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JoeBob

WHY the Uniform Pants?

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I will never give up my Boy Scout skirt.

 

The pants are horrid for ladies. I have an olive green pair from another vendor that I wear instead.

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IMHO - The largest reason why some folks don't believe in uniforming is that rolling out a new model uniform every couple of years has lead to very non-uniform uniforms -- especially from the waist down.

 

At Scout Sunday I noticed this even in our shirts. Some boys had their Centenial uniform with khaki green epaulets, others had red epaulets. Our council just merged so shoulder patches were not all changed over. One mom who usually only sees me at scout meetings noticed I had my venturing shirt and the Kelly green epaulets. My newest female venturers said she felt odd sitting with the scouts when she and two of my officers didn't have a uniform even though they were compliant with the crew's dress code and looked sharp!

 

In a sense, National doesn't believe in uniform. Their marketing promotes comfort (which some of here debate) and trendiness over conformity. So, why should we bother?

 

Honestly, on the parade field some of those "all blue jeans" troops with vintage shirts look more uniform than the "national supply" troops where half the boys are in the latest style and the other half are in what their older brother got when he crossed over.

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Yah, back to Aims, eh? ;)

 

A lot depends on what yeh feel you are tryin' to accomplish with the Uniform Method.

 

I think the units that don't have a good sense of their goals are the ones that have the most trouble with uniforming. They're the ones that are doin' what somebody mentioned, and being lax day to day and then hyper-strict at BORs, or who have one or two adults who are Senior Inspectors of the Uniform Police while everybody else rolls their eyes a bit.

 

As a Commish, I feel my role is mostly to help units figure out how to use each of da methods to accomplish their goals, and long ago gave up on the notion of expecting everyone everywhere to pay lots of money to National Supply.

 

I reckon I've seen about 3 or 4 methods of uniform wear that I think work fairly well.

 

1) By-the-book, plus. Everyone wears the same or very similar version of the stock uniform. Troop pays for matching shoulder loops, custom unit numbers, etc. and maintains an active uniform bank. Usually has a custom necker as well, might have a common hat, but probably doesn't fight about socks, shoes, belts, necker slide, whether da OA sash is appropriate, etc. Generally allows some minor personalization / fun (whacky patrol patches, "Untrainable" patches, local awards, etc.). Uniform worn at all scout events and during campout travel. Looks sharp, is almost always adult-driven but the kids will buy in as long as there's some fun and personalization. I'd include in this group some troops that specify a few look-alike pant alternatives.

 

2) Shirts only. As others have mentioned, this is very common in da rest of the world. Problem is the BSA shirt is typically more gaudy/less outdoorsy than most of da rest of the world's shirts, so it doesn't go as well with the less formal style. Jeans is most common, though it ain't my personal favorite. Sometimes you'll see shirts only for outings/meetings, but full dress for formal events. This approach I reckon is the one that's most prevalent, and reflects a mix of wanting to identify as scouts and wanting to be functional/thrifty/not get bogged down in uniform debates. More likely to see in youth-run units.

 

3) Uniform only for public functions where being identified is important (some service projects, COHs, Scout Sunday). Similar to how we adults use uniforms in da real world, where folks wear a uniform when they are doin' work that requires it to be easily identified to non-members (police officer on duty, physician while working, etc.). For meetings/outings within da unit, wear what is practical. This tends to be the norm for units that do a lot of outdoors stuff, including outdoor meetings.

 

4) Un-uniformed but wearing a token of membership. Da classic version of this is international scouting, where wearing just the necker is extremely common, particularly in countries where affording a separate shirt is a struggle.

 

As close as I can tell, all of 'em develop a sense of identity and da sort of character-building that can come from uniforming, but each with a different tone. Honestly, if yeh look at international scouting the one that shows by far the most youth buy-in and real scout spirit is #4.

 

Beavah

 

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With the Sturm und Drang shown over the semi-uniformed ASM and this thread, perhaps its best to ask, why a uniform? WHy not just the necker and be done with it?

 

if we wish, District and COuncil volunteers get a uniform and unit leaders do not except for the necker. Would that calm the maddened seas?

