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From the Scoutmaster Handbook revised 2000

Chapter 15 Trailhead


The Boy Scout Uniform

Scout Shirt long or short sleeved

Scout Pants or Shorts

Scout Socks or knee Socks

Scout belt and buckle


optional (troop not per scout)

BSA twill or mesh cap, or campaign hat

Scout nerkerchief


A boy is not required to have a uniform in order to be a Boy Scout.


In accordance with the provisions of the Boy Scout of America congressional charter any imitaton of United States Army, Navy, Air Force, or Marine Corps uniforms is prohibited.


All of the above was taken out of the leader book, there should be nothing to discuss, it is all in writting and clear, right?

There is no coments in this chapter on Class B uniforms, so I say the BSA does not endorse Class B.


Now back to the orignal question, if Camo pants look like Army fatigues, could you also say that a new pair of white painter pants looks like a Navy uniform, so No white pants should not be allowed also. What a minute where not some old Navy uniforms also made of blue dugregreens the fore runner of blue jeans.


As old Johnny Torch use to say


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I don't know if I have enough power of persuasion, or any of the great Scouters that frequent this forum are willing, but I'd like to make the following suggestion - let's move on.


We've beaten this issue worse than a $3.00 mule, and as far as I'm concerned, the mule is getting tired.

There are far too many issues within Scouting that can be discussed constructively for the betterment of Scouting for us to spend countless minutes, hours, weeks, and even months dedicated to the beating up of people who don't wear the proper pants, belt, underwear and the like. It's as if not being BSA from head to toe makes us less of a Scouter.


I just got home from our Troop meeting and I'm still sitting here in my Scout shirt and Dockers pants. (My BSA issue pants were dirty). We had a great Troop meeting, we re-registered all our boys and adults, we met with our older boys about joining Venturing, we presented awards and I spoke to the Troop about our planned trip to Northern Tier, all in non-BSA issue pants. You know what? It didn't matter. Scouting is Scouting.


Here's where my power of persuasion may fail, but I hope it doesn't. I'd like this thread to die a peaceful death - now. I know at least one of you will probably continue the annoying practice of "cutting and pasting" and take selected portions of my post and keep it alive. To that person, it's my hope that you don't. I have the utmost respect for all of you. Let's move on.


So... here it goes... AMEN.

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In accordance with the provisions of the Boy Scout of America congressional charter any imitaton of United States Army, Navy, Air Force, or Marine Corps uniforms is prohibited. Heres the charter (http://uscode.house.gov/DOWNLOAD/36C309.DOC ), I cant find anywhere it says this, would you mind helping me find it? There is no coments in this chapter on Class B uniforms, so I say the BSA does not endorse Class B. There are many things that are not commented on, on purpose, by the BSA. Does that mean everything uncommented on by the BSA is not endorsed? If Class Bs are not endorsed then where does the activities shirt fit in, in the catalog it is listed as a uniform option? it is all in writting and clear, right?It would seem so except how does the BSA define imitation of military uniform? Is it full uniform with insignias, full uniform with no insignia, any parts? If parts count, do boots, canteens or socks count? How broad or narrow is the definition?






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Despite pleas to end this discussion, it continues. If there's 100 members on the string, you'll see 100 different opinions. Rather than focus on the relative merits of camouflage pattern clothing vs. official BSA clothing, allow me to ask a couple more fundamental questions (with possible answers)...


Q. If the BSA is a uniformed organization, and the handbook, the catalog, et. al., all depict Scouts in complete BSA uniforms, how could this discussion even be taking place?


A. Although the complete uniform is depicted in Scouting literature, there is no requirement, either joining or rank advancement, that calls for a Scout to possess or wear any part of the uniform. Therefore, it's considered "optional" by many Scouts and Scouters.


Q. Why is it that BSA depicts complete uniforms in its literature, but apparently doesn't actually require members to wear a complete uniform?


A. One possibility: expense, considering that Scout families of modest means may not be able to afford them, and BSA does not want to exclude Scouts from the program because of the cost of the uniform. Another possibility: a perceived "dork" factor by kids who aren't Scouts, and a reluctance by potential Scouts to endure the peer "attention" if forced to wear what's perceived as a "dorky" uniform.


Q. Expense? Is the uniform that expensive?


A. Obviously, yes, the official BSA uniform is expensive, especially when compared with comparable commercial youth and adult activewear clothing. In the latest catalog, the youth short sleeve shirt is $23.05, the trousers $36.30. Adult uniforms are even more expensive. An acknowledgement of the expense is that many troops operate uniform exchanges, buy uniforms for volunteers with troop funds, or are officially "waist-up" and/or don't require leaders to have uniforms. Look at the trade in uniform items, some brand new, at online auction sites such as Ebay and you'll see what people consider the fair market value for these items vs. the catalog cost. Also, many families are reluctant to pay that much money for clothing, especially trousers, that their sons will rapidly outgrow before it wears out.


Q. What can be done about this expense?


A. Some of the "band-aid" measures above help. However, if BSA wants to end the debate and get all Scouts and Scouters uniformed, here's a couple possibilities. Stop considering new uniform sales as a profit center. Price new clothing items so they're more affordable, and a better value than wearing jeans or camouflage pants -- lower prices, get more customers; basic retail marketing theory. Also, to account for growing boys, adopt a "trade-in" policy at district/council Scout Stores/Trading Posts that would allow families to get a trade-in allowance for serviceable shirts/trousers if buying new like items in larger sizes. The district/council Scout Store could then offer these used items for sale and recover the trade-in allowance. Everybody wins; expenses for families are down, more traffic in the stores, and the trade-in policy psychologically "locks in" the families to purchase BSA official items.


