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"Unofficial uniform"

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I stick to policing my own uniform, especially since I came (late) to the recognition that BSA has no "uniform," simply a varierty of clothing items sold by BSA that it wishes us to wear and uniformity be hanged.

 

Having said that. skeptic, I do so admire someone who can be wrong and get indignant about it.

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I hate those Tot in Chit and Fire em Chip patches, and not only for the pocket flap shape. The pocket flap shape encourages wear in the incorrect location, but putting that aside the patch is pointless. The actual card is required for any activity, as anyone can just buy the patch, and who is going to be chopping wood of building fires in field uniform?

 

This is just one more pointless patch to clutter the uniform; no wonder the other scouting orgs have such fun at our expense. ... excess insignia is a bad thing.

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This is awesome! I guess I'm one of the old farts now. Over the past 40+ years I've received 13 square knots, two Eagle Dad pins, and a partridge in a pear tree. Yes I wear all 13 knots because they outline my scouting adventure that I shared with two daughters and three sons. I proudly display that two of my sons are Eagle Scouts and I will be adding an Eagle Scout grandparent pin as soon as he completes his project.  I ain't gotten paid and I bought my own clothes and I really don't give one twitch about what somebody else thinks about how I decorate my clothes.  Very very very few wear a complete uniform with everything is perfectly placed.  Anyway, that's my view on things and if you agree that's fine and if you don't, you are the one stressing about it, not meeeeee!

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This is a great post and is sure to keep going.  A few points to bring up.  During my treks at Philmont, none of our crew ever wore the uniform on the trails, but hiking clothes for the event.  We only wore the full uniform in the base camp and traveling to and from home.  National Jamboree we wore a mix of T-shirt and field shirt, but full uniform traveling and visiting Washington DC.  World Jamboree just about everyone had a T-shirt and the neckerchief was the common uniform item for participants.

I'm on the side of scout sense letting the event dictate the uniform.  As I had a recent discussion with a newly assigned parent, its about being present and participating rather than looking like a model.  Do what they can to get a shirt first and make it a short sleeve as they can wear it year-round and with a long sleeve T-shirt under it at times. 

The UP are the same types that sit in a chair at a campout, never get up, and yell at the scouts from a distance.  They are also the type that don't like hiking staves or a kid whittling a stick.  I like the spoof badges and patches, but again the event drives the look.  Even had one of these types tell a scout they couldn't wear a paracord woggle as they hadn't completed  woodbadge.

To keep this short:  It would be great to place a "uniform police" sign overnight near there location where these types could get a subtle hint about how they act.         

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On 8/27/2019 at 6:10 PM, Mrjeff said:

This is awesome! I guess I'm one of the old farts now. Over the past 40+ years I've received 13 square knots, two Eagle Dad pins, and a partridge in a pear tree. Yes I wear all 13 knots because they outline my scouting adventure that I shared with two daughters and three sons. I proudly display that two of my sons are Eagle Scouts and I will be adding an Eagle Scout grandparent pin as soon as he completes his project.  I ain't gotten paid and I bought my own clothes and I really don't give one twitch about what somebody else thinks about how I decorate my clothes.  Very very very few wear a complete uniform with everything is perfectly placed.  Anyway, that's my view on things and if you agree that's fine and if you don't, you are the one stressing about it, not meeeeee!

I find this attitude to be rather disappointing, and it's exactly the kind of nonchalant apathy that I hope I can encourage the Scouts under my care to overcome.

When we look at the uniform as just clothing, with the idea that we can do whatever we want and guidelines be hanged, then we are breeding in our youth the idea that how we dress doesn't matter. This is patently false. How we dress and present ourselves, whether we like it or not, sends a message. It sends a message about who we are. It sends a message about what we believe, and what we do. It gives those with whom we interact as clue about how we will treat them, and how we wish to be treated. In some ways, while you can't judge a book by it's cover, you may certainly get a clue as to what the book is about.

In that sense, the uniform is not merely clothing - it's a symbol. It represents the ideals of Scouting, our values and our principles. It reflects our commitment to the Oath and Law, and as it acquires the various emblems of rank or badges of recognition, it also sends a message about our skills or roles. Conversely, it can also reflect our motives and desires - especially for adults. The leader who wontanly smothers his uniform with every emblem he or she has ever earned with complete disregard for official regulations just to show off what they have earned sends a message of vanity and willfulness is just as unbecoming as the gaudy display of self-flattery they present on their over-decked shirts. And as always, they hope they can lessen the impact of their reckless example by making those who care about these things 'the bad guys.' The term 'uniform police' is only ever brought up by those who wish to defy the rules but make others feel bad about it. 

