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Anyone else do no uniforms?

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To those who posted loaded questions asking whether, if uniforms were dispensed with, whether other methods of Scouting like the outdoors program could be dispensed with as well.

 

It seems to me that the answer to this question is, "yes."

 

In my district, a large number of new Cub Scouts are being recruited through the latino oriented "Soccer and Scouting" program. Those groups are picking and choosing what parts of thge Cub Scout Program work for them, under the direction of a District Executive.

 

And to put a finer point on it, if a school or church wanted to organize a chess club for boys, and use the Boy Scouts youth protection and liability programs, but include only the parts of the Boy Scout Program that worked for chess, I see no reason why they couldn't do that, especially if the DE were willing to take their money. And I see no reason why they wouldn't do so.

 

 

 

Seattle Pioneer

 

 

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What Seattle said kinda ties in to the historic purpose of Scouting- in many ways, we are a 'turn-key' youth (boy) program for our COs.

 

Ideally, a group would decide they want a youth program abd basically 'buy' ours off the shelf, then use it to meet their needs. The Latter Day Saints are an example of 'tweaking' the program to fit their CO purposes.

 

In a way, we have a DUAL allegience, if things are done rihgt- the BSA AND our CO. If the CO decides 'no uniforms, chess only, etc., and the council gives them a charter, then the troop really ought to follow that plan.

 

While WE may not think of that as 'Scouting', if the council does that pretty much ends that.

 

 

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The uniform issue:

 

It might do us all some good to read the official policy on uniforms listed on the inside cover of the Insignia Guide 2003-2005, #03066D. It states, "The Boy Scouts of America has always been a uniformed body." It then goes on to describe the value of uniforms. Now that is the official policy of the BSA. Does it say that a boy must be in uniform to join Scouting, NO. However it very clearly states we are a uniformed organization. In the "Congressional Report in Support of Act to Incorporate Boy Scouts of America" submitted to Congress on February 7, 1916 there is a very significant reference to the importance of our uniform, ". . . , and one of the leading features of the Scout program will be lost; likewise, with the uniform that designates a Scout." Our uniform, has from the very beginning of the Scouting movement been a designation of membership. Society identifies us as Scouts because of our uniform. This is good. Does this mean a unit can make a decision to not wear uniforms? I really don't know and I consider the question unimportant. Who is going to go check on them? The local uniform police? (tongue-in-cheek) The commissioner? In some councils and districts, maybe. Units have been bucking the system and policies of the BSA like this for a long time. More often than not, the more they deviate from the fundamental organization of the Scouting program the higher the probability that they will not receive their expected results (the aims of Scouting). They make these decisions at their own peril in terms of the impact on their program.

 

 

Now to SeattlePioneer's comments on the Soccer and Scouting program and comments about DE's taking money.

************************************************

Soccer and Scouting Program Highlights

The program combines the fastest growing youth sport in America with Cub Scouting, the premier character-building program for boys. Soccer and Scouting follows a 12-month Cub Scouting program, divided into four seasons with a one-week break between seasons.

 

Each season begins with a recruiting/organization day, followed by 10 weeks of den and game-day activities, and ends with a tournament and graduation/recognition program. During the season, boys work through the Cub Scout advancement program and earn badges that can be worn on their jerseys, which are part of the uniform and include Cub Scout insignia.

*********************************************************

 

SeattlePioneer wrote:

 

*****************************************************

"To those who posted loaded questions asking whether, if uniforms were dispensed with, whether other methods of Scouting like the outdoors program could be dispensed with as well.

 

It seems to me that the answer to this question is, "yes."

 

In my district, a large number of new Cub Scouts are being recruited through the Latino oriented "Soccer and Scouting" program. Those groups are picking and choosing what parts of the Cub Scout Program work for them, under the direction of a District Executive."

 

*****************************************************

The answer is NO! The Boy Scouts of America as the parent organization has the authority and responsibility to develop new programs. That does not mean that the council, district, or unit has that same authority.

 

Take a look at our situation, traditional membership (Cub Scout, Boy Scout, Venturing) in Scouting is down -4% compared to June of 2004. At this rate there will not be many Scouts around to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Scouting. So how can we help reverse this negative membership growth? Now let's see, the largest growth segment of Scouting aged youth in many American communities is in the Hispanic community. In Mexico the Boy Scout program is considered a rich boy elitist program and distrusted by the average person. Our traditional field uniform is seen as a source of confusion (uniforms=authority=confusion) and causes distrust among many Latinos. The concept of "volunteering" is not well accepted in the Latino community, however it is appropriate to "help the children". A semantic but important distinction in the community. The traditional Scouting programs of Cub Scouting (75 years) and Boy Scouting (95 years) have histroically just not been successful in the Hispanic market.

