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What if we DID drop uniforms?

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Easy. Marines -- tan shirt, green pants, similar cut (no epaulettes) (of course, you want a Boy Scout model who is well-groomed, skinny, muscular, and ramrod-straight for a fair comparison). The Park Service uniform has a very similar cut, but different colors (though the same relative shades), and of course cloth patches and smokey bear hats. Lots of county sheriff's offices and state patrols have similar uniform cuts as well, with cloth patches and smokey bear hats. The Scout unform does not really resemble Army or Air Force dress uniforms, and the Navy's tans and whites don't have the color contrast between shirt and pants. On the other hand, Sea Scout uniforms are the exact same uniforms (aside from insignia/patches/badges) that sailors wear.


Dan Kurtenbach

Fairfax, VA

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After all is said and done I can't really imagine any program within the BSA without some sort of identifying uniform. Whether it is required or not is irrelevant, it shows the youth are part of both a national and international movement much more vast than the scope of their individual units. From both a historical and traditional point of view the uniform is here to stay. While it is fun to debate what if, all the pros and con the scout uniform is a worldwide recognizable symbol and a shared bond with your fellow scouts.

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what rubbish....

Every day when I leave my house, no matter what I wear, there are three things in my front left pocket.


Wood badge coin

Scout coin (25 year old coin)

When I read threads like this I reach into my pocket and remember what it's all about......


Anybody who thinks that boys are not joining scouts because of the uniform is kidding themselves. Note to its-me: At the cub scout level boys take their lead from the example their leaders set. You've expressed your dislike for the uniform and boys obviously have picked up on that. Our previous cubmaster did not wear the uniform and the boys took their lead from him. Switch of leadership and our present leaders all wear the uniform with pride and our boys now are ALWAYS at 90%+ in uniform at any den or pack event. The old leader told me that "some boys come to the meeting straight from soccer or baseball so it's unfair to request that they wear a uniform." So what? If it's important enough to them, they will change in the vehicle on the way to the event or when they get there. I know that some of these same boys are changing into their soccer or baseball uniforms on the way to the game. Frankly I have never ever heard a cub scout say that they hate the uniform. Second, third and fourth graders should not be that concerned about fashion and image. If they are, then take a look at their parents and chances are, they're imitating them.


I agree that wearing a scout uniform to a high school will get comments. So will wearing lime green sweats. Anything different will get noticed and commented on. And who can say that wearing your pants with the crotch at your knees, showing 2-3 inches of underwear is a good idea? Have you seen kids wearing that outfit try to run? They look a a bunch of penguins! What's that? You say it's a form of expression? SO is the uniform!


It doesn't matter who designs the uniform, as long as it is worn only by scouts and not by the public it will get commented on.


Those boys who say they will join scouts except for the uniform... it's just an excuse and poor one. They don't want to be recognized, they want to remain anonymous, to stay in the background and quite frankly, on some lower level to deny belonging. Get rid of the uniform, and they'll make up another excuse.


Dressing up in the uniform only for special events? Heck, what qualifies as a special event? Every week I see men come to church in tee shirts, shorts and sandals. Young girls come in crop tops and spaghetti straps. People walk into a courtroom with tee shirts and ballcaps and show shock and defiance when asked to remove their hat. They also forget to remove their hat when walking into a church or singing the national anthem at a baesball game. Seems to me that an entire segment of the population doesn't recognize or know how to dress for special occasions anymore. Ten years after I pledged, I returned to my college fraternity. I had to tie neckties for at least five young men who had never learned how. It wasn't important to them and their parents couldn't be bothered to teach them.



Neckerchief is unnecessary? What about neckties, bolo ties, cufflinks and ascots, are they unecessary too? Neckwear is worn in the business place because of tradition and hence the appropriateness. The scout neckerchief serves much the same purpose. I have used my neckerchief to lash poles in a storm and sling a broken wrist. You betcha it's useful!



Whew!!! end of rant......


CMM(This message has been edited by Cubmaster Mike)

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I believe that Mike may have hit on one explanation for the loss of enthusiasm for the uniform among today's Scouts. In our society, clothing simply does not carry the symbolic weight that it used to. I'm not certain of the reasons for this, but he has certainly listed some good examples. In recent decades, our society has placed more emphasis on individuality of appearance rather than conformity of appearance, and in increasingly formal contexts, including church, court, and the workplace.


For example, at my place of work I am a senior professional but most of the time I wear jeans and a knit shirt to work. Sometimes shorts and sandals. A generation ago, my office would have been populated by coat-and-tie uniformed clones. In my work, I suppose we have eliminated the appearance of an employee as a criterion and replaced it with actual performance. I am sure you can think of other examples of this phenomenon.


After some thought, I think that this shift in attitude in our larger society may account for some of the distain for uniform we see, especially among the 14-16 year olds.

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I don't think eliminating the uniforms is THE answer to the difficulties the BSA is facing now and in the immediate future... although that seems to be the direction several other countries are going!


I think the BSA's uniform stance has always been a little... odd... compared to that of most other countries. I think it is even odder when you figure that the USA is FAR more diverse in almost every way than almost any other country in the world is.

