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JoeBob

WHY the Uniform Pants?

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Beavah, you're over analyzing it. The point is that teams and organizations have uniforms that identify them and there are times when as a part of that team or organization, you are expected to wear the uniform, the whole uniform. Don't get hung up on whether it's practice or a game because that isn't the point. The point is there is a time when you are expected to wear it as part of the team and if you don't, you don't play. I've seen it happen in baseball. The kid who keeps showing up without his hat sat on the bench because he was out of uniform. As to the team owning the uniform and providing them, that has me scratching my head why the kids on our high school football team have to raise money for their pads, helmet and uniform. To those who think the scout uniform is too expensive, they must have never had a kid play sports. When my son was in competitvie baseball, we'd spend anywhere between $150 to $200 per year on uniforms. Scouting seems to be the only uniformed organization I know of where people resist wearing the uniform and will devise every excuse not to wear it.

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One big difference between sports and scout uniforms:

 

People like sports uniforms. They are proud to wear them. Usually sports uniforms are designed to handle wear and tear.

 

People don't wear BSA uniform, either in full, or in part, because they don't like it.

 

The solution is actually pretty simple. Design a better product, and people will buy it.

 

Uniform theory will not trump the reality, or perception, that the BSA uniform is expensive, ill-designed and not scout proof.

 

The day that the BSA fields a rugged, well designed uniform is the day this debate will wind down.

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desertrat77, if the world were our little labratory, I'd love to set up an experiment and see if it would make a difference. Personally, I don't think it would. Sports uniforms don't look cool, but athletes are idolized, so kids like to imitate them. Baseball pants......honestly, do those look good on anyone? Would you wear those in public to a movie or out to eat or only when you aren't at practice or a game. I don't see band kids running around in their big hats with feathers sticking up. Scouting has never been considered cool by the general public and kids succumb to the peer pressure. Some don't care what others think and some worry about it too much. You can tell who the self confident and self consious kids are in any troop. The self confident kids put the uniform on and ride to the meeting, get out and walk in in full uniform. The self conscious kids are the ones who wear the shirt with a hoodie over it even in summer. I know some kids who carry it in wadded up and put it on once they are inside the building and take it off before they leave. That has nothing to do with functionality. I just don't buy thr cost or functional arguments. It's more about scouts not being cool and not wanting to be laughed at.

 

Just for the sake of argument, how would you design a scout uniform that would be as proudly worn as a sports uniform......ands make it appealing to all scouts at all ages?

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SR540Beaver,

 

That's a good question....

 

First, I'd try to figure out precisely what image the BSA is trying to portray. With sports uniforms, even if they aren't stylish, they send messages--"I'm on a team, I'm active, I'm an athlete" etc. Also, perhaps because I live on a military base, I see kids wearing their ball uniforms and tae kwon do outfits around base, pre and post game/practice. No one seems to mind.

 

So what image does the current BSA uniform send? What image should it send?

 

I'm an advocate of the BSA's time-honored draw--outdoor adventure. That's the image I'd strive for. Personally, I don't think our current uniform sends that message. Most folks are inclined to leave the uniform at home if they go camping or backpacking.

 

Second, I'd get no-kidding outdoor people to design the uniform...unit level scout and scouters, women and men, parents, non-scouting adventure types, and folks from clothing and recreation industry. The key points would be a) what would you feel proud wearing on a campout, on the bus to jambo, while canoing, and on the trail and b) what already exists in the clothing industry that meets the need.

 

Nothing revolutionary, and I'm sure national has tried to do something of this nature since the green pajama uniform was introduced in '72. Not going to please everyone, but since '72 it seems that most people have been displeased and unimpressed with the uniform. So it's easy, for example, to just ignore it and buy some really cool, sturdy, inexpensive pants elsewhere.

