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First, I'm not a uniform freak. In fact I have never liked the notion of uniforming all that much - just irks me. But I do understand that it is one of the methods of boy scouting.


Second, when we talk about uniforming, I think there's a key difference between cubs and boy scouts. It is far more common to see cubs in "waste up" uniforms than to see boy scouts in such, and it is also more understandable that parents who are new to an organization like the BSA (as most cub parents are), may be more reluctant to buy their 8 year old a pair of $50 pants to be worn once a week. And 8 year olds outgrow their pants on the order of about twice a month, as I recall. Not that older boys don't have growth spurts, but they seem to occur with relatively less frequency.


So I'm more sympathetic to cub packs who take a stance that the scout uniform pants are optional, than I would be to a troop with that same stance.


But Third, in BOY SCOUTING, the pants are actually far more useful than the shirts!


Don't know about you? But my son wears his scout pants all the time! More than jeans, more than any other pants he owns. Not just to scout events. And when he goes camping? He takes the scout pants and wears them all weekend. On the other hand, the scout shirt goes into his pack the moment he arrives, so that he can wear more useful clothes while camping.


Sometimes he does go to scout meetings in half uniform - and it is the bottom half that he's wearing, with a T shirt on top.


Times change, the pants have changed (for the better, IMO). Given their druthers, I think "half uniforming" for the majority of boy scouts would now mean "ditch the shirt" and not the pants.

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Sometime long before my family arrived with our troop, someone had set up a system of half-uniforming (shirt only). Even the adult leaders only wear a shirt. The only exceptions are both of my sons, and me. I took advantage of reduced prices on Switchbacks last year, and bought some for all of us. My older son, going to the Jamboree, had to have a second uniform, and I also bought him the newest Scout shorts/swimtrunks (which I think my younger son might prefer).


By the way, when National was blowing out uniform parts online, I bought quite a few items (I really love the activity shirts I bought -- the nylon ones -- they are what the Centennial Uniform should have been!). I shared the link with all troop parents, multiple times, but to my knowledge nobody took advantage of the sale.


The overall problem, as I see it, is compounded when you have district training volunteers spread tribal folklore and myths (such as what I heard at LPST, "about uniforming...well, you have the shirt...and everything else is optional"). Our Woodbadge paperwork said that a full uniform was required, but I'd guess that only about 20 out of 40 participants (and I can't recall the staff uniforming) wore a full uniform.


I don't see full uniforming catching on with our troop at all. I had hoped that with my sons, an example might be set, and then others would follow. But just the opposite has occurred -- they don't want to be the only ones in full uniform (unless it is for an event where I tell them it is absolutely required).



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Lisabob, that is so funny. My son was packing for a troop camping trip a few weeks ago, and was lamenting that he didn't have any zip-offs to wear as the expected temperatures were 68/35F. I reminded him of the centennial zip-offs I bought him two years ago when we outfitted him for Boy Scouts. He wore them all weekend and multiple times since. So I think he would agree with you. ;-)


The main reason I prefer less than full official uniforming is fit. It is more of an issue with adults than the boys, but not everyone fits standard uniform sizing. I personally can't find uniform pants to fit me. Shirts are better but so baggy that I don't feel I look sharp. My youngest also doesn't fit in standard uniform pants, he isn't fat (like me lol) but he is solid and pants that fit around his waist are way, way too long. And I am very good at sewing and alterations, but there is only so much one can do. It is easier to buy him non-official navy cargos and to wear green khakis myself, and spend less than I would for ill-fitting clothes.

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I would much rather see a scout or scouter in scout pants or shorts and the troop t-shirt than one in the scout shirt and jeans. The former is in uniform, their activity uniform, while the later is not.


This does seem to be the preference of older scouts. Rank is more important to younger scouts, so they like the shirt for the patches.