 

So the Boy Scouts of America has attempted to develop a program to get Hispanic children involved in Scouting. This is what you call, "Those groups are picking and choosing . . ." "Those groups" as you characterize them is the Boy Scouts of America at the national level. According to your logic, the Cub Scout program, Boy Scout program, Venturing program, Learning for Life program and Exploring program should all be the same. Each of those programs have different elements based on their intended membership's needs. Your implied statement is that the Soccer and Scouting program is somehow wrong because it is different than the traditional Cub Scout program. It is different and I consider the differences very smart. We should have developed this program 20 years ago. The Hispanic community has family values that are very closely aligned with the traditional Scouting values. We should be more involved with each other just based on the common values. Their population is growing, the Scouting population is not. The Soccer and Scouting program is a really strong attempt to have a positive impact in the Hispanic community. We should be supporting the program in all our districts that have growing Hispanic populations.

 

What is up with your comment: ". . .especially if the DE were willing to take their money. And I see no reason why they wouldn't do so." Wow, you must really hold professional Scouters in very low regard. Do you think the DE gets a bonus when they "take their money" or are you implying something else.?

 

Yours Truly in Scouting,

Rick Pushies

 

 

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Hello rpusjies,

 

Please reread madkins 007s post just before yours. It expresses a pragmatic statement of the flexibility chartered organizations have to tailor Scout programs to meet their needs.

 

The soccer and Scouting Cub Scout program is the ordinary Cub Scout Program, adapted to meet the needs and interests of the targeted population. If a Cub Scout unit wants to choose a different way of presenting their youth program to their members and the DE is agreeable to that, who are you to object?

 

The rest of your post reads a lot of opinions into my post that are not there. You first acknoledge that units can dispense with uniforms if they wish, and then go on to suggest that units don't have the power to deviate from programs as laid down by National ---or at least that's what I hear you suggesting.

 

I see too many people parsing the "rules" of Scouting seeking the holy grail of Scouting wisdom. That's probably expecting too much in many cases.

 

As a practical matter, unit leaders have a lot of flexibility to decide how their Scouting program will work. Unless this goes so far as to offend the DE and bring down authoritative corrective action, they can probably do so.

 

I again suggest that if a chess club decides to be a chartered organization for a youth chess club and obtain a Boy Scout charter from their local council to do so, then they can go ahead and dispense with uniforms, the outdoor program, advancement and other things altogether. And if they have a good youth chess program, it may be quite succesful.

 

All this seems pretty basic. I'm afraid I really don't understand your objections with any clarity.

 

 

 

Seattle Pioneer

 

 

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"I again suggest that if a chess club decides to be a chartered organization for a youth chess club and obtain a Boy Scout charter from their local council to do so, then they can go ahead and dispense with uniforms, the outdoor program, advancement and other things altogether. And if they have a good youth chess program, it may be quite succesful.

 

So then what would they need the charter for?

 

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Dear Seattle Pioneer,

 

Your reply to my post would have a great deal more impact with me, if you would have spelled my name correctly. I expect it was an unintentional typing error and not an attempt to attack me personally.

 

The point of my post is that the BSA is a uniformed organization, always has been. To the extent that units decide to deviate from the program they increase their likelihood of running into trouble. Do unit deviate from national policy, you bet. Just because they do deviate it does not make it right. It is just a fact that they do.

 

Let me try and make my point another way. The Boy Scouts of America have developed the blue prints they expect us to follow as we build our Scouting house. The blue prints give us the dimensions of the house, the depth and width of the foundation, the location of the bedroom, living room, kitchen, etc. So fundamentally the structure of your Scouting house looks very much like my Scouting house. That is true all across the nation. The blue prints do not tell us the color of carpet to put in our house or give us any significant directions on how we decorate our house. The blue prints for our Scouting house have been developed over many decades and they work rather well when followed. When we start changing the fundamental structure of our Scouting house the probability of difficulties increase the more we deviate from the blue prints provided by national. The fundamental structure, the foundation, of our Scouting house includes the aims and methods of Scouting. If we start removing the aims and methods from our Scouting house the foundation of our Scouting house starts to weaken. This is not good.

 

You wrote, "I see too many people parsing the "rules" of Scouting seeking the holy grail of Scouting wisdom. That's probably expecting too much in many cases." Are you saying that a statement of the official policy regarding uniforms is "parsing the "rules"?

