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What if we just completely did away with uniforms?

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maybe older Scouts don't like wearing their uniforms because Scouting is perceived by them as for little kids (11-13 years). Then, why are they still in Scouts? Because we promised them adventure like Daniel Boone would have had, and the hope is still there. Philmont? You can only go every other year (or every third year), and you still don't learn how to live off the land, trap wild game, etc. Council summer camp? Most camps are so built up that it's like going to the cottage for a week -- Big Whoop!

Do Scouts overseas (England, Australia, Germany...) complain about their uniforms? Why, or why not?

I still think the neckerchief has to go.

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OGE is correct, the neckerchief is very much a part of Scouting around the world.



I wrote that because you seem to be implying that the two (skills & uniform or service & uniform) were not compatible. You didn't offer as part of the comparison a Scout in correct uniform who was proficient in skills or attended all service projects. I would be interested to hear your opinion with that third choice added.

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One of the cool things about going to world jamboree were the neckers. As OGE points out, everywhere else in the world neckerchiefs are the one constant thing which identifies Scouts. You could see scouts walking around in cut-offs and an ABBA t-shirt, but would still have their national neckerchief on.


f-ccb, I also played football all through school and agree with you that a football uniform is much more useful than a scout uniform. I know rugby players make fun of us, but I don't care to be out there without the right gear. But I would suggest to you that the analogy is a bit flawed. I would consider helmets and shoulder pads the equipment of the game, more so than the uniform. Compare them to the gear you carry on a campout, tents and cook sets, rather than what you wear. You do have a point about ball players needing to make quick identifications of their team mates. But wouldn't the mesh covers you wear at practice serve the same purpose? Wouldn't a basic screen printed jersey do? Why do teams go to the added expense of the high-tech fabrics and multi-colored, embroderied uniforms?


My freshman year in high school we got a whole new set of coaches. Top to bottom. Even the guys assigned to coaching junior high were part of the new coaching staff. Prior to that I think our high school team had gone something like 10 or 12 years without a winning season. The school system finally decided they were tired of loosing and cleaned house. The new guys were all from one of the big state university football programs and had all been assistant coaches, graduate assistants or at least players there. They knew each other and they knew the system.


The first change they made? New uniforms. Not just game uniforms but for the first time we had uniform practice jerserys. (Before that you just wore any old ratty t-shirt you could scrounge out of your dad's drawer.) We also got white team polo shirts with the school logo embroidered on it. Back then, the only polo shirts around had the little allegator logos and were big bucks, so these shirts were really special. Guys slept in those shirts. We wore them everywhere except church Sunday morning and game days for which we had to wear suits and ties. (But that's another point for later.) After a game at the local pizza joint, we made a real entrance when the members of the team walked in all wearing those white shirts. (Or at least WE thought we made a big entrance!)


The point? We started looking like a team so we started playing like a team. For a change, we took pride in being on the football team. That year we went 5-5. My senior year we went 10-2 and made the play off for the first time in years. Did we win because of the uniforms? No. But that was one of the sparks which put us on that road.


Uniforms, especially Scout uniforms are more than the simple utility of the piece of clothing. They are about pride and esprit de corps. Look like a team, play like a team.


Fast forward 30 years. When I became SM the senior guys had spent two years talking about getting troop hats. So I ordered the hats. At the same time, I ordered matching troop neckerchiefs. Honestly, I didn't care much about neckers per se, but I remembered the tradition in my troop of everyone making all sorts of slides and wanted to try to resurect that. None of the older Scouts would wear the neckers unless it was mandated for some formal occasion. Too dorky. Of course the younger guys wanted to be like the cool guys and wouldn't wear them either.


Two things happened to change that. First, at crossover, part of the ceremony is that we take the Webelos hats and neckers off and present them with a the troop hat and necker. All of a sudden, we had 100 boys in the cub Scout pack who saw getting a troop hat and necker as the pinnacle of Scouting. New Scouts would come into the troop with a great deal of pride in their new troop uniforms and would always wear their neckers all the time -- or until they figured out the "cool guys" don't wear them. That took longer and longer every year.


The second thing to change was a couple of our senior guys went to world jamboree and saw how the rest of the world wears neckers and came back wanting to wear them. A trend was born. That was four years ago. Now, everyone wears they hat and neckercheif as a regular part of the uniform. Well, okay, except for a couple of the old hold outs. But now if you show up with both pieces, you're "out of uniform" and the PL or SPL will be on to you about it.


All that paid off at summer camp last month. We were by far the largest troop in camp during a fairly small week so our guys were probably 20-25% of the Scouts in camp. Suddenly, our guys are everywhere and with the custom hats and neckercheif, it looked like we were everywhere. Our Scouts got stopped and complimented. MB couselors recognize our guys. We got buzz. You can sense not only the pride our guys have in their troop, but you can also see how our guys stick together. All over camp you see small groups of Scouts in red hats hanging together. We had a great week at camp -- mainly due to our PLC doing a great job and our Scouts working hard and staying energized. But I will also attribute part of it to the sense of pride in their team and the comraderie the guys felt came in part from being easily identified as part of the troop.


Not everything is about utility like a football helmet or shoulder pads. Yeah, the uniforms are hot in summer and cold in the winter and cost too much. But don't overlook the intangibles and sense of belonging a uniform can instill. Look like a team, play like a team.

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Having done the European Camp Staff Program, spending 11 weeks in England at 2 international camps meeting folks from Russia, Ireland, Belgium, Switrzerland, Croatia, Finland, etc, and attending a WSJ, I can say neckers are the most recognized uniform item of a scout worldwide. yes they wear them with Abba shirts, and even without t-shirts on ( see the 18th WSJ stamp).