One thing that irritates me more than a scout in jeans is one in those basketball knickers or a Hawaiian print swimsuit. I don't care if it is summer camp, Hawaiian print swimsuits do not go with a scout shirt....uuuuggggghhhhh.

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Yah, I reckon everyone here knows how much I hate da khaki shirt over blue jeans. Drives me a bit nuts. But I'm wise enough to recognize that's my own personal hangup, datin' from growin' up in a bygone era where jeans were "work clothes" for laborers. Nowadays, jeans the kids wear are like as not more expensive and tailored than any of my dress/casual pants. :p


The thing I always try to remind myself is that Scouting is a game, and the methods are just tools, eh? If there's any method that I'd like to see done "full", it's Patrol Method. But I know that most troops do only half-Patrol Method, if that. I also really enjoy full outdoor-method troops, that run a full weekend trip a month, plus extra day trips, with a couple weeks of camp and a couple high adventure trips, and not a single one being basic trailer car camping. But I know that most troops do only partial outdoor method.


In fact, it often seems to me that the troops that do the best at a few methods are weaker on some of da others. The most outdoorsy are weakest on the uniform; the best uniformed are often the most adult-run.


So long as their kids are having fun and achieving the Aims, I think they're all doin' fine. What one unit does with uniforms and ceremonies another accomplishes with real patrol responsibility and cohesiveness. Nobody's perfect, and every group naturally plays to it's own strengths.


A full uniform can be a wonderful symbol that shows outwardly what we are developin' inwardly. It can also become a bit of an idol, eh? Somethin' that encourages snobbishness or poor behavior toward visitors who don't look the same as us.


Much as I have personal preferences and hangups like blue jeans, I try to remember that it's only a tool, and I especially should never allow the tool to get in the way of workin' with da youth.



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I would prefer the boys in a plaid shirt and blue jeans than trying to give the impression that a partial uniform is acceptable. Activity shirts, Class-B, costs, etc. are just ways that troop leadership "justify" sloppy uniform method application. There is a Boy Scout uniform and there is not-a-Boy Scout uniform. The inspection sheet explains this quite nicely. If cost is an issue, I would rather have the boys head out to Wal-Mart, pick up a couple of tan shirts and OD pants and use that. They don't need to pretend to be scouts by putting patches on them any more than a scout that pretends to be a scout from the waist up. At least he is uniform with the rest of the troop and when all the boys from the troop fall in with plain tan shirts and OD pants at least they will look "uniform". At flags, then place hands over the heart for a salute. Don't assume that a half uniform or activity uniform or class B allows one the privilege of giving respect the scout salute allows in uniform.


I had this issue pressed home to me early in my scout career, i.e. many moons ago. An older scouter when introduced to me saluted me instead of extending his left hand. I paused and then returned the salute. I thought it kinda strange and said something to him (WB patrol together, go Beavers!). He (Eagle from the 1930's) told me the process is simple. If you are in uniform (full-uniform for those who need the emphasis) and the person you are greeting is in uniform, you salute. If you are in uniform and the other scout is not, you offer your left hand. If you are not in uniform and the other scout is, you offer your left hand. If both of you are not in uniform, you shake greetings with the right hand. After many years in scouting, I have saluted very few scouts/scouters. The busiest I have ever been with the salute was at WB and Jambo, both requiring proper uniforms.


Your mileage may vary,



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There are interesting parallels between the perennial uniform discussion and cognitive dissonance theory. What we hear in the uniform forums is a perfect example of dissonance. Take any Joe or Judy Scouter that does not wear the uniform or wears only pieces. He has one cognition knowing that Scouting is a uniformed organization; he knows he should wear a uniform; he knows he should display a good example for others, because the uniform is a part of the organization to which he belongs. The other cognition is that he doesnt wear the uniform because he doesnt like it or for whatever reason and/or does not encourage it to be worn by Scouts or other Scouters. Thus there is dissonance.