 

With regard to the Soccer and Scouting program you wrote, "Those groups are picking and choosing what parts of the Cub Scout Program work for them, under the direction of a District Executive." That comment about the Scouting and Soccer program led me to believe you thought this was something thought up on the fly with people picking and choosing program elements at their leisure. It is a well planned program developed by national to help reverse the negative trend in membership.

 

Maybe your idea of starting Scouting units focused on chess will provide better results?

 

It is difficult to get the complete message you intended in your comments by just reading the words. No facial expression, vocal tone or other body language to observe to help the reader understand the totality of your message. But my interpretation of your written words lead me to believe you have less than a positive perspective of professional Scouters. Am I wrong?

 

Yours Truly in Scouting,

Rick Pushies

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Hello again, rpushies,

 

 

Sometimes I think discussion boards are designed to inhibit communication.

 

 

I'm all in favor of following the recommended Scouting program. That's my bias. But rather often, Scout programs just don't work that way. The Scoutmaster in the Troop I volunteer with just can't run an adequate program, and it causes a lot of compromises to occur, most of them bad.

 

So what should I do --- get out and seek out a model Scout unit? I volunteered with this unit because it was barely hanging in, but had and still has the possibility of improving.

 

So the point I'm trying to make is that units have wide discretion in how they deliver the Scouting program. A chess club may want to start up a youth chess program and use Scouting for its youth protection program and dispense with advancement, uniforming, an outdoor program and such. They are entitled to do that if they are chartered by a BSA council.

 

I am simply trying to illustrate the wide variety of ways the BSA and local councils can deliver and support youth programs. Units don't have to follow a conventional Scouting program if they don't want to and the DE thinks what they are doing is acceptable.

 

From what I've been told, the Soccer and Scouting program involves units being chartered as regular Cub Scout Packs. ---That's the way they are carried in the District records I have as District Membership Chair. So it's not a separate program as you suggest, it's merely taking advantage of the flexibility Scouting allows units in delivering a youth program to boys. Perhaps it can be compared to the LDS Scouting program, another example of that kind of flexibility and variety.

 

And I get along fine with Scouting professionals. One of my aims as District Membership Chair is to take the load off the District Director so he can concentrate on doing other things for the district. I guess he thought enough of that support to appoint me to that position after I'd refused it last fall.

 

 

 

Seattle Pioneer

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So I have to ask, what constitutes a uniformed organization? Rpushies, does this mean that any time your troop is together the uniform is on? Do your scouts wear their uniform every day of every outing? Others state they wear just the official shirt but any type of pants, is this considered being in uniform? If a scout wears everything but the socks, is he in uniform, in my personal opinion, no on all counts, he is not in uniform. I also do not consider Scout pants, socks, belt and a troop tee shirt a uniform but again, this is my opinion.

Personally, I am a fan of the uniform, and in the past, the boys were to wear class A at all meetings, going to or coming from any outing and any time we were in the public eye. As time went on, I noticed quite a few other troops in my area going to class b uniforms during summer months(scout uniform with the exception of a troop "t" being worn instead of scout shirt.) I brought this to the committees attention then to the PLC. We decided to just wear plain clothes when camping, then we went to class "b's" during summer vacation, but this post has me thinking of going a step further. I think one does have to keep an open mind and tweak their program as time goes on as long as it still conforms to BSA regulations. I have boys that do not mind wearing the uniform at all and others that hate it. Recently I held a recruitment at the school. I asked my boys to wear their uniforms if they wanted to, it was purely optional. I asked my son if he would mind, he didn't. He told me that everyone at school knew he was in scouts so he didn't care and would wear it. About 50% of the boys did wear the uniform, they all stopped and said hi to me with their friends. The other 50% did not wear the uniform, some would wave shyly, the others would just stay away obviously embarrassed by the fact they were in scouts. I am sure if anyone would ask their boys the thing they like least about scouts the answer would be the uniform...this is what happened to me anyway. After this, one of my SM minutes was about the uniform and how other organizations wore their uniform with pride, police, firemen, military, etc. I think a few boys realized that it wasn't so bad but quite a few still do not like wearing it. So, one has to ask themselves, what is it that our troop is trying to achieve? Can there be anything done to entice more boys into joining so they can reap the benefits of this fantastic program?

Everyone knows that each troop has the flexibility of creating a program that is tailored to their youth. Some boys may be content with camping twice a year, some with tailgate camping year round, some may want to backpack every trip. If a troop does decide to play video games the majority of the time but learn, advance and mold young boys into good citizens plus retain their youth is this really a bad thing just because it does not conform to my program or yours? The reason I camp and do not like electronics is because I feel the boys do not get enough time outdoors and they end up having fun doing it but I will not slam a unit that does differently.

