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What to do with semi-uniformed ASM

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The only times I've ever heard boys call out adults on uniforming was when adults were relentlessly strict or punitive about imposing uniform rules on the boys - but not on themselves. Example: a troop where we used to live required that all members be fully uniformed down to the socks, belt, necker, and hat, in order to travel with the troop to camp outs. If a person arrived at the meet-up point without something, he would be sent home to retrieve it and either his parent had to drive him to the camp out or he just couldn't attend. To be honest, several adults were just sort of jerky about it - chest pounding, bellowing, carrying on about it.


So no surprise, then, that when the same standard wasn't applied to some adults, the boys got a little snarky about it.


But - had the adults taken a different approach to begin with, I imagine that the boys also would have behaved differently toward adults who had some uniform imperfection. Point is: model the behavior you want your youth to emulate, not in terms of what you're wearing, but in terms of how you treat others.

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If the troop is boy-led and full-uniform, if an adult shows up with a lacking uniform, the boys have a right to be a little snarky. If I show up for work in inappropriate clothing my boss will send me home. If the boys are truly running the show, should they not have the right to send an ASM home to get properly attired for the event?


Gotta love the hypocrisy of a lot of the troops out there. "Don't do as I do, do as I say!"


Lead by example!


Sorry, I'm with the boys on this one.



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jb, I'm not against the boys.


And they are welcome to comment on my insistence on wearing shorts (even in Winter) at CoH's because I'm not a fan of the pants. And wearing my comfortable non-uniform kaki's at meetings. As long as they can take it when I pull out the inspection sheet and hold them to it, they're welcome to dish it out.


Adults, now that's a different story. As far as the SMs are concerned, well I'm sure they each did the calculus as to weather my laundry list of nuances were worth keeping me on their roster. Each addressed me on the issues they saw as important, and I've made adjustments where we all agreed it would improve the safety of the youth OR where it was clear the poor guy had enough hassles (by the adults in full uni with five rows of knots) without me adding to them.


BS's worries about undermining leadership are, well, B.S. Talk to the man. Tell him you appreciate the things he brings to the table and you'd like him to bring one more. If he can't or wont but is still good for the boys, shut up and keep him around.


If the boys bring it up, teach them how to be respectful in their ribbing. (You know, the way you'd want a caring adult to be.)

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qwazse, my comments were not directed at anyone, just comments from what I saw floating through the thread. It's not an issue of uniforms per se for me. It's the idea of how uniforms are used as a method.


Do they promote or hinder the processes in the troop?


Who enforces the "rules" one has about uniforms?


As you mentioned in your comment, when YOU take out the inspection sheet... My point on boy-led would be, why would an adult be pulling out an inspection sheet in the first place? :) Shouldn't the boys be doing the inspections?


Are the adults exempt from boy-led inspections?


The problem lies not in the uniform, but how all the dynamics surround the uniform play themselves out.


I hear people banter around "Class-B's". There is no such thing in scouting, except what people make up about it. If they think bluejeans and Scouting t-shirt is okay clothing for the day, just say that. Don't make it out to be some kind of official anything. It's scout oriented clothing, but not any sort of uniform.


A little honesty goes a long way and when one is using the uniform method to help the boys build a little espirt-de-corps or they absolutely hate wearing the uniform. Why not just ban the uniform? They aren't required for Scouting in the first place.


Too much hypocrisy floats around under the disguise of wisdom. Let the boys decide. If you want to wear the uniform, wear it right. If not, make something up, but be sure to call it "something made up" and not a Boy Scout uniform.


I met a group of Canadian Scouts up in Calgary. The only thing that identified them as Scouts was they all were wearing yellow, unmarked neckerchiefs. I asked if they were scouts and they said yes. Even with just a necker, one could suspect they were Scouts, but they said this was not any kind of uniform, they just wore the neckers so they could keep track of everyone in the group while in the crowd.


If all one wishes to do is be identifiable as a scout, just wear a necker, or maybe just a scout hat or t-shirt. Not a problem. Just don't try and fool anyone that it's any kind of uniform. Nobody is fooled.



