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sunsetandshadow

uniform shirt only?

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1. I am a proponent of proper uniforming. Uniforming is one of the methods.

2. The world is not all black and white; most of it is shades of gray.

3. Delivery of a Scouting program should not sacrificed due to a genuine inability to be fully "BSA uniformed". For my troop, there is no genuine reason for every boy presently in the troop not to be fully uniformed (although most are not). Not everybody is as fortunate.

 

My humble opinion/recomendation:

- Start everybody with the shirts if that's what everybody can afford for now ("experienced" shirts work well). Forget the "official" neckerchiefs found in the catalog; and hats, for now - both are optional items.

- Start everybody with olive green/hunter green/sierra green or whatever green color pants that can be afforadably acquired by the families. They won't be Scout pants, but they can be reasonably close. (and you won't have to deal with the silly pockets on the official uniform :) sorry, couldn't keep myself from adding that) The important thing is to have everybody "uniform" (same pants for all - pick a supplier that all can afford). As a troop you will look smart, look like scouts, feel like scouts, and the only folks that will give you any grief are the uniform police types. I will email you with some supplier suggestions. There are stores/companies that have green pants that cost less than $25 with some as low as $15. It's no more than the cost of jeans; which are not at all close.

- Spend a year (or two) building up a uniform cache. E-bay, thrift stores, donated, etc. A troop money-making project to purchase uniforms may not be kosher thing within the confines of BSA policy. Find somebody outside of the scout troop that supports the scouting program and ask for help - somebody that is a former scout/scouter and/or appreciates the value of the Scouting program and let them do it for you (can even be a non-scouter). A number of years ago, I met a former Scoutmaster who had been away from the program for several years and who was a successful business person in his area. He had tapped former scouts/scouters in his rural community for a "sponsor-a-scout" effort to get a local scout troop uniformed, and he was quite successful at it. Rather than asking for money, each was asked to donate a uniform item; experienced or new.

- During this period, find a parent or friend that can sew. Have them make neckerchiefs. There is nothing magical about the neckerchiefs in the catalog. (Do not put the Scout logo on it - troop number, embroidered design, etc. though is fair game.)

- When the cache is sufficient for all boys to be uniformed in official shirts and pants, make the switch.

- Once the switch is made, keep the uniform cache going so that new scouts can have a full uniform and growing scouts can trade up to larger sizes.

- Instill pride in wearing the uniform and take pride in what has been accomplished.

 

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I find Eagle 74's answer perhaps the most pragmatic.

 

I'd far rather see your Troop learning skills of good camp cookery and camping than worrying about uniforms for the moment. Hot dogs can be expensive; they can learn a lot from 99 cent a pound chicken leg quarters!!! :)

 

Make a plan, be flexible in implementing it, but set a target goal.

 

BTW, I still have my youth neckerchief. Our Troop didn't use BSA official either, and this was in the 60s, so that idea has been around a while :)

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Yah, I'd go with just shirts and have da boys wear their camy pants to start. That's enough for this method to be goin' on with.

 

Spend the rest of your time and money on the other 7 methods.

 

 

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There is a listing of the official parts of the uniform listed in the Scout handbook. If memory serves me right, they are... tan scout shirt (long or short sleeve), Scout pants or shorts, Scout socks, Scout belt with buckle. Hats and neckerchiefs are optional. I recently read somewhere that having a uniform is not a requirement for being a Scout.

Now, what does our troop do? Scout shirt tucked into clean pants or jeans. In May we switch to a more comfortable polo shirt. I notice most boys add parts of the uniform as they advance in age & rank. By the time they are attending BOR for Star Scout they are proudly wearing the entire uniform with sash & numerous badges.

