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FireStone

Does National want to kill the uniform?

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On 6/6/2019 at 9:09 AM, FireStone said:

It seems odd to me, though. Especially the photos of girls, after all we've seen and heard about girls being so proud to join and wear the uniform, wouldn't that be an angle the BSA would want to emphasize? I'm not sure there's a better image of the BSA being fully open to girls than a photo of a girl in a BSA uniform.

I know marketing materials aren't policy, and neither is the examples set by various folks from National and around the national organization, it just seems to me like another point of conflict between what local folks say and what National shows us by example. I've even heard from a parent in our unit that they are upset that we don't enforce uniform policy more. They force their kid to wear the uniform at every activity and event, and they say we should require all scouts to do the same. That's a tough sell already, when our Pack just spent a bunch of money on nice Class B t-shirts. Now we've got fliers going out to all the schools showing kids in t-shirts, but I'm supposed to enforce stricter uniform standards? If I go by what National is giving us, I would think it should be the opposite, de-emphasizing the uniform.

My former Troop (just former because my boys aged out of it) had Activity shirts, and most boys wore them under their field uniform shirts. They wore the Field Uniform every meeting and to and while travelling.  If a meeting was going to have a game involving running, etc., most scouts took of their field uniform shirts and were just in their activity shirts.  

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1 hour ago, perdidochas said:

My former Troop (just former because my boys aged out of it) had Activity shirts, and most boys wore them under their field uniform shirts. They wore the Field Uniform every meeting and to and while travelling.  If a meeting was going to have a game involving running, etc., most scouts took of their field uniform shirts and were just in their activity shirts.  

@perdidochasSame with ours.  ... I flip-flop on whether BSA uniform is CEREMONIAL or FUNCTIONAL

Sports analogy ...  

  • Football players don't wear full uniform to ceremonies.  At best, maybe the jersey.  Usually, suit and tie.
  • Basketball players don't wear shiny shorts to press conferences.  They usually wear street clothes.  
  • Coaches (aka adult leaders) rarely wear the team uniform.  Maybe baseball.  
  • Players just don't suit up for meetings and ceremonies.  The uniform is for doing the activity. 

Military analogy ... Most military branches separate dress and activity uniforms.  Dress uniforms are kept sharp. activity uniforms get worn hard.  

Scouts ...  

  • Functionally bad...
    • Shirts with patches everywhere and pins marking years and hanging patches for temporary events.  Some sew on huge patch areas on the shirt beyond the uniforming guide.  
    • New heavy cloth pants are really not my preferred cloth for hiking.  I'd rather have something light weight that breaths.  
    • Zip-off pants are really more zip-lost in my house.  It's just too hard to track and keep coordinated.  
    • As for position patches, position patches are much more often wrong than right.   

IMHO, the uniform is mainly ceremonial and to create group identity as a group (useful in itself and very useful during travel).  Beyond that, it's just not a "functional" uniform.  

If I could make a uniform change

  • I'd suggest troops have a POR box.  At the start of meetings, scouts with a POR retrieve their POR badge and wear it.  At the end, it's stored again.  It's how our KOC works.  Or have velcro on shoulders and the POR patches have the other velcro side.  
  • I'd suggest the MB sash be enlarged for decorative patches and other meaningful decorations so that we can keep the uniform as clean cut as possible.
Edited by fred8033
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2 hours ago, fred8033 said:

Military analogy ... Most military branches separate dress and activity uniforms.  Dress uniforms are kept sharp. activity uniforms get worn hard.  

Highly astute observation, @fred8033.  As BSA uniforms through the years have mirrored service fatigues, headgear, etc., I'm surprised BSA has allowed the uniform to drift toward "dress" and away from "functional" (shoulder loops?).  All the more surprising what with the availability of technical fabrics.  And the Army's recent field uniforms (BDU/ACU) have been designed toward functional, with liberal use of Velcro.