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I admit that in high school that I did not wear the uniform to school but then I was not a closet Boy Scout either. People knew that I went to church, Boy Scout meetings and I even Indian danced. I also played football, ran track, lifted weights and wrote very bad poetry. I attempted to wear the appropriate clothing to each event and meeting. People still made fun of me but I also made fun of them. Putting people down is a past time of youth that fits quite nicely with the rampant depression and lack of self-confidence that is pervasive there. People don't know who they are and cannot figure it out simply because they lack experience. Some of them are even smug about it, especially those that have of the monetary backing to do so. Scouts were in a minority. They were spread thinly across all of the grade levels and schools in our city. So being a Scout was something that was a personal decision not one decided by the group. It was something I enjoyed and I felt a sense of belonging doing. I wore the uniform to the meetings then and I still do today. I know now that being a Scout is less about the uniform and more about how you treat other people and yourself. It is being a good citizen and a person of good character. Badges and POR cannot describe the value of our leadership roles in society in most all activities. We learn to wear our uniforms inside but it is always seen no matter what clothing we have on. So, it matters little if we have a uniforming policy or not, so it is easy to accept the BSA's decision.



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Where do you see kids dressing as individuals? They dress to be different from adults but they try to dress like each other. Go to any mall and look at the sameness of styles in a group of kids walking together. Oh sure different "groups" may dress differently, but within each group is a remarkable sameness. Just like Scouting


Look at gangs, how do they identify each other? They use 'colors' and 'signs' just like Scouting. You can even see that in a workplace. Even when uniforms are not mandatory like at UPS or in pro sports, people tend to dress in a similar way. Have you ever heard of 'dressing like the boss' or 'dressing like the job you want to have'?


Looking the part has been a part of human psyche for a long lomng time. And dressing to show your social group is as much a part of our culture today as ever.


The biggest problem in Scout uniforming appears to be the attitude and leadership style of the unit leader.



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Bob, excellent point! Maybe its not less conformity in dress, but less formality? Even here at my work, my field is known to be uniformily informal. ;) (and for the record, I am the boss.)


But that just reinforces my earlier thought that it's not necessarily wearing a uniform that our fellows object to, but wearing the current uniform, which is widely percieved as dorky. Interestingly, this is not an issue at all in the Venturing Crew, where they got to choose their own uniform.



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It is not the uniform that the kids are being teased for it is the values and characteristics that the uniform represents.


Trust me, I had my junior high class picture taken I my Boy Scout uniform. To this day I am still called "Frog" (my school nickname from that day forward) becasue of my all green uniform. And that was the late 1960's in the previous uniform.


My grandfather was a Scoutmaster in the early 1920s and kids were teased in that day for being scouts. Kids will tease anyone for anything. It's a matter of nurture. If kids don't feel good about who they are then you tease others to make themselves feel better than others.


Kids (and adults) who feel good about who they are and what they do will not be concerned about being seen or known as scouts.

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Well, you're right about that of course. (Some)kids are cruel and always will be.


Interesting to hear the anecdote about the 1920s - we have such an idealized mental image of that golden era, that we don't think to realize that Scouts probably were teased just like we were and our sons are. I guess it goes with the territory.


No matter. As my SM minute on this topic concludes, "I'm glad to be part of that brotherhood!"


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My two cents worth: I don't think the uniform has anything to do with whether boys join scouting or not. I certainly remember in my own days as a Boy Scout (to the extent I can remember that far back) being teased for being a scout. Yes, I think there's a little more peer pressure today than then about clothing, but not much. I don't really think redesigning the uniform is going to make much difference, but it probably could stand some change. Kids will join scouting if there is an interesting, fun program for them. They will wear their uniforms proundly during scouting activities and try to camouflage them on the way to and from. That's how it's always been to some extent. I remember almost 40 years ago a Scout who brought his uniform in a paper sack and changed in the rest room.


I do think the worst thing we could do would be make it okay to wear the shirt with anything they want. I go back to the incident I saw on Flag Day at the Battleship Missouri with a troop of Scouts in shirts, neckerchiefs and pretty much anything else they wanted. They looked terrible and had no sense of pride about themselves. Years ago, we had a ceremonial team that did colors ceremonies in public forums. We picked the boys who participated and practically hand dressed them to make sure their uniforms looked right. They looked sharp and carried the colors proudly and with almost military precision.


Seems to me that we might offer more uniform options, a new design, maybe a camping uniform and do a lot of other things that would make the uniform better, but that we need to hang onto it. Scouting would still be scouting without a uniform, but not the same scouting.

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I know... I'm resurrecting another dormant thread. I hope nobody minds, but I witnessed something that IMO certainly lends credence to keeping the uniform.


Every year my unit is invited North of the Border to participate in a Canadian Cuboree. We're the only Yanks at this one, so it's indeed a big honor and priveledge to do so. We have good friends up there as a result.


It's no secret that the Canadian Scouts are struggling to survive in some regions. This region that we go to is certainly no exception. Their numbers have been in decline. Last year, much to the dismay of our host unit (and us too), they decided that for reasons of retention and keeping the interest of the youth, to make the uniform an *option*. The idea was that if kids weren't forced to wear something that might be embarassing to some, they might see more members.


The numbers at that Cuboree were the lowest yet. Only a sparse few were in uniform, while most wore street clothes. The overall mood was definitely different, that exuberance and pride in unit wasn't there. Numbers weren't looking any better.


This year, we saw a marked change. More kids were at this Cuboree. The kids in my own unit had a lot of fun trading neckers with the Canadians, and each enthusiastically told the story behind his/her unit's unique necker and its history. The Canadians were back in uniform! That energy I saw in previous years was back.


Does the uniform make a difference? Hard to say. I just know what I saw, and the marked difference in attitude.


For the record, NONE of my Webelos match right now. Yes, I insist on full uniform in my Den meetings, with one exception... each of those boys can wear their traded Canadian necker, and each one does... with a lot of pride. Lasting memories!


/end $.02


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