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When I was a Scout about a hundred years ago, about 99% of the Scouts at meetings were in full uniform, including shirt, pants, belt, cap, and neckerchief. I'm not positive about the socks, but I always wore my one pair of official BSA socks for one-day events. The only exceptions I can think of were when someone came to the meeting late and was wearing his sports uniform. I'm sure there were other exceptions, but they didn't occur very often.


But miraculously, this all seemed to happen without Uniform Police, Uniform Inspections, etc. As far as I know, there was no published "Insignia Guide", other than what fit inside the back cover of the Scout Handbook. Nobody harped about it, and on the rare occasions when a Scout was not in uniform, nobody made a big deal out of it. The adult leaders simply wore a uniform, the older scouts wore a uniform, and the younger scouts naturally took the cue.


Also, at the time, despite nobody making a big deal out of it, the uniforms were all more or less uniform. As far as I can remember, the only variation was long sleeve or short sleeve. We didn't have a bewildering array of different styles and fabrics. Today, even if the Uniform Police enforce their edicts perfectly, the uniforms that result aren't necessarily very uniform.


IMHO, you need pants anyway, so if you're wearing a BSA shirt, you may as well wear BSA pants. IMHO, jeans don't look very good with a Boy Scout shirt (although they look OK with a Cub Scout shirt), and they're not good for many outdoor activities (although they are good for some). So my personal preference is to avoid jeans, although somewhat matching pants would be less objectionable.


But if some other unit wants to do something else, as long as they have an otherwise good program, I don't really think it's a big deal. If you really want them to wear a full uniform, then you're going to have the most success by simply doing the same thing yourself and let them follow your lead, as happened back in my day. Harping about it, or encouraging "inspections" doesn't seem to have a very good track record.

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Yah, then there's da cognitive dissonance caused by the Oath and Law, eh?


A Scouter knows that he should demonstrate loyalty, helpfulness, courtesy, and kindness to others in the program, and that includes not judging or berating them based on their appearance or how they're dressed. Everybody has been taught from an early age not to judge people by their clothing or appearance.


The other cognition is that he really enjoys being a big shot and telling other people what they're doing wrong. He enjoys the feeling of self-importance that gives him; the sense that he's insisting on high standards in youth. And he likes da attention his bespangled uniform gets him as long as he keeps calling attention to uniforming.


To resolve the dissonance, he must bring both cognitions closer together, either by working to be more courteous and kind, or by dismissing the importance of the oath and law compared with the uniform. Many justifications are thus put forth in dismissing the importance of courtesy and kindness in the treatment of others when clothing is involved.


Others have no dissonance because they put the values of courtesy and kindness first in their lives, and don't see a need to enforce appearance rules on others. Rather, they give others their time and attention and love, and hope a few lessons rub off.


Of course, another way to reduce dissonance is to make snide comments about those who put courtesy, kindness, and service ahead of appearance. Perhaps couched in pseudo-psychology, eh? ;)



(This message has been edited by Beavah)

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Frank aka F-scouter


Man you always take everything so personally. Look no beratement was implied other than everything is not always as black or white as so many of you UPSP's like to mandate to the rest of us in this forum. Learn to look at things from more than only one perspective once in a while, otherwise you will miss the big picture. But, thank you for once again proving my point Frank.




You do indeed make some very good and valid points in your post.

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"Of course, another way to reduce dissonance is to make snide comments about those who put courtesy, kindness, and service ahead of appearance. Perhaps couched in pseudo-psychology, eh?"


Hmmm, snide comments?


I don't see anyone dismissing the Scout Oath or Scout Law in support of proper uniforming, or in lack thereof. I do see another straw man argument however.

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You again missed the point. This is not about getting rid of the uniform but whether wearing the scout shirt without the pants is still considered being in uniform. It still becomes the issue, is it the uniform that truly makes a boy a scout or is it just a symbol of scouting?

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So, while I realize many would say it is not relevant, uniforms "are not required", period; they are only recommended and encouraged. No where in the actual governing documents is having a uniform specified.


Now, if one does have one, certainly every effort should be made to have it worn correctly, and to have whatever belongs on it placed properly. But, again, there is no restriction on partial uniforms either, as that is viewed in many cases as better than none at all. Early on, scouts were encouraged to "earn" their uniform by various means; or to simply earn a part, such as the shirt, traditional smokey style hat, or just the neckerchief. Many units arranged to have neckerchiefs at least for their troops. Old photos very often show scouts with only a neckerchief, and possibly a hat.


