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Adult uniform minimalism philosophy


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I brought this up in another topic and thought it was worth spinning off into a separate discussion, because I'd be interested in getting some other opinions on this.

In my area there are some adults who are of the philosophy that the adult uniform should be minimal, displaying as few patches as possible. Many adults in one particular unit intentionally wear nothing more than the default patches that come with the uniform. The idea is that adults shouldn't be "bragging" about their scouting accomplishments, but rather leave the display of accomplishments on the uniform to the scouts.

I generally disagree with this, but thinking about it some more I was wondering if there isn't at least a hint of a valid point here. What is the purpose of adult recognition on the uniform, and does it serve a purpose for the scouts? If it doesn't serve a purpose, then does it have a place in a youth program?

I've viewed it this way: Patches on my uniform are often conversation starters, both with scouts and with parents. Scouts often ask about my OA flap and square knots, which leads to discussions about things you can aspire to accomplish later on in your scouting journey. Parents have asked about my Baloo training patch, which leads to constructive conversations about training in general.

Are there other benefits to adults keeping their uniforms appropriately outfitted with patches?

Or should uniform patches beyond the basics be the exclusive domain of scouts?

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One key difference between BSA and virtually any other youth program that heavily utilizes volunteers is that the BSA tries to keep theirs even once the volunteer's children are no longer involved.  A

Regarding Council patches, I prefer a return to community strips. Maybe using name tape (label tape), sewn on or velcro?

I like to point to my AOL knot and tell Cub Scouts I was once where they are.  Aside from that, I like to be low key. We have a leader locally, that has been in all of 3 years that told me he lik

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7 minutes ago, FireStone said:

I've viewed it this way: Patches on my uniform are often conversation starters, both with scouts and with parents. Scouts often ask about my OA flap and square knots, which leads to discussions about things you can aspire to accomplish later on in your scouting journey. Parents have asked about my Baloo training patch, which leads to constructive conversations about training in general.

Are there other benefits to adults keeping their uniforms appropriately outfitted with patches?

 

I disagree that with the notion that leaders shouldn't wear any additional patches.  I think you've hit most of the reasons for having patches on an adult uniform, they're conversation starters, especially with scouts.  An additional reason is as modeling behavior: we want scouts to be proud of their achievements and to feel good about displaying them.

I wear all the square knots that carry over from youth to adult: AOL, Eagle Scout, Religious Emblem.  I don't bother with the training knots.  I think there are some others that are real distinguishing accomplishments that if I earned them I'd wear them.  I also wear the patch from Jamboree.

I think in all things moderation; I don't need to have every adult I meet read my history of achievements or lack thereof, and I'm not generally interested in theirs.  The test to me is whether wearing a patch can be helpful for the scouts I lead,  either for the reasons above or some other that I might not be thinking of.  If you think a patch helps you better lead scouts,  then you should wear it.  

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I prefer the minimalist approach as well.  It is also BSA policy.

"With the exception of the Cub Scout badges of rank, members wear only the insignia that show their present status in the movement. Members should make every effort to keep their uniforms neat and uncluttered. Previously earned badges and insignia—not representing present status—make a fine display on a BSA red patch vest, on a trophy hide or blanket, exhibited in the home of the recipient, or at functions where such a display is invited. Scouts may wear only temporary patches (no badges of rank) on the back of the merit badge sash."

Here are some personal preferences I follow (these are actually G2AI rules, too):

1.  Never wear jamboree insignia from anything other than the last jamboree.  "No more than two jamboree patches may be worn on the shirt—one current national jamboree patch above the right pocket and one current world jamboree patch on the right pocket"  (G2AI rule that others frequently blow off.)  (Not the jamboree you attended in 1985!)

2.  No more than nine knots.  "The number of knots is limited to three rows of three (a total of nine knots)." (G2AI rule that others frequently blow off.) And ditch the knots of programs you are not currently involved in.  I.E.  I am no longer involved in Cub Scouts, so I do not wear any awards earned from that program.  For the longest time, for simplicity, I wore only my Eagle Scout knot.  I often consider returning to that.

3.  No more than one temporary patch.  (G2AI rule that others frequently blow off.) I wear a NCS patch as long as my current certification lasts, then remove.  

4.  No unauthorized patches or accoutrements.  (G2AI rule that others frequently blow off.)

etc, etc, etc,

I do wish they would make a change to G2AI to allow, explicitly, the use of velcro on uniforms.  (Just publish the color code...)

Edited by InquisitiveScouter
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I think a balance is needed.  I live in a military community and there are all sorts of combinations of personalities and uniforms.  I've seen adults with just the knots from youth and I've seen adults with huge patches covering almost the entire right side of their shirt.  For me, I look at what will inspire the Scouts and other leaders.  I wear my Eagle and AOL knots, as well as training knots.  The training knots are intended to inspire other leaders to get involved in all Scouting has to offer, enabling them to better serve.  I wear my lodge flap because it is a sign of brotherhood.  I wear my Philmont arrowhead because it is the third most dear emblem I have earned, the others being my Eagle Scout medal and my Combat Infantry Badge.  I want my uniform to inspire adults to contribute more and, more importantly, remind older Scouts that they need to come back into the program once they have their lives established and share their knowledge and experience with the next generation.  

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I am a minimalist, mostly because I don't like to bring attention to myself. I also don't like to wear my WB Beads or OA sash. I do like my SM Patch. 

