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"Unofficial uniform"

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1 hour ago, dkurtenbach said:

It is no coincidence that those two Methods are the ones with highly detailed rules and requirements governing a large number and wide variety of separate applications (specific rank and award requirements in the case of Advancement; specific badges, patches, pins, dangly things, loops, sashes, neckerchiefs, hats, belts, and other uniform parts and accessories in the case of Uniform).

  • The more numerous, detailed, and specific the rules are, the more opportunities there are to miss something or get something wrong.
  • The more numerous, detailed, and specific the rules are, the more opportunities there are for a range of opinions and practices to develop concerning application of the rules.
  • The more numerous, detailed, and specific the rules are, the more opportunities there are to get wrapped up in the rules and forget (or ignore) the point of the Method. 

I think the detailed rules were a result of adults not using the method appropriately. I do agree that they have also become a metric of success instead of a means to an end. 

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I agree with @dkurtenbach

As retired military, my observations about uniforms:

- People will eagerly wear a uniform they are proud of

- People will readily comply with uniform regulations that make sense and are not a bunch of "thou shalt nots"

Granted, the military must wear the "uniform of the day" or suffer consequences.  But looking back over three decades, there were certain unpopular uniforms that folks tried every which way not to wear if they were the UOD. 

The BSA uniform is an overpriced, frumpy, dumpy looking thing, designed by a committee of hand-selected gold loopers.  Needlessly complicated styling.   Too many dangles, gimcracks, geegaws.

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3 minutes ago, desertrat77 said:

The BSA uniform is an overpriced, frumpy, dumpy looking thing, designed by a committee of hand-selected gold loopers.  Needlessly complicated styling.   Too many dangles, gimcracks, geegaws.

Ah, another "adult" with an opinion. 

I know that scouts develop somewhat the behaviors and habits of their adult mentors, but less is more in the power of developing growth. As a trainer, I explained that Scoutmasters only need to set the example of following the guidelines of their handbooks and quietly watch how scouts to choose to follow the guidelines of their handbooks. 

One of the struggles I had with the veterans  (One Air Force General) was the perception that the uniform instilled pride. A boy would feel pride of being a scout simply by wearing the uniform. I explained that while their pride may start out that way for new scouts, their experience would eventually drive how a scout wanted to express himself with the uniform. That is why a patrol of scouts with freewill don't typically dress quite the same. Each are at their own place of experience and confidence in life.  I also think that is really what these veterans were feeling without realizing it. But, scouts first need a program of experiences to develop an opinion, then they can express their pride. For youth, uniform starts as an expression of oneself and has grows toward an expression their experience. That is why a scout choosing to wear something they have no pride for can be so challenging. That is why adult opinions can corrupt the process of a scouts growth.

Barry

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7 minutes ago, Eagledad said:

Ah, another "adult" with an opinion. 

I know that scouts develop somewhat the behaviors and habits of their adult mentors, but less is more in the power of developing growth. As a trainer, I explained that Scoutmasters only need to set the example of following the guidelines of their handbooks and quietly watch how scouts to choose to follow the guidelines of their handbooks. 

One of the struggles I had with the veterans  (One Air Force General) was the perception that the uniform instilled pride. A boy would feel pride of being a scout simply by wearing the uniform. I explained that while their pride may start out that way for new scouts, their experience would eventually drive how a scout wanted to express himself with the uniform. That is why a patrol of scouts with freewill don't typically dress quite the same. Each are at their own place of experience and confidence in life.  I also think that is really what these veterans were feeling without realizing it. But, scouts first need a program of experiences to develop an opinion, then they can express their pride. For youth, uniform starts as an expression of oneself and has grows toward an expression their experience. That is why a scout choosing to wear something they have no pride for can be so challenging. That is why adult opinions can corrupt the process of a scouts growth.

Barry

Barry, that was quite inspirational.   I think you described "institutionalization" to the letter :)

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"But, scouts first need a program of experiences to develop an opinion, then they can express their pride."

The longer someone is part of the organization, they'll become immune to legitimate flaws and deflect any criticisms of the organization.  Some scouts may follow your philosophy.   But not many.  Take a look at big crowds of scouts and scouters in 2019.  Lots of half measures and foot dragging. 

