The Uniform

Boy_Scouts_of_America_uniform_1974As a Scout Leader we rely on the methods to achieve the goals of Scouting, Citizenship, Character, and Fitness. The methods are an important part of the process to reach our youth and move them towards being good adults.
“The Boy Scouts of America has always been a uniformed body. Its uniforms help to create a sense of belonging. They symbolize character development, citizenship training, and personal fitness. Wearing a uniform gives youth and adult members a sense of identification and commitment.” BSA Official Uniform Policy from the Uniform and Insignia Guide 2014
The uniform is but one of those methods, but an important one to be sure. The uniform is the great equalizer. It puts all of us in Scouting on the same playing field. It identifies us as a member of the organization or team. When a football team takes the field, each player, while he has different skills, talents, and role on the team is part of the greater team. Each player dresses in the uniform of the team, to be unified in a common goal (playing and winning the game) and to be identified while on and off the field. Could you imagine a “come as you are” football game? You would have a hard time knowing who is on what team and in the heat of the game team mates may get confused as to who was sharing their goal.
In Scouting, Baden Powell established uniforming early on. Baden Powell once said “The uniform makes for brotherhood, since when universally adopted it covers up all differences of class and country.” The uniform was greater than the individual. That is the idea also with sports teams, military organizations, and yes Scouting.
Now there are arguments on how important the uniform is today and whether or not our Scouts should have to wear them. The answer is simple.. yes, they should wear them, it is a part of Scouting. As much as advancement, adult interaction, and the out door program. The methods are time tested and important to the completion of our aims.
So what about the uniform? What is “the uniform”?
The Field Uniform also known as the “Class A” (an inappropriate term, but one that is commonly used by Scouters) consists of the uniform shirt appropriate to the program (Cub Scouting, Boy Scouting, Venturing and Sea Scouts). Adults wear the tan shirt or green shirt depending on their program and of Sea Scout leaders wear the appropriate uniform shirt. The official Scout pants, again those which go with the program level, socks and Scout belt.
The belt can be of any Scouting activity, the socks also can be of any variety acquired through the Supply division. Once a uniform has been a part of Scouting, it is always a part of Scouting. It is inappropriate to mix and match, but lets say you have a full uniform from the 60’s and you want to wear it, according to BSA Policy, you may.
Which brings us to what the rules say. According to the Boy Scout Handbook and inspection sheet state the “Official Uniform” of the BSA is the Uniform Shirt, Official shirt or official long- or short-sleeve uniform shirt with green or blaze orange shoulder loops on epaulets (Blue for Cub Scout leaders). The troop/team may vote to wear a neckerchief, bolo tie, or no neckwear. In any case, the collar should be unbuttoned. The troop/team has the choice of wearing the neckerchief over the turned-under collar or under the open collar.
Pants/Shorts. Official pants or official uniform pants or shorts; no cuffs. (Units have no option to change.)
Belt. Official Boy Scout web with BSA insignia on buckle; or official leather with international style buckle or buckle of your choice, worn only if voted by the troop/team. Members wear one of the belts chosen by vote of the troop/team.
Socks. Official socks with official shorts or pants. (Long socks are optional with shorts.)
Effective Oct. 1, 2013, the official stance on the Boy Scouts of America’s uniform policy is that shirts are to be worn tucked in, regardless of whether the wearer is a Cub Scout, Boy Scout, Varsity Scout, Venturer, or adult Scouter. All Sea Scout uniforms are designed to be tucked in except youth dress whites and youth dress blues. In the past, guidelines have simply stated the uniform wearer should be neat in appearance. Neatness includes tucking in the shirt. This update will appear in related resources, such as the uniform inspection sheets, as they are revised and printed.
The Boy Scouts of America feel that as Baden Powell did that the uniform is an important part of Scouting. It creates that level playing field and identifies us as part of the greatest youth organization in America.
As leaders in our units, we model that importance and demonstrate to our youth why the uniform is a part of Scouting. We wear our uniforms with pride and we wear it properly.
Questions about the uniform? Check out some of these links:
The uniform inspection sheet for Adult Scouters- http://www.scouting.org/filestore/pdf/34048.pdf
The Guide to Uniforms and Insignia – http://www.scouting.org/filestore/pdf/33066_Section1.pdf
And of course the BSA Supply Division- http://bsauniforms.org/
I encourage you to always wear your uniform properly and completely.  We set an example when we wear it right.  Just like the leadership principle of modeling expected behavior, our Scouts count on us to do the right thing and do it right.  The uniform method is a part of getting to the aims of Scouting.  We can not make up the rules as we go.

Just as I won’t compromise the other methods, we don’t compromise the uniform of our organization.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Methods – Uniform

“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!