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WHY the Uniform Pants?

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Gotta respectfully disagree with ya. It does make you equal. Doesn't matter if you are someone who is busting butt on fundraiser or a neurosurgeon and cardiologist's son, the uniform is an equalizer. For whatever reason, I can't express it, but I've been there. My troop was a true melting pot with folks whose parents were very affluent, to folks who were barely surviving. That uniform was an equalizer and a unifier.

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I could see it being an equalizer in some settings where people come together from a mix of locations. But in the troops I'm familiar with, nearly all the boys go to school together, live in the same area of town, have known most of their troop-mates since 1st or 2nd grade, play on the same sports teams, etc.


They know who is rich and who is poor. They know who is going to swanky private college and who is headed for community college. They know who drives what car. They know who isn't going camping this weekend because he can't afford it or because he has to work to help pay rent, instead. They've slept at each other's houses, eaten in each other's kitchens, hung out in each other's basements for years.


A pair of pants won't change any of that, when they've spent 10 hours a day together 5 days a week for the better part of a decade. Let's not kid ourselves about it.


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Lisabob, I disagree with you, but for a slightly different reason.


Sure, those boys do know who has money and who doesn't, They know who lives in a single wide trailer and who lives in a 5 bedroom house with a detached 3 car garage and huge swimming pool in the back yard.


But what the uniform does, ( pants too) is prove that while scouting, we all put our pants on the same way.


I know that I am a male and you are female, so why use Mr and Ms or Mrs at the front of our names?


The pants are not to trick or fool us. They are a reminder of the fact we are all part of an organazation in which we are equal. My uniform does not say I am richer or porrer than you. It does not say what kind of car I drive or if I have 3 different cars toi drive.


IT just says that I am a scouter just like you and that's all!


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Uniform? Full is good.

You prefer shirt only? OK. I don't object.


But jeans? Please. Jeans are for kids - but not my kids, of course.


Jeans are usually cotton. Seriously? Cotton? In this climate? And it doesn't matter what climate you are in... the question still stands as a rebuke to cotton. Cotton is for Q-tips and sheets - mediocre sheets anyway. Jeans. Humbug. If the uniform pants serve any good purpose it's to prevent people from being seen in jeans.

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Scoutfish: the uniform shirt (or necker or whatever symbol we use) by itself says the same thing.


The problem is that we often use this argument about covering up or downplaying differences via the uniform as if it *does* trick the boys. It doesn't, they know it, and we should be more honest about it.



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I disagree. Big surprise huh? Of course the boys in a troop know who is wealthy and who isn't. But within the troop, that really doesn't matter. At least it doesn't if you are doing it right. You have patrols with patrol leaders and an SPL and ASPL. Patrols share their work and everyone learns to do all the tasks a patrol needs to do while camping. Everyone serves as a grubmaster with a budget and a shopping list. When it's Timmy's turn, he doesn't get to buy steak and lobster just because his parents are well off. Everyone pays whatever the settled amount is and everyone has the same budget per person to work with. Timmy could wear his high dollar designer label jeans and $200 sneakers, but his troop is a full uniform troop, so he doesn't get to flaunt his high dollar clothes. He wears scout pants and a scout shirt just like Bobby who's parents make half the money of Timmy's parents. Elections held based on popularity or social position ends up being a valuable lesson to most boys. William is popular, but he absolutely sucks at leadership. Next time I'm voting for Jake because he's always prepared and helpful. I've mentioned it before in these uniforming threads. I have a friend in scouting that I Campmastered with who was a janitor. I have another friend in my troop who is a State Supreme Court Justice. If you saw them dressed in their work clothes and what they drove, you'd have a pretty good idea of their station in life. If I introduce them to you in their scout uniforms sitting around the campfire and just chat with them, you'd have no idea.


The uniform is an equalizer and a reminder that when we are in it, we are all equal and brothers. It should be worn proudly and the adults should set the example.


The uniform makes for brotherhood, since when universally adopted it covers up all differences of class and country.

Robert Baden-Powell


Show me a poorly uniformed troop and I'll show you a poorly uniformed leader.

Robert Baden-Powell

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While I've never had any real problem with the uniform pants and have always worn them as part of the uniform.

I have heard a lot of moans and groans about the cost of them.

Parents of growing boys do at times have a hard time paying for these pants which in most cases are only worn for Scout meetings and special occasions.

There are of course ways of helping Scouts who do have a hard time paying for these: Uniform Banks, buying used and so on.

Of course the easiest way out is for Troops to not require them.

Most Scouts I know are OK wearing the shorts for real outdoor Scouting, but because of the cost the long pants are used only for what used to be called Sunday Best.

In Sea Scouts the youth members can buy a pair of Dickie's from a chain store like Wal-Mart for less than $25.00 and at times for less than $20.00

This cost does tend to make the pants a lot more user friendly and the Scouts seem happy to wear them more often.

