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The Importance of Uniforming

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I went to an event yesterday which was sponsored by a couple of units but attended by the community. When I arrived, I was the only person in a scout uniform surrounded by a few hundred other folks. Then some other scouters and scouts started to arrive in their full uniforms, and we greeted each other with the left hand shake and smiles.


While I am always against the uniform police bullying people about unnecessary details of their uniforms, I strongly push leaders and scouts to wear a complete uniform - socks, belt, pants, and shirt - at every opportunity. I want them to enjoy wearing their uniforms, because nothing beats that feeling of brotherhood you get when you are wondering where your help is at, and then they show up, easily identifiable, and dressed to play ball.


Just like Baseball, Scouting is a uniformed activity. Jeans and a shirt don't cut it on the baseball diamond, and it doesn't cut it at Scouting events, either.


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Please don't visit my Cub Pack. I'm sure you would be a very unhappy camper with your attitude.


Personally, I wear a complete uniform. But it's in a low income area and Cub Scouts and Scouters tend to assemble a uniform as best they can.


I start out every new Cub Scout by awarding them a neckerchief cut from a colorful thrift store bed sheet, the same that I wear myself. The slide is cut from a tree branch with a hole drilled through it. Boys are "in uniform" for our purposes when they are wearing as much of the uniform as they have.


Sorry, but your point of view is too narrow. What may work fine for you would be inappropriate for others.



You do realize that there is NO requirement that Scouts or Scouters wear a uniform at all?

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SP, your situation is well known and appreciated.


That said, there are many boys that have the complete uniform and look for excuses not to wear it.


I agree with the OP in that those that DO have a uniform should wear it, and wear it with pride.



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There is a qualification of the Scouts wearing uniform. Its in the JTE policy and the insignia guide. Most that are low income expect only the shirts.


Did a training in May and learned that camouflage and Scout uniforms are a no go. Talk about having to be the bad guy and retrain mentalities on a basic rule that should have been learnt in Cub Scout.. *sighs

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While I am always against the uniform police bullying people about unnecessary details of their uniforms, I strongly push leaders and scouts to wear a complete uniform . . .


So how does one differentiate between "uniform police bullying" and "strongly pushing?"


Uniforming is a touchy subject on this forum. It was very tiresome when at almost every event, Scouts would come up to me (SM) and ask, do I have to wear my uniform? I would usually always answer, "It is always appropriate to wear a Scouting uniform to a Scouting function."


I had a former committee chair that steadfastly refused to wear / own a uniform. I was always perplexed at the numerous parents that felt slighted if they were not a committee member (usually "at-large" so they had no responsibility except to officially kibitz and cherry pick) but would not dream of purchasing a uniform. I always asked them, how can you sit there with a straight face expecting a Scout to be properly uniformed for a BOR when you make no attempt to be properly uniformed as a board member?


But once again, I'm ready for the Irving haters to chime in about how all these nit picky rules get in the way of the program. :)



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I do believe the thread is mistitled. The consensus of today is that there is only slight if no importance at all of uniforming. T-shirts posing as "Class-B" i.e. second class uniforming, Activity shirts, blue jeans and a variety of every excuse under the sun precludes the necessity of the uniform,


With the message being said and the actions demonstrated, it just might be a good time to dump the uniform all together. The boys don't want to wear it and the adults don't need the hassle to trying to get them to.


Nobody can afford them anymore, what with all the other expenses of school, church, and community organizations bidding for their free spending money.


With a lot of changes going on in the BSA program, this might be just another in a long line already initiated.



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"Personally, I put on the uniform even if I have only a patrol to inspect, because I feel it raises the moral tone of the boys. It heightens their estimation of their uniform when they see it is not beneath a grown man to wear it. It heightens their estimation of themselves, when they find themselves taken seriously by men who also count it of importance, to be in the same brotherhood with them."



Our Scouts no longer have qualms about wearing the uniform because they have been treated with great respect and dignity by the community when we go out. When we were a bunch of street clothed urchins, we were viewed with skepticism.


As Boy Scouts in uniform, they greeted with big smiles and genuine warmth. And they know it!


The only ones who seem to have trouble 'uniforming'... are some of the adults.


