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I Design a Uniform

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My take as a scout on the neckerchief was that I had a lot of options: I could choose to wear a pretty wide range of neckerchiefs. I had a nifty troop neckerchief, as well as a bunch of differently colored, differently designed neckerchiefs. I think having the options helped acceptance of the neckerchief, the question being "which do I want to wear" versus "I have to put this on."


Epaulets just seem pretentious and officious and pointless. Of course, I do not frequently wear an OA sash, so the utility there is less for me.


The BIG question for me, moving ahead, is figuring out what kind of hat to add to my uniform design.


I cannot help but think the campaign hat just doesn't work out. Garrison caps also. Berets are so uncommon to see that they look a bit odd to passers-by. Baseball caps are the quintessential American hat---maybe the thing to do is just to make a lot of different baseball caps per activity: go to a camporee, you get a patch or cap; go to an event, get a patch, get a hat. People could then pick out whichever they liked best of their scout caps and just wear them, the same variety as there was with the neckerchief. And troops could pretty easily make their own baseball cap.


Regarding shorts, I just do not like the big, long, baggy look. Same with shirts. Mid-length is nice; I do not like the the back edge of long shorts bumping into the back of my knee: irritates me.

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---I allow a collared shirt if okayed by troop vote

---A baseball cap is the preferred hat

---Not khaki, but not olive drab

---Drop the bag pockets on the pants

---Pants options: both zipper-off pants and regular pants


Same stuff:

---Matching color to pants and shirt

---Collarless shirt with large neckerchief

---drop the pocket bags, go with a flat shirt pocket

---More muted color scheme

---Look into having fewer extraneous patches. Not everything earned needs to be a patch.

---High tech fabrics are a good thing

---Long socks



I'm thinking more and more that boy buy-in is important, so permit some of these choices to go to the troop itself.


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On the subject of extraneous patches ... there's nothing that I've read indicating that anyone HAS to wear a certain patch, whether it be the Trained patch or the World Crest or whatnot. If you're a 50-year Scouting veteran and want to wear a shirt right off the rack with the flag, BSA strip, council strip and unit numbers, go for it. That's all anyone needs. Above and beyond that? Your individual choice.

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Our troop voted to not wear neckers long before I joined in 1998. It has been put to a vote several times since (usually instigated by adult suggestion) and has gone down in flames each time. The adult leaders (self included) would be happy to see the return of the necker, especially if it were a larger custom design but the boys have made there position clear so that's that. So it goes.





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There's no shirt that can get sweated through during the day, snagged by branches in the afternoon, spilled on by dehydrated potatoes at dinner, dusted up by campfire ashes at night, rinsed out before bedtime and be dried out and ready to go by the morning.


Believe it or not, there is a shirt that can do just that and more, and which I use as my main paddling shirt as it dries very quickly...after 8 years, it's about worn out, but still useable for another few years....



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  • 2 weeks later...

The snazzier the better, and as long as I can wear my beret.


More seriously: I don't know if it's *because* the ODL uniform was not utilitarian, but we never wore our uniform beyond meetings, ceremonies, and travel in the when I was a scout in the 90s anyway, and the boys still don't. So, while I hated the plastic ODL shirts for their sweat-inducement, I loved the cotton ODL shirts for their look. The Centennial uniform is fine by me so far, excepting the pants; I'd do away with convertibles (the length of the shorts form is obscene.)


-Return to a straight pant. I don't like cargo pockets bc in my experience they hang on every passing object, but, sure a small cargo pocket, why not.

-Shorts must be longer, some boys in my troop have had to either roll their boxers up or pull their shorts down; the things are so small that a modern boxer short easily comes out of the leg.

-Knee socks. I like the look alone, but they've saved the errant boy from poison ivy countless times.

-Beret. Headgear is pretty much entirely up to the unit, anyway, but Supply could give us a hand and manufacture them again--the guys at the military surplus are a pain to deal with.


Hadn't thought about it before, but I like the suggestions of a larger, throw-back necker. But never at the cost of the collar.(This message has been edited by Schattenmann)

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Some key issues have been touched on, others alluded to, and others missed.


