Jump to content

The Uniform Method...

Recommended Posts

I've been an avid reader of this forum for quite a while now. I've learned a lot and I appreciate the responses I recieved for the questions I've posted.


One thing that I've noticed since I've started reading is that some topics generate a lot more responses than others. Topics on Uniforms in particuar are some of the best to fire up the keyboards. It got me thinking...


It seems to me that we sometimes put much more emphasis on the uniform method than we maybe should. I agree that uniforms are important and I'm proud to wear my full and complete uniform. It occured to me that of all of the 8 Methods the Uniform Method is probably the lowest on the totem pole but, generates the most debate... Heck this forum picked apart uniforms in an entire issue of "Scouting" magazine! and talked about the new switchbacks for months on end!


Could it be that the Uniform Method is the easiest to judge our success? I certainly don't believe that a troop that is in full uniform is automatically better at using the other methods. They look sharp and are squared away. But, are they doing a better job of delivering the Aims of the Scouting program than the troop next door that is only wearing BSA Shirts? Are they making better campers, leaders, men because they wear the complete uniform?


Are we putting so much emphasis on the uniform because it is so important or because others can observe how our units look at the next camporee? If it's the former great... if it's the latter couldn't our energies be better spent worrying more about how to use the other 7 methods better and less on what other people think because of how we look?


Just my thought,






Link to post
Share on other sites

I'll wade in on this one.


When one goes to church all gussied up in their "Sunday-go-ta-meetin'" clothes they "feel" different than they do for the rest of the week. When people at work wear business casual or have a jeans day, they "feel" different than they do normally.


There's something about clothing that directly affects our perceptions of ourselves and how we imagine people's perception of us. If a scout puts his uniform on and emotionally reacts to it, it says something about the next time he wears it.


Because of the short time period between when I get off work and when the scout meeting so my g-friend and I always go out to dinner. I wear my uniform because of the time constraint. Over the past 15 years, I have had a number of people come up and thank me. The first time I thought it was because they thought I was military, but one lady just smiled and said she could read the BSA over my pocket.


I always wear the full uniform, with one exception. When I took my swim test for camp, I did put on a swimsuit for the occasion. 3 of my boys commented that it was the first time they had ever seen me in something other than full uniform. I did wear a BSA t-shirt at Philmont but had my uniform shirt and necker along so I could dress for dinner every evening.


With that being said, I hear of scouters who don't wear neckers, don't wear full uniform, don't wear uniform at events were alcohol might be served, don't wear uniform.... (fill in the blank). Is it any wonder we have difficulty getting our boys to wear the uniform when we are too embarrassed to wear it ourselves. As adult leaders I had always assumed we were to lead. Maybe we ought to reevaluate where we are leading our boys with the uniform method of scouting.


Your mileage may vary.



Link to post
Share on other sites

Lots of the stuff we do is really a gut call. How well we pass authority and responsibility to the youth, how we implement advancement, how we implement outdoor method... all have some judgment call.


Uniform Method, OTOH, has clear and quantifiable metrics from National. If you like clear metrics, you'll love the Uniform Method.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I work in the software business.

I've worked in corps that had a strict dress code where everyone was expected to be in appropriate business wear. Anyone remember braces? Not the kind you put on your teeth.


I've also worked in shops that had no dress code. You wore what you wanted, from a business suit (which meant you had an interview) to shorts and T-shirts.


Looking at the work generated from both shops, the casual one did better and more work. Emphasis was put into the product, not the presentation. Your work may differ.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Exactly, why did they wear suits when they went to an interview for a job that allowed them to wear jeans and a t-shirt? There's a message here that has absolutely nothing to do with productivity, it's attitude, pure attitude.



Link to post
Share on other sites

"Looking at the work generated from both shops, the casual one did better and more work."


I never noticed a difference in the quality or quantity of work. I did notice a great difference in the professional demeanor of the shop or the lack thereof in the "casual" shop. The casual attire seemed to promote a "frat house" atmosphere of pranks and games which interrupted work on a regular basis causing many to have to work long hours to get projects finished. Hmmmm . . . maybe there was a difference in the quality of work.



