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What if we DID drop uniforms?

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Back in the day..scouting was a uniformed organization. Back in the day..."scouting is a game". Can you name me one game that the teams don't have a uniform when they compete? certainly not the teams that our youth play on, namely soccer, basketball, hockey, baseball, etc. (by the way the coach won't let you play unless you are in uniform). Keep the uniform but don't let Oscar de Larenta design it-maybe the folks at Columbia or REI etc.

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Maybe we could all get a uniformed shirt tattooed on our torso! Then when we earn something, it could be added. The only downside is temporary patches wouldn't be temporary & when a Scout switched POR's there would be some pain involved.

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stlscouter >Keep the uniform but don't let Oscar de Larenta design it-maybe the folks at Columbia or REI etc. >




I also think the team comparison is valid...




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We've flogged this issue before, but let me ask this: Who wears uniforms?


Uniforms were originally developed by the armies of antiquity to assist with instant ID in the heat of battle. You didn't want to be killed by your own guys. That still holds true to some degree, but these days mostly it's an esprit de corps thing, accompanied by a need for standardized quality and reliability of mission-supporting gear.


The military model was borrowed by garrisons. Today, police and other civil servants who wear uniforms for instant recognition by the public. They need to have their orders followed with no questions. There's also an element of identity and "us vs. them" involved.


As microcosms of warfare, sports teams wear uniforms for both reasons: instant ID in the heat of a scrimmage (or other action) as well as team spirit.


Some schools wear uniforms to eliminate distractions from the learning evironment and to promote school spirit.


Marching bands and D&B Corps wear uniforms singularly to promote esprit de corps.


IMHO, this is the primary reason behind our using uniforming as a method of Scouting: to to promote group identity, spirit, and a sense of team. Uniforms allow a young person to belong to a super-organic (and the feeling of "belonging" is very important to very nearly all young people). Uniforms also supports the advancement method, by providing a venue to DISPLAY advancements. This to say, I fully support uniforming as a method of Scouting.


HOWEVER, the current uniform is counterproductive for many, many scouts and is actually a joining dis-incentive for countless more. I firmly believe that our objectives in using the uniforming method would be enhanced if it weren't so dorky and unfashionable. Don't get me wrong, I love my uniform and I wear it with pride, but I see my 14 y.o. son cringe every time he has to put it on. When I ask him if his friends, who like camping, etc. would like to join the troop with him, he answers honestly, "No, they would never wear the uniform". Not "a" uniform, but "the" uniform.


I certainly don't have any grand solution, but I do believe that if our use of the uniforming method was brought back to BASICS, we would have a greater opportunity to achieve the aims of Scouting. Our current uniform has slowly evolved from functional outdoor gear into something resembling Panamanian Generals. I think BP would have snorted and called us "parlour Scouts".

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So, just for grins, lets say BSA in a bold stroke of whatever eliminates the uniform division. They decide they wont market shirts or pants anymore. Instead they dictate a specific model and color Columbia shirt and pants. You get your patches at the scout store per usual and sew them on.


Pros? Cons?


First con I see is someone will complain that the REI counterpart should have been choosen and the sears look alike is "near as good"

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If the field uniform was meant to be used for outdoor activities then a fashion designer was the wrong way to go, but it wasn't designed for that.


REI just for the record is neither a clothing designer or a manufacturer. They are retailer. They buy primarily european apparel and equipment and private label them with their logo.

using them woulds simply add another layer to the process of manufacturer to end-user causing the price to climb even higher.


Columbia however is a manufacturer and a designer, and would be able to accomodate a task such as re-design of the BSA uniforms if they chose to. BUT, is there anyone who believes that they would not want a handsome sum of money for such a project? Is there anyone who sees Columbia as a less expensive product than the BSA's. Does anyone truly believe that the wish that has been stated so often on this forum of "better materials, better workmanship AND lower prices" is even possible in an open market?


But what if Columbia made the uniform, and it was designed for the outdoors. Columbia makes lots of different clothes for the outdoors. Why do you suppose that is? Because different people have different tastes? Because different environments require different materials and features? Because different activities require different clothing?


If they can't provide a one ensemble fits all needs NOW, what makes you think they can do it with a Boy Scout uniform?


The problem is user expectations. Some do not like the uniform because they fail to understand what a uniform is or does. No one will be able to design a uniform that will fit everyones taste, budget, purpose, locale, or attitude, for such a wide sweeping need as "the outdoors". For that fact no one will be able to do it for the present limited purpose of the field uniform. The problem is not the clothes or the designer, the problem is the vast sea of individual preferences among the end-users. That coupled with the inability of some to accept the fact that a UNIFORM means everyone wears the same thing whether you personally care for or not.