However, just from the couple of knots on one of my shirts, I do agree that patches are conversations starters with scouts. 

I have no problem with adults who shirts and jackets weighted down with knots, patches and other regalia. It's part of the fun. I even met a one legged SM who had camp brands all over his wooden camping leg.

Barry

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If one wears their uniform properly, it really isn’t over done. What is clearly overdone are the adults with all of the mentor pins on the collar or the scouts with the tied knots on their epaulets. Ugh. Or the wood badgers with patrol patches, and fake Wood badge knot and giant critter patch. Ugh. Overdone. 

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I've decided that adult uniforms are really just a test of other adult's patience. Some people like opulence and others minimalism. If it encourages them to keep volunteering then why not? Unfortunately, uniforms are a great trap for people to judge others that are different. "You have to wear your POR patch. How else will anyone know you're the SM?" Honestly, if that's a problem then there are bigger issues, but I digress. People vary, so there will be lots of opinions, all valid to each.

A scout uniform is like a book cover, best not to judge it. Think about it, how uniform is our uniform if there are arguments about what to put on it?

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13 minutes ago, MattR said:

I've decided that adult uniforms are really just a test of other adult's patience. Some people like opulence and others minimalism. If it encourages them to keep volunteering then why not? Unfortunately, uniforms are a great trap for people to judge others that are different. "You have to wear your POR patch. How else will anyone know you're the SM?" Honestly, if that's a problem then there are bigger issues, but I digress. People vary, so there will be lots of opinions, all valid to each.

A scout uniform is like a book cover, best not to judge it. Think about it, how uniform is our uniform if there are arguments about what to put on it?

As long as it is within the G2AI framework, I am fine with it.

Outside that, you are setting a poor example.  This is the key.  Example.

Using the uniform to make a social or political statement is the worst... 

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I don't think adult regalia has a place in a youth organization other than a particular color shirt or lanyard or lapel pin to indicate who is an adult leader/coach/official and who is not. In scouts, there's a legitimate use in identifying council, troop number and program. I have a hard time, though, appreciating what the purpose is for signifying anything more for adults in scouting. To me, the often cited idea of using patches, badges and pins to start conversations or to try to publicize a program aspect is like trying to communicate by semaphore or some other obscure method: There are more direct and effective ways, and it makes the purpose suspect to do otherwise. I don't know of any other youth organization that does this. The focus is better kept on youth accomplishments than adult ones.  

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Life should be a rainbow.  A wide spectrum of variety that motivates each individual. 

In 25 years plus, I have worked from the den level all the way up to National committee.  What I like to do is find out what motivates any given individual, and get it for them.  If you love patches, I will find you patches.  If you love pins, I will find you pins. You love being recognized by your peers, then Ill make that happen.  Have uniforms with knots, pins, etc.  I have uniform with nothing on it. 

I just want people in our organization and I want them motivated to do their best.  Give back, and be happy.  I have shut down my fair share of uniform police.  Also, it is not just about the youth. Without the adults involved, the program would suffer greatly.  Its about everyone having fun.........

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I guess I am an outlier.  :)  I don't do "fun".  My 1 day at Woodbadge was the worst experience ever.  I hate songs, I hate skits, I hate games.  <shrug>

I do like making sure a Scout learns the skills they need.  More than that, I guess I "enjoy" what I do as a CC.  I am the one doing the work required to figure out what we are doing about being charted since we are a UMC unit.  I am the one leading the effort regarding our meeting space.  We own our building, but the city wants us gone to build something else there since its their land.  I like making sure the meeting place has the lights on and the outlets work.  

But so in my 5 years, Scouts has not really been "fun" for me.  I do get the boring work done that allows others to have fun though.

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3 hours ago, 5thGenTexan said:

But so in my 5 years, Scouts has not really been "fun" for me.  I do get the boring work done that allows others to have fun though.

I dunno... I think I saw someone flying a kite back in May, and he looked like he was having a tiny bit of fun ;) 

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Well ... since I like giving my opinion.  :(  

minimalist

  • I want a functional uniform. 
    • Easy to wash.  Pins.  Hanging patches.  No disassemble / reassemble at each wash.
    • Appropriate for hiking, biking, canoeing or outside in the weather
    • Survives muddy, sweat and hard use.   
    • Quick to build-up after purchase.  I want two or three matching shirts without spending hours sewing each and trips back to the scout shop for extra patches that I'm missing.
  • I want a uniform I can use all the time and everywhere; not something that has so much bling that I feel like I am a display case. 

I have too many memories of events where I know I'll sweat through all my clothes and be soaked ... or be coated with bug spray ... or be dirt or dust covered.  ...  Because the current uniform is only marginally functional, we bring an extra shirt or wear a t-shirt under the uniform ... THEN ... after flags or meal, we take off our uniform and pack it away.  :(  ... also  ... patches don't breathe ...  and patches catch on things. 

Related

  • Allow velcro position patches.   Badge Magic is evil.  Sewing is a form of purgatory.
  • Provide multiple width sashes.  Some kids have a lot of bling they can show off.
  • Allow adults to have a sashes where they can show off their recognition knots, camps and brag.
  • Allow some non-merit badge patches on the front.   I absolutely love when scouts put their favorite event patches on the back of the sash.  Allow a few on the front:  their favorite (or 1st) summer camp patch ... a patrol or unit special patch.  Their sash is the perfect place to brag and show off.  Heck ... if the uniform was more functional, then formality can be introduced by wearing the sash ... just like OA.  
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