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Activity Uniforms - Why Scout pants?

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Here are some quotes from this thread, including some questions that are clearly intended as rhetoricalWhy should scouting expect any less of a scout?

Why does everyone try to find another excuse to not wear the uniform?

Is the lesson of doing what you want because you want to do it the lesson you want to reinforce to your scouts?

I see scouters who don't view it as important as saying "The rules shouldn't apply to me/us, if we don't want them to do so."

If I see an Eagle scout in jeans and a uniform shirt I wonder which other methods his leaders decided to only go part way on. Leadership? Maybe fewer Eagle requirements? Or perhaps it was too much trouble to have a boy-led troop rather than an adult led one?

When I see a scout in blue jeans and a uniform shirt, I see a scout who, clearly doesn't care to do what is right.

Now, we have hashed over this topic before on this forum, and this wasn't what this thread topic was supposed to be about, but I suppose it was inevitable. :-) I know these questions weren't really posted looking for answers, but I was thinking about them, and decided I was curious in my own answer on why I don't push hard on full uniforming for the Scouts. Maybe it will be interesting to someone else, too.


Just as backdrop, I'm not opposed to full uniforms. What Buffalo Skipper describes about his troop sounds great. I wear a full uniform myself whenever I'm in uniform.


Here are some of my honest reasons for not pushing it (trying to be as open as I can)Scouting is system of chartering partnerships. National puts out material that each chartered organization can use to implement their own program. We are not officially responsible to BSA, we're responsible to our CO. Our CO is happy with not requiring uniform pants.

Scouting doesn't push uniform pants. There are no equivalents of the $5,000 fine for wearing the wrong color chinstrap. You can come to Scout camp without them. You don't even have to have a uniform. You can earn Quality Unit without anyone in your troop wearing the full uniform.

Most other troops around here don't wear them.

Even a higher percentage of packs don't use uniform pants, so the intro to Scouting for most people ends up reinforcing the idea that you don't need to wear them.

The Scouts, by and large, aren't big fans of the uniform in the first place.

Some of the other ASMs also don't see it as worth the battle to change the culture.

I've been in district training sessions where the trainer told us we didn't need to require the pants.

I personally don't believe it would make our troop much "better" if we wore uniform pants.

Scouting by its very nature is controlled chaos. The council and district events are always half unorganized. We're always doing different things, unlike sports teams that try to get very good at playing one particular sport. Trying to make one part of this look really organized doesn't fit the pattern.

The district and council are also very unorganized at lots of the things they do. Every time I see them not following their own rules, it's hard to take too seriously some of the other rules they put forward.



Why does everyone try to find another excuse to not wear the uniform?

I guess I wouldn't say I'm looking for an excuse. I don't need an excuse. Other than on this board, no one is telling me that I should make the troop a fully uniformed troop. What I'd prefer would be too see if there was some good reason *to* wear the full uniform. Some troops do, but I just don't see that the benefit would be worth the effort.


Is the lesson of doing what you want because you want to do it the lesson you want to reinforce to your scouts?

The lesson I want my Scouts to learn is that it's always a good idea to apply intelligent judgement to situations. Some rules are more important than others. They all know this. For example, one rule listed on the national web site is that "Scouts" should always be capitalized. If I see people not following that rule, do I conclude that they don't care about other rules as well? Obviously not, although it's tempting to do so right at the moment. [deadpan humor]


I see scouters who don't view it as important as saying "The rules shouldn't apply to me/us, if we don't want them to do so."

The rules written by National do "apply" to all members, by definition. But the question is whether we need to follow all of the rules that apply to us. It is a fact that we don't have to follow the rules, depending on a variety of things. A few rules have obvious consequences. Breaking some rules can lose you your charter. Some rules will prevent you from getting Eagle. Breaking certain rules will almost certainly get some kids hurt. Breaking some rules will get your CO a visit from council. Breaking some of the advancement rules would have a variety of negative effects, I think. The fact that Scouting has a bunch of rules that we almost are forced to break regularly certainly does reinforce my perception that we don't have to follow all rules at all times. Other rules just seem very much optional. I tend to be a "spirit of the law" kind of guy.


If I see an Eagle scout in jeans and a uniform shirt I wonder which other methods his leaders decided to only go part way on. Leadership? Maybe fewer Eagle requirements? Or perhaps it was too much trouble to have a boy-led troop rather than an adult led one?