Neckers have 100s of uses, from first aid (just don't use your GBB signed necker on a bleeder ;) ), to game time, cooking , and on and on. The problem with BSA neckers is that they are too small, you need a 32 to 36 inch necker. Also the secret to wearing them comfortably in the summer is to wear them with the collar tucked under, as BP wanted and as it was worn prior to 1972 if I am not mistaken. TRUST Me on that one, I lived in SE Louisiana where 100% humidity and 100+ degree temps are the norm in the summer.


As other have pointed out, I've noticed very strong morale among those units with a history uniforming, I hate to say it, but with the two units that do not have the culture are having problems with recruiting and retaining scouts. Those units with the uniform culture are surviving and growing.


From experiences Scouts fully dressed in a uniform tend to get treated better. From my time as a youth, to my time as an SE, to my the present, the fully uniformed units tend to get more publicity, get more notice, and get treated better. And it doesn't have to be a full field uniform, it could be just wearing a trust t-shirt in lieu of the official shirt. heck a good friend of mine's troop got into either Boy's Life or Scouting, simply because they were the only unit out of 8 or 10 units that had everyone in scout socks, shorts/pants belt, troop t-shirt, and hat.

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The only reason I think that the jerseys are made up nice is to show off, really.


Sure .... a simple screened jersey would work fine, but lets intimidate the other team. If 4,000 people are coming to watch us play, we might as make the jersey that helps us win look nice.


Nascar might work the same way. The drivers could probably actually go faster without the paint all over their cars weighing them down. All of the drivers could drive with a metal finish and do just as well. If you need the body of the car to race, why not make it look nice while at it?

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What is pride , Espirit de Corps, class, realizing there is a time and a place for certain behavior?



Contemorize Man!!!!!!!!


That bilge was tossed for: "it feels good now", mind your own business, the rules and guidelines are for other people, and if I really screw up there will be some gov't agency to clean up the mess at other people's expense.



Now that's progress

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Ok after spending an entire week at CSDC as the only fully uniformed volunteer there, I have some thoughts on the usefulness of the uniform and the outdoors.


1) ODL was not the greatest design. It does work if wearing a T-shirt with the shorts/pants, belt, and socks. Uniform shirt not so much b/c likely to get damaged. But #2 was much better


2) Ok I admit I don't have the new uniform pants, but my wife got the Walmart knockoffs of the ccnavas pants that the BSA's manufacturer makes. THEY WERE GREAT, except for the fact I wish the zipper needs to be at least a 1/2 higher minimum. lots of pockets, and if you get too hot and at the main part of camp then zip off the legs, going through tick country on a hike, zip on the legs.


3)New belt is very nice. Buckle is easier to use, the belt is wider, almost like a mini pistol belt, and I can easily attach some of my military surplus gear(compass and magazine pouches) easily to without it moving around.


4) Long sleave centennial shirt needs to move the ipod pocket up (or get rid of it) as well as the Swiss tabs up on the sleeve. Yep wore that briefly, but this comes form other camping experience.


5) Both the all green and the green and gray socks are GREAT in the field. Wish they made them in a knee high version to wear with my older shorts, or when I zip of the legs.


6)Venturing pants work very well. Wore those one day. Lots of pockets for stuff.


I think the BSA is moving in the right direction with the centennial uniform, but it does have a ways to go. They need to find an American manufacturer who won't sell knock off, lower the prices, and maybe go back to smaller insignia with no wording on them to tone the uniform shirt down some. Don't know how the different colored borders to non trained and basic trained leaders worked in the past, but maybe we should do that as well. Finally LOWER THE PRICE to make if affordable to all. Biggest complaint I heard is that the uniforms are too expensive, esp. at the CS level where the kids outgrow them every year AND need to buy new slides, hats, and neckers every year. I can see neckers as they can differentiate the various levels, but slide and hats, especially the Wolf and Bear hats? Also what's up with the TC belt buckle? Most Scouts in my neck of the woods don't get a complete uniform until either Webelos or Scouts, as they know that they will wear it for avery long time.



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How much profit does Headquarters make on each uniform sold? If uniforms seem to be too expensive, maybe the profit margin is too high?

My new Fieldbook arrived today -- 3rd edition, 1994 printing, from Amazon. The second edition was getting a bit dated to teach from. Anyway, the third ed. has lots of color pix of Scouts having fun, and barely a neckerchief to be seen!

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As others have posted, the neckerchief more than anything else seems to communicate to the world that the person wearing it is a Scout.

Back when I was a Scout in London, England each and every Troop had it's own necker.

Badges in the UK tend to be a lot smaller than those in the USA. While we did have a County patch, a District Patch and a tape with the Troop name and number on. The Troop necker was what made a Scout stand out as belonging to a certain unit, this was something that led to a lot of Troop pride.

While I'm not a collector of Scouting stuff, opting to stick all my stuff in Tupperware boxes!

I do have a fair number of neckers that I'm happy to have.

The 1975 World Jamboree neckers are something that I prize very highly, my original Wood Badge necker, but still my old Troop necker is something that I'd hate to ever lose.


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I had a very interesting conversation this weekend at the Camp Bonner Staff Reunion. One of the directors on this years staff was discussing the new uniform and how the folks from national went to Philmont to talk to the NAYLE participants about what they would want in the uniform. From what he told me the centennial uniform took al ot of input from the youth in its creation. I think the problem may have been that they didn't take the time to field test it.

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When I went to England in the early mid-60s it looked as if Brit Scouting was going to fade away. Do you know what caused this decline, and what brought UK Scouting back?

As an aside, Scouts Canada (Canadian Scouting) has a new program called Extreme Adventure. Scouts go camping way back of beyond. They have no uniforms for this

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