Our uniform bank does hardly ever has enough pieces to make complete uniforms possible, but can start a boy often. Sizing is often the problem, as the only ones coming in are smalls, and boys already there have grown, and may be the donors looking to find one to fit. Granted, we are the oldest and poorest troop in town, serving the lowest income area, and always struggling to stay viable. The cool thing is that we have a number of very vintage, and one antique uniform we use for display.


Last night we had two boys in complete uniforms, one from the closet and that dates to the 50's, even with the red piping,and one current. They looked good. One had shirt up, including a neatly worn necker; three had just shirts (one always has to be reminded to tuck it in). I am almost always in complete uniform unless something unusual is going on, though I wear an older early 80's shirt to meeting normally, saving the more current last issue shirt for formal use. Like most of us around for a while, I have a number of shirts, each with different things on them. This "is" an improvement over last year; so I guess we are making progress. Three new boys, still have yet to get uniforms, but the grandfather of one, and mother of another said they hoped to go and get them soon.


Whatever they wear, they are welcome. Whatever they wear, they seem to usually have fun. That is the important part.



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First,let me say this:


I am proud of my uniform. I love to wear it. I always try to make sure it is worn correctly as possible.


But the thing is this: That uniform doesn't have anything to do with the ideas that form in my hear, the personality I have , how I act towards or treat the boys in my pack, or how I get up and sing and dance and cut up with the boys. That unifrom does not make me a better speaker when addressing the audience at any activity , nor does it make me more of a CubMaster than if I don't wear it.


Our pack only requires the top half of a uniform for 2 reasons:


1) Scout pants are cost-rediculous! PERIOD!


2) I can't speak for anybody elses boys, but ours could put on a brand new pair of scout pants ( or any pants) and a hole will magically appear in the knees before the boy even takes a step or blinks his eyes! :)


Now, during a pack meeting when the 2nd year Webelos stand up and recite the Boy Scout Pledge, the ones who just aren't wearing the uniform somehow know it just as well as those in uniform, or hlaf uniform.


The uniform has never ever had anything to do with how active they are, how well or fast the advance or learn.


TRuth be told, if any leader thinks that not wearing a uniform means a boy is less of a scout..then that leader is missing a big part of the picture.


I mean, if the uniform makes that kind of difference, then one day, I suppose everything the ever learn will just disappear when they no longer are scouts or transition to scouters.



Again, does this mean a 25 year old male who earned his Eagle will be totally useless and have no clue what to do if he happens to be wearing his work clotheswhen he sees a car wreck?


If this boy is at the beach and isn't wearing his uniform..does any firts aid or swimming knowledge just vanish?




Again, I wish ever scout wore the entire and complete uniform. But I also wish I would win the lottery and not have to work to pay my bills.

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In my pack, I was giving neckerchiefs I'd cut from decorated bedsheets to boys who came to our recruiting night along with a slide. Parents took the neckerchief out of the plastic bag it came in and helped put it on their boy.


The idea was that these were boys trying out Cub Scouts, and if they wore a neckerchief they were "in uniform" and could practice the Cub Scout salute, do the salute during flag ceremoney and so on.


I do that now for boys when they actually join Cub Scouts. But the purpose is the same ---- to get boys in uniform right away and impress on the parents and boy why it's important.


After that though, parents decide when and even if they buy more uniform parts. I often suggest that they might consider buying a unform blouse when their Cub Scout finishes the Bobcat requirements and is ready to be awarded the Bobcat Badge.


I encourage uniforming, but it's not my job to put the bite on a family's budget if they don't find that worthwhile.


I wear the same neckerchief and slide I give the Scouts, although I've decorated it to make it uniquely mine, just as I encourage Cub Scouts to do that as well.



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I don't know exactly whay you mean by "governing documents" but the Cub Scout Leader Book is pretty clear:


"Uniform parts should not be worn separately or with civilian clothing. The entire uniform should be worn or not at all. The pack does not have the authority to make changes to the uniform."



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Boy Scouts.....the only uniformed group that doesn't wear full uniforms. Ever seen a marching band in just the top half and everyone else had on different pants? I mean, wearing the uniform doesn't have anything to do with how well they play or march. Same with baseball or any sport. Wear jeans with your shoulder pads and jersey. Wearing fooball pants aren't going to make you run faster or pass the ball further or tackle harder.


Does any organization HAVE To wear the uniforms to actually do what they do? Probably not......yet they do. I wonder why? I wonder why it matters? I wonder why it is different in scouting from all the other organizations?

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I would defer to John Wooden. I think he knew a thing or two about uniforms and putting together high performing teams.


Jeans are the uniform of the car camper. No one serious about the outdoors would wear jeans camping. "I pity the fool" that wears jeans to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area or on a real backpacking trip.

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