The uniform is not a mystical thing handed down to us "by the gods."  It's the result of human endeavor and if they missed the mark, so be it.   While I never criticize the BSA uniform in public, and always wear the uniform correctly, I think it's perfectly fine to cuss/discuss its failings amongst us "adults."

I think most folks develop a go/no go opinion about uniformed organizations.  If the uniform is ugly, they aren't joining.  Some may join and slowly become institutionalized, particularly adults.  "It's not so bad after all."  But I think that many more stay away.

 

Edited by desertrat77

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17 minutes ago, desertrat77 said:

I think most folks develop a go/no go opinion about uniformed organizations.  If the uniform is ugly, they aren't joining.  Some may join and slowly become institutionalized, particularly adults.  "It's not so bad after all."  But I think that many more stay away.

OK, I have no scout-like response except that my experience was different.😃

Barry

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2 hours ago, desertrat77 said:

The BSA uniform is an overpriced, frumpy, dumpy looking thing, designed by a committee of hand-selected gold loopers.  Needlessly complicated styling.   Too many dangles, gimcracks, geegaws.

I'm just going to note one thing here. Part of the reason the uniform so often looks poorly is that, frankly, most boys and men don't understand how to dress themselves to their actual size, and so they'll just throw on whatever kind of fits them. If we wouldn't always reach for the most relaxed-fit pants and shirts a size too large with collars all askew, we'd look far better. Most men think "I'm a size large so I'll just buy any shirt sized 'large' and there we go." And most tend to go a size too large at that. They don't even try it on! Heaven forbid we should actually wash and iron our uniforms now and then too. :eek:

And just what are all these "dangles, gimcracks, (and) geegaws" you speak of? All of my patches are nicely sewn on, and with the exception of my OA pocket dangle, nothing is complicated or 'dangling,' and I can hike and work comfortably in it without any trouble. So many of the complaints we hear about the uniform can be mended simply by how we wear it! If your uniform looks 'frumpy,' then do something about it. Source a gently-used shirt online for a bargain price! Find a better fit! Get it tailored even! I've found that over the years, the uniform shirt has gone back and forth with sizing, some years running large, some years running small; different fabrics have different fits, and even these change every few years. Don't just accept the first item in your size and buy it - try things on! Experiment and find one that fits nicely. Sometimes you might find the large shirts made for youth fit smaller adults better, and vice versa. Work with your Scouts even to talk about how to tuck in shirts nicely, sew patches securely, and care for their clothing. These are basic life skills after all. But do something besides complain so that you can look your best, and your kids will notice and follow suit. Don't find fault in a garment simply because most people don't know how to make it look good.

But this goes back to one of my points - the uniform can be a great tool in teaching these youth to care about how they present themselves, and thus how they see themselves. It can inspire feelings of self-worth and confidence, or it can be relegated to yet another arena of apathy and carelessness. Needless to say, the attitude a leader takes towards the methods of Scouting (like the uniform) will unfailingly be reflected in the attitude of his Scouts towards the program in general. The character seeds we now sow will yield fruit more plenteous than we may yet realize - be it good or ill. 

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@TheLatinScot,

Clarification:  my uniform isn't frumpy.   Far from it.  Longtime scout and scouter, 30 years active duty military, former JROTC instructor.  I know how to wear a uniform.  I'm well aware of the psychology behind uniforming.  I'm referring to how others view it, ie, the general public and other scout/scouters.

The geegaws and such:  there are too many authorized patches and extraneous stuff that can be put on the uniform.  Not to mention the array of clutter that is put on the uniform that isn't authorized but folks do it anyway.  This may appeal to some folks, particularly those that are deeply committed to the institution.  But outsiders?  New recruits?  They have their reservations.  They vote with their wallets and their feet.   Simple is always better.

As for tailoring, etc, all good advice, practices that I've followed for years.  But most people will not.  It's a hurdle to have them buy a complete uniform much less go on the extended adventure of tailoring, bargain searching, etc.  The time and expense aren't worth it to them.  So we have the current state of affairs:  most folks don't wear the uniform properly, if they wear it at all. 