As for why?

I do think that pants are an important part of any uniform.

However just like the other methods a lot depends on the culture of the Troop.

Some Troops never seem to have a problem with full and correct uniforming. It just seems to go without saying that Scouts and adults in these Troops wear the full uniform.


I served as a Jamboree SM twice.

All the Scouts had and wore full uniforms for the Jamboree.

A few weeks after we had a re-union meeting. I was surprised at the number of Scouts who showed up wearing their Scout shirt and jeans.

It wasn't that they didn't have the pants -They did.

But they all belonged to Troops that had said that the pants were not required.

Sometimes the Scouts do take notice of what is said to them.

I still think if we could come up with pants that were more affordable, we'd see a lot more Scouts in full uniform




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Yah, hmmm...


We make up the most interestin' fictions when we don't actually listen to kids.


I'm with my fellow Beaver SR540 when he talks about Uniform Method being about more than just clothing, but instead being about how we treat each other and work together.


Regardless of whether you're a "full uniform" troop, though, the reality is that most of da work we do with kids is or should be in the outdoors, and in the outdoors we wear outdoor clothing. And that's not "uniform", eh? So when boys gear up for anything but the parlor, which should be most of what we do, they aren't "equal" and everybody knows it. And even in uniform everyone also knows the lads who have the don't-quite-fit-not-the-newest stuff from the uniform closet, too. As SR540 points out, they even know what cars their parents drive on the outing (and which ones are equipped with video ;) ).


Baden-Powell lived in a different era, eh? In his era, putting boys in shorts and field wear was considered almost rude, and even worse for adults. It was the equivalent of wearing jeans and ball caps. He picked a "uniform" that was functional, low-cost, adventurous outdoors-wear for the time, that scandalized the folks who felt that young men should be properly attired and look sharp.


Show me a fastidiously uniformed troop these days and by and large you'll find "well-rounded" over-50 adults who really aren't models of outdoor adventure and mostly do car campin', but who do like to adult-run things.


SR540 is right, the Uniform Method is more about kids' identification and how we and they treat each other. It's not about conformity or obedience or make-believe nonsense about clothing being some form of communist equality. Uniform Method is worthwhile, and worth workin' on with kids together, but only if we're clear about our Aims and honest with ourselves and our lads.




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


So, Beavah, you sexist person you, you have never seen boys bully based on appearance?


The uniform is supposed to be the blank canvas that the scout/scouter fills with his experiences. If that is not to be, lets just ditch it and be done with it




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The uniform is supposed to be the blank canvas that the scout/scouter fills with his experiences.


Is it really? I've been around this movement a long time, and I don't reckon I've heard that one more than a few times.


If you were to go out to a camporee and ask scouts of all ages about what the uniform is "supposed to be", how many of 'em do yeh suppose would come up with that answer? Would any?


I think we adults keep makin' up these romantic fictions about da uniform to fulfill our own needs or try to justify our own lunacy on da topic, eh? But we never really listen to the boys about what they think the uniform is "supposed to be" or what it actually is in their eyes. If a scout from a small, impoverished Caribbean island nation said that his uniform was not a blank canvas but was instead how he showed he was a scout and proud of his country, should we just ditch it and be done with it? Even though he's proud to wear his scout necker in da national colors?


There's nuthin' wrong with uniforming, eh? Kids pick and wear symbols naturally, wear clothes that conform to their group naturally, wear tokens that show their activities naturally. It's only when da adults get too involved in sayin' what that is "supposed" to be or "should" be that we wander away from Scouting and into Sunday School.




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"Show me a fastidiously uniformed troop these days and by and large you'll find "well-rounded" over-50 adults who really aren't models of outdoor adventure and mostly do car camping', but who do like to adult-run things"

Not sure I agree with this.

Here where I live the Scouts who are in full uniform tend to live in the better end of the Council and again because of their financial wellbeing these Troops travel more and offer program opportunities that Scouts in poorer Troops can only dream of.

Maybe the older Scouter's are a bit more fussy over correct uniforming?

But maybe a lot of these older guys have a better understanding of how things are supposed to work along with a willingness to allow things to work? Which comes from having done it for some time.

At the end of the day generalizations are never a very good idea.

I know a fair number of guys older than me who are far more out-door oriented then nearly all of the younger Scouter's I know.

Ea.(This message has been edited by Eamonn)

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The cost of a Scout uniform is a great deal compared to some of the other things kids get into nowadays. A few years back, my daughter got involved in a travelling soccer league. For a four month season, the cost was over $350, the uniform (shorts, jersey, socks, warmup) was another $160, shoes were $75, and I think we paid another $25 or $30 for a ball. In the four years I've been back in Scouting with my son, I am not sure the cost of uniforms, annual dues, and everything else has added up to that much. That was sticker shock, and I am thankful for the affordability of Scouting in a year-long program.

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