“Putting on the uniform does not make a fellow a Scout, but putting on the uniform is a sign to the world that one has taken the Scout obligation and folk expect Scout like acts from one wearing it” – Handbook for Boys 1927
And last… but certainly not least.. The Uniform.
I have a strong opinion on this one and I am going to let it be known. While the uniform is the final method on the list, it is not the least among the methods that should be practiced. The uniform is an important part of Scouting and should be promoted with zeal and excuses for non uniformity removed.
Uniforms seem to be argued over, dismissed, and modified more than any other method. People argue the expense is overwhelming, they argue that the Scouts do not like to wear them, they argue that the uniform is impractical, and they argue over the pocket on the sleeve. STOP IT!
The Uniform has been a method of Scouting since the beginning. A quick study of Scouting’s history will show that the uniform has always been deemed important.
The Boy Scouts of America state that “The uniform makes the Scout troop visible as a force for good and creates a positive youth image in the community. Boy Scouting is an action program, and wearing the uniform is an action that shows each Scout’s commitment to the aims and purposes of Scouting. The uniform gives the Scout identity in a world brotherhood of youth who believe in the same ideals. The uniform is practical attire for Scout activities, and provides a way for Scouts to wear the badges that show what they have accomplished.”
Ok, so what’s the beef? The price? The style? The geeky nature of wearing a uniform?
Lets remove crutches. Price, yeah, its a bit spendy, but there are many options. First. Earn it! Sell popcorn, mow lawns, get off your butt and earn it. It’s not that spendy. Second. “Experienced uniforms” are always great. Units should maintain ‘uniform banks’ or ‘lockers’ for Scouts that need assistants with uniforming. Third. The Scout uniform is the Scout uniform. As long as worn properly, any of the styles will do.
Style. It is what it is. I like the Scout uniform now. When I was a Scout it was green and did not have a collar, I hated the beret, and I thought the green pants looked real dorky.. and looking back at pictures of me then.. it was a dorky looking uniform. But we wore it.
The tan shirt wears well and looks good with the green pants. I like the move to the green tabs and I really like the more “active styles” in the pants. Starting with the Switchbacks and moving into the newer pant styles, they are more practical and wear well in the outdoors.
Geeky. Only if you think so.
Here is my opinion. EVERY ADULT SCOUTER SHOULD ALWAYS WEAR THE FULL UNIFORM. You set the example and the attitude for proper uniforming. NO EXCUSE. You can send me a note about price and practicality.. and I will argue with you if you would like. If you want a fully uniformed unit.. and there is only one way to actually wear the uniform.. then you should set the example.
In our Troop we require every leader, youth and adult, to wear the full uniform. That is a rule set by the PLC, not me… now in all fairness I concur and they know it.
When a Scout crosses over from Webelos he has a tan shirt. We ask the parents to buy him pants. That simple. If they can not afford it, we encourage them to assist with fund-raising and we introduce them to the uniform bank. We want every Scout to feel like they are part of the team. And that is exactly how we and the BSA look at this method. Teams wear uniforms. You don’t see a football team arrive for a game with some blue shirts on and some red. Some guys have helmets and others are wearing ball caps. The uniform identifies each player as being part of the team, even the guys on the bench wear the uniform. So it is with Scouts. Each Scout is part of the team. He shows his team colors and numbers and pride in his patrol and troop.
The uniform is a great equalizer. It makes everyone the same. Old or new, it is still the teams uniform and everyone on the team is equal.
I think the uniform method is important. It brings us together in the brotherhood of Scouting and marks us as a force for good.
Have a Great Scouting Day!