A percentage of the money our Scouts earn from popcorn sales and other fundraisers is put into a personal account for each Scout. He may choose to use his funds at the Scout Shop, a local camping store, or to help pay for summer camp. It was alway understood that the Scouts could use this money for any Scout related purpose, including uniforms.

firecrafter

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Here it is in a nutshell folks. The uniform is to build character. It is to be worn in it's entirety per BSA rules. Are we teaching our Scouts that they don't have to obey the rules just because they are low on money? Or should we be teaching the Scouts that they can earn the money to get their uniforms? I don't know too neighbors, friends or family that would refuse letting a Scout rake leaves, take out garbage, etc. to earn money for a uniform. Ever hear of a paper route? You can also have family members that can buy bits and pieces of the uniform for birthdays, Christmas or any other gift giving holiday. If we make excuses as adults, are we teaching our kids to make excuses too? My experience in Law Enforcement has shown me that even the poorest people have video games, tv's, CD players, computers to post discussions on the internet and other non-essentials. If you are not living in a third world country, you should be able to find some means to get your Scout or Scouts in full uniform. Finding ways to purchase something as meaningful as the BSA uniform would also teach your Scout(s) the value of money and what they need to do to earn it. Let's not start watering down and changing the rules. The rules are there for a purpose and we should all follow them.

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I'll side with the "start with the shirt" group. I'm not hearing (or rather, reading) a refusal to wear the complete uniform but rather a concern for losing Scouts by requiring more than the family can afford, thus the new Troops desire to create a uniform closet.

 

The suggestion about a paper route made me laugh. I can't speak for sunsetandshadow's rural area, but in our rural area only the adults have paper routes because they are all motor routes, meaning delivery is all made by car because of the distances involved. Absolutely encourage the boys to get out there and raise money, perhaps they can pool earnings to start bidding on ebay (via an adult w/ computer access or other means). This way the boys will have pride in helping earn their way, plus paving the way for others.

 

It isn't the uniform that makes the Scout, its the Scout that makes the uniform.

 

YiS

Michelle

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Our troop requires shirts. They can be work with nice jeans. No tears, not dirty, and no camo, wind pants. And it is a cost issue in many cases. Believe me I don't have a single boy in my troop that is wearing $135 shoes. Most are lucky to get Wal-Mart shoes. Have one troop that has three brothers in it. Single mother and dad isn't great about getting child support there. In fact I think he is about $10,000 behind right now and they don't know where he is. So I wouldn't ask her to spend $40.00 on a pair of pants for her sons.

 

BSA does not require a uniform to be in Scouts. The only thing I ask it that they wear what they have proudly.

 

One thing I have done is gone and talked to a couple of the resale shops in our area. If they get Scout uniforms in I get a call and get first option on them.

Normally the pants will cost from $3-5 and shirts have been running from $1.99-5.

 

So lets get them in Scouts and give them a great program and not focus on what they wear as the more important thing.

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Let's go back and re-look Ms sunsetandshadow's problem.

 

New unit!

 

Rural!

 

Low income rural!

 

These young Scouts are back to bedrolls vice ANY sleeping bag. Look at their tentage (improvised from plastic sheeting). Look at the food they are buying for campouts (hot dogs).

 

What was it we get taught in Wood Badge? Determine your vision, set goals, and build a realistic path to get from where you are to where you want to be.

 

Ms sunsetandshadow, from her writings, understands the Uniform method. She has a vision, it's constrained by reality, so she's asking for help in both goals and a realistic path.

 

Expecting this troop of Scouts to get from "no uniforms at all" to "full uniformed instantly" is an absolute pipe dream. From what I read here, IT'S JUST NOT GOING TO HAPPEN.

 

Concentrating on money-earning and fundraising (a Scout is Thrifty) will get this unit uniformed ... in due time. Not now, maybe not next year, but reasonably surely in five years.

 

There's also the small matter of raising the money for Scout Camps, for weekend campouts, for gear that will take these young men into deep winter, and on and on. At the end of the day, the local unit leaders and the families concerned are the ones setting priorities.

 

A METHOD of Scouting is a tool in the box. For Ms sunsetandshadow, how she implements the Uniform Method may be part of the success or failure of this Troop in its first year. I honestly evaluate Eagle 74's approach as fitting these particular circumstances as best as can be done, today. Tomorrow will bring changed circumstances, and the approach can change over time.

 

Further, in another thread Lisa'bob proposed the possibility of asking for support as a ScoutReach unit. This is worth a phone call from Ms sunsetandshadow to her DE, DC, or SE!!!

 

My two cents. Others will disagree. It's their right.(This message has been edited by John-in-KC)

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Contacting Scoutreach is a good idea. I wish I could take credit for suggesting it but I can't - somebody else did.