Simply put, people willingly wear the uniforms that appeal to them.  No philosophical debates, cajoling, encouraging, berating, cheerleading, handwringing, exhaustive regulations are necessary.  They'll move heaven and earth to wear it.   Why?  They want to be identified with the organization the uniform represents, and they like the "look" of that particular uniform.

In the BSA's case, many don't like the uniform itself.  And many have reservations about being publicly identified as being associated with the BSA.  But the latter is indeed a topic for another thread.

Edited by desertrat77

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On 9/14/2019 at 7:53 PM, Mrjeff said:

 

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.

I don't personally get particularly stuck on the whole issue in general, but it seems that you don't seem to grasp the meaning of the concept of a "uniform".  If all you want to do is wear the BSA shirt, that's fine and you can decorate it however your heart desires.  But by definition, if your patches and emblems aren't arranged to the standard, you aren't "in uniform".

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But if someone chooses to do that it is fully and completely their decision and it is neither my responsibility or duty to correct that person.

I agree that if someone knowingly chooses to wear the uniform improperly or has their patch placements incorrect, it's not anyone else's duty to correct them except perhaps the Scoutmaster.  However, I do think it is generally both the duty and responsibility of people who possess knowledge and experience to pass it on and help correct errors of ignorance.  So while I don't ever harp on anyone who wears an improper uniform by choice, I do make sure that new people or people making a new mistake understand what the official way is, as well as the reasoning behind it.

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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. 

I certainly hope you don't apply this approach to everything you do, and more importantly, I hope you aren't deliberately teaching it to impressionable scouts.  What you've effectively just said here is "I'm obstinate and close-minded about this issue" and recommended that other people should be as well.  Sharing opposing opinions and discussing the pros and cons of alternative views is one of the best methods for learning there is.  I realize that there are always people who take the distribution of their unsolicited opinions too far, but simply deciding "That's enough, I'm no longer going to accept input on this subject" puts one at risk of making bad choices because of how easy it is to let ear plugging on one issue deafen yourself on other issues.

Furthermore, the only way someone's opinion should ever be considered "off the table" for discussion is if it remains unspoken.  By its very nature, to speak or to write is to invite a response and expecting anything else just isn't reasonable.

Edited by elitts

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Yep, same old debate.

I think we have two much bigger Uniform Method issues. 

  • The BSA has somehow managed to produce a "field" uniform that BSA itself says is for indoor and ceremonial use, not really for outdoor activities. 
  • Beyond that, BSA is producing Cub Scouts and Scouts BSA members who look like Christmas trees.  

Both of these developments discourage the use of the Uniform Method where it would be most useful:  out in the world, while doing Scouting.  If uniforms are just "for showin', not for blowin'," what good are they really?

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18 minutes ago, elitts said:

I don't get particularly stuck on the whole issue in general, but it seems that you don't seem to grasp the meaning of the concept of a "uniform".  If all you want to do is wear the BSA shirt, that's fine and you can decorate it however your heart desires.  But by definition, if your patches and emblems aren't arranged to the standard, you aren't "in uniform".

One thing that rankles me is when adults turn uniforming into a binary affair of "in" vs. "out" of uniform.

I send them to a standard issue inspection sheet (https://mediafiles.scoutshop.org/m2pdf/50015_Leaders_Unif_InspFNL.pdf) and say, "So our epic ASM still has his rank patch from way-back-when. Dock him 5 points."

This epic scouter is 95% uniformed.

I am on the verge of being an epic scouter. But, in the winter I'm usually 75% uniformed. (Pants and belt. Sorry, but the Amish leather-worker down the road from my in-laws works some very thick hides into simple masterpieces that have outlasted every other belt that I've had.) Maybe 70% if you want to hack at that mentor pin. Closer to 90% when I'm in my venturing uni because standard issue pants aren't required.

So here you have two epic or near-epic scouters: one 95%, the other 75% uniformed. But, I make the best coffee you'll ever find at a World Jamboree. I win. :)

Yes, I am fine with a good scouter uniforming at 50% ... especially if such a scouter has a cobbler waiting for me at the end of a long day guiding youth to success.

