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When Did You Notice Uniforming Becoming an "Option"

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Brent no I am not kidding and Stosh your dead wrong.


I serve as vice chair in a district that has a large percentage of scouts living well under the poverty level. Many of these families have trouble keeping their kids in regular clothing much less an overpriced scout uniform. As for raising money on their own, if you live in a poor community, who are you going to sell overpriced scout popcorn too? Your destitute neighbor?


My troop is much more affluent then average but, since you asked, our campouts cost our boys $10. We don't have a uniforming issue at my troop but that is not the case across the district.


Many other units in our district have trouble attending events due to cost and the monies that are available for subsidy go to allowing boys to attend program. Subsidizing uniform is something we don't have the luxury to accomplish.


Its a different world then you two "let them eat cake" types evidently have any inkling about.

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I know a lot more about poverty than you think. I work with programs that assist low income families. I'm in their neighborhoods usually 4 days a week. I've also seen Scout units in low income areas, and there are some that have pretty good uniforming - where there is a will, there is a way.


We visited a Cub Scout Pack in South Africa in a poor area that would make our lowest areas look rich. The crime was so bad, they had us call them when we arrived at the meeting location, and several adults came out and escorted us in from the parking lot. Yet, about 3/4 of these boys were in uniform. They didn't have all the patches and neckerchiefs, but they had the shorts and shirt, and they wore them with pride. If it can be done there, it can be done anywhere.

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I didnt say it couldnt be done. I noted what I have seen as a major challenge to getting boys in complete uniform in my district.


I think its asinie to suggest that finances arent a legitimate barrier to uniforming. We arent talking about a few percentage points of boys needing assistance. Just under 40 percent of my district lives below the poverty level with over 75% of the children in public school in this area being on the free lunch program. How are you going to buy a used uniform on ebay when you don't have a phone much less a computer and internet access. Our council can not subsidize this volumen of youth. Compounding the issue is a 20% shortfall on our council budget for this next year. Not insignificant.


Even with this, most boys in our district have some level of uniform but I would say a majority arent in full, complete and proper uniform at our events.


I stand by the statement that our uniforms are too expensive. Even beyond affordability, they are simply not a good value for the money (price vs quality). My son (12) has a full uniform and it is easily the most expesive outfit he owns. I am blessed to be able to provide these kinds of things for my family but I certainly don't look down my nose at those who can't as somehow lesser scouts.


Personally, I think the uniform is important but not nearly as important as program. I focus on keeping our activities full of boys and will worry about them being in full and proper uniform later.

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I have to agree that a new uniform IS expensive. But it's very doable to get experienced unifoms on the cheap. Don't know if the thrift stores is true or not, does sound plausible though. But I can tell you folks will go into lcoal distributorships, and even nationally owned scout shops, get uniform items for Halloween and Mardi Gras costumes. Had that happen to me twice when I worked for national, and used the old, "can I see your memerbship" routine to the dismay of my manager wanting the sale. Wanted to know how I knew the girls buying the den leader uniforms were fakes and told her #1 know the girls from college, and #2 heard them mention using the uniforms as costumes for their sorority party. But I digress.


While my old troop wasn't 100% officially uniformed, you couldn't tell it from a distance when I first joined and they had the cargo pockets on the sides of the pants. And once they got rid of the cargo pockets you couldn't you tell unless you looked at the snaps of the pants. While we were not 100% officially uniformed, everyone wore green shorts/pants.


I didn't mean to open up a can or worms. I just wanted to knwo why some folks don't think of alternatives to the official pants. A blue pair of pants very similar to the offical CS ones are out there from Walmart. I rather someone wearing imitation stuff than jeans if they can't afford the offical stuff. Trust me, been there, done that. But that is my opnion.





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I have a number of boys in my troop right now that "owe me money" for uniforms I have purchased on E-Bay and they are paying me back as they are able.


I grew in relative poverty compared to others. I have held some sort of full or part-time job since I was 12 years of age. I delivered papers, turned over gardens, shoveled walks, raked leaves, did errands, etc. I owned a bicycle so I got out of poor neighborhood where people were willing to pay for such "luxuries" as having their sidewalks shoveled. I did whatever I could to cover the costs and paid for things as they came up. I left school in 1977 with $1500 in student loans, and that was after 8 years of post-high school expenses.


Not being able to afford a full uniform is a bogus argument. I had to purchase not only my uniform, but I also purchased all my camping equipment and everything else that went along with scouting. I didn't have a family that had the money to provide any of that. If I wanted it, it was up to me to figure out how to get it. Birthday and Christmas money was collected up so I could buy everything from scout knife to mess kit, from tent to sleeping bag.