 

I've lived in some very remote areas too - though not now. Not only are all the paper route types of jobs held by adults because of the need for a car to cover the route (distance) but additionally because in some extremely rural areas, adult unemployment and under-employment reach truly staggering rates and they actually need those jobs to make ends meet. And while people everywhere would probably be happy to help a kid out, to the extent it is possible, in some places and times, they just don't have the money to do it. This isn't an issue of misplaced priorities (spending on game systems and sneakers or whatever else); it is a reflection of real, and deep, poverty that does exist in some parts of our country.

 

I'm a bit dismayed by the number of responses here that indicate a complete lack of understanding of the situation as sunset&shadows described (and as elaborated upon by some other rural scouters). Scouting in urban and suburban areas faces challenges too, of course, and some challenges are the same regardless of location, but some are not, and I think it is useful for people to be(come) aware of that.

 

(getting off the soap box now)

 

Lisa

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I think that the last paragraph in the Training Syllubus for the Scoutmaster Specific Training applies very aptly in sunsetandshadows situation

 

"While the uniform is one of the eight methods of Scouting, attention to is should be kept in perspective. Ultimately, the boy inside the uniform, rather than the uniform itself is what is important. The uniform is of value to the extent that it encourages boys to grow as Scouts, leaders and young men."

 

IMO, Use your limited resources to run the best program you can rather than worrying about the uniform issue at this time. Perhaps the boys can get some plain white (or colored) inexpensive t-shirts and design a troop logo that they can all wear to help develop Troop identity.

 

Sue M.

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Thank you, John-in-KC. Thank you not for general agreement with my suggestion, but thank you for taking an insightful view into the conundrum of sunsetandshadow.

 

Sure, BSA does not require a uniform - these boys could go without and use some type of common t-shirt, polo shirt or whatever. Or sure, there could be the haves (able to wrangle a full uniform) together with the have-nots (can't afford, so will not be wearing any part of the uniform per the letter of the law); with a resulting rag-tag looking group of boys. To what end result? Just to be able to say they're following the rules to the letter?

 

What I read in the lines and between the lines though, is a genuine attempt to "deliver the program" in the best possible way within the means of the scouts and their families. There is a stated desire to "do their best".

 

I will say again that I am as much a proper uniforming advocate as all but the most extreme in this forum. It infuriates me to no end 90% the boys in the troop I serve are not properly uniformed - there is no valid excuse. It absolutely sends me through the roof that 95% of the adult leadership in the troop I serve does not wear a proper uniform (shirts with jeans, etc. including Woodbadgers. They had to have a full uniform for the course; where is it now? But that's fodder for another time). I do not at all agree with jeans being a part of sunsetandshadow's troop uniform. All in the same khaki cargos I can be open to (can serve multiple uses). All in the same green pants I can truly support as an alternative temporary measure. I have a pair of olive green pants that you would not be able to distinguish from official pants unless I'm standing next to someone in the official uniform. They cost me $15.98 when purchased and serve as a backup to my official pants or when I need to keep the official ones clean for another event.

 

I am not so naive though as to think that there are not many places where the cost of a full uniform is prohibitively high to the scout/family, especially within a short period of time. There are families that are in these circumstances within my community. (I'm not talking about the ones that say they can't afford anything, but run around with cell phones, have cable tv, and PS2s.)

 

The intent I read between the lines is to get to a point where it can be done right and to work hard toward that end (I could be wrong). I say go for it - deliver the program the best way you can, striving always to make it better.

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I agree that you should recommend that the boys wear uniform shirts only. Depending on where you live, choose identicle baseball style caps or boonie style hats for sun protection.

 

I don't think my dad could ever afford a full uniform until he was in high school. He grew in an almost similar position you are in. My dad was in cub scouts and Boy scouts from the mid-50's until ~1970 and grew up on a semi-rural farm. My family had a large farm, but never much money. Most everything was grown on contract or sent to markets an hour away.

 

My dad and his little brother and sister decided to have a small roadside stand to sell fresh fruits and vegatables that they grew themselves in a large garden. Their profits went to buy seed for next year, school items, scout stuff, and to save towards college(my dad and his siblings all went to college with scholarship money and loans). Perhaps some of your scouts could do the same. Maybe even each growing different items and marketing them together to pool their resources.

