like a fast food restaurant) have a uniform for a specific task; preparing and serving food.


Safety technicians (fire fighters, peace officers) and military personnel have a specific uniform for doing specific tasks. They probably have a ceremonial or dress uniform for parades, dinners, or ceremonial functions. They also have completely different uniforms for fieldwork. Would you expect a firefighter to walk in a parade or attend an awards dinner wearing a fireproof suit? Most likely not.


So why do we expect that Scouts would have one uniform that will do all functions? Wear the BSA uniform for dress occasions, and wear your outing clothing when doing ScOuting.


How do you keep the cost down? Instill in the boys that they are just using the uniform for a time. When they outgrow it, they pass it along, and another uniform will be available for them. Teach them to take care of the uniform so it can be passed along. With luck, they will begin to think of others before themselves.


Keep on Scoutin

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"I think that it would be IMPOSSIBLE to create a uniform that 1. Will work for both ceremonies *and* outdoor activities; "


Don't know if I can agree with that. The old cotton uniform was pretty versatile. Durable fabric, sturdy trousers, pockets that could be buttoned. Even the leggings were practical.


The new "perma-pressed" shirts just don't stand up.


As for cost, I still say that most of the people that I know that complain about the expense of the uniform have no problem spending $100 on sneakers or $150 on an NBA jacket.

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The only problem I really have with the uniforms is that my son wears a size 12 Husky and most of my den also wear husky sizes. The scout shop does not carry husky sizes and if you go by waist size then I suppossed to buy him a size 22??? Not to mention the length is way too long but with that size the crotch is hanging down to his knees, I know baggy clothes are in but I feel that the scout uniform should fit correctly. Any ideas on how to convince national that not everyone is a regular size and we should not have to special order husky sizes? By the time the special orders finally come in they not longer fit and at the cost of special order I can't afford to order him two pair of pants that he probably won't be able to wear when I get them.

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I'm in no position to join the grousing about the uniform parts offered by the Boy Scouts of America. If you doubt that, just check out my profile. You'll understand why. Trust me when I say that I'm not content with the uniform parts. That's why I buy the poly-wool and cotton stuff. The cut and quality is better and their uses are different.


I do ask that you realize that, although the membership of the BSA is vast, in terms of adults and youth members, our stuff -- compared to Walmart and Kmart, and other outlets, even the expensive jeans manufacturers is a huge, but special order.


I used to complain especially about the Boy Scout socks. The same pair faded at different intervals, etc. I pointed this out in 1990 to the head of the Supply Division at a professional development level III and he said, "how many sox do you think a major American manufacturer makes that are green with red tops?" Relatively speaking, not so many. That drives the price up.


There's a lot of pressure on our organization to provide a distinctive uniform, but it must also meet the needs of field (camping stuff to most) and court of honors and other ceremonial occasions that we want the Scouts to look sharp while attending. The title of this thread is uniform costs. Do we want two uniforms for our youth? A field uniform and a dress uniform? Would you like the label or more, truly, the manufacturer of the Boy Scouts of America official uniform to be anyone other than an American? Rhetorical question. Open to debate.


To those who shop at thrift stores, I say, cool! I don't think the movement is out to make money on it's uniforms.


I can tell you that the council and national mark-up on uniforms isn't much. We'll mark up collapsible cups, folding toothbrushes and other knick-knacks, but when it comes to books and uniforms -- it's barely enough to keep the store open.


I also want to point out that our market isn't large enough to have sizes to fit all. The reason the pants come un-hemmed and with rises that correspond to the waist-line is to keep costs down. The rise doesn't fit everyone, but if they were to have the pants made in specific lengths, there would be problems with having to carry a lot of inventory that may or may not sell as well as shelf space in often too-small scout shops.