The most unfortunate thing is that generally, those who parade themselves about as 'seasoned leaders,' those who flagrantly ignore standard protocols of uniform wear just so they can show off every last award they have ever earned, tend to be those who care the least about what we are trying to teach boys through the uniform method, which can be just as powerful as the patrol method or the outdoor method in teaching youth to be better, upright citizens and leaders. We teach them to stop and consider how they present themselves to the world. We teach them to think about how they dress, how they groom themselves, and what their role in society could be. We ask them to remember that paying attention to the little things such as buttons and patches will better prepare them for bigger things, like how they talk to others, and how they treat their families and friends. It's all connected, and how we, as leaders, present ourselves will surely find fruit in how these Scouts do so in the future - be it good or ill.

To those who flaunt their disregard for this principle, I can only say that they have my pity, and I find such ostentatious displays of their awards self-serving and rather vain. 

On 8/27/2019 at 6:10 PM, Mrjeff said:

"Very very very few wear a complete uniform with everything is perfectly placed." (sic)

And yet, these are the individuals I respect most of all. 

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31 minutes ago, The Latin Scot said:

And yet, these are the individuals I respect most of all. 

You and me both.

When I see scouters bragging about their slovenly uniform habits and then making stupid statements about "uniform police" and the like, I have to wonder why they ever joined scouting in the first place.

The uniform is one of the methods of scouting. Just like patrol method, just like advancements, etc. It contributes to developing strong values in youth.

When somebody sees a scout uniform, they know it represents values like "Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Cheerful, Thrifty, Clean and Reverent."  The scout uniform has stood for those things for more than a century.  Times may change, but those values are still valuable. Perhaps moreso than ever as we live in a society with fewer role models who actually exemplify role models worth emulating.

U.S. Marines wear their uniforms with pride because they know that it's not just clothing, it's a symbol of who they are and what they hold dear. That's the same reason that the best scouts and scouters wear their complete, proper uniforms.  

Thanks Latin Scot for saying what needed to be said!  

Edited by mrkstvns
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Just to be clear ...

57 minutes ago, The Latin Scot said:

... The term 'uniform police' is only ever brought up by those who wish to defy the rules but make others feel bad about it.  ...

I never felt bad about uniform police. Given as obsessively as I inspected my scouts when I was an SPL, I could have been called one. No problem, it was usually my dimes or my time that got whatever award I would give to the PL with the sharpest looking boys.

But, I would call them on the carpet when they misstated a rule. Like when someone dressed down my scout for not having a standard issue neckerchief slide. I said, "You might not like it, but it is in uniform, plus the knot he made with real rope is 10x more valuable then that stamped piece of metal that can't hold a yard of cloth together for more than one rugged boy-hour on a good day."

Scouts have learned that I'll give them a straight answer when they ask about insignia. And if I don't know, I'll get back to them with an opinion and supporting literature.

So, as we mature, we need to be less uniform police and more insignia dorks!

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34 minutes ago, qwazse said:

So, as we mature, we need to be less uniform police and more insignia dorks!

"Tell me about this patch" is far more interesting than "this patch doesn't meet regulation".

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I dont agree with you.  Also, another in service training for those who think that it is their responsiblity to criticize how others wear their uniform.  The red jackets are a personal item and can be decorated however the owner desires. So, like I said, my uniform, my money, my choice, so I'll put on it what I want.  If you are that stuck on "proper uniforming" I would suggest that you study the rules, look at the pictures in the OFFICIAL publications including BSA catalogs and magazines, look at photos of area, regional, and national volunteers and ask yourself if it really is your business to correct, criticize, or comment on another's uniform.  I couldn't care any less about somebody's uniform because I'm just glad to see them. And if this disappoints you or keeps you up at night I suggest you add some adventure to your life, loosen up, and enjoy scouting for the fun of scouting.

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On 9/13/2019 at 1:39 PM, The Latin Scot said:

When we look at the uniform as just clothing, with the idea that we can do whatever we want and guidelines be hanged, then we are breeding in our youth the idea that how we dress doesn't matter. This is patently false. How we dress and present ourselves, whether we like it or not, sends a message. It sends a message about who we are. It sends a message about what we believe, and what we do. It gives those with whom we interact as clue about how we will treat them, and how we wish to be treated. In some ways, while you can't judge a book by it's cover, you may certainly get a clue as to what the book is about.