I think the best thing we can do for our youth is try @The Latin Scot's suggestions for looking sharp, yet be honest with our scouts about our grade on the inspection sheet. Encourage them to grade themselves honestly, and see how they develop over time.

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11 minutes ago, qwazse said:

One thing that rankles me is when adults turn uniforming into a binary affair of "in" vs. "out" of uniform.

I send them to a standard issue inspection sheet (https://mediafiles.scoutshop.org/m2pdf/50015_Leaders_Unif_InspFNL.pdf) and say, "So our epic ASM still has his rank patch from way-back-when. Dock him 5 points."

This epic scouter is 95% uniformed.

I am on the verge of being an epic scouter. But, in the winter I'm usually 75% uniformed. (Pants and belt. Sorry, but the Amish leather-worker down the road from my in-laws works some very thick hides into simple masterpieces that have outlasted every other belt that I've had.) Maybe 70% if you want to hack at that mentor pin. Closer to 90% when I'm in my venturing uni because standard issue pants aren't required.

So here you have two epic or near-epic scouters: one 95%, the other 75% uniformed. But, I make the best coffee you'll ever find at a World Jamboree. I win. :)

Yes, I am fine with a good scouter uniforming at 50% ... especially if such a scouter has a cobbler waiting for me at the end of a long day guiding youth to success.

I think the best thing we can do for our youth is try @The Latin Scot's suggestions for looking sharp, yet be honest with our scouts about our grade on the inspection sheet. Encourage them to grade themselves honestly, and see how they develop over time.

Well, I agree in the sense that wearing a uniform shouldn't be considered "pass/fail" and in general I'd never seriously criticize anyone for failing to wear a complete uniform.  But when it comes to "being in full uniform" I don't think you can consider that to be anything less than 100% (except perhaps minus the socks if someone is wearing pants).  However, the only times I've ever been absolutely insistent about being in "full uniform" was for anyone going to serve as "Governor's Honor Guard" at Mackinac Island (Michigan) or something similarly formal and public where we are representing the organization.

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31 minutes ago, qwazse said:

I think the best thing we can do for our youth is try @The Latin Scot's suggestions for looking sharp, yet be honest with our scouts about our grade on the inspection sheet. Encourage them to grade themselves honestly, and see how they develop over time.

Yep. Scouts being honest with themselves is the goal. The hard part for adults is as qwazse said, "Encourage them to grade themselves honestly, and see how they develop over time. Each adult has their own style of encouraging, but the objective is for the scout, not the adult, to make conscious effort to develop habits of good decisions. I found the uniform is a very powerful method for developing good habits of character, if the adults could just get past their own hangups. 

By the way, doesn't the handbook still give instructions for wearing the uniform?

Barry

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On 9/16/2019 at 6:06 PM, dkurtenbach said:

This is the same uniform debate I've seen on various Scouting discussion forums for the last 25 years.  Lots of passion for a few days until the participants are worn out, but no resolution.

The reason this topic gets debated and never resolved is because it's not a discussion about uniforms. The issue at hand is how adults approach Scouting.

Many Scouters look at the program, embrace it's structure, and then utilize it to it's fullest.  Others look at the program and say "I agree with about 85% of this" and then focus on the aspects they agree with the most.  Others of us treat Scouting as a fun activity with kids, are just happy Scouts are there, and don't rock the boat.  I could go on...

Clearly there's some fear and trepidation here.  The root concern is that if you push uniforming, Scout's won't like it and will leave. So, we develop little tricks to let people know it's OK to downplay uniforming.  Fun patches, jeans instead of pants, don't wear the knots.  Others outright criticize it - it's ugly or it's poorly made.  But, again the real trick here is to do the opposite - embrace the uniform and use it as a vehicle for other life lessons - pride in Scouting, pride in your troop, pride in your friends, a way to develop self confidence.  But those lessons require a different conversation - and we're not all up for that.  So, for many - they find it easier, more fun, more convenient to simply downplay the uniform and move on.

Edited by ParkMan
clarified a thought
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