To resolve the dissonance, he must bring both cognitions closer together, either by increasing the use of the uniform, or by dismissing the importance of the uniform. He doesnt like the uniform thus that cognition doesnt change, leaving only the other side of the equation. Many justifications are thus put forth in dismissing the importance of the uniform, and dissonance is reduced.


Others have no dissonance because they wear the uniform and encourage proper uniforming. To those folks, the justifications put forth by the others seem rather silly. To each his own.


Social psychology is fascinating.

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My experience is that proper uniforming begins with the adults. If adults decide to half uniform, the boys will half uniform.....guaranteed. Boys will never rise to the expectation of full uniform if the adults are not consistent in setting the example. I work in a troop with 50 boys. They and their parents are told up front when they visit as Webelos that we are a full uniform troop. That being said, we never beat boys over the head or send them home if they don't show up fully uniformed. The SM may ask them privately where their pants are or where is their belt, but we aren't uniform nazis about it. Full uniform is just a part of our troop culture. We have a handful of "cool" boys who won't wear the pants and won't put their shirt on until they get inside the building and start unbuttoning as soon as the closing is over. But 98% of them show up every week in full uniform.

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You can look at this whole issue using the adage "is the cup half empty or half full."

The only ones I hear CONSTANTLY complaining all the time about this are the old time adult scouters, most of whom are not even active on the unit level anymore and who think they are something between a uniform police officer and some kind of scouting prophet.


Look at scouting events in your district and council and you see scouts some in full uniform, some in just the shirt all doing activities together, having fun and not caring about what the others are wearing. You UPSP types out there could learn a lesson from all of them and get rid of those proverbial sticks up your butts, and start to take a real look at what scouting truly is all about, since you really don't seem to get it.


In the early days of scouting ALL troops had a mishmash of partly uniformed, fully uniformed, and no uniform members and scouting grew in spite of it. The kids learned the skills of woodcraft, leadership and citizenship whether or not they even owned a uniform or part of a uniform. To all you UPSP types out there it is time for you to abandon your Rockwellian Scouting World fantasies and see scouting through the reality of todays world.

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I've been called a Uniform Policeman, you should have read the thread I started on MyScouting.org's forums for a good laugh, and I've been called out for not wearing any scout uniform items on except the belt.


I've worn an incomplete uniform, using imitation pants or shorts, 'cause I couldn't afford new ones or find used ones that fit. And of course I now have multiple uniforms.


Here are my thoughts.


There is a time and a place for the uniform. Meetings and ceremonies, heck yeah you better be in uniform. In the field camping, or better still, at an OA Ordeal where you aresoaking wet in the rain and covered in the mud from doing "cheerful service" creating a firebreak/trail, you'd be insane to wear your uniform.


The goal of every scout should be to own his own uniform. If he needs to save up for it, buy it secondhand, etc, then fine let him. Heck I encourage. I made my oldest put some skin in the game by making him put up some of the money for his uniform (ok I admit I took the money in put it into the Philmont/Summit/WSJ 2019 jar), and I didn't get my official pants until I was 14, 3 years into the program.


But instead of jeans, I'd go with at least green pants instead of jeans.


And there are ways to get used pants: ebay, craigslist, thriftstores, etc.


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Baden Powell also said, "Mein Kampf was a great book with some very good ideas." Any quote can be taken out of context to justify any position.


Look at the video of those boy scouts in Benghazi, Libya who were showcased in another thread here and who took over directing traffic, delivering and sorting medical supplies, and helping in the hospitals with first aid. Some of them had uniforms, some had pieces of a uniform and some had no uniform, and in EVERY case there was NO doubt they were ALL Boy Scouts to the people of this war torn city and country. It is NOT the uniform that makes the scout it is the boy himself, in every case.

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"You UPSP types out there could learn a lesson from all of them and get rid of those proverbial sticks up your butts, and start to take a real look at what scouting truly is all about, since you really don't seem to get it."


Another way to reduce internal dissonance is to berate and minimize those that hold an opposing position.

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