 

So much chest beating on why wearing/not wearing the uniform is the "best" way to go makes one wonder what we fight about if the uniform was optional?

 

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To those who are anti-full uniform, I never can get them to answer this simple question. Does your basball coach allow you to play in jeans or a business suit? How about the marching band director? Imagine a marching band wearing just part of their uniform.

 

The usual answer is, "well, that's different". No, no it isn't.(This message has been edited by sr540beaver)

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>>A lot depends on what yeh feel you are tryin' to accomplish with the Uniform Method.

 

I think the units that don't have a good sense of their goals are the ones that have the most trouble with uniforming.

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The usual answer is, "well, that's different". No, no it isn't.

 

Do baseball teams wear their uniforms at every practice session? Do marching bands? Does the baseball coach wear the uniform? The band director?

 

There are many differences in these organizations. They can't earn knots or ranks to put on their uniform. No merit badge sashes.

 

It's really *not* the same thing.

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I tried to narrow the focus of this thread specifically to the BSA Pants. I want rationale that makes sense to the boys. And I think EagleDad has given me the best ammo so far.

 

Uniform Appearance: It ain't happening.

1- The argument fails because we work hard to NOT be uniform with everything else. Badges of rank, Lodge flaps, temporary badges, different name tags, Philmont Belts, woven cord belts, old style Official Boy Scout belts, new style official Boy Scout belts, neckers of every color in various sizes held on differently by different slides, hats from every sanctioned event for the last 10 years... You get the point. A boy will logically ask "Why must our pants be uniform when nothing else is?"

2- The current melange of official pants is a mess. Some boys are in shorts; the older boys are proud of how faded and ratty their pants have become; newer scouts have bought oversize to grow into them and have folds under their tightly cinched belts. And some are intentionally renegade in jeans. Scouters attending roundtable have tied colorfull cordage to their belt loops and have Woodbadge critters hanging from the keyfob.

3- Ever tried to look sharp in the zip-offs? You can't iron a pleat into them without melting your zippers, and the local dry-cleaners might laugh at you. They are 'frumpy' at best. I feel like I'm slumming on Scout Sunday.

 

So I'm leaning towards any OD Green pants within a certain color range. This would legitimize cargo pants, wool trousers, and many hiking shorts. And it might actually get us more uniform in appearance. We could discriminate against faded trousers that are now legal, have an affordable option for the reluctant jeans wearers, and accomodate adults who want something more comfortable and/or dressy than the BSA pants.

 

I wanted to be sure that I hadn't missed anything before heading down this path. And no one has hit the argument out of the park. Thanks for the input.

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Oak Tree,

 

When the baseball team is playing a game or the marching band is marching on the field, yes they are all in matching uniforms. What they wear to bed, I do not know.

 

When a fully uniformed troop is having a troop meeting, a COH, etc. I would expect to see them all looking uniform. When they are canoeing down a river, no.

 

It really isn't different. Teams, bands, troops, armies, etc. all have uniforms and appropriate times to wear them. If the uniform isn't used, then what's the purpose and why bother?

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>>The usual answer is, "well, that's different". No, no it isn't>So I'm leaning towards any OD Green pants within a certain color range. This would legitimize cargo pants, wool trousers, and many hiking shorts. And it might actually get us more uniform in appearance. We could discriminate against faded trousers that are now legal, have an affordable option for the reluctant jeans wearers, and accomodate adults who want something more comfortable and/or dressy than the BSA pants.

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When the baseball team is playing a game or the marching band is marching on the field, yes they are all in matching uniforms.

 

In other words, when they are performing in public they are in matching uniforms. But not the adults, eh? And even the lads on the sidelines might well be out of uniform or have it covered up.

 

When they are at a team meeting, they aren't in uniform. When they are at a practice, they aren't in uniform. When they are at an award banquet at the end of the season they aren't in uniform. When they get together with fellow band kids from other schools at summer band camp they aren't in uniform.

 

So if we're really sayin' we should be like sports or band programs, then the only time the lads should be in uniform is during a formal public performance of some sort, and only while they're performing. For all da rest, they should be in T-shirts. ;) And the adults should never be in a copy of the kids' uniform, but should instead dress like adults.