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> Please don't visit my Cub Pack. I'm sure

> you would be a very unhappy camper with your attitude.


If I took it over, I'd have them all in uniform next year and prove your beliefs about their inability to obtain them are false.


I learned about this from the local baseball league. All of the parents in my pack who said they could never afford a uniform bought $300 baseball bats for their sons to play baseball. They also bought them complete baseball uniforms. Why? Because Dizzy Dean is strict on uniforming. Boys not in complete uniform at games are out of the game and can't go on the field.


> You do realize that there is NO requirement

> that Scouts or Scouters wear a uniform at all?


Yes. Our local boy scout troops apparently don't care and require the uniform strictly anyway. My unit does as well.


I've had many claims of hardship and that it is too expensive, but we've held firm on it as the local baseball league is also absolutely rigid on the uniform, and everyone finds a way to get one, apparently. I no longer am a believer in the family that can't get a uniform - since they all manage it despite initial objections.


> So how does one differentiate between

> "uniform police bullying" and "strongly pushing?"


I require the socks, pants, and shirt. We provide the neckers.


To me, uniform police tell people they can't wear an eagle dad pin, or that their knots are upside down on their shirts, or that the religious emblem goes over the left pocket, or that the oa sash can't go over the belt.


I am not concerned with the badges on the uniform. I am concerned with the actual clothing itself.


> The consensus of today is that there is only slight

> if no importance at all of uniforming.


Where is that? Our local boy scout troops all require it. They are intensely strict about it.


> The boys don't want to wear it


The boys don't want to wear the uniform when the adults are not proud to wear it and don't get on them when they do not wear it. Set foot in a local scout hut out of uniform, and everyone immediately starts in on you. "Where's your uniform, son? Did you forget something?"


They start wearing it when you hold firm on its importance and shake your head when they say they can't afford it. I've looked a parent who said they can't afford it in the eye and said, "You got cable TV? Cancel it. One month of that costs more than a uniform. You got an iphone? Sell it. You got a truck with jacked up tires? Costs about $5000 to do that to a truck. Sell it."


I am not one of those people who is sympathetic to people who choose to be poor. They need guidance in decision making, not sympathy.


> Uniforming is a touchy subject on this forum.


So what?

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BSA 24


Man what an uninformed bigotted attitude you have. I happen to agree with SP 100% here, and he and I are rarely in agreement. As a long time volunteer and former DE I have seen SM's with their militaristic self important attiudes like yours and in every case their troops shrank to the size of less than 10 or completely folded, or the CO got fed up with them and booted them out of the troop. That being said, yes it would be nice if everyone was in full uniform but that is not and can not in some cases ever be the reality. Scouting is about building character, leadership, and teaching scoutcraft skills they can use the rest of their lives the uniform is just a visible symbol of those values to outsiders, it does not make the boys better scouts. Argue all you want to the contrary but the reality is that you are plainly wrong.


As a former ASM, years ago, for a dirt poor ghetto troop in east LA it was a rough road to get those boys in uniform at all. Fundraisers in the area were near impossible since 75% were on welfare the rest making minimum wage. Over time we managed to scrounge up some second hand shirts and camping equipment. You never saw more proud scouts when they were picked to march in a local parade with those uniform shirts, and I would dare you to tell them they were not true scouts because they were not in full uniform.


So BSA 24 get off your high horse already because you do not know what you are talking about. By the way how many scouts are in your troop? In that troop in east LA they had over 70 active and fully participating scouts.

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Hello BSA,



Personally, I don't regard it as my job to require that boys and adults wear the uniform. That's the easy and slack method to use.


My job is to encourage boys and adults to wear the uniform with pride because it's something they choose to do.


As I noted earlier, my personal contributions to this are to wear the uniform myself to set the example, and to provide boys and registered leaders with a neckerchief and slide. By wearing the neckerchief and slide they are considered to be in uniform --- beyond that they decide for themselves.


Personally I'm not an admirer of youth sports teams, which tend to use force and power rather than personal motivation to get people to follow their rules.


I prefer to cultivate personal pride and self motivation instead of force to gain compliance.


But you are welcome to your methods if they work for you and your unit.