1 hour ago, Jameson76 said:

Due to the way they are made; the costs, the fabrics, the cut; not sure they are trying to kill it...however....as with many things in the Boys Scouts of America program....whomever is making the decisions (the uniforms in this case) is not really connected to the actual user of the uniforms.

For example, why not a fabric like the Columbia PFG shirt.  Those are literally designed to be breathable, designed to be short and long sleeve, etc etc.  Even on the "Official BSA activity shirts, those are costly.  Our troop gets the A4 dri-fit shirts each summer.  With 2 logos (front chest and full back) they run about $11 each.  That is for a small run of maybe 100.  

Get better gear and people will buy and wear it.

 

Highly agree @Jameson76.  Here're my suggestions for getting back to functional:

  • Cut should be straight (without tail), and insist it NOT be tucked-in (imitating recent Army field uniform - ACU - which isn't tucked).  To be sure, best practice for hiking layers is they should be "worn loosely".
  • Long-sleeve only.  Design should allow sleeves either be down or rolled-up & tabbed (a la the ACU).
  • Velcro position patches - again, akin to the ACU - Absolutely!
  • Fabric: technical “hiking” fabric.  Columbia PFG is a good model.
  • Bring back the neckerchiefs.  Make them out of kerchief fabric that would actually promote their wear on a hike.

 

For particularly messy or rambunctious activity, a troop-specific A-4 worn underneath would provide the best of both worlds.

 

Oh, and one more thing:  ditch the shoulder loops.

 

Edited by AltadenaCraig

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On 6/24/2019 at 4:44 PM, AltadenaCraig said:

Highly astute observation, @fred8033.  As BSA uniforms through the years have mirrored service fatigues, headgear, etc., I'm surprised BSA has allowed the uniform to drift toward "dress" and away from "functional" (shoulder loops?).  All the more surprising what with the availability of technical fabrics.  And the Army's recent field uniforms (BDU/ACU) have been designed toward functional, with liberal use of Velcro.

 

Highly agree @Jameson76.  Here're my suggestions for getting back to functional:

  • Cut should be straight (without tail), and insist it NOT be tucked-in (imitating recent Army field uniform - ACU - which isn't tucked).  To be sure, best practice for hiking layers is they should be "worn loosely".
  • Long-sleeve only.  Design should allow sleeves either be down or rolled-up & tabbed (a la the ACU).
  • Velcro position patches - again, akin to the ACU - Absolutely!
  • Fabric: technical “hiking” fabric.  Columbia PFG is a good model.
  • Bring back the neckerchiefs.  Make them out of kerchief fabric that would actually promote their wear on a hike.

 

For particularly messy or rambunctious activity, a troop-specific A-4 worn underneath would provide the best of both worlds.

 

Oh, and one more thing:  ditch the shoulder loops.

 

Interesting ideas here.  The uniform of today is effectively:

  • - BSA pants
  • - t-shirt
  • - scout shirt

Our scouts wear uniforms constantly - but not in the field.  It seems to work pretty well for us.  Do we really want a uniform shirt to become something that is worn for hiking and other light activities?  My sense is that Scouts wear t-shirts in the field not because the uniform is unpractical - but that t-shirts, sweat shirts, flannel shirts, etc. are just the most practical choice.  If so, why try to replace that with a uniform?

Sport teams wear uniforms so that you can tell the teams apart.  But, we don't need that for Scouting. 

Do we want a long sleeve shirt when we see 80% of scouts wearing a short sleeve unform shirt?  Mor rugged fabric makes sense, but do we want the cost?  Why not tuck it in?  I get the allure to mimic the ruggedness of the military - they do have cool gear.  But, would it really help?

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8 hours ago, ParkMan said:

Do we want a long sleeve shirt when we see 80% of scouts wearing a short sleeve unform shirt?  Mor rugged fabric makes sense, but do we want the cost?  Why not tuck it in?  I get the allure to mimic the ruggedness of the military - they do have cool gear.  But, would it really help?