A scout is trifty. The quicker one learns this the easier life is going to be.


My house is paid for, my three vehicles are paid for, my 2 canoes and kayak is paid for, my multiple Venturing uniforms are paid for (from private to Captain, both blue and gray), my BSA uniforms are paid for (5-Scouting, 1-Venturing), my entire cost for 100th Jamboree is paid for, ... I work as an administrative assistant (secretary), and that doesn't pay much, but what one does with what little they have is what Thrifty is all about. Oh, yes, my divorce wiped me out 15 years ago and I had to start all over.



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Not trying to argue with you, and in fact admire your pthriftyness. Very similar background, except I haven't been divorced yet,(close due to Scouting though), and I was stupid enough got to a private university for the BA, and then got a useless MA resulting in over $30K in student debt that I am in the process of paying off now. Also ditto on the mortgage, in process of paying off.


What I am trying to say is that while a scout saves up the money to buy his uniform, whether new or used, why not get something similar for the time being?


One example, while my oldest saved up to buy his uniform shorts over the summer, he had a pair of navy blue shorts he wore temporarily. Also he had a pair of blue pants that were similar to the switchbacks that I was prepared for him to wear until he bought his switchbacks just before a cold campout (I hate hemming ;) but got them ready in time!).


On a different note how many units have Uniform Closets? I know my pack is just starting one, and the idea I proposed is to "sell" the uniforms for $1-$1.50 an item. From my experience folks take better care and have more pride in the uniform if they buy it themselves. Know I and my friends did growing up, and now oldest has alot of pride in his uniform that he bought.


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Stosh, You're still wrong.


And you forgot that you had to walk up hill to school in the snow...both ways.


For many of my youth there is no affluent neighborhood in bike riding distance. Not that any parent in their right mind would let a kid ride his bike across Houston these days.


Some of these kids are working already to help put food on the table at home. There are people that have nothing or close to it. We are trying to put a scouting program on that will provide a little glimmer of hope and opportunity for them to stay on the right path. If they show up in an incomplete uniform, big deal in the grand sceme of things. But all you can do is make smug proclamations about their lack of commitment.

(This message has been edited by erickelly65)

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My Venturing crew members need to cough up at least $1200 to outfit themselves and for the first year get loaner equipment that they trade back once they get the dollars together to purchase for themselves. I know it's difficult. I have a standing search on E-Bay for cheap uniform parts which I sell back to the boys at cost. I know it's difficult, but not impossible. My Venturing boys have all learned to sew so they actually make a lot of their uniforms, the dollars go to leather equipment including $100 shoes that they can't make themselves.


Everytime one of my older boys purchases a new uniform, I ask if their old uniform is for sale. It's usually a smaller size for the new boys to fit into. Are there other troops in the area that might be able to help. Maybe networking with more affluent troops on this forum would help.


I don't have all the answers, but a flat out, "No it won't work" just doesn't cut it as a valid argument.


And as far as walking to school, all I had to do was cut through the back yard for grade school, 2 blocks to middle school and across the street for high school, so it was no big deal. :)


And as far as your boys are concerned, it bothers me that an adult leader would lower the bar of expectations to accommodate their situation. I leave the bar high and give the boys something to constantly work for. If they don't get there, no big deal, but if they do, they then prove to themselves that anything is possible.


Praising a boy for meeting the "get by" level of achievement may go a long way to build his self-esteem, but the struggle of hitting the goal in the end goes a long way for his self-confidence, and if he goes above and beyond, that makes him an asset to himself, but to the world around him as well.


I'm thinking that the scout that saves up 6-7 years so he has a nice new full uniform for his EBOR, he's understood something far beyond meeting the expectations set down by the rank of Eagle. Nothing wrong with him showing up with shirt and necker, but it says something if he shows with hand-me-down uniforms, clean and ready to go, but a brand-new one? I'm thinking that 40 years later that uniform may never be worn again, but it's still going to be in that young man's closet.


I'm sure we'll never see eye-to-eye on this issue, but I've seen some pretty exciting things coming out of boys that the bar set high can achieve.


If decide to go the E-Bay route, let me know so I don't bid against you for the cheap uniforms ;)



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""No it won't work" just doesn't cut it as a valid argument."

I never said it wouldnt work. I simply stated cost is a challenge to uniforming.


I simply don't jump to the conclusion that someone not in proper uniform just doesnt care. This is something to be watched and evaluated on a unit by unit if not person by person basis. Its one thing to question the commitment of kid that can be in uniform but choses not to make the effort but totally different when looking at a child that can't afford a uniform.

