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Requiring Troop to wear uniforms

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I was going to just lurk but I had to respond anyway. Uniforms here are a luxury. Some of my scouts don't even have nice shoes or ,in the case of 1, blue jeans that have a button and will stay zipped. We are in RURAL East Tn, in the mountains, the Sticks, or BFE if you prefer. We are the "Country boys" of scouting. Most of my kids have camped but never had a tent, cooking over a fire is just cooking to them. Half of my Den receives federal or state assistance and you can't buy a uniform with foodstamps. While I would love to see my scouts in uniform I don't hold my breath. I am trying to start a Uniform closet to pass down outgrown shirts. I would love to find a pack somewhere out there to share used uniform shirts with me. Any takers?

Anyway, enuff said.


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There are instances, especially in poor rural environments like cajuncody's where even raising money to buy uniforms can be difficult. But I tend to think that is the exception rather than the rule. Our troop is a full uniform troop except for the three new boys we signed up in the past month. They are working on it. We have some members of the troop like myself who are not rich, but live very comfortably. We have areas of town that are affluent and areas that are poor. It is not uncommon at Halloween to see van loads of poorer kids being dropped off in the nicer neighborhoods to get the "good" candy. I had some obviously "underpriviliged" kids coming thru my neighborhood a few weeks ago doing a fundraiser for an inner city organization they belonged to. My point is, in most instances the troop can take the boys where the money is to raise money. It costs little to hold a carwash. If you can manage to get a store to donate supplies and a store with good traffic flow to let you hook up your hoses, the proceeds are pure profit. You may have to hold several to get enough for full uniforms, but it is possible if the leadership and the boys are willing to do a little work.

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There seems to be an overwhelming misunderstanding of the Uniform Method in this discussion.


The methods of scouting are how we as adult leaders deliver the scouting program, NOT about the scouts themselves.


The scout uniform is a teaching tool for the adult not a punishment for the scout. A leader who develops team and individual member's pride through the use of the uniform as a way to show belonging and a sense of accomplishment through the uniform is following the program, regardless of how many pieces of the uniform the scout owns. A Leader who instills an understanding of personal grooming, through the use of uniform is following the program regardless of how many pieces of the uniform a scout owns.


A leader who looks for alternative sources of uniforma parts with the goal of every scout being able to be equal in appearance is following the program, regardless of what stage of uniforming the scouts are in at the moment.


A leader who misrepresents their authority by telling ANYONE that they do not have to follow the program and can wear whatever pants they want...is NOT following the program.


The goal here is to eventually have a scout in a complete uniform so that they can benefit from the lessons we teach and the characteristics we support through the uniform.


Just like any other method of scouting, the uniform method is way we teach scouting, it is not dependent on income, it depends on the adults to understand and use the method.


If a unit's Charter organization wishes to make complete uniforms mandatory for membership in THEIR unit, they are free to do so. But there are better ways to deliver scouting than through mandates withing the unit.

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I sure as heck don't like the word "Forced."

Uniform is a method of Scouting. Like all the methods, there is no force used to make anyone use or not use them. Sure there are helpful people from the district tat might look in and say "Hey Ed if you were to do such and such things might go a little better. You as the Scoutmaster do not have to take their advise.

Uniform, like the Patrol Method,Advancement Method, Outdoors,and all the other methods are there because it has been found that they make the program work better.

If you as a Leader set a goal of having all the Scouts in the Troop wear uniform and worked at it using imagination and whatever help was/is available. I feel sure that all the members of the troop would end up in uniform. It might take a little time, it might take some hard work on the part of the boys, the leaders, the troop committee and if you could bring the chartering organization in on it so much the better.

A Scout uniform is a tool of Scouting and is just as important as the tents and camping equipment.

I agree with the Beaver Guy, while there may be the extreme cases of units where the members are are so poor that getting a uniform can be a challenge. However most of the people I see not wearing a uniform are not these poor unfortunates they are Scouts who have one and just don't want to wear it or they belong to a troop where the Scoutmaster has informed the parents that they "Don't have too."

We of course set the example.

I didn't win very many friends when as Training Chair. I refused to allow the people who were going to be presenters to present without a full uniform. I wasn't forcing them to wear one. But to allow these people to go on without a full uniform would not be setting the example that we need to set.