We've gone to Scout Shops instead of the J.C. Penny catalogue in recent years mostly because of the lack of mark up available to retailers. The price is close to the cost of goods. Most commercial retailers who are still Scout dealers are doing it to create public goodwill, and not to generate profits. That's why you tend to get lousy service there. I'm sure there are exceptions, but for the most part, it's a service provided by the local council. Or by your local Scout Distributor.


Wouldn't it be great if our membership was strong enough to be able to get wierd pants and sox cheaper?


4 Million members wearing green and red sox, or blue and yellow isn't enough to drive the price down, compared to the population of the United States. To provide an example: Let's say that the population of the Chicago Area wore a specific type of pant, shirt, or sock. Would those 4 million people present enough of the population to get Dickie to make green and red work pants? Probably. But they'd pay more than the guy in Kalamazoo that wants the same pair of gray ones as the guy in Tulsa!


Food for thought.



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Okay, since this topic is active again I'll add another comment.


A shirt bought 10 years ago may still be good today. But I highly doubt a shirt bought today will still be useable 10 years hence.


On the subject of what uniform to where when...

Why do the scouts have a "dress" uniform??

Look at the history of scouting... uniforms from way back were practical, functional, AND served as the dress uniform.


Why do we have to have a fancy perma-press type get-up when functionality seems more appropriate?


My answer? The guys running the head office needed a fancy outfit. Office guru's need to look like office guru's.


Swell... but the rest of use would like something a bit more pratical.


My solution? Make a practical, durable, outdoor scout uniform. Make it affordable! Make it be the "standard" uniform.... then offer the perma-press stuff to those that want to wear something more office like. Like the nifty blue blazers you only see once in a great while.


My guess is that only the adults working in council and national offices will be buying the "suit" stuff... - and everyone else would be after the more useable gear.


Lets go back to the days when the uniform was useable! (though we can skip the spats and bloused pants :) )


I would feel just as proud sitting at a COH in a functional scout uniform as I do in my ill-fitting class A's.


That I would be uniformed as a Scout (or in my case Scouter) would be all the "fancy" I need!!

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SouthPoleScout, maybe I can clear-up some misconceptions or at least provide some definitions.


The "Dress" Uniform is a scout tie. It is worn with a dark blazer and gray slacks of the wearers choice. A pocket card with the Nation Scoy emblem and wreath is slipped into the breast pocket so that the emblem hangs on the outside.


It exists because the professionals often have to deal with other professionals in the private sector. The need to dress as professionals to be effective.


The "Regular" Uniform you describe is called a "Field" Uniform in scouting. It is used when scouts are representing the program in public or for special occassions such as ceremonies and Courts of Honor.


My son is currently wearing an old shirt of mine from 1985. It is the same style and construction as the new one I have. (He got the old one because it must have shrunk a little over the years. my new one fits much better.)


"Lets go back to the days when the uniform was useable!"


When exactly was that? I have been in uniform since 1962 and I have a pretty good collection of older uniforms and I don't know of any that were useable in all situations and some were un-usable as a whole.


Bob White

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Maybe I'm breaking the mold, but although I've said that the 100% cotton uniform is best suited for the outdoors, let me also tell you that I don't hesitate to wear the "dressier" poly-woll uniform outdoors. Or even when I have to go camping. In another thread, I indicated that I prefer the Marriott, but if you think I can't handle the camping, lashing, knot-tying, get your hands dirty stuff, you've got the wrong impression of career BSA professionals.


I do wear my poly-wool uniforms outside when it's hot. The poly/wool also comes in a very dressy and superior pair of short. There's no elastic on those. I don't konw about you, but I feel like I'm wearing PJ's anytime I have elastic around my waist. I've worn them (poly-wool) at Wood Badge Courses (old) and new course staff developments. I've worn them at camporees where I was the first one there and the one to lock the gate and didn't leave in between. I can assure you that although they say "dry clean only" they can take a washing machine just fine.