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or the teamwork and commitment necessary for a patrol to all work together raising money so the poorest of the patrol can have a uniform... Handout? or maybe something necessary to show some good leadership.


Every adversity in front of the boys is a opportunity for leadership and growth. A uniform is no different than any other adversity. Friendly and kind and thrify could all kinda play teamwork together on this one.


We aren't all that different with our focus, it's just that as a method of scouting, uniforming can go a long way to build some great character, pride and esprit de corps amongst the boys that struggle together.





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I'm going to change my view a little. I think I can see why some folks would not wear the official pants. Oldest son used his money to buy a pair of switchbacks.He got them in time for the cold weather, and I got them hemmed. He's worn them twice now: once on a campout for dinner,campfire, and chapel (about 6-8 hours total) and to a meeting last week, about (2-3 hours max) getting him dressed, I notice that the crotch is coming apart. While he did wear them, with a safety pin, I can tell you I'm not happy about the situation.


Yes I know about the lifetime guarantee, and I may be taking advantage of that since all I need to to is zip off the portion I hemmed and replace the body. Still not happy :(

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"The argument is about personal equipment, not collective equipment. Not only does the band provide the collective, it provides the personal"


Nowadays many schools provide nothing until you "pay to play". In some deep rural areas this may be $120 & up per activity each season.

In our own youth, minimum wage could provide a greater percentage of life's necessities than it now can. In a true miles wide poverty area parents may understand the need for some camp gear, but say "no way" when they see the price of a uniform--followed by, "if you've got that much money for a set of clothes, you should be helping out your family instead!"

Paper routes no longer exist; papers are delivered by adults in a van. Most home-owners no longer shovel their walks or want them shoveled. Snow is an act of God. If you do clear the walks, and someone slips on an icy spot you overlooked, you become liable.(Shoveling driveways still works.)

Money-making via odd jobs is a skill only a few, very few, seem to be born with. The rest must be mentored & trained. The idea of self-employment (as handymen) is presently not in these kids worldview, nor in their parents, nor in their everyday community. It's a totally alien concept. Any money they do earn would serve them better as camp fees instead of as uniforming.

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You are certainly right. There are districts across the nation that are simply eliminating athletics and the lively arts from the curriculum, period. They cost money. I'm lucky that my state and school district have not done that.


IIRC there's a district in California that schwacked the entire athletic PE program and is selling off what gear it can.



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One of my son's best friends plays football for their high school. Brand new school last year. Nicest, biggest facility in the district. The place looks like a junior college instead of a high school. They pulled out all the stops. Each year we get a fundraising letter from the young man with a list of uniform parts and equipment parts to fund. Now, I have a feeling that the school provides the gear and uniform, but the boys are tasked with raising enough funds to cover the cost.


I'm not sure how you would chalk that one up. Regardless of whether the school provides it and expects a boy to raise the money to recover costs or cover replacement, he is required to wear it.

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"Brand new school last year. Nicest, biggest facility in the district."


This is a digression, but similar things could be said about our town's high school. Not the biggest, but perhaps the nicest in the region. Five years old, at a total cost of about $65M.


The expense is tough to swallow by old-time frugal Yankees, but it turns out it isn't a $65M bond. There was (at the time) a state school building fund that covered (as I recall) about a third of the expense. The same fund would not cover renovations at all, so the actual cost of the school to the town was cheaper than renovating the old building (and that was seen as heresy to those frugal old timers, because the prior building had been built in the mid-70s).


It perturbed them even more to see FieldTurf installed (cost was less than a million) instead of sod, but turns out that the reduced maintenance cost had a positive effect on the operating budget of the school system.


So all of this is a roundabout way of saying that school districts can have beautiful buildings (financed on long term bonds, as a capital expense) and still not be able to afford operating expenses such as text book renewal, curriculum updates, full staffing, professional development, athletics, fine arts, elective courses (all examples from my town).


Anyway -- back to the original topic: the decline of uniforming. I first noticed it in the mid-70s. At some point, and I'm not sure the source of the information, that it was okay for us to not wear scout pants. I still wore Scout shorts, knee socks and red garter tabs, in the summer at Scout camp, but during the year I don't remember anyone wearing Scout pants.


Whether that was official or not, I don't know. But fast forward to last year -- in leader position-specific training (SM/ASM), I heard a trainer address uniforming like this (an exact quote): "you have the shirt -- after that, it's up to the troop." I know that will make everyone here irate, but don't shoot the messenger! I thought it to be a ridiculous statement to make, from a council-level trainer.



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