I frequently muse over the question of how much variety there is between troops. Some that wear full uniforms are much more adult led, and are therefore requiring less leadership of their Scouts and are getting less patrol method (not all, but it's certainly a pattern others have observed on this forum.) I just see uniforming as one of many points of variability. While this question appears to presume that lesser uniforming is correlated with less of other methods, I think it's more likely that these are independent variables. Some of them even have a negative correlation uniforming, I suspect. As for fewer Eagle requirements, that's not even an option. That's one place where there is in fact a negative impact from not following the rules. The district actually enforces that one.


When I see a scout in blue jeans and a uniform shirt, I see a scout who, clearly doesn't care to do what is right.


*snort*, *cough*, *chuckle*


But then, this one actually bothers me the most, in that it is making a totally unwarranted and pretty much plainly wrong assumption about a Scout who may very well have earned Eagle. The idea that such a Scout just "doesn't care to do what is right" strikes me as almost like slander. I've known many Eagle Scouts who dressed that way and very much could be depended on to do what is right (more so than the average person, taking it for granted that no one is perfect).


Possibly I have other deep-seated psychological reasons for not pushing the uniforming. That could be true for anyone, I guess. I have a bunch of seemingly well-adjusted ASMs and well-adjusted Scouts who are all happy with the status quo. I just don't see the obvious reason to try to force a change on that culture we've established.

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I've had many discussions with many leaders about poor uniforming. After going through all the excuses, it always boils down to one thing - fear. Fear of losing boys. Fear of being considered "un-cool" for setting a high expectation. I choose not to build my vision for the Troop on fear.


When we have Webelos visit, I do try to scare some of them away to other Troops. I want boys in our Troop who really want to be Scouts. We talk about the uniform, and I suggest that if they or their son has a problem with wearing it completely and correctly, they find another Troop to join. We are interested in quality, not quantity.


We had a 7th-grade boy transfer in from another Troop a few weeks ago. He never wore his uniform at the other Troop, he had outgrown it. They didn't expect it, and he never wore it. He went on his first camping trip with us this past weekend, and he was in complete uniform, and proud of it. Same Scout, two different environments. He has told me several times he really likes our Troop.


COs and Troops do not have the authority to change the uniform. It is set by national, as is stated in the Insignia Guide.


Insignia Guide

Official Policy

Personal commitment, pg. 1

"The leaders of Scouting - both volunteer and professional - promote the wearing of the correct complete uniform on all suitable occasions."



The program is supposed to be for the boys. While I like seeing our adults in uniform, and it is good for us to set a good example, at the end of the day, the program is for the boys.

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A few comments. to Set the record straight, yes I am pro uniform, but I also believe their is a time and a place for them. I believe the full uniform is proper for all meetings, BORs COHs, travel to and from camp, church and/or scout's own, dinnertime, and campfires. I believe the uniform should be put away for physical labor, i.e. conservation vation projects and the like, most, stressing most, in-camp activities (see above) and campwide games ( especially Civil War, capture the flag, etc ;) So yes there are times when you will see me not in a complete uniform,or any uniform fo rthat matter.


As to the benefits of wearing a uniform, going to and coming home from trips, whenever we stopped, people always complimented us. Most of the McDonald's didn't have problems with us as we behaved better than some of the other youth groups I participated in b/c the uniform set us apart, and on two occasions when I had major car problems while wearing the scout uniform, I had people help me out and a tow company take care of me free of charge. For whatever reason folks had higher expectations of us when we wear the Scout uniform than when we don't and are willing to help us out when in need.


Also it provided ready ID at Scouting functions. In the area I grew up in, 100% uniformed troops were the norm, and the only way to tell us froma distance was the troop necker as it was custom made, a very specific color of yellowish gold, and the patch was an irregular patch with a simple but very distinguishable design.


Another benefit is that your troop will have a sense of pride in their patrols and troop.They will not want to let their patrol or troop down, and that uniform is a very visible reminder of that.


Also I have seen folks in uniform get asked to do things because of it. One example ws me getting selected for a Superbowl promo photograph b/c I was the only one in a complete Exploring uniform at the event. My oldest got selected at a council event to do the flag ceremony b/c he was one of only 3 CS in a complete uniform of socks, shorts, belt, shirt necker and hat. Also a friend of mine's unit got into BOYS LIFE because they were the only unit at the national Scouting museum in full uniform.