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A lot of kids now actually will wear the zip off pants to school, and have little concern about them, as they are very similar to other popular styles. I so far have had pretty good luck with mine, though being old and ill shaped, they may not look as sharp as I would like. Of course,they still do sell the non cargo style; and if I knew I would not lose the weight I have now (which I do hope to reduce)I might buy a pair for formal occasions like council dinners and courts of honor held in formal manner. I still have a pair of the older pants that could be creased if I wished, but they are too snug, so I do not wear them anymore. The zip offs are okay, and far more comfortable.

 

Consider though that military has two versions; one for work, the fatigues, and one for dress. I had fatigues in the Air Force which were worn most of the time, but then was required to travel in dress uniform. On the rare occasion there was a formal ceremony, we also wore them, which included the tight fitting jacket with the metal buttons, along with wool or lighter weight blue pants. We also had a summer dress uniform which was kind of tan, but we could not wear that for extremely formal affairs, though we could travel in it between about April to October.

 

I ask scouts to travel in the official shirt, but do not make them wear the pants. They are encouraged to have them, but we are not official except waist up. In vehicles they can be in t's, but if we stop to eat or something, they still need to put on their shirts; but necker's are not needed. Most summer camps ask you to dress completely for dinner flags, and some also for breakfast; and some troops ignore the requests, while others wear full uniform to everything. I saw one troop with a makeshift closet; every scout had two complete uniform shirts, and they hung them up while in camp, but had to wear them if not doing activities and they left.

 

Still, I too have seen some lesser priced pants that could easily pass for scout pants, due to the color. The shirt is a different issue. But, technically, any uniform shirt is allowed, as long as it is worn correctly. My older 70's style shirt I wear for RT staff does not look quite as good with the cargo's as it did with the older style pants. But it works.

 

Ultimately, we simply do the best we can. We have a uniform closet, but currently have hardly any choice in sizes. Either they are too small or too large at the moment. Some of the boys like the old khaki shorts for some reason, and I had one boy that wore the old 50' shirt and the red bordered flap pants (til he outgrew them). We have a number of those in the closet. If I could get enough to fit them all, I would love to have the collarless shirt for camp.

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Beavah, you're over analyzing it. The point is that teams and organizations have uniforms that identify them and there are times when as a part of that team or organization, you are expected to wear the uniform, the whole uniform.

 

Yah, but those times are only when performing a show in public. And then they get out of 'em as fast as they can (though sometimes, with somethin' like a football jersey with their favorite player's number, they might wear shirt only ;)).

 

I think boys would be OK wearin' the uniform when doin' a show in public.

 

That's not what we ask 'em to do, though. We ask 'em to wear it at meetings, and traveling, and dining, and all kinds of other things. Stuff that no other group does. And then we make up nonsensical justifications like "it helps identify you". What, do your buddies in your patrol not know you after all these years? ;)

 

I'm a supporter of da Uniform Method, and I reckon everyone knows I don't like the shirt-with-jeans thing. But I think we have to start from a position of being honest with the lads.

 

I'm also with desertrat77 on the outdoor aspect. Let's face it, outdoor adventure is very cool. So cool that yeh can't sit through a TV show without at least a few commercials tryin' to play off the "I'm adventurous!" theme. Everything from cars to deodorant. Do yeh honestly know any kids who wouldn't wear their North Face jacket to school?

 

Our problem is that we are bogged down by a bunch of old fogeys who like to dress in kids' clothing, and who then try to turn active kid wear into something between what they'd wear on a parade ground and what they'd wear to a corporate board meeting. Complete with worrying about whether the pants iron well to hold a sharp crease!

 

B

 

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Scouting seems to be the only uniformed organization I know of where people resist wearing the uniform and will devise every excuse not to wear it.

This could be because there is no threat of being removed from the organization if you don't wear it correctly or wear it at all.  Uniforming is a method in scouting, but it is not required for membership.  Enforcement of uniform policy is really at the Troop level.  To use your "baseball team" analogy, you might not be allowed "to play" if you don't follow the enforced rules of your Troop. 

