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Requiring Troop to wear uniforms

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I recently became Scoutmaster of a troop(was the ASM for 2 years b4) and have had numerous talks with my PLC regarding uniform wear. The boys want all the boys to be required to wear full uniforms to the meetings. I have made this point clear at the parent meeting we had at the beginning of the year and faced numerous complaints by parents that it was not "practical" to require all the boys to be in full uniform at Troop meetings. I recruited a parent to assist our quartermaster in setting up a uniform exchange program, however that is more of a longterm solution. My question is, how can we enforce this requirement with the boys if I can not get the parents to all agree to the requiremnt. Our PLC made an outstanding point that having all the boys in full uniform at each meeting would help to instill a sense of pride among the Troop members.

A couple of thoughts that I have come up with would be to have a Patrol inspection prior to each weeks meeting and the Partol with the most complete uniforms would win a prize or gain some other sort of advantage. The PLC had decided that any boy not showing up in full uniform should be sent home, however I felt that was not appropriate. Does anyone out there have any prior experiences or insights in to how we can positively enforce this idea?


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As the BSA does not require a scout to have a uniform, the Troop CANNOT require the scout to wear a uniform. You can set up an uniform exchange program, you can offer positive reinforcement of for those scouts who do appear in complete uniform, but the PLC denying scouting to those who do not appear in uniform is wrong.

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Read Bob's post in the link he provided. "Motiviating" scouts to wear the uniform is a much better approach than "Requiring". There is some sound advice in that.


For the record, our troop "requires" the uniform. But I guess, in reading Bob's post, it's more like "motivation". I've never denied a scout the right to participate because he didn't wear a uniform. (One exception, a scout showed up for a BOR not in uniform and I told him to come back for it next week in uniform. I know some disagree with that, but let's not get off subject).


Here's how we approach it:

1) Explain it to the parents. Uniforms are a part of scouting. It is one of the eight methods of running the program. Would Scouting be Scouting without the Outdoor program? without the patrol system? without association with adults? No. In this same way, the uniform is an integral part of the program.


2) We don't let money be a factor. If you can't afford a uniform, we'll help you find one at a reasonable cost.


3) We give them time to get into it. We don't say "be in perfect uniform at your first meeting". For new scouts, who typically cross over in the early Spring, we encourage them to get shorts first, and save the cost of pants until the fall.


4) We do a big uniform inspection/troop photo night in February. Prizes are given to the best uniformed scout.


5) We do color guards for community events and our charter sponsor. Uniform is required to participate in this optional event.


6) I emphasize uniforming to our PLC and at our annual JLT.


7) I always wear the uniform and I ask all ASMs to set an example and wear the full uniform.


Also, I've noticed that boys who don't wear the uniform properly usually don't get elected/selected for positions of responsibility. I'll give them that feedback when needed.


Finally, encourage your PLC to lead by example and not get so concerned with punishing scouts. I've had that talk recently with our PLC. They're job should be to run a good program. Let the adults deal with policies such as this.

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I appreciate the responses. I will definetly institute some of the motivations mentioned and work with the boys of my PLC to help set the tone for the rest of the troop. Getting off the topic a bit here it has been my experience in Scouting, and in other organizations, that a lot of people will tell me what I CANNOT do but it is seldom told to me what I CAN do. Is there a rule set forth by BSA that a troop CANNOT require uniforms or is it just not stated that a troop CAN require the boys to wear uniforms? I know of at least 2 troops in my district that do require their boys to be in full uniform and when the boys show up missing something a note is made in the boys folder, parents are called to bring the proper uniform to the boy(in the event he is missing a shirt or pants) and it is brought up at the boys next Scoutmasters conference and/or BOR. While I do not agree with this method and much prefer the ideas put forth earlier in this forum I know that it occurs. How does BSA National look upon this type of treatment?

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Hi and Welcome to the forum.

I do wear the uniforms of the BSA. I suppose I am at an age where as long as it fits and feels OK I don't give too much thought as to what it looks like.

Many years ago I used to worry about this stuff. When the British Scout uniform was changed to long pants, I didn't like them, I wanted flared pants. I went to a tailor and found material that matched the Scout pants and had a pair made. At that time I thought that I was the cats whiskers, now I think that I must have been a real twit.

I do think that wearing the uniform is an outward sign that you are living up to the ideals of Scouting. It can at times be very misleading. I think many of us have seen that Scouts in uniform can get in as much devilment as Scouts not in uniform.