In that sense, the uniform is not merely clothing - it's a symbol. It represents the ideals of Scouting, our values and our principles. It reflects our commitment to the Oath and Law, and as it acquires the various emblems of rank or badges of recognition, it also sends a message about our skills or roles. Conversely, it can also reflect our motives and desires - especially for adults. The leader who wontanly smothers his uniform with every emblem he or she has ever earned with complete disregard for official regulations just to show off what they have earned sends a message of vanity and willfulness is just as unbecoming as the gaudy display of self-flattery they present on their over-decked shirts. And as always, they hope they can lessen the impact of their reckless example by making those who care about these things 'the bad guys.' The term 'uniform police' is only ever brought up by those who wish to defy the rules but make others feel bad about it. 

I'm reminded about a conversation I had yesterday with my mother (a retired elementary school teacher). We were talking about how the words we write convey a lot about who we are.  I was thanking my mother for instilling that realization in me as a young person.  I see the same thing with the uniform.  As was eloquently said above - a well worn uniform says a lot about who you are as a person and your own personal standards.

Teaching Scouts to represent themselves well is a critical life skill - one that will pay off over and over again later in life.  Also, I find that others will recognize it when you carry yourself well.  It's not a stretch to say that carrying yourself well can lead to improved self confidence - a crucial life skill.

But, I find that along with presenting themself well, a Scout needs to learn some class.  This is where uniforming plays a second role.  How a Scout (or Scouter) encourages others to uniform well is a mark of who they are as well.  You want to teach Scouts to encourage others - but not come off as a know it all.  Since, we adults set the tone, it's important for us to correct uniform mistakes with some dignity.  A personal motto I follow is encourage, but don't criticize.  If a Scouter in your unit is wearing jeans, privately encourage him/her to get some BSA pants.  If he doesn't get the message periodically encourage him/her about it.  But, avoid coming out and saying "you shouldn't wear jeans with your uniform." Similarly, put encouragements in the context of youth.  If you've got a Scouter who is wearing 3 JTE patches, in a quiet moment encourage him/her to pick one and explain how the troop is really trying to encourage the Scouts to wear the current JTE patch and you need their help in focusing scouts on the current patch.  But, if you absolutely need to be direct - and sometimes you do - do it discretely and one-on-one.  As the saying goes - praise in public, criticize in private.

 

Edited by ParkMan
expanded the thought
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10 hours ago, DuctTape said:

So thank you to TLS for his years of posting in defense of the uniform as a method. It was not that long ago when I finally saw the light. 

I'm touched that you would ascribe to me such credit; sometimes I read over my posts and wonder if anybody will ever take the time to actually read them (they are long after all). To know that something I wrote might have made a difference to somebody is heartening. Thank you. 

3 hours ago, ParkMan said:

How a Scout (or Scouter) encourages others to uniform well is a mark of who they are as well.  You want to teach Scouts to encourage others - but not come off as a know it all.  Since, we adults set the tone, it's important for us to correct uniform mistakes with some dignity.

I am so grateful to you for wording this so well. I try to model this principle when I train new Cub Scout den leaders at University of Scouting. One thing I do at the start of every session is hold a surprise uniform inspection for the new leaders. They always come up looking rather nervous, and often terribly embarrassed. But before I start I always smile and tell them in reassuring tones "remember - if I correct something on your uniform, it isn't wrong - it's just not right yet!" Remind them that you're there to help them get it right, not to put them down when something is off. Done with a smile and a cheerful attitude, it helps them realize that reviewing the uniform is not about condemning flaws or putting people down; rather, it's about getting ourselves to look our best so that the Scouts we lead can get the solid, model examples that they deserve. And without fail, they always end up grateful for the discussion about what the uniform does, why it matters, and how we can use it to mould better youth and encourage better behavior. We should be thrilled at any opportunity to improve ourselves and refine our program! If not, what in the world are we teaching these kids?