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Not taking personal! Just trying to put some meat on boy-adult balancing act.


Oh, and I haven't pulled out an inspection sheet since I was SPL. Except for once at the request of one SM, and then the boys were allowed to inspect the "old fart patrol." I have answered honest questions about insignia to the best of my knowledge -- looking up an answer when I was stumped. And, I have been able to outmaneuver most uniform police. So, I think we're both talking from opposite sides of the same coin.


My ongoing approach (applied regularly to scout-son #2): Make clear what it means to be "in uniform" or not. Use a reference he can return to (just because it's better than EDGE). Avoid making a Federal case of the whole thing. And, let him bust my chops when it applies.


FWIW - the best way I've seen this operate is when the SPL goes around the room and gives a vintage patch to each person in proper uniform. Minimum lecture, maximum action. Adults may qualify too (although we usually wind up tossing the patch in the bin on our way out the door). It's a great way to get those old collections out the door but not in the garbage.

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That he is/was a Marine is 98% irrelevant to this question. There may be marginal relevancy in any number of reasons that are not upon the table now.


That's he's a good leader is relevant.


That he brings much good to the table is relevant.


If you choose to attack this hill (making him wear BSA uniform pants), this Scouter may take his leadership and his money to another Troop. You lose a good leader.


To paraphrase Nike, Is this the hill you want to die on, today?


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I wanted to state that at this weekend's campout, the aforementioned leader showed up in uniform pants. We spoke briefly and succinctly and this is now a non-issue.


Thank you for all your advice, even the stuff I didn't want to hear. ;)

For what it is worth, a few gentle pushes the past 3 weeks or so seem to have things working the way they should be, in matters beyond just the uniforming. I am glad to have this behind us. We are bringing 12 new Webelos onboard (40% increase in troop size) and it is good that so many things are falling into place for us.


Again, thanks.

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  • 2 weeks later...

to the beavah crowd--right on. and, kudos to Sgt. Hulka


If you are worried about uniform pants, you are singing way to much kumbaya for me. Personally, I can't stand the leaders who are dressed like South American generals. They are likely more in it for themselves than for the boys. What kind of medal can I pin on my chest thought instead of what can I do for the boys.


My troop, I want the boys and adults to be involved. I prefer them to wear the shirts, but if they forget them due to football, basketball, baseball, etc. I want them there. I would rather have an active scout having fun out of uniform instead of a missing scout because he did not bring the uniform with him. I know, a very novel approach.


with adults, I want them involved. If that means they are involved without a uniform, so be it. Are they teaching, guiding, assisting and mentoring? if yes, they can wear pink for all i care.


Me, Jeans, boots, cowboy hat and a bsa shirt is my uniform. If i all of a sudden came in scout pants, and changed my hat to a bsa hat, the troop would think aliens had landed.

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"I would rather have an active scout having fun out of uniform instead of a missing scout because he did not bring the uniform with him. I know, a very novel approach."


Touche Dennis! A scene which has played out many, many times over the years:


Scout: Sorry, Mr. Frank, I don't have my uniform tonight because...


Me: I'm sure you have a good reason, Scout, but I'm glad you're here!

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Another thing ---- personally I'm lousy at having friendly little chats with people about such things. I usually come off in a heavy handed way and can easily alienate people even when I don't intend to do so.


So I avoid being pushy about such things.


Instead, I aim to provide a positive example and encouragement to adopt uniforming habits. As an example of that, whenever a new boy enters the pack I award them a neckerchief and slide immediately.


My methods aren't especially effective though.


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Personally, I can't stand the leaders who are dressed like South American generals. They are likely more in it for themselves than for the boys.


Kind of reminds me of that old saying, "Don't judge a man by the content of his character, but by the color of his pants."


In all seriousness, I too am a bit amused by the guy whose uniform makes him look like an admiral in the Portuguese navy, but that has no bearing on the guy's motivation, focus and commitment to the program and the youth. It probably just means he doesn't have much fashion sense.

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