Our PLC approached me with the proposal to turn jeans into the official uniform. My response was, "What does your handbook say". Their response was, "WE KNOW WHAT IT SAYS, WE WANT TO CHANGE THE IT". Long story short, 6 months later after doing some research, the PLC proposed of the Olive Drab Military Field pants, or BDUs our official uniform. In those days, the BSA pants didn't have usable side pockets and the fabric was uncomfortable in hot climates. The BDUs were exactly the same color, they were adjustable through 4 sizes, several fabrics to choose from, durable, lots of pockets and a 3rd the price when purchased in quality. I love the idea because they were so practical. But, me being stuck with scouts making good decisions, I said I would give their proposal to Council to make the BDUs official at all BSA activities. I didn't think they would say yes, but they did. 

Anyway, my son told a few months later that many of the scouts were wearing the BDUs to school because they were cool. So yes, mimicking the military uniform might help.

Barry

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10 hours ago, ParkMan said:

Sport teams wear uniforms so that you can tell the teams apart.  But, we don't need that for Scouting. 

Maybe.  I went hiking in northern MI a couple years back and ran into multiple youth groups on the trails.  Is there value in being able to tell the scouts from the local church youth group or YMCA program?  Same story in BWCAW a few years before that.  I'm not a fan of the current field uniform in the field but some sort of uniform in the field is nice.

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On 6/5/2019 at 5:02 PM, FireStone said:

Browsing the latest batches of photos, I'm finding a very noticeable lack of uniform present. Under the "camping" image category for Scouts BSA, there are 52 photos, not one of them showing a Scout in uniform in the field. In fact, as best I can tell, in the entire Scouts BSA photo collection there are only 5 photos that show Scouts in uniform, and they are older images, likely to be phased out some time soon (as it seems to happen with the Brand Center, new images in, old stuff out).

. . . 

If I were to judge the aspirations of the BSA based on what they are putting out in their marketing resources, the photos they create and distribute, my conclusion would be that the scout uniform has been killed off. If these photos are any indication of what the BSA hopes we'll look like in the near future, it's a future without uniforms.

The photos you are seeing in the "camping" category are right in line with guidance from the Handbook (or at least, the 2016 pre-girl printing of the Boy Scout Handbook, page 21):

      The official Boy Scout uniform (sometimes called the "field uniform") includes a Scout shirt, Scout pants or Scout shorts, Scout belt, Scout socks, and shoes or hiking boots. ... Proudly wear your uniform to troop meetings, special ceremonies, and other troop functions where dressing up is appropriate.  When you're headed outdoors to do something active, you can pull on a T-shirt with Scout pants or shorts, or wear other clothing that is appropriate for the events of the day.  This is sometimes called an "activity uniform."

The handbook of my day (late 1960s, Seventh Edition) was full of drawings of Scouts in full uniform hiking, camping, cooking, rendering first aid, and even rowing and canoeing in full uniform with neckerchief and garrison cap.  But that was then.  What we have today is:  The "field" uniform is for dressing up, not for use in the field.  For outdoor activities, wear whatever is appropriate for the activity.  Quite sensible, given that BSA's "field" uniform is not well-suited for camping, hiking, and other activities, but is well-suited for many large, gaudy patches, pins, cords, tabs, dangly things, neckerchiefs, neckerchief slides, sashes, and belts with lots of metal belt loop awards.

As Fred8033 noted, "BSA blew it by not having their own 'reasonably' priced class-b program."  Doing so seems like it would be obvious.  They could have said, "When you're headed outdoors to do something active, you can pull on an official BSA T-shirt, swim trunks, polo shirt, sweatshirt, rugby shirt, fleece pullover, puffy vest, rain shell, jac-shirt, barn jacket, snow pants, parka, or other official BSA clothing that is appropriate for the events of the day, along with your neckerchief (worn loosely, with a friendship knot)."  Seriously, we should have official uniforms for all occasions and activity types.   

 

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