People are free to spent their money any which way they choose. I have to admit that I get upset when someone tells me how much they have spent on a new golf club or new gun, they normally go on to tell me how great it is. But ask why they don't have a pair of Scout pants and they will inform me that they are just too expensive.

As you know I am not a great lover of rulebooks and that sort of thing for our Scouts. I do think that all the adults in a unit need to set the example and wear full correct uniform when uniform is required. While I would never send a Scout home for not wearing a uniform, I would have no hesitation about sending an adult home. Sure the guy who has been delayed and isn't wearing a uniform, but the guy in a Scout shirt and a pair of jeans!! What message is he sending to the Scouts?

There can be circumstances, that arise that makes wearing a Scout Uniform to a Scout meeting really difficult for our Scouts. At one time some of the Lads in our troop, were being beaten up on their way to the troop meetings. Some decided to leave their uniform at the Scout Hall and change there. The situation was resolved. I think I have an idea how, but I didn't want to know then and have never asked.

So while owning and wearing a uniform is not a requirement for membership, and we could choose to hide behind that. I think everyone would be a lot happier if we set having everyone in the unit wearing a uniform as a goal and work toward it. If they have one and are not wearing it we need to find ways of making them want to wear it. If they don't have one and can't afford it, we need to find ways of raising the money and getting them a uniform. Or finding uniforms that they can wear.

I have worked with a lot of adults in Scouting and I know that once they set their sights on something they can move mountains. Uniform and having a uniformed unit is a very worth while goal, which can be reached without any force.


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Eamonn and Bob, let me clear up a misunderstanding, the boys in my old neighborhood would love to have full uniforms, but as cajun stated about his area this area was just as depressed economically. It is not always possible to earn enough money for uniforms, no one had the money for a carwash or popcorn. Unless you have lived in a ghetto or barrio or reservation you can't really understand the despair and desolation these people live with every day. It is naive for you or anyone to so callously state "there is always a way to obtain full uniforms." That just is not true.It is easy for one without the experience of real poverty and daily prejudice to cast judgement on those who deal with it every day. Boleta comment about one of his friends is a black doctor goes to show his misunderstanding of this crisis in our country. Some do make it out and are sucessful but they are the exception not the rule, I wish it was different. These boys in their uniform shirts are feeling good about themselves for the first time in their lives and are proud to be members of scouting.


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Mt father-in-law worked as a teacher/principal/bus driver on the Navajo reservation for many many years. My wife was one of twelve white kids in school out in the middle of nowhere. The "towns" she lived in consisted of a few shacks, the school and the teacher's housing and the kids were bussed in from miles around. I've visited those places numerous times. I know exactly what you are talking about. Many Navajo's have homes with dirt floors and no running water. Many of the same Navajo's also have brand new Nike shoes and late model vehicles. Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against these people. Many of them live a "traditional" life because of their beliefs. The point is, where there is a will, there is a way. As I said earlier, a carwash cost pratically nothing, especially if you can get soap, sponges and buckets donated. Most local Councils can find a way to assist if asked. They can find the money internally or know of people willing to help with a few bucks to pay for the supplies. It is no different than helping with camperships. A plea can be made at the District Roundtable. Heck, you could pass a hat around. I'd throw a few bucks in to help an underpriviliged troop wanting supplies for a fundraiser. I won't know by osmosis. The need has to be known. The unit leaders need to teach the unit that anything is possible if you think it thru, make a plan and work the plan. Sometimes you hit obstacles and have to work your way around them. But if you want it bad enough, you can make it happen. To just say it can't happen is to give in to defeat and perpetuate the cycle.

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WHOA! Runaway train of thoughts!


Let's stay on the same topics. The question asked was how can a CO insist on uniforms. The answer is quite easily, they simply tell everyone that to be a member of that unit they are required to wear a uniform.


What about a unit in an impoverished community? Well that would be a pretty silly rule for the unit to make up wouldn't it?


No one said every unit should do this. No one said every scout HAD to be in a complete uniform. What was said was that as a leader using the uniform method you cannot tell them NOT to.