(This message has been edited by Bob White)

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Oldgreyeagle, Your reply is the quintessential old guard reply, "if we changed it then someone somewhere would complain." Of course! That's not the point. Trevorum really summed it up well. It sure looks good and as an adult it sure is nice to see those brashing young men all trimmed out in those duds. But the view needs to be seen through the eyes of the boys. And they would rather not be viewed in their scout uniform.


Once the uniform becomes an impediment to joining (and I believe it has) then it fails to serve its purpose. The team analogy can be discarded too as 1) we arent a team sport, 2) sport uniforms are first and foremost functional, with decorative kerchiefs, brass slides, progress beads and various other paraphernalia the scout uniform is not exaclty a minimilist uniform.

(This message has been edited by Its Me)

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Scouting-not a team sport? Well forget about my patrol then or my troop or my district or my council-oh please. My point about the uniforming is that our young men do wear "uniforms" all the time and we need to have at our disposale a product that meets the requirements we have-hikig, camping canoeing tect and that companies like Columbia provide a wider range of options for real world use that do the BSA- to wit; Been to Philmont lately- but any othe shorts or zip off pants available out thetre with the Philmont logo on them? practicle for there not necessarily for the Florida Sea base.

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What if the pants & socks & belts were made optional & the only "official" part was the shirt & all the stuff that goes on the shirt?


Just because a clothing manufacturer makes a variety of clothing doesn't mean they can't make uniform sets.


Ed Mori

Troop 1

1 Peter 4:10

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I think you know that I wear MY uniform proudly. That being said, I could and have gone on the internet and found higher quality, better functioning, better looking and lower priced tan and olive clothing than what you can find in the Scout uniform. I've even bought the clothes and love them. I don't wear them as a replacement for the uniform. I wear them for casual wear and camp wear. The idea that going thru a manufacturer like Columbia is going to be more expensive is a false one I believe. They can adapt clothing they already manufacture, sew a BSA emblem on them, put BSA buttons on them and call it good. In fact, the fact that they can now produce millions of these pieces to a captive audience instead of just to possible 10's of thousands of customers would help reduce price.




It isn't just the uniform that stops boys from joining. My son tells me that the scouts he knows never publicize they are in scouts because scouts are viewed as geeks, losers and dweebs. It isn't just the uniform, it is simply scouting in general that his peers find dorky.

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Yes, I know what you mean. But I see it as a positive feedback loop, a self-fulfilling prophecy. If we insist on a geeky uniform, we'll tend to be less successful in recruiting non-geeks.


Of course I am doing my part to demonstrate that the uniform can be proudly worn by dashing and ruggedly handsome men, too ...



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This thought just popped into my head while I was playing a game of Bounce Out on Yahoo. That's probably why I lost at the 4th level! ;)


I remember in 9th grade, school year 1971-1972, this one boy would wear his Boy Scout uniform to school once in a while. The hat was the flat kind back then & he had it tucked in his belt. I don't remember anything else really about the uniform. Now, I remember some of us (me included) teasing him about wearing his uniform to school & saying what a geek he was. Actually, he was a geek no matter what he wore, he was that kind of kid. I'm sure that if a non-geek scout wore his uniform to school, he would have been called a geek! ;) In elementary school, at least back then, it was ok to wear your scout uniform to school & your weren't a geek. BUT, once you hit junior & senior high, you were & were "asking for trouble" if you wore it! Translates to - getting picked on. I think this is a normal teenage reaction & still prevails today. The only difference I would say is that kids are crueller at an earlier age today so I don't think a scout should wear their uniform to school even in elementary school. I wore my Junior uniform to school in the 6th grade a few times & so did other girls from my troop!


I remember being very proud to wear my uniform when I was younger. I was only a Cadette for 1 year (7th grade), the troop didn't do much & I was too shy back then to say anything. I tell my kids that they should be proud to wear their uniforms to troop meetings & other scouting activities.


I think the uniform is important because it does identify you as a scout. I don't really understand what the problem is. My son has been in scouts since the 3rd grade, what was the uniform for Boy Scouts like before the uniform that is out now? I hope that made sense! Maybe for camping & hiking the pants or shorts could be an olive color denim, would that be better? My son did have green jeans & no, not Mr. Green Jeans from Captain Kangaroo! ;)I found them at K-Mart & green happens to be his fave color! They were a dark green. Would something like that be more useful for camping? Just an idea!


Still, it could be just the boys, especially as teenagers maybe "asserting" themselves!


The tatoos posts "killed" me, I laughed so much! But I do have 1 question - what is a POR? Thanks!


OK, I must go & do something else now!






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