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Activity Uniforms - Why Scout pants?

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In our troop, when we say "Class B" uniforms, we normally mean some type of Scouting t-shirt and whatever pants you want to wear.


Yes, I know that "Class B" isn't an official term, but that's what most of the BSA world calls the activity uniform, and that's not the point, anyway.


My question is this: do any of your troops normally mean "Scout pants" when you tell the Scouts to wear the activity uniform (or their "Class B" uniform)?


If so, why? (Beyond just the fact that that's what the BSA says.) And if not, why do you think National describes the activity uniform in this way? What do you think is being accomplished by having uniform pants? Does it really represent the spirit of equality? Does it identify a young man as a brother to every other Scout? Does it promote comradeship, loyalty, or public recognition?

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Yes, my son's troop means a scouting T shirt and scout pants when they say "Class B." Why? Not sure. Since it is a "uniform troop" to begin with, all the guys do own the pants. And with the newer styles, most of the guys also don't mind wearing the pants/shorts.


Yet I agree, the pants do not make the scout.

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The Scout pants reinforce the uniform look of a Scout shirt, necker, etc. For whatever reason, we like groups that are dressed the same or very similarly, witness the popularity of family photos in which everyone is wearing the same colors or complimentary colors.


For instance we were driving to summer camp and my van load spills out into a BK in their complete Scout uniform. Another troop comes in with their Scout shirts and shorts ranging from over sized basketball shorts, ripped up cargos, and really loud Bermudas, to Scout shorts. The boyslooked sloppy and clashed visually as they lined up to order. My boys looked Scoutier.


Do the pants do anything significant for anyone? Probably not. But they complete the visual picture.

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Nike - thanks for the answer, but just to re-emphasize my question - I'm not asking whether or not the Scouts should wear Scout pants when they wear the Scout shirt - that question has been discussed repeatedly and at length on previous threads. I'm asking about the activity uniform, when they are *not* wearing Scout uniform shirts. What would you give as the reason for wearing Scout uniform pants when you are not wearing Scout uniform shirts?

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My old troop had Class B as scout t-shirt, belt, shorts/pants, socks, and hat, and it was worn basically May to Oct. Only time the Class A's came out was travellign to and from trips, COHs, and Sumemrcamp.


What you described would be Class C, and would be seen after arrival on camping trips and during the days at summercamp.


Thinking about it, all of the troops I ever been affiliated with had the same descriptions for uniforms.


And now Class A, B, etc ARE acceptable terms and used my National. Look at this website



and this sentence


Our Centennial Supplex Uniform Short is designed to offer a Land to Water option that is functional and convenient. Stuck at the Aquatics Center before needing to report to the Mess Hall in full Class A? This new short is the answer!



Also I wouldn't use the term Activity Uniform as that term historically meant the Polo Shirt and khaki shorts that national came out with inthe 1990s.


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It's rare that we wear Scout pants with our Class B t-shirts. We usually wear Class B during the summer, so the boys are likely to be in shorts, not pants. A few have the new switch back pants, but most just have green cargo shorts. We also can wear the Class B t-shirt during a service project when most will be in jeans.

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In our troop it's:

class A: scout shirt, scout pants or shorts, neckerchief and scout socks. We wear this for meetings from Labor Day through Memorial Day, BOR's and travel.

class B: troop t-shirt, scout pants or shorts, and scout socks. We wear this for meetings during the summer, and when we want to be identifiable as scouts but want to offer the scouts a more comfortable option for the activity.

class C: anything goes. This is usually only an option for work projects and summer camp unless a uniform is required i.e. dinner, church service, programs, etc.

Reference class B, we have a specific troop t-shirt with our logo on the left chest.

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As far as I can tell there is no reason for wearing scout uniform pants when they are not wearing the uniform shirt. For our troop not wearing the pants with the shorts is not in uniform so wearing the pants and not the shirt would also be not in uniform.


Because we adhere to the principle of: Look and act like a scout, when the boys are not in uniform they should at least wear something that vaguely makes them look like a scout, i.e. some sort of BSA t-shirt from camp or other BSA activity. They only wear this when they are doing some dirty work, otherwise they are in full uniform; about 95% of the time. Then there is the occasion when the boys may be assisting on an Eagle project and they cleaned up a park (i.e. heavy, dirty work) but they still wore their full uniforms because both TV stations came down and collected footage and the newspaper came and took pictures. The boys looked like scouts doing scout work on the news that evening and in the paper the next day.


The only time the boys are not looking like scouts is when they are swimming or in the showers. However, for some of the boys as dirty as they get their uniforms, maybe they should be wearing their uniforms in the shower... :)


My humble opinion? If they are not in full uniform, it shouldn't make any difference what they are wearing. For a sense of uniformity, it might be okay to have them all wear blue jeans or jeans shorts maybe, but they aren't in uniform so it should be okay.


As far as wearing BSA t-shirts, it keeps the kids from wearing questionable t-shirts someone might think as inappropriate. If a scout doesn't have a camp t-shirt yet and doesn't want to wear a Cub Scout t-shirt, he can always wear a plain color t-shirt with no writing on it.



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A few ideas to make sure that everyone has a t-shirt.