At risk of stepping out of line with the BSA, I'll tell you a story about the suited dress uniform. Professionals are required to have it for their training. Back in the day that I went to NEI-I we were required to travel in it. Back in the day (the 50's that my first Scout Executive hired in, profesisonals were required to be in uniform at all times on duty.) That dress uniform looked a lot like the officer's uniforms from WWII, but that's a different story.


The dress uniform I'm talking aobut is the current one. For men it is a blue blazer with pewter buttons that have the BSA logo on them, silver-gray slacks, black shoes, white shirt, a red, blue and silver striped tie with a fleur-de-lis on the point, and a badge on the left pocket. The only difference for females is that the tie is substituted by a scarf or puffette. There are variances on the tie based on when it was purchased. Some puffettes and ties are special awards reserved for professionals, but they are equally gaudy.


I'll tell you all a little secret about the dress uniform. I haven't met anyone yet who didn't hate it.


I remember being a 22 year old on my way to profesional basic training, required to wear the dress uniform. I was standing in a terminal at Detroit Metropolitan Airport and people were asking me directions as if I were a pilot. Because it was easier to try to give directions than it was to explain exactly what I was doing in an airport "impersonating" a pilot, I read the signs and gave the best directions I could! Just kidding, I think. ;)


Talk about ill-fitting pants. Just buy a pair of official silver-gray pants . . . and feel free to return them. They don't fit anybody well!


I will finish by saying this . . . I have field tested every type of Boy Scout uniform offered by the BSA since 1973. Up to and including the Cub Scout uniform which fits over my regular clothes (ask me about Captain Cub Scout some day.) I'm a small man and believe it or not, there are official Cub Scout uniforms that fit me. They have all held up with varying results in the "looks" department.


The poly wool wears out quickly in the out-of-doors. It looks great on Sunday morning compared to the other types (referring to outdoor events,) but it will wear out if exposed to the elements and it will start to smell of mold if shoved in the wet corner of a Voyager tent -- my tent of preference for car camping. That's experience talking. The cotton dries quickly, but fades fast and looks like an old man by Sunday, but it's tough. The stains wash out as does the smoke smell from the campfire Saturday. However, they last for years. The most common uniform, the poly/cotton is the middle ground and the least expensive to make and buy.


Now, let's go back to the question in a previous thread. "Why does the BSA have a dress uniform?" The simple answer, is that although any registered member of the BSA can buy one, most do not need one. The only time I wear the dress uniform is at funcitons such as National Meetings, Council and District Dinners, United Way Events, and other occasions where a suit is more appropriate, but I still need to identify myself as a member of the Boy Scouts of America. I don't like the thing, but it's a neccessary evil. Should you have one hanging in your closet? Probably not. That money is better spent in an FOS donation or in gas money, while in your uniform of whatever flavor, drving boys to a campout and teaching them the values found in the Scout Oath and Law.


Here's one of Steele's Laws (I have a feeling there will be many.) They are meant to be humorous and truthful, but have no binding power.


Ya heard it first here, folks, "If you don't have to look like a pilot in an airport when you're not...Don't. If you don't have to give directions to strangers in that strange airport, don't. Help them find someone qualified."


Folks, you should feel comfortable wearing any BSA uniform at a court of honor. Just honor the youth by wearing it properly.

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One line in one of Mr. Steele's posts got me to thinking:


"Wouldn't it be great if our membership was strong enough to be able to get wierd pants and sox cheaper?"


Here's my thought: Why do we need weird pants and sox? There are stores all over the country that carry functional, well-fitting pants in various shades of green. I suspect that if I look hard enough, I'll even find some that are made in the USA.


Instead of swimming against the tide with a unique shade of olive, why doesn't the BSA pick a "standard" shade in a style that is readily available from several manufacturers? (I know that "A Scout is Stubborn" is about the 15th point of the Scout Law, but really.....) We could be uniform, have better-fitting pants, and probably save a little money.


I wouldn't even complain about the weird sox, if the pants were better.




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