If a unit decides not to uniform and the scout believes that he must wear a uniform to be a Boy Scout then there will be a troop nearby that will accommodate him or I am sure nobody would mind if he did wear a uniform to the meetings.

I ran this by my ASM last night and asked him to think about the pro's and con's and to get back to me. We may run a modified version past the committee if it seems like something that may work. My thought is either no uniform or just a troop tee shirt during meetings. Regular clothing for outings. Class A uniform for MB, Courts of honor, BOR and Fundraising.

My feeling on this is that the program itself creates the boy scout, the uniform does not. If this were not a requirement, so boys that could not afford to buy a uniform could join, then would there not be an opportunity to purchase uniforms at a reduced rate? There are also many uniform banks around so the cost of the uniform should not be an issue to anyone who wants one. I am sure national prefers everyone wear a uniform, heck buy 3 or 4. Judging by the price one pays for the entire uniform, I am guessing the markup is only $1.50 so I am sure it is not for the revenue.

 

 

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"Everyone knows that each troop has the flexibility of creating a program that is tailored to their youth."

 

That is not an accurate representaion of the fatcs. I know of nothing in the BSA program that says that. The program is already created. The Co in signing the annual "Shared responsibilities" agreement contracts with the BSA to follow their program, policies and procedures.

 

Each CO however can deliver the program in whatever ways best serves the shared values of the CO and the BSA.

 

Recreating the program is not within the authority of the CO.

Using the program to best serve their goals and values is allowed.

 

What is the benefit of not uning the uniform? Is it really only because of cost? In that case do not by tents. Don't by handbooks or meritbadge books, don't go anywhere that has a camping or activity fee. If money is the issue why stop only at uniforms. Scouts will spend more on food for campouts in a year than they will on a uniform, and they get to keep the uniform a lot longer.

 

 

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"Everyone knows that each troop has the flexibility of creating a program that is tailored to their youth."

 

That is not an accurate representaion of the fatcs. I know of nothing in the BSA program that says that. The program is already created. The Co in signing the annual "Shared responsibilities" agreement contracts with the BSA to follow their program, policies and procedures.

 

 

Bob, in my view it is. You are right, the program is there but the BSA does not tell a troop they have to go on 3 backpacking trips, 2 tailgate camping trips and one high adventure trip a year. They leave this decision to the youth and the troop committee. BSA also does not state that the Class A uniform must be worn to each weekly meeting, to and from camp or when out in public. Each troop makes this decision and in my opinion, none of them are wrong. If a troop decides to not wear their uniform camping, makes sense. If a troop decides to wear class b in the summer, great. If a troop decides to meet bi-weekly, okay. If the troops attendance falls, they had better look at which of these things are causing it. If the attendance increases, more power to them. They are not breaking any rules of the CO or the BSA. Every troop is not the same nor should they be. This allows the boys a choice to pick the troop that suits them.

 

 

 

"What is the benefit of not uning the uniform? Is it really only because of cost? In that case do not by tents. Don't by handbooks or meritbadge books, don't go anywhere that has a camping or activity fee. If money is the issue why stop only at uniforms. Scouts will spend more on food for campouts in a year than they will on a uniform, and they get to keep the uniform a lot longer."

 

No, I don't believe that cost is a factor as I stated in my other post. Uniforms can actually be free for those that visit a uniform bank. Merit Badge book and handbooks are useful items, a scout can obtain knowledge from them and obtain a good moral base to build on. They also learn different talents from MB books which could even lead to a career. You are right, we could do without tents. A rope and a tarp or even sleeping under the stars is a great experience. Food must be purchased whether the scout is camping or at home so I would call this a mandatory item.

 

Now, with that said, what does the uniform do to create a model scout? Yes, they look the same but do green and red socks really matter?

 

I ask you and other scouters, which would you rather see in the news. Each boy will always be referred to as a boy scout by the news media, good or bad:

 

A BS in blue jeans, tee shirt and tennis shoes who just saved someone's life from skills he learned in BS?

 

or

 

A nicely dressed scout complete with official shirt, MB sash, pants, belt, sock and underwear in the back of a police car after doing something unlawful?

 

All I am saying is uniforms are not required every time the scouts are together as a group, in fact they are not required at all. What and how we teach the boys is what really matters and if we could make the existing boys happier by not having them wear a piece of clothing which we are only interested in the 1"x1" tag that is on the inside, or have new boys join, I say try it.