1) my old troop growing up issued a T-shirt every Christmas for the upcoming year. Same logo, but different colors every year, and the year was printed under the logo. Those joinin the troop would have to "order" them. For the most part everyone wore the most current t-shirt at meetings, but at camp, so would see everythign from the most current to a t-shirt that 16 years old.


2) My current pack has decided to issue a shirt to everyone when they pay the Pack dues as they are incorporating it into the price.

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I've noticed that there is a de facto class B uniform at our summer camp. The staff are expected to wear scout shorts, scout socks and a staff tee-shirt whenever they are on duty (waterfront is an exception). They are issued a weeks worth of staff shirts in a variety of colors/designs with one shirt specified for each day of the week. At flags and campfires they wear class A's.


BTW: I've noticed that when scouts from our troop come back from working on camp staff they are far more conscientious about correctly wearing the full uniform at meetings and to campouts.



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An aside first:


Eagle92: "Class A"

I will say that the Scout store has traditionally not been the most reliable source of official usage. The term "Class A" as applied to uniforms looks like it only occurs twice on the national site scouting.org.

In the OA Cub Scout Support Tool Kit: "Proper wear of the official Class A uniform" http://www.scouting.org/filestore/pdf/24-416_combined.pdf

And in the Philmont Trail Crew Trek 2009: "Wear my full official BSA Class A uniform or work clothes as required." http://www.scouting.org/filestore/pdf/philmont/trailcrew.pdf


The term "field uniform" is clearly the preferred terminology instead of "Class A". It is used both in the Insignia Guide and on the Language of Scouting glossary.


The term "activity uniform" is more unclear. My usage of it instead of "Class B" is matched in the Scoutmaster Handbook (2007 printing) and in the Varsity Scout Guidebook (2000). It doesn't appear (or at least I couldn't find it) in the eleventh or twelfth editions of the Boy Scout Handbook, though. That says something like, "For outdoor activities, Scouts may wear troop or camp t-shirts with the Scout pants or shorts, or other appropriate attire." Not counting the ideas section of scouting.org, I couldn't find any official usage of the term "Class B".


The term "activity uniform" only appears once on scouting.org (according to google, and google knows all, I've heard). "The presenter should be in full or activity uniform, with a hiking stick." From the Orientation for New Boy Scout Parents, http://www.scouting.org/filestore/pdf/18-110.pdf


So I'm going to say that my usage is still correct, but it certainly does seem like they are phasing it out.


So, back to the main question (which I will now slightly rephrase):

When the Boy Scout Handbook says "For outdoor activities, Scouts may wear troop or camp T-shirts with the Scout pants or shorts, ..." why does it recommend wearing Scout pants? Does your troop do this? (and I think we've established that most of the troops do in fact call something like this Class B). And if so, why?


I've heard a couple answers (paraphrasing):

from Lisabob: Why not? They have them and don't mind wearing them.

from Hal: For the aquatics staff, so they'll look more official on duty.

I'll add one: To make it easier to throw on your Scout shirt and be in full uniform.


And those reasons are all fine, but none really talks to why you would want to enforce the usage of Scout pants with a T-shirt for typical activities. The usual reasons given for wearing a uniform just don't seem to apply very well to a T-shirt and Scout pants combo. I asked my son, and he said it could be because the leaders will feel like better leaders if their Scouts wear the same pants, because it makes them look more unified. He feels this is a terrible reason (unsurprisingly).

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I first learned the terms "Class A/Class B" when I went to the 81 Jamboree as a youth. Since then, atleast in my state, most people understand as use the same meaning for these terms:


Class A was the "full uniform": scout shirt, scout pants/shorts, scout belt, scout socks (atleast with the shorts), necker & scout hat were optional.


Class B was the "activity uniform": scout shorts (NEVER pants), t-shirt (scout related prefered OR plain, non-scouting NOT allowed), scout belt, scout shorts. hat optional.


When traveling, one could switch from class A to B by just adding/removing your scout uniform shirt (you worn a scout t-shirt underneath this to make this work).


Class C was the "grubby uniform": scout t-shirt OR plain t-shirt (non-scouting t-shirts not allowed) with whatever pants. This was what you worn when you'd probably get dirty: OA work projects, dirty service projects, etc.


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If the scouts aren't in full uniform, they should wear whatever pants they wish. Key is the parents' wish for the scouts to wear pants during grubby activities that they don't mind throwing away if need be.


I think we overthink these things, at times....

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Oak Tree: "My question is this: do any of your troops normally mean "Scout pants" when you tell the Scouts to wear the activity uniform (or their "Class B" uniform)?"

It sure seems to me that most of the comments lean toward wearing Scout pants with the activity uniform. I think the key word is uniform. If your unit happens to think blue jeans are the uniform, then they'd probably look like Scouts if they all wore matching shirts and blue jeans. The trouble I have is what I see as a burning desire by some kids to look as little like Scouts as possible: sagging pants, basketball shorts covering their calves, sloppy footwear, etc. I think that Scout shorts, Scout socks, and matching t-shrts look pretty sharp. That's what we wear at Wood Badge, NYLT, NAYLE, and Jamborees. It's clearly the desired uniform. Those units that choose to dress similarly get my praise, and I don't think that's overthinking anything. We're a uniformed organization, and as such should be recognized at Boy Scouts.


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