Q. What about the "dorky" perception?


A. The BSA uniform hasn't changed much since 1910. Sure, materials are different, new accessories, patches and insignia are all different, but if you look at a picture of a fully uniformed Scout in 1914 and one today, you know immediately that they're both Scouts. There's nothing wrong with that. I like the constancy, the tradition, the link with the past, knowing my son is wearing the same stuff (basically) I wore as a Scout. And, I don't think we should get rid of it. However, for options, look at what the Girl Scouts are doing to maintain relevance and attract/"keep from losing" their membership. They've revamped many of their uniforms to bring them more up to date and make their members more likely to wear them. BSA could retain the traditional Class A uniform, and explore/authorize other "outfitter" or "extreme activity" options.


Q. Hey, wait a second. Are you saying the BSA Class A uniform is becoming irrelevant or impractical for everyday wear?


A. Answer that yourselves. Do all your registered leaders possess/wear the uniform to troop functions? Do all your registered Scouts possess/wear the uniform (even the shirt, properly configured) to troop meetings? How about on outings? How about on campouts, camporees, summer camp? If not, why not. Too expensive, not suitable for hiking, tough to clean at summer camp. In other words, all the reasons we already know. In short, the Class A uniform has become the "dress uniform" for ceremonies, BORs, etc. For outings, where Scouting is supposed to take place, we mostly wear something else.


Q. So what's your bottom line here?


A. If BSA wants to end the debate (we can't do it ourselves), they can:


- Require the uniform as a joining requirement or rank advancement at some point


- Make uniform clothing items more affordable through pricing and trade-in allowances


- Acknowledge that troops are "doing their own thing" when outdoors, and offer activity uniform options that are affordable, look good, make sense, and that Scouts will actually wear. This is better than the "vigilante" approach troops take now because there's a vacuum at National.


Again, let me say that I like the uniform very much, I get a tear in my eye when I see my son in it, and do not want to get rid of it. I'm an old-fashioned, tradiitonal kind of guy. But, I'm also tired of seeing summer camp look a "contra" convention because nobody wants to wear Class A's in the dirt and there's no viable alternative (activity polo's and t-shirts don't cut the mustard either).


This shouldn't be too difficult to fix -- there's a lot of smart people in Irving, Texas (Dallas Cowboys headquarters excepted).


C'mon, whaddya say?



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  • 11 months later...

As read in another forum, Woodland camo is not exclusive to the military. It is used exclusively by the military, but is not made just for them. I have several addresses to places that sell camo and other "military items". The manufaturer of camo clothing for the military sells stuff directly to public.

Camo is one way for us to blend in. Also, why does it have to be camo BDU pants? Why cant we wear OD BDU pants instead. At a distance, you wont be able to tell the pants arent BSA crap.

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See, now I am in a quandry, If I dont say anything about the use of the word "crap" a decidedy vulgar word, it looks like I endorse its use. If I say that use of that word offends me, some may claim my name should be OldGreyFuddyDuddy. Then again in a few days someone may question why this words use did not generate a rebuke, so hops, if you can, please refrain from use of this word in the future and I wont have to worry about it.

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Its Ok Hops, you are free to be frustrated with the uniform and are allowed to disparage it all you want. (I know I do) With all the words in the langauge to describe your irritation, we dont need to resort to scatological references.


BTW, Welcome to the Forum and about where in So Illinois? I have lived in Carbondale and Alton and traveled extensively through the area

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  • 3 weeks later...

My son uses the "crap" word for anything he thinks that is inferior, and I am always on his case for it. The official uniform today is much less servicable the when I was a scout. The pants need to be improved first then the shirt. Each troop should have their own Class B shirt. We ues a red t-shirt with our logo. A waterproof breatheable jacket would be nice. Yes no camo.

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I agree that camo should be left off the list of things brought on campouts, BUT BDU pants would be a good way of subistuting that. Olive drab would look real nice and it would be rugged material. I also think that we should have an M65 winter coat in olive drab for a jacket. I have no experience with the wool shirt/jacket that BSA offers, but it is real expensive. I also agree every troop should have their own t-shirts. Ours are red with white lettering on back with troop info on it.

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I shouldn't even get into this, but you guys keep pushing that uniform button. Our troop is one of those that uses the OD BDUs as part of our uniform. There is a long story behind why, but once the PLC made the decision, I took a pair to Council and asked if there was any problems, No.


Advantages? They have small straps on the hips and cuffs that allow them to adjust four sizes so your small son can still wear them when he grows into your big son. My son who is now 6 foot one wore his for four years before he handed them to me. They have great big huge pockets that almost replace backpacks. They fit better and don't have that alastic waist, look sharp and the only reason they don't look the same as BSA pants is because they have great big huge pockets. AND, they cost twenty bucks at our local surplus store. Some of our scouts have been seen wearing them to school.I told that the great big huge pockets are in style.


Disadvantages? OK, I will have to think on that.


But my last point is that no matter what kind of uniform the BSA designs or that your PLC chooses, many will still not wear properly or with pride when given a choice. Why, because we are all individuals and life as a teenager is questioning everything you don't understand.


I posted last week on the Uniform thread, if you want the scouts to wear full uniform because you think it looks better, then you're doing it wrong. The uniform is a tool to build character, fitness and citizenship. If you can't think of a better reason for the uniform than it makes them look better, then you're not seeing the big picture. It's not your problem how he dresses, it's his. Your problem is guiding him to understand why a person should wear the uniform and respect it. For some it's easy on instant, for others it's gradual and slow. But once he gets it, he will wear it because he wants to.


As I suggested last week on the Uniform thread, think of other reasons why a 14 year old boy should wear a uniform with pride so we can take that back to our scouts. I started with a few if you want to look back.


So what do you think?


Oh, oldgreyeagle, I don't think you're a fuddy duddy. I wouldn't allow that word in the troop.



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