As for rules on uniforming, as I stated there is a time and a place for the full complete uniform. While some folks don't like to compare sports to scouting, there are some applicable similarities, and the uniform is one. Growing up, it wasn't the SM or the ASMs enforcing the uniforming rules, it was the PLs, Leadership Corps, and the SPL enforcing the troops rules, and yes we did send folks home to get dressed properly in order to come camping or to a COH on occasion. For mtgs, points were deducted from the weekly uniform inspection that counted towards patrol of the Year. And usually it was the uniform inspections that made the difference in that competition.


But besides the rules, it's identity. When people see a completely uniformed Scout, they know it's a Scout and and not someone from AWANA, Royal Rangers, or any of the other organizations around. While I do wish some of national's rules would go away, i.e the laser tag one, one of the points of the Scout law is to be Obedient, and we must instill that in our charges. Let's face it WE are and example to our Scouts.


In refernce to quality of program and uniforming, I will grant you that yes there are some 100% uniformed troops out there that are adult led. AND THAT IS A PROBLEM (caps for emphasis) But in my 27 years as a scout and leader ( has it been that long?) the units that either A) are 100% uniform or B) striving to be 100% uniformed are generally better than the units that aren't. And I say striving b/c I do know some Scouts have financial problems, heck I was one of them I didn't buy a pair of official pants until I was 14, and then they were used. BUT I did have official shorts, and a pair of green surplus that passed muster.


Yes uniform culture does help to perpetuate itself, and if you don't have it it can be challenging to start it. BUT IT IS DOABLE ( again caps for emphasis) My pack doesn't have the uniform culture as it was only formed about 3 years ago. But I am workign on it. How, #1 by setting the example. #2 Talking to the Cubs about how THEY need to save their money and buy their own uniforms instea dof havign their parents buy it for them. YOU should see the pride my son has in the uniform HE bought. Yep he bought his own socks, shorts, switchbacks, and shirt ( all save the switchbacks were used) As for the necker, slide, and hat, I gave him the necker as a gift for becoming a Tiger, and invested him into Scouting, and the slide and hat are my old ones that my mom was able to save from Katrina, and he does take care of them. You should see the pride my Tigers have when they show up with another uniform item on, or int he case of a few birthday boys, their complete uniforms. THE COMPLETE UNIFORM DOES MEAN SOMETHING ( again for emphasis). and #3 asking them to set a goal for having a complete uniform. For my tigers, I told them and their partners tricks to make the uniforms last 3-4 years, and asked if a compelte uniform by May was unreasonable. I aslo stressed that they need to be responsible.


For me seeing a Star, Life, or Eagle in blue jeans does upset me as it says something about commitment and responsibility to me. Yes it took me 3.5 years for get official pants, but I did wear the official shorts and wore green pants of a similar nature. I attempted to be uniform with the rest of my patrol and troop. I tried to be the best possible PL and later ASPL and set the example for my scouts I was responsible for. Yes I saved up my money and hunted thrift stores to find my size and know how difficult it is to find used uniform pants,but ebay has made it a whole lot easier to find pants since then.


(This message has been edited by eagle92)

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SMT, I actually know of 5 units that have committee members in a complete uniform. My old troop, 3 troops in my area and 1 crew. Grant you with 2 of the units, the crew and one of the troops, have the same committee running both units, so you may see some Venturing uniforms on the BOR, it's still a class A uniform. ;)

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Eagle92 - thanks for the response. I've thought about encouraging it for many of those reasons, but I haven't convinced myself that I'd get enough benefit from the effort. But for people who really want to see their troop or pack fully uniformed, I have no doubt that it can be done, and it can very much be worth it for them. A number of the things you list, though (like the compliments at McDonalds, the sense of identity), can happen primarily from the shirts. As for sports, I think that one reason the uniform means more is that they wear it less. They don't wear it at practice - they only wear it when they are in front of people where it actually means something. I think BSA might actually get better uniforming if we did something similar.


Brent - I'll grant you there might be a little bit of "fear" involved, if by that you mean that I can foresee some possible negative consequences. I'd say it's more of an analysis of the benefit vs the cost (where the cost includes whatever effort I'd have to make, the money people would have to spend, and the list of what might go badly).


I realize that in some theoretical sense troops don't have the authority to set uniform policy. But here in the real world, we do. National doesn't care. Council doesn't care. District doesn't care. Our summer camp doesn't care. My CO doesn't care. My Scouts don't care. My leaders don't care.