"A boy can't wear a uniform unless he can afford one." That's ridiculous.


"Its not always possible to afford uniforms". I can't agree with that because my own experience tells me otherwise. I have organized numerous troops and packs in low income communities and they always had uniforms. And they were excited to wear them. All it takes is leadership and a plan. That's what the methods of scouting are about.


There are loads of places to get uniforms, other than new of the store shelf, and there are lots of ways to get money to by them, and there are loads of things the boys can do to earn them, and they are not locked in a walled community, there are other places to go to earn the money. These are the kind of areas where the values of scouting can do the greatest good and you shackle yourselves with "can'ts", and "won'ts" and "don'ts".


Whatever happen to "how can we", rather than "we can't"? "How can we encourage them", rather than "they won't"? Forget what won't work and think about what might, and then do it.


Find sponsors, sell stuff outside the neighborhood, start a uniform exchange with another unit. Contact your church, send requests to resale shops. You have a computer get on e-bay. Explain to the parents the purpose of the uniform and ask that they consider uniform parts for birthday and holiday gifts. Talk to your Scout Reach executive about funds that may be available in your community.


There's 8 ways to do it, compared to 100 excuses you could come up with as to why you can't. Which attitude do you want to teach to the scouts? The uniform method, like the other methods of scouting is dependent on your leadership, not the income of the scout.







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Put me in the "where there's a will there's a way" camp. I believe the full uniform should be the goal. While some may never get there due to various reasons, we should always set the standard as being the full, correct uniform.


What constantly bugs me is that there is so much passion around the uniform method, but we never have these debates regarding other methods. For example, there are costs to the advancement method. Maybe not as great, but they are there. There are costs to the Outdoor program method. These costs can greatly outweigh the cost of the uniform. For example, in the past two years I've probably spent $100 on uniform supplies for me and my son. We've easily spent 10 times that much on camping supplies and activities. People grumble about spending probably less than $50 per year on average for uniforms, but don't question buying sleeping bags, water bottles, backpacks, tents, led flashlights, etc. And this doesn't include the costs of the activities themselves!


With BadenP's extreme poverty situation being the exception, I see scouts willing to spend gobs of money on the other methods, while only giving lip service to the uniform.

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I forgot the 1st rule of Bob White - If I haven't experienced it, it doesn't happen.


Yep there are "loads of places" to get uniforms. Most of those places charge for them. For people in impoverished areas essentials for living are a priority & luxuries like uniforms don't get purchased.


Nothing happened to "how can we". For some people there are far more important thing - like eating.


Ed Mori

Troop 1

1 Peter 4:10

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First off, most of these where there is a will there is a way posts are making my top list of peeves.


Pet Peeve number 1 ---I (Cajun) am a SHE not a he. (But I am willing to over look this for the time being)


Secondly, If I go into my meeting tomorrow night and announce "FULL Uniforms will be required from now on." I would lose every single scout I have. My son included. We don't require them because we can't afford them. You might see some folks in High dollar Nike in other areas but EVERYONE ( not half, not a third, not five eights), Every single one of my scouts either wears walmart shoes or hand me downs. There are no new cars in the parking lot, no new bass boats. These people struggle every day to put food on the table. They have yard sales to pay their water bill. They turn to the state government to make sure their kids eat at school. This is not a case of wanting to buy other things, this is a case of not being able to pay for a uniform.

I laugh at the suggestion of ebay. I have tried to win shirts for my kids off ebay but by the time you add in what the seller feels is acceptable shipping you are paying over $20 for a used shirt when a new one is only $22.


I lost 3 scouts last year at just the suggestion of going on a field trip that cost $2.00. They simply couldn't afford the field trip so they quit scouts thinking more was to come. I have had scouts run out of gas trying to come to the meeting and had to play shuttle. Money is and will continue to be an issue when it comes to small mountain communities.

As far as asking my COR that is just silly, they have no money either. It is a poor community. You can't squeeze blood from a turnip. There is no county big wig here to buy uniforms. The City commissioner (not scouts but the city) actually has his office pay for prescription medicine in the community because people cant afford it.


So if there is a will there is a way huh? Ok enlighten me. Some one out there take me up on my offer. Find me some uniforms for my boys and I will pay out of pocket myself for their shipping. Prove it!