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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..

 

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.

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Oh, Dear Lord.

 

I guess none of you have looked at a HS marching band during football season recently.

 

Jack is an Eagle Scout. He was from a sister Troop in our District. He and EagleSon Cubbed together, and went to different Troops for Boys. Jack, in HS, was an oboe. Well, there are no double-reeds in HS marching band in our neck of the woods. He marched as a mellophone. Jack was also a Defensive End on the Varsity football squad, and his senior year, started.

 

At halftime, Jack sprinted to the sidelines, took off his pads and helmet, grabbed an instrument, and marched. Did he change into the band uniform? NO.

 

Beth was a cheerleader, she was also an all-State clarinet. She wore her cheer uniform while marching.

 

In the Army, in the field, I had Soldiers who wore mechanics coveralls, because they were working on vehicles. I had Soldiers who wore cooks' aprons, because they were cooking. I had Soldiers who wore Nomex combat vehicle uniforms, to mitigate the risk of fire. I had soldiers who wore good old BDUs.

 

Uniforms must meet a functional/mission need, or they are useless. The OP is claiming the current BSA pants do not meet a functional need.

 

Lisa and others say they do meet a functional need.

 

Others back the OP and say NO.

 

If your best arguement is uniform because it's uniform, you need to go back and think functionality. To my POV, the folks I'm reading in this thread are the ones who are debating function.

 

That's all this old retired Artilleryman is going to say.

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Skeptic brought up 2 uniforms: one for the outdoors and one for formal occasions.

 

Technically this is already in place with the dress uniform aka pro uniform, and the field uniform.

 

BUT in 1989, BSA introduced an "Activity Uniform" of khaki shorts and a colored polo shirt based upon whether you were a Boy Scout, Varsity Scout, or a Boy Scout in a venture crew (now a venture patrol). Was not popular I know of only 1 person to ever wear one.

 

Another challenge to having multiple uniforms can be seen with Sea Scouts. Officially they have three uniforms: Blues, Whites, and Working. Most ships have only one though. But for certain activities, they are REQUIRED to have a specific uniform, I beleive the Whites are the ones they use but Sailing can clarify.

 

Sea Socut also still have some hold overs from the pre-2002 uniform changes. Some Ships still wear their "priratical outfits" from the Sea Exploring days, and some Ships refuse to do away with traditional insignia dating back to the 1920s like ship numbers and "Bugs" on their covers.

 

What I would like to hear about is Baltimore" experiment with Underarmor alternative uniforms.

 

As for designing a uniform, here's my 2 cents worth.

 

Socks thick wool hiking ones

 

Pants I personally like the Switchbacks, gen 1, with the zippers in the legs. A few enhancements would be the following

A. Size them correctly

B. Bigger cargo pockets

C. Get rid of the mesh pockets and have full material ones. mesh rips easily and the pocket is useless.

D. More belt loops

E. Rip Stop

 

Belt I like the wider web belt. Secures belt pouches better.

 

Shirt I like the material of the CU shirt. A few things

 

A. Either enlarge the smokes pocket or do away with it completely like the current microfiber shirts.

B. Remove the pen pocket stitching which shrink the pocket. A pen opening is good enough.

C. PUT BUTTONS AND BUTTONHOLES BACK ON THE SHIRT POCKETS! (caps for emphasis) I've seen Webelos wearing their ranks in the plastic holder on the RIGHT pocket b/c there is no button on the left one. ALSO I've seen folks loose patches b/c the button does not secure the patch. (don't get me started on the plastic CS rank holders, I dont' like them, but I'm in the miority.)

 

D. simplify the number of patches on the shirt. I know I may get some grief on this one, esp. since I came from a unit that basically said, if you earned it and it goes on the uniform, wear it. But i have way too much stuff on one of my uniform shirts, and I don't have everything on it. Now some of my shirts I can't do much about it; the shirts are sold old and patches have beent here so long that if I try to take them off, it will be noticable b/c of the different shade of khaki.