My son does own a couple of uniforms and does wear them. He doesn't like the socks, and I have noticed that he no longer wears his Scout shirt to troop meetings, opting to carry it and put it on when he gets there. I'm not sure what that is all about. He is far happier wearing his uniform when everyone else is wearing their uniform. At times he is more picky about correct uniforming then I am. At the August OA weekend, he was in charge of colors on Saturday and refused to allow a couple of Lads to be part of the ceremony because they were not in full uniform. Some people looked at me as if I had put him up to it!! I hadn't.

Some troops in the district wear the Activity uniform for their summer time troop meetings, only wearing the Field uniform for COH or other special occasions or events.

I am not in agreement that a Lad turning up without a uniform, should be sent home. However I am a little unsure how I would over ride the PLC. I think that I would need to explain a few things to them in the hope that they would come around to my way of thinking.

When I was a Scoutmaster we had the inter-patrol competition, with uniform as part of it.

I do have to wonder why the parents are saying that wearing the uniform is not practical? If you are doing activities that damage the uniform maybe they have a valid point.

I also can't help feeling that if your adult leaders and Patrol Leaders are wearing the uniform that you are almost there.



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Have just read the CAN and CAN NOT posting.

The BSA does not require that a person wear a uniform to be a member. So to refuse membership because a boy doesn't have one or doesn't wear one would be wrong.

We do have the methods of Scouting, which when used in the right way do work.

There is no rule that says you have to use the Patrol Method to be a Boy Scout Troop or that the Scouts have to Advance or do outdoor activities. These are the methods of Scouting, which lead to the Scouts getting the most out of this wonderful program.

As a adult leader you can help the Scouts that you serve by using these methods in order to offer them opportunities to live up to the values of Scouting along with the Scout Oath and Law. We are all about helping our youth members being able to make ethical choices. While there are some DO'S and some Don'ts along the way, I don't see that we serve the needs of our Scouts or support them by giving them a big set of do's and don'ts. As leaders we use the different skills of leadership to help them reach a good decision or choice. When we have hard and fast rules that have to be followed and blindly obeyed we are not allowing them to develop the skill of making good choices.


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BSA doesn't require uniforms, even though it's one of our 8 methods. Unless or until they do, units will continue to have this problem. You can beg, suggest, encourage, cajole, bribe, whatever. But if push comes to shove, you can't force a boy to wear any part of a uniform, let alone a full uniform.


Our Troop is fully uniformed, although the Troop custom I inherited is full uniform on the first meeting of the month, and activity shirts for the remainder of the meetings. I've asked the Green Bars to wear full uniform to all meetings (usual reasons), and I'm getting about a 90% compliance rate.


Little KS is playing football right now, and I help with the team. I've never heard a football parent complaining about the uniforms and other accessories they need to play as being impractical. That only seems to be a Scouting phenomenon. It's funny though, when their sons are more experienced and a good bit along the Eagle trail, they tend to fall in line if they stuck with it that long.


I wouldn't fret it if I were you. You do the best you can and accept the fact that you can change clothes, but you can't change people's attitudes until they're ready to change themselves.



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There aren't any multi-millionaire scouter mega-stars to emulate, just poor volunteers with bulging buttons. I think that is part of the difference between wanting to wear a sports uniform and a scout uniform. That and the fact that the coach won't let you play if you are not in uniform. But still, they want to wear the sports uniform regardless of whether it is required or not. The sports uniform isn't geeeeeky, dorrrrky or lame. :(

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I'll concede your point on perceived "geekiness" (is that a word?), but one thing that both sports teams and Scout troops have in common is that nobody's forced to participate in either. Presumably, everyone's there because they want to be. If the uniform (or the practices, or the early-morning bus show times, or the cost, or whatever) were a factor, they could walk at will.


Accuse me of being mercenary, but I've recommended to families in the past, and will do so again, if they have fundamental problems with any of our methods (uniform included), they should look around for another youth program that more closely matches their priorities and values. Personally, I'll listen to uniform complaints for the same amount of time I'll listen to mouthpiece complaints on the football field -- about two seconds. Granted, one's required and the other isn't. That said, nobody's an indentured servant in either setting.


I can't force my lads to wear a uniform, but the older ones all know what I expect, and they know that "one hand washes the other, and both hands wash the face"...



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I love the uniform. Every Troop meeting I attend & every Scouting event I attend I am in full uniform - setting the example. However, requiring the Troop to be in full uniform for all Troop meetings very seldom works since the BSA doesn't require a Scout to even own a uniform to be a member. Kind of a Catch-22 situation. I really wish the BSA would require all members own & wear the uniforms. That would make things much easier.


Ed Mori

Troop 1

1 Peter 4:10

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