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We outfitted one troop of twelve scouts in les than a month for about $8 per scout by having a mom who liked to go to garage sales buy all the scout uniforms she could find. She also went to the local resale shops and explained what we were doing and they set all the uniforms that came in aside for us. To pay for the patches we went to a local rotary club and explained our situation and they gave us the funds we needed. Request at Roundtable got us all the cook gear.


There are resources in your community. Of you can't find them in a twen mile radius look 15. If they are not there look 20. The solution is just a short reach further than your excuses will stetch.



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Why so negative? No one here has suggested taking food off the table to buy a uniform. What they have suggested is the unit making an opportunity for the boys to raise funds independently of Mom and Dad forking over the milk money. How can you possibly argue with that? A Scout is thrifty. He pays his own way.


My son and I are both going to Jamboree next year. Our combined cost is $3,800.00. That does not include the three required uniforms for each of us or spending money. While it bites into my budget, I can fortunately afford it. I have to pay my way for sure. I could pay my son's way. But I'm making him work for it. I organized and ran a Jamboree fundraiser for 100 boys in 24 counties. Some poor, some well off, some from large cities, some from small towns. My son raised $352.00 selling first aid kits. I was saddened to see that only 30 boys out of 100 even participated and some of those 30 only bothered to raise $15. One kid raised $900.00.


It can be done if you are willing to put forth the effort. There may be extreme exceptions to the rule like Cajuncody's where the community is too small to do something as simple as a carwash and everyone is too poor to pay for a carwash. But those are the exceptions, not the rule. It may be a very real reality in some places limited by their locale, but not in most cities.

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Why are we getting hung up with each other?


If you're in the "I can't afford uniforms" group, you should be focusing on the many solutions being offered, not criticizing the "solution-offerers" choice of words! Your very actions of coming to this forum, demonstrate other posters' "Where there's a will, there's a way!" mentality. No, it's not gonna be easy but there are several good solutions here AND HUNDREDS of SCOUTER readers now know a little bit more about your plight. Several are working away trying to find uniforms for you already. It's time to re-read this thread and SEE the generosity of Scout Spirit that fills each post!


If you're in the "where there's a will, there's a way" group, keep working on the ideas and stay away from statements that will OBVIOUSLY get read as judgements and criticisms. Some of you guys are ALWAYS helpful and, almost as often, hurtful. Cajun (and others) certainly has demonstrated a willingness to work to solve the problem. If she reads that it's her fault for not working hard enough or thinking well enough, WHAT DO YOU EXPECT HER (them) TO SEE AND FEEL? It's time to re-read this thread and SEE the generosity of Scout Spirit that fills each post!



Now, several of you have jumped into the "jd is up on his holier than though soapbox again" group. Well, too bad! Each one of you should have jumped on this soapbox and saved me the effort! It's time to re-read this thread and SEE the generosity of Scout Spirit that fills each post!




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I never said I "Can't" get my boys in uniform. I am working very hard, I have set up a uniform closet with my pack but it is as of now empty. I have been to every thrift shop in a 25 mile radius and have called every other one in the phone book. None had any uniforms but all took my number. I have had one PM of an offer of help to which I have responded. I know I am fighting a uphill battle but atleast I am fighting. As of now I only have 2 in partial uniform. I have even contacted folks on ebay about future uniforms that come available. I have notified my DE of my plans but haven't heard back from him.



"Somebody said that it couldn't be done

But he with a chuckle replied

that "maybe it couldn't" but he would be one

Who wouldn't say so until he had tried.

So he buckled right in, with the trace of a grin

On his face. If he worried he hid it.

He started to sing as he tackled the thing

That couldn't be done, and he did it. " --Edgar Guest


I didn't want to keep playing on the bad side of my personal scoutting coin but I just couldn't sit by and let someone say that EVERYONE should be in uniform regardless of money. Someplaces can do that and for the rest of us it is just a happy thought that we are shooting for.


I am Still trying, not just being negative. I am taking notes and have even called in several relatives whom I know go to every yard sale they pass. I spent Saturday at the flea market and while I didn't find any uniforms but my two sons found many wish list items.


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