So lastly, I'll take BDPT00's advice and say, I don't care. The reason I'm not pushing Scout pants, in the end, is that I just don't care much about whether the Scouts are wearing them.


And dang, now I'm remembering why I didn't want to bring this topic up in the first place.

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Trust me, t-shirts don't get the same response with the public. 95% of the t-shirts I own are Scouting related, and whether I wear them as a Class B ( uniform socks, pants/shorts, belt and hat) or not, whether I'm with several folks with the same shirt (usually driving to or from a service project) or not., I have not received the same attention.


Also I was involved in the JROTC drill teamin HS. When we went to functions in our Dress Blue Bravos, get got attentions and comments just like in the scout uniform. However when we wore civies for long trips, it was as if we were just another group of folks taking over the McDonalds.


Trust me t-shirt are nice, and every unit I've been in save one (new unit and I was only in it for a year) has had them, but you don't get the same sens eof ID and compliments as if you were in a complete uniform.

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One of the most common excuses that partial uniforming propents use to defend partial uniforming is cost. Scout pants cost $40. Civilian pants cost $16-$20. Lets do some cost analysis.


50 troop meetings a year

10 campouts a year

7 days of summer camp

4 COH a year

2 BOR a year


73 wearings a year. Scouts tend to wear a uniform for at least two years but can often stretch to 3 years. 146 or 220 wearings for $40. This presumes the zip-off pants so they can be worn year round. If the Scout outgrows his uniform, he could sell it to incoming or smaller Scouts for $10 through the troop uniform closet. Or he could buy used pants for only $10!


Civilian pants only cost 1/3 to 1/2 the original cost of new uniform pants. Only worn for 6 months of the year since they don't convert to shorts. If worn once a week for 6 months, 25 wearings. Maybe wear for two years so a total of 50 wearings. $16 divided by 50 wearings equals $0.32 a wearing. $40 divided by 146 wearings equals $0.27 a wearing. Opps but you get $10 back at the end so it is only $30 dvidied by 146 wearings for $0.20. Of course the $10 used pants divided by a years wearing is only $0.06 a wearing.


So Scouts pants cost less than civilian pants! Regardless of weather you sell the too small pants or not. Regardless of weather you wear civilan pants two years. They cost less. They perform as well or better than civilan pants. Dirt washes out. If you must, pretreat stains. They are a darker color and tend to hide dirt and stains anyway.

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only problem with the calcualtions si the 3-4 years part. Sicne the intro of the elastic in the shorts and pants, you can go up 1 to 2 sizes and have room to grow into them. Also if a scout hems them high, i.e doesn't trim them but folds and hems, they can last closer to 6 years.

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Pants/shorts are the most difficult items to get the scouts to purchase. Part of this is because it is asking the parents to spend $40-50 for a pair of pants that the scout may only wear once a month. Making is required for the class b makes it at least a little cost effective.


I think the pants are one of the best things about the centennial uniform. For a growing scout it can be purchased at the large end of the waist with the pants' hems sewn leaving extra material it could last several years (if they can manage not to walk on the hem).

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In the troops I've been affiliated with, there are 4 meetings in a month, plus the campout and/or hike. That doesn't inlcude service projects like S4F or popcorn sales where uniforms are also worn. Nor does it include OA activities. Then you also have to add in summer camp. You do get your moneys worth with new pants, and if you get second hand you really get's your monies worth. And that's if the troop doesn't go to a Class B as I described it above.

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I'd posted before I got to this page. Silly, to not wait until the end.


Worn at activities the pants are cost effective. My son even wears them to school, though that may just be because they were the only clean pants he had and he was avoiding laundry.


Our troop only wears the field uniform at the first meeting of the month and COHs. They also wear it at summer camp, camporees, etc. For a while the SPL and ASPLs would wear it at all meetings, but the current bunch doesn't want to...sometimes this boy led thing really chaps my...I wear it at all troop meetings and a couple of ASMs do as well. We discussed this at the last ASM meeting, I'm curious to see the results.

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I find this thread very interesting, as JET knows I have been known to show up to different events in one of Kilts, and some boys have also has shown up wearing them with their "Class B". I started a similar thread on one of the Kilt sites with this same question of what is to be worn with a "scout" t-shirt it got so out of line it had to be locked, half the people refused to acknowledge anything but the scout pants or shorts to be worn period, the other firmly holding on to if you are not wearing the scout shirt who cares what is worn. Just a thought you all might wanted to know this subject is beening discussed in all sort of places.



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