 

20, 30, 40 or 50 years ago uniforms were seen differently. Nurses wore white uniforms and little white hats. Women wore dresses and men wore suits. There were quite a few people in uniforms so a scout uniform fit in. This is just a guess and I have no data to prove this but I am guessing in those days you could take a scout troop, have them dress in their class A's, stand them in fron of their peers at high school and they would not be embarrassed about wearing the uniform. I doubt any troop could say that today.

 

For me personally, I have no problem wearing the full uniform. I have 3 complete uniforms and an extra shirt in my closet and I really don't care what others think about it. In fact I am proud to be associated with the BSA.

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I have avoided commenting on this thread, but you know, 30 years ago (in the 1970's) or 40 years ago (1960's) uniforms were NOT seen as acceptable to most kids - I would even say the 50's were that way too, although I was not around then!

 

PNY wrote "...This is just a guess and I have no data to prove this but I am guessing in those days you could take a scout troop, have them dress in their class A's, stand them in fron of their peers at high school and they would not be embarrassed about wearing the uniform. I doubt any troop could say that today. "

 

Shoot, I remember the razzing I got in the 60's and early 70' for having a scout uniform on. Kids are kids - they did the same then as they do today!

 

As my son sad when I ask him about having the troop without uniforms, he said "We would just be a bunch of boys, not scouts!"

 

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Remember the summer of 1968? I sure do, I was a Life Scout in the suburbs of Chicago. After the Democratic Convention the adultsin the Troop decided it might be best if the scouts kept their uniforms in their closets for awhile, which made sense, especially to the youth. It wasnt until 1970 that the Troop started back emphasizing the uniform. We were still scouts but it didnt feel right,although I know it was the right thing to do

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Hey, Old Grey Eagle . . . About your question from 07/08 about a troop voting to not follow the guidelines of of the Guide To Safe Scouting . . . .

 

Consider this: If a troop - as a unit - engages in an acitivity not allowed by the GTSS, two things happen, both bad. Violating GTSS releases the BSA from neglegence in case of injury or worse. And the insurance provided by BSA (It's part of the dues paid every year at registration -have a look at a registration form. It's in there.)is void.

 

A venturing crew can go hunting as a crew activity; a boy scout troop cannot. A boy scout troop can use small-bore (.22cal.) rifles on a rifle range; cub scouts cannot use fire arms. No BSA unit can use handguns.

 

War Story Time: Our troop's PLC voted to spend an afternoon at a paintball facility and presented it to the TC for approval. We had a look at the GTSS. Nope, not allowed. So . . . they then asked about an afternoon at the local lazertag emporium. The GTSS made no mention of lazertag. Cool. The Adult Patrol signed up as a team. But . . .the latest edition of GTSS came out a couple of weeks before we were scheduled to go play lazertag. Aw, C'mon! Paintball launches missles at players; we could understand that, but a stream of electrons being aimed at each other!?!?!? So . . . we drowned our sorrows in s'mores we made over a charcoal grill using the monies collected for the lazertag event.

 

Best to follow the GTSS for all unit activities. It uses "age-approprite" as the guide and takes in the age range of the units.

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If I am ever involved in teaching leader training/uniforming classes again, instead of rehashing the Insignia Guide and inspection forms, I plan on showing 6 large photos: 1 each of an adult and a youth in no, partial, and complete uniforms. I will then ask each participant to look at the pictures and tell me, based solely on what you see here...

 

- Which youth's parents are the most supportive?

- Which youth will go the furthest in the program?

- Which youth wants to be here the most?

- Which youth is most likely to follow den/patrol and pack/troop policies and by-laws?

- Which adult would you most likely entrust your children and money to?

- Which adult looks the most trained and professional?

- Which adult is here to most serve the unit and boys?

 

Wearing the uniform, as a youth or adult, sends a message. Wearing it at school tells your peers you are a geek, but it also tells adults that you have some practical skills and leadership training. Adults wearing the uniform at recruiting activities, etc. sends a strong message of competence and support.

 

One of my favorite memories is Philmont Training Center- seeing a huge group of people in tan and khaki wandering around, no one self-conscious, no one judging others based on clothes. Judging each other, if at all, by insignia and what it represented.

 

I may wish for a different uniform or some changes in the policy, I DO like the overall concept!

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"Remember the summer of 1968? I sure do, I was a Life Scout in the suburbs of Chicago. After the Democratic Convention the adultsin the Troop decided it might be best if the scouts kept their uniforms in their closets for awhile, which made sense, especially to the youth."

 

"The whole world's watching, the whole world's watching, the whole world's watching, the whole world's watching ..."

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