(This message has been edited by seattlepioneer)

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People are willing to wear a uniform they think is a) functional, b) affordable and c) something they are proud of.


For many, the current BSA uniform is d) none of the above.


You can badger people into wearing a uniform. But that is the lowest form of promoting any uniform. Even in the military, hitting people over the head with the regulation will gain nothing but begruding compliance. And then noncompliance as soon as your back is turned.


For sustained, willful, cheerful, enthusiastic uniforming, there must be pride and mutual respect. Especially in a volunteer organization where the uniform isn't required.


Some folks have a "uniform itch" that is "scratched" by their involvement in the BSA. Many of these folks mean well, but come across just as BadenP described: "militaristic self important attitudes."


The uniform is a means to an end, not the end. Wearing a complete uniform is beneficial but it sure isn't the ultimate goal, any more than sewing on the Magical Ring of World Peace patch(or whatevertheheck that thing is) with officially identify a scout as an ambassador of world peace. The uniform doesn't make the scout. Ultimately it's the instilled values of scouting that make the scout.


I had two SMs from my scouting days that were "open ranks march" martinets. They had their good qualities, but their over the top zeal for small stuff at the expense of big stuff showed in other areas too. On the other hand, I had one SM who was very strict but said nothing about uniforms. He wore his properly, and so the did the scouts. He was afforded the highest respect, because he respected us. The aforementioned martinets? Not so much.

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Yah, I think BSA24 is right, eh? There's real merit to uniforming and the Uniform Method. Signs of group identity are important, and it's always fun to travel in uniform and meet fellow scouts and scouters around the world.


Like all da Methods of Scouting, though, it's easy to accidentally turn the Method into the Goal, and when we do that we lose our way. For some reason, Uniforming and Advancement are particularly susceptible to adults inadvertently turning them into goals, and in so doing weakening their scout programs.


Our goals with respect to uniforming are character and citizenship (though I reckon for adults the Fitness goal should be included ;) ). The point of uniforming is self-identification, eh? Wearin' the symbols of a group is a sign of pride in the group, and it identifies the group to outsiders. In that way, the worldwide use of da neckerchief works very well, eh? Aside from da U.S., everybody recognizes it, is proud of it. There's also a lot of room for customization. It's a good symbol. Even when you're doin' a lot of activities where being gussied-up just isn't appropriate, the necker works. It leads to all of the fine things BSA24 reports, and the cost is negligible even in poor nations.


Our problem here in da U.S. has long been that we turned uniforming into an adult-run thing, rather than a youth self-identification thing. So we adopted a pseudo-3rd-world military-style field uniform (it actually closely resembles East African military uniforms). At the same time we inexplicably discouraged military-style camoflage BDU/working uniforms that the kids liked better, ignored da other styles that kids self-identified with, and hired a famous dress designer to align us with culturally gay fashion sense. :p


Which in turn forced us to be adult-run in the way BSA24 describes if we want buy-in and adoption among the boys. Da problem with that is that it becomes much harder to teach the lessons of character and citizenship that way, eh? They get all muddled up with obedience and sartorial perfection.


Uniformin' works best when there is that sense of self-identification, and it teaches character only when it's a choice. We learn and demonstrate character by the choices we make, not by what we wear. So when yeh take away the choice, and da self-identification, yeh lose the goal.





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Our Pack requires uniforms to be worn at all Den and Pack meetings for all boys and adult leaders. We never say the uniform is "optional." Typcially, if there is a true fianacial hardship, a parent will privately come to us and we will go from there and see what we can to do to help. All of our boys wear their uniforms at every meeting and I never point out and embarass a scout that is out of uniform - I'm simply glad he is there.


From my experience, parents will get their son a uniform if they are sold on the program and their sons enjoy it, even the ones with financial hardships.


Our Pack is not a uniform police and we don't do uniform inspections, but Scouting is a uniformed organization and we want to identify with it as best as possible.



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We were discusing what is considered being in uniform really means, full load or shirt and necker. Just because you agree with BSA24's hard arse opinion does not make him or you correct unless you want to pull some more of your countrified legalese out and start quoting the uniform regulations, then you would be just as out of touch with reality as BSA24 and National are, except maybe you would be a little nicer than BSA24's prejudicial remarks.

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