Link to post
Share on other sites

Unfortunately nothing that has been discussed in the thread to this point has the slightest thing to do with the Uniform Method.


The Method has nothing to do with wearing the uniform shirt without the uniform pants, or with wearing the neckerchief one way or the other.


The Uniform Method is about removing barriers that cause us to see others as different so that we can easier see what is the same about us.


A uniform removes signs of income, class separation, cultural differences. It allows us to look beyond religious differences and political differences. The Uniform Method is about equalizing members as simply being members of the same organization, and having that being enough commonality on which to build a relationship, a team, or a friendship.


The uniform is about having an outward sign in inner shared values. The Uniform Method is about being reminded and recoginzing what those values are, and building personal strength in those values by not being afraid to show others what they are. The uniform shows you are one of many who can be recognized for those values by the the image of the uniform.


When our Sea Scouts are together, no matter where they are, they are recognizable as being part of a group, whether or not the uniform is known by others or not. Even when they are in casual clothes while sailing they all where the same design t-shirt, and cap. Everyone at the marina knows they are part of their Ship because their clothing is recognizable.


When they are in their dress uniforms not only do the scouts stand a little taller so do the members of the marina who the scouts represent.


The uniform reflects their position in the Ship, their personal accomplishments in Scouting, their skills on the water, and their pride in their values.


THAT is what the uniform METHOD is about, not whether or not you wear a neckerchief or if your patches are straight.


Good personal uniforming comes not from the Method, but from personal integrity. It comes from an understanding of good grooming, the ability to learn and understand rules, and understanding your role as a member of a community.


The Methods of the three traditional Scouting programs can be learned by attending New Leader Essentials, the first step in the Basic training continuum offered by the BSA.


(This message has been edited by Bob White)

Link to post
Share on other sites

Lauwit, I would disagree that the Uniform Method is the lowest of the eight. I see them as all being equal in importance in the development of our Scouts. You'll read many posts that remind us that the uniform is not required to be a Boy Scout. True, but then one could probably argue that none of the methods is required to be a Boy Scout. A Boy Scout does not need to advance to be in a Troop. A Troop doesn't have to have patrols. They could do all of their activities indoors. The guys don't have to have the opportunity to work with other adults. Scoutmaster could run everything thereby negating the need for leadership development. Personal growth? Well, a guy could be happy to sit around indoors, wearing jeans and a T-shirt, and have others tell him what to do and still be a Boy Scout.


Of course, if the above was an actual description of a Troop, I think it would hardly be recognizable as a Boy Scout program. The eight methods all work together. To me, they all have equal importance. For example, if a Troop doesn't try to use the patrol method, the guys miss out on opportunities for leadership development. If a Troop doesn't have a program that challenges the Scouts to learn new skills, get outside and practice those skills, and then advance in rank, when and how would personal growth happen?


The uniform method is certainly the most visible measure of how a unit is working on all eight methods and I use it as sort of a barometer of how things are going with the Scouts in our Troop. Several years ago our Troop had a waist up uniform method and even that wasn't consistent. The adults didn't care about the uniform - it's too hard to get the guys to wear it, they would say - so they just didn't bother to try. The problem was that a lot of things became too hard to get the guys to do, so they didn't try that either. Advancement was a check mark in a book. Adults planned everything and did most of the work. Outings were down to about five a year. Merit badges were only those worked on at summer camp. Weekly meetings were a social gathering. PORs were a title and a patch. The Scout Oath and Law were merely words to be recited at the opening of meetings.


We've worked on all of those deficiencies and our Troop is in great shape these days. We are a small Troop so we only have one patrol at the moment, but we're attracting attention as having a good program that does something every month, has no other rules other than the Scout Oath and Law to guide us, encourages advancement by providing the opportunities to do so, provides chances for the guys to work with adults outside of the regular Troop leadership, and trains the Scouts and expects them to perform in PORs - all of which leads to personal growth.


Oh yeah, we look good while we're doing it, too.