Edited by The Latin Scot

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Like I clearly stated, I have my own opinion and if its offensive or off-putting to you, I dont care. I made no assumptions about issues like character or values. I did say THAT IF YOU ARE THAT FOCUSED ON THE UNIFORM perhaps you should focus on the person and not his CLOTHES. I would also suggest that I am very aware of proper uniformity after having spent many years in the United States Marine Corps, and as a senior law enforcement.  Covers or hats were mandatory regardless of the emergence of a situation, footwear and undergarments were regulated. I grew up in a scouting world where socks and LEATHER SHOES WERE REQUIRED, as were necherchief and slide. During my first Wood Badge course your shirt was devoid of insignia, shorts and knee socks were required and a detailed uniform inspection was conducted every morning.   As far as I can tell this rigidity had little or no effect on my value,  character, work ethic, or overall view of humanity. I heard a Wood Badge scoutmaster make the statement that a hand made woggle is only for use by Wooc Badge participants; and I heard an adult tell a scout that they can't wear a handmade woggle as it is only for use by Wood Badgers. Well when I had to wear shorts and knee socks it was clearly explained that everything we did, including wiggles was to be applied to our units. Somewhere the entire focused has shifted from having a grand time to regulation, oversize, teaching lifes lessons, and control.  Even the mission statement fails to mention "fun".  Perhaps that is why our membership is down and young people would rather do something else.  My training, education, and experience has led me to believe that "if it ain't fun, the kids wont do it".  So, continue to focuse on the clothes and lesson teaching if you want to; but I will continue to focus on the youth and their desire to have good clean fun.  As I previously stated, THIS IS MY OPINION AND NO AMOUNT OF ELOQUENT DIALOGUE IS GOING TO CHANGE IT.  Your opinion is important even if I dont agree with it and I would respectfully suggest that you do what you do, and mind your own opinion without attempting to change the important opinions of others.  Unit leaders are responsible for the appearance of their unit and adults are responsible for their own appearance.  And since I agree that there are no real uniform or patch police no one has the responsibility of correcting or criticizing another's choice in what they put on their shirt. If someone feels that it is their duty to do so they assume the position of the mythical uniform police.

 

 

 

 

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@MrjeffI respect that you don't want to engage in a discussion on this and that you don't see yourself changing your mind.  Permit me to choose some quotes from your comment:

Quote

Somewhere the entire focused has shifted from having a grand time to regulation, oversize, teaching lifes lessons, and control.   Even the mission statement fails to mention "fun".  Even the mission statement fails to mention "fun".  Perhaps that is why our membership is down and young people would rather do something else.  My training, education, and experience has led me to believe that "if it ain't fun, the kids wont do it"

Quote

So, continue to focuse on the clothes and lesson teaching if you want to; but I will continue to focus on the youth and their desire to have good clean fun.

I fully understand your perspective here.  In fact, the longer I volunteer, the more often than I make the same argument.  However, I'm commenting as I think this sets up a false choice.  

Programming is the most important thing we do as Scouters.  Scouting has to be fun - without doubt.  But, I also think Scouting is about role modeling.  Scouting calls is "adult association".  How we as adults conduct ourselves is important.  Choice comments that we make from time to time are important.  If Scouts see us show up in well presented uniform, that says something.  If in the midst of a 90 minute troop meeting you make a comment to a Scout to tuck in his shirt - that is noticed.  

Whether in large part or in small part, Scout leaders serve as role models.  I'm not suggesting for a minute that a leader needs to be endlessly talking about uniforms.  But, when those moments present themselves - well placed uniform comments help provide life lessons.

Again - It's not that uniforming is more important than fun. It's that there will be many opportunities between the fun to help Scouts internalize why uniforming is important.  When one ignores the impact of those lessons they become missed opportunities.  

Quote

Your opinion is important even if I dont agree with it and I would respectfully suggest that you do what you do, and mind your own opinion without attempting to change the important opinions of others.  Unit leaders are responsible for the appearance of their unit and adults are responsible for their own appearance.  And since I agree that there are no real uniform or patch police no one has the responsibility of correcting or criticizing another's choice in what they put on their shirt. If someone feels that it is their duty to do so they assume the position of the mythical uniform police.

I get your point here.  I'd suggest that our Scouting community is confused about what standards we should set.  Scouters, just like Scouts & parents, are confused by the dichotomy of Scouting as a "game" and as a "game with a purpose".  Are we here simply to have fun or are we here to have fun and help these kids to grow in the process?  If subscribe to the latter and believe that uniforming provides a golden opportunity to help Scouts learn some important life lessons.

On "uniform police" - again, as I stated above, we need to raise standards in a way that provides some dignity.  Being that Scouter who runs around telling others how their uniform is wrong isn't the answer.  But, when placed into a position of authority, we should be setting the example and encouraging others constructively.  A unit leader or seasoned leader that discourages proper uniforming is doing those newer adult leaders a disservice.  Those newer adults leaders look to us for the example.  

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