 

At least that's my answer, SR540. Can't imagine why some bright young scout hasn't landed it on yeh by now. :)

 

JoeBob, I think you've got da right of it. If yeh establish some solid internal guidelines of the sort yeh suggest, I think you'll both look more uniform and you'll find yeh get more buy-in from everyone from the boys to the womenfolk.

 

Beavah

 

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Could you see a guy showing up for the NY Giants bootcamp, saying he really likes the team and playing football, but insists on wearing his own pants (jeans). Or deciding to wear your own color and style jersey to play with the Lakers. Or showing up at the recruiting station to join the military, but insisting you won't wear the uniform. Maybe there are things that could be better with the uniform, but I find today's uniforms leaps and bounds better than the junk we had in the 1970's. The shorts that can be used as a swimsuit, for summer wear, if it had a button rather than a snap it would be better, but even like they are are far better than anything I've found at any of the leading outdoorwear suppliers. I had a backpacking trip that I knew would be hot, very high humidity, lots of streams to cross and swim in, and those shorts(no undies) were all I needed. They wore incredibly well. The Supplex zip-off pants don't always look sharp, but they are durable and wear well. If it is cold out, I use layers. From what I can tell, I'm lucky I got a bunch of the pants when they were on clearance for $5 each. I'm tall, so the shorts(when zipped off) don't hang so long, but I've noticed the newer ones are well below the knee for most folks. My brother hates them, but is jealous of mine. Honestly, if I had some that didn't fit right, just like for any uniform I had to wear, I would get them altered to fit for me. This is something I wear several times a week, so I expect it to fit right. If what you have doesn't fit, why are you complaining about it rather than fixing it so they wear correctly for you. Maybe I can find a pair of jeans off the rack that fits better than the uniform, but that will never be the uniform.

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drmbear: that's harsh. So you are saying that on top of the $40, now I have to spend who knows how much more and get them TAILORED so they fit right?

 

Yeah, I'm gonna go with no. I'll stick to being a non-uniformed committee member.

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Could you see a guy showing up for the NY Giants bootcamp, saying he really likes the team and playing football, but insists on wearing his own pants (jeans). Or deciding to wear your own color and style jersey to play with the Lakers.

 

Yah, not to belabor the point, but the analogies just don't work.

 

Yeh get paid to don the uniform of the Giants or the Lakers. And they provide the uniform.

 

And even then, yeh don't wear the uniform at practice, yeh don't wear the uniform at team meetings, yeh don't wear the uniform when traveling, yeh don't wear the uniform at award ceremonies. And the coaches don't wear the uniform.

 

If that's our model, then the boys should wear the uniform only when they're performing a show in public, only if they are paid, and only if we provide the uniform. And we adults should dress like adults, not like da kids who are playing. :p

 

I think we can make a case for uniformin', but not by way of analogy to sports or the armed service or school bands. Scoutin' as a kids' program is its own thing.

 

Beavah

 

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"Honestly, if I had some that didn't fit right, just like for any uniform I had to wear, I would get them altered to fit for me. This is something I wear several times a week, so I expect it to fit right. If what you have doesn't fit, why are you complaining about it rather than fixing it so they wear correctly for you."

 

How about we start with: because, contrary to what you wrote, I do NOT have to wear them. Try to make me, I dare you. (How badly do you want volunteers?)

 

About this, we agree: If I wear them several times a week, I expect them to fit ok, too.

 

So when I can walk into almost any clothing store in America and buy pants off the rack that fit tolerably well, I expect the same to be true for BSA uniforms - or at least, come moderately close, I'm not that picky. But I've got other things to spend my money on than pants that just don't fit and your views don't trump my budget. The style and material of the zip offs don't necessarily lend themselves well to tailoring, and even if that weren't the case, that's yet another barrier to many women wanting to wear the things.

 

If BSA wants more women in full uniform, then BSA might want to pay better attention to creating clothing that fits women's body types. Kind of like those "bellows" pockets on a previous iteration of the uniform shirt - not exactly flattering for most women!

 

But I think this is getting somewhat off topic of what JoeBob was asking about, so I'll hold off on further thoughts about this tangent.

 

 

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