 

Personally I am living paycheck to paycheck in Suburban New York and can't afford to buy new cars(ever), have cable TV, or broad Internet service, and barely pay rent and utilities some months. My son has his cub shirt now for 3 years that we bought used, and his cap. Our Pack presents neckerchiefs as you move to next den level. I have pants, shirt, and neckerchief, but only after 2 years.

 

Stick to the must haves and durable basic equipement. Inquire at Council for camping equipement. Most Council purchase new items for each Jamboree that they send scouts to. So they be able to get you some used equipement bought for the Jamboree last year.

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I am truly shocked at the insensitivity of some of the responders to this thread. Do people not understand that while this country is wealthy overall, there are areas with true poverty? My former GS co-leader told me about families she met in rural Kentucky who lived in shacks without running water. They got their drinking water from a nearby, probably polluted, stream and did not understand why she brought her own water with her when she came to babysit. Some of the school kids were found to be saving parts of their free school lunches to bring back home to younger siblings. The problem is that if people don't think about it and give you solutions that work only in their own wealthier suburban areas, the ideas won't work in a poor rural area.

 

I'm sure that many of the boys in the troop of the original post already do all the money-earning things suggested - to help pay for their families' rent and basic needs like food. I remember how touched my mother was when she had her own business and learned that a young teenaged boy who worked for them put every penny toward his family's rent, unlike some of the other teenagers from wealthier families who just wanted to make extra money to spend on frivolous things.

 

Second hand stores and rummage sales are only good resources in areas where there are many troops (probably not the case in the poor rural area mentioned) and where lots of families can just buy the uniforms and give them away when outgrown (since they don't need to pass them on to younger brothers). Problem with Ebay is that most sellers will have only a few items and once you add in shipping costs it probably isn't going to save you enough to make it much easier to outfit a whole troop.

 

As for fundraising, I think that many of the traditional fundraisers will not work for troops in such an impoverished area because they depend on other people in the area to have the money to spare to buy items or services. In the poor area described with such high rates of free/reduced price lunch qualifying kids, the relatives and neighbors of the scouts are just as impoverished. The usual fundraisers work best in areas with plenty of disposable income so you are basically giving people an way to donate money without feeling that they are just giving the money away. And in the case of "spaghetti dinners" like the one I attended this weekend, the attendees may feel like they saved money compared to a restaurant meal they might have had instead.

 

So I think the idea of looking for corporate or other sponsorship is a better idea. However, you should check into your council's rules on this kind of activity since individual troops may be prohibited from soliciting businesses as this may be the prerogative of the council. I'm somewhat new to the BSA world, but I do know that my GS council prohibits troops from soliciting businesses.

 

If my son were of bar mitzvah age (still a few years off), I know what I would suggest to him as a service project (required by both the synagogue where he attends Hebrew school and the smaller congregation where we attend services): do a BS uniform collection for a needy troop. He would find the sizes of the boys who need uniforms and ask the various troops which already have uniform closets if they would consider donating one uniform item, as well as ask current scouts if they have any outgrown uniforms in their own closets that they would like to donate. "Collections" of various kinds are a favorite type of service project in my area. Ironically, the one thing I would fear is that he might be inundated with uniforms such that it could get a lot more complicated to find suitable troops for them all. (For their Bronze Award, my GS troop collected 100 lbs of sports uniforms for impoverished kids in a Central American country and spent $65 of troop money to ship it to an embassy in Florida.) I don't know much about Eagle Scout projects, but I assume that they are supposed to be benefit the larger community and not just within scouting as this project would be?

 

On a further personal note: I am SO glad that my husband and I decided to live in our town which is economically mixed (as well as ethnically diverse). 15% of the kids at our public school qualify for reduced price lunches, while other kids have parents who are doctors and regularly take family vacations to far-off places (which is how my GS co-leader had a connection in Central America). We briefly considered the town just north of us which is more affluent and much less diverse, but I did not want the only non-wealthy non-white people my kids would meet to be the housecleaners of their friend's homes.(This message has been edited by GS-CS_leader)

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