Link to post
Share on other sites

"Because that wasn't the question"


How can the thread not be about the Uniform Method when the title is "The Uniform Method"?


When scouters debate how to wear the neckerchief or when to wear the hat, or what hat you can wear or if a leader can drink alcohol in uniform, or which troop looks sharpers" those things have nothing to do with the Uniform METHOD.


Those debates are about uniform POLICIES, not the METHOD (except the one about which unit looks sharper which is about adult ego. Before you can discuss whether the uniform METHOD is the most visible or easiect to measure, you need to understand what the Method is and what it isn't.


It is not that I did not answer Lauwit's questions. It is that the questions he poses are largely unrelated to the Uniform METHOD.




Link to post
Share on other sites

Not everyone musters up to everyone else's expectations, but my earlier post addressed the issue of why use the uniform method. I believe that was the initiator's question. Obviously ranking it's importance was clearly not a how? question or what? question or a Who? question.


I believe I answered why one would wear a uniform, but obviously that wasn't so according to the opinion of a few. Strange, I actually used the word WHY in my comment. Yes, uniform wearing can be compared to business suit wearing at an interview because it answers the question of why. My momma taught me that my opinions are just as important as anyone else's and they can stand on their own merit, I don't have to run down others to try and make mine look more important.


I often wonder whether there are those who post who actually read and understand posts they are reacting to. It would help to at least give some credit for those who do make honest comments. Blowing off people really doesn't advance the discussion effectively.



Link to post
Share on other sites

As to the original questions, if I may paraphrase:


1. I agree there is often an over-emphasis on uniform and advancement methods and an under-emphasis on leadership and patrol method. Guess which methods are harder to teach.


2. Easiest judge of our success? Well, just look at your scouts how are they doing? (trick question, even experienced leaders have a hard time evaluating this). If you want a metric, try a competitive scout activity like a Klondike Derby look at how they scored for scout spirit, skills, teamwork, did they have fun,...


3. Neither a sharply full uniformed troop nor a troop with high advancement rate is necessarily doing a better job than anyone else.


4. For me, the uniform is not needed for character and leadership development as we don't wear the Class A uniform during outdoor activities. Identity is not an issue as we know who and what we are. Identifying us to others is an issue which leads to your next question.


5. Is the uniform more important for the development of the scout or for advertising scouting? Hmmm, you can be a great scout without the uniform so I would say the uniform is more important in advertising scouting. Is that bad? I don't think so. Scouting is too invisible these days.



Link to post
Share on other sites

If the core question is "Why" use the uniform Method then what relationship does "ranking" have to "why".


What relationship does being dressed snappier to the unit next door have to the uniform Method?


What relationship does wearing a neckerchief have to the uniform Method.


What relationship does picking apart uniform accuracy have to the uniform Method?


How can you determine the importance and the use of the Method if the things you are talking about are not related to the Method?


Before you can discuss the topic would it first not be beneficial to make sure there was a general understanding of what the Method is?


For instance;

Can the use of a uniform help reduce social barriers between scouts? Is that a good thing, If it does that, and it is a good thing, then the Uniform Method serves it's purose.


Can the uniform give a youth a sense of belonging to a group or community. If so, and you see that as a good thing, then the Uniform Method serves it's purpose.


Do others who see a person in uniform recognize and associate specific characteristics and values with that person? If so and you see that as a good thing, then the Uniform Method serves its purpose.


Do the Scouts and Scout leaders know and understand that while in uniform others are making determinations of their abilities and values based on the uniform, if so and you see that as a way to reinforce positive traits, then the Uniform METHOD serves its purpose.



The Method of using a uniform is to accomplish the Aims of Scouting, not to look better than the unit next door. And there are a huge variety of uniforms in the BSA, (not all use neckerchiefs). And their use has nothing to do with where you might rank the Method in importance. Each method of a Scouting Program (and there are three different sets of Methods), effect one or more of the AIMS of Scouting, and that is their only purpose.


The Uniform Method has nothing to do with judging success.




Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...