 

But maybe the Sea Scouts are right on their uniform regs thatr simplify it ( except for the bugs and ship numbers). ;)

 

The uniform needs to be field oriented. Heck I've worn my Switchbacks camping with the family.

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John,

 

No disrepsect, but I also know of footbal players who were in the band as well. One was a starter. They got pulled out of the game before halftime, changed into their band uniforms, performed, then switch back into their FB uniform and played.

 

I also know of 4 Cheerleaders who were in JROTC. For Homecoming, all for left the game a few minutes before halftime, changed into their uniforms, and did the sword arch for the Homecoming Court.

 

Different ideas for different organizations.

 

Now in regards to functionality of a uniform, 110% behind you on that one.

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Talking just functionality, I take my uniform pants when I am traveling because they are convertable and because with the nylon I can wash them out in the sink at night, then hang them to dry overnight so they'll be ready to go in the morning. A pair rolls up small and light for backpacking and not wanting the excess weight. For most of the seasons I'm out doing Scouting activities, they do perfectly well alone. In colder weather, I'd want some warm layers, and I'd probably spray some scotch guard or something on the outer layer Scout pants. I still like that the nylon will not retain the water, which could cause you to be a lot colder, which is the problem you have with jeans and BDUs - I know because that's what I wore as a kid when I went camping. I know better now. This uniform is not bad for outdoor active wear.

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I kind of agree on functionality, the one activity you won't see much of the uniform in our group is on high adventure trips. But one year, there was a crew at Philmont of older scouts that wore the full uniform during their whole 90 something mile trip. These guys were elitist backpackers and made everything seem easy and perfect, even singing and chanting during much of their hike. Most or our crew were also very experienced backpackers and could easily keep up with these guys, but we all admitted they looked very impressive.

 

I am not suggesting using the uniform method like it is the only method, but sometimes we might make it to easy to not use it.

 

Barry

 

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The BSA, like it or not is a uniformed organization, meaning that wearing the uniform is a right and honor and privilige of membership. The shirt, pants, hat, socks, et al all are parts of the uniform. When worn correctly the uniform is a walking resume of what that scout has done, as in rank and possible Arrow of Light and Cub Scout religious award Knot on a scouts uniform. Saying that the pants are not required allows the member to wear any type of pant they want. So, if we say jeans are ok, those who wear Wal-mart jeans get showned up by those who wear Cabelas, Lands End or LL Bean Jeans. The whole idea of the uniform is that it it starts off with every one the same (uniform as it were) and then the patches show what the member has done, where they are from, what they have gone.

 

If that is an issue that cannot be abided, lets ditch the whole concept and go with a necker and be done with the excuses

 

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So, if we say jeans are ok, those who wear Wal-mart jeans get showned up by those who wear Cabelas, Lands End or LL Bean Jeans. The whole idea of the uniform is that it it starts off with every one the same (uniform as it were) and then the patches show what the member has done, where they are from, what they have gone.

 

Do boys actually pay attention to what brand of jeans people wear? That strikes me more as a girl type thing.

 

I think kids always know the score. Yeh can tell who got the hand-me-down or uniform-bank uniform and who bought one fresh off the full-price National Supply rack. But even if yeh couldn't yeh can tell who got the new backpack and who borrowed an old one, who has the latest Goretex rain jacket and who is skimping with the WalMart special poncho. Pretending that a BSA uniform somehow makes kids equal has always struck me as kind of silly.

 

I agree that a decked-out uniform tells yeh some of the scout's "resume" at a glance. But then that would only apply in a place where a resume would be required, eh? In public when meeting strangers who care about such things; maybe at a district-level EBOR. For all da rest of it, the boy's patrol buddies and unit leaders are goin' to know a lot more about his scouting history than what's on his uniform, eh? Like the fact he makes a great pancake but forgot his sleeping bag on the last Klondike. ;)

 

Beavah

 

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