Basically, no one uniform can do it all. As has been touched on, the military is the source for a our uniform. Yes, we are not a para-military organization, but we cannot get away from our roots. We need a dress uniform, and a field uniform. The problem then becomes cost. The current cost to completely outfit a uniform, is just over $100. To have a dressuniform AND a field uniform becomes prohibitive. I have three sons in Scouting. Between their uniforms and mine, it gets very pricey very quickly, to keep us all uniformed.


My Troop is very active outdoors, as are many of the units in my council. Our Troop policy is full Class A for meetings, and special events, and usually travel. If we are not wearing our Class A's while traveling, we will wear Troop t-shirts, or sweatshirts. Trousers are usually Scout's choice.


Though there is formally no Class A uniform, we do follow the military designation for Class A through C. Class A is the official Scout uniform. Class B is Troop t-shirt or sweatshirt, or fleece, with Scout trousers, socks, and belt. Class C is Troop shirt with any pair of trousers appropriate for the activity.


I have been involved in many conversations with Scouts and Scouters, about the new uniform. For the most part, they do not like it. Almost to a person, everyone hates the cargo pockets on the shirts, especially the women. For obvious reasons. Even before the shirst came out, one District member commented on the sleeve pocket, saying, "Now I have a place for my cigarettes." When we (the District) found out that the pocket was an 'electronics' pocket, we were, for want of a word, very unhappy. A most inappropriate adjunct to a Scouting uniform.


Surprisinglly, a fair number of the boys miss the knee socks. Several take every opportunity to purchase knee socks when we visit other council Scout shops.


On th subject of knee socks: shorts. We thought it about time that BSA had a uniform trouser with leg zips. However, their first try was an abysmal failure. Their second try, was not a great improvement. Yes, we do not need to see boxers hanging from the short's legs. We also do not want the zippers rubbing the backs of our knees. What we do need is a removable pant leg that can be taken off over a hiking boot. The first try barely made it over shoes or low cut boots. The current try doesn't even have boot zips.


Further, the first try at leg zips also didn't look good on anyone. Poorly tailored, and always seeming to run long in the leg.


As far as the low contrast patches go, either people don't like them, or don't care. I haven't heard anyone say they like them. Most comments lean toward them looking TOO military-like. Again, to a man (or woman), almost everyone prefers the Boy Scout red shoulder tabs over the new green.


Other things to consider are BSA rules and regs on uniforming. One, uniforms are NOT required to participate in Scouting. Two, hats and neckerchiefs are not required at the national level. They are unit optional. Our unit tells all new parents not to buy BSA uniform hats. However, everyone participating in outdoor activities is required to wear an appropriate hat for the activity. The troop has a unit-specific neckerchief. It may be a unit tradition, but few Scouts complain, and fewer take every opportunity to remove them (one of my sons included). To go along with the neckerchief, we have a custom unit slide. The history of the slide, and its uniqueness make it desireable by all boys.


The now-discontinued activity shirt was addressed as a possible uniform shirt. With few modifications, I think it a good idea. I own several, and find them very comfortable, and usable. I wear them hiking and camping, they clean easily, dry quickly, but always seems to need to be ironed.


One thing that seems to be missed in this conversation is why we use the colors we do in our uniforms. Maybe originally it had to do with our military history, but it is now more practical. We teach our leaders and youth to wear clothing that is not of a high contrast out in the woods. Not to wear anything that might be disturbing to wildlife. Khaki and green do the trick. By coincidence or design, we cannot escape the comparisons between BSA unfiroms and military field uniforms. We all want to blend in. Someone mentioned chambray shirts. Sorry, I see or hear chambray, and I think Navy utility uniform chirt. That would only be appropriate for either Venturers or Explorers, and only depending on their area of practice.


About collars. I say keep the collar. It may be cooler in hot weatehr without one, but in cold weather, a collar comes in handy to stop the wind, and can also help keep the rain off. BSA uniforming also suggests tucking the shirt collar under, as an option, and that the wearing of a neckerchief can be worn over OR under the collar. Your choice.


It is clear that any one uniform will not make everyone happy. However, Scouting is not about the uniform. The uniform is merely a mechanism to support the program and the promise. Since the uniform is what it is, it is important that it accomplish two things: one, be recognizable, and two, be as utilitarian possible, without losing its recognizability.(This message has been edited by wbbeaver04)

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