Re: Utah National Parks Letter to all scouters concerning
Settummanque, the blackeagle (waltoml@WKUVX1.WKU.EDU)
Fri, 14 Jul 1995 14:39:29 CDT
Your Council has taken an extreme stand on the uniforming issue, and I
feel that other local Councils will take similar stands.
The issue is one of pride in identification, not in the purchasing
power or availability of uniform items, used or new. This is
something that cannot be legislated or dicated, but many local
Councils will be taking stands like this in the coming year as
pressure is be exerted to "get them and keep them in full uniforms".
Part of this pressure is coming from the National Office, which
recieved videotapes over the past couple of months of "Scouts" whom
are part of "youth militia groups". One tape in particular shows all
members of a "Troop", wearing official BSA insignia on their shirts,
but wearing military Battle Dress Uniform (BDU) pants and belt, along
with military-issue black boots. This has angered many there at the
National Office to a point where, I understand, that some have asked
in a circulating decision paper, whether or not the BSA should stand
by it's age-old written policy of not allowing anyone to purchase any
BSA insignia or uniforms without a current, valid BSA membership card.
The videotape were part of an independent documentary on the rise of
militias, and the producer of the documentary sent the BSA copies of
their tapes in order to get permission and to idenify the unit number
and local Council of the units. The documentary shows "youth militia
groups" in several states.
The other source of pressure is coming from chartered partners and
local Councils themselves. Tired of having press photos of Scouts in
half-uniforms receiving their Eagle Scout Badge, or being taken after
a significant project or event, many Councils are struggling for ways
to strenghten that pride in Scouting that somehow we're lost back in
the early 70s and again before, during and after the Iraqi War in
the early 90s. The number of uniform shirts have stayed at a
constant, but according to the BSA's Supply Division, there has been a
steady drop in the amount of long and short pants, neckerchiefs, belts
and even ties purchased in the past four years.
Much of this can be attibuted to the public acceptance of the "jean"
as suitable attire for any event, with the exception of the extreme
formal events. The jean material, mostly cotton and cotton-blends, is
much more durable, can resist a lot of tearing and snags and fades
well over a period of time than the polycotton blends used in the
BSA's pant material. The advantage the polycotton blend has is it's
ability to dry out faster, a feature that many Scouts and Scouters do
The other attribution is the idea that one does not have to wear a
uniform any more to capture the eye or be "seen" by others. There's
other more extreme ways of being "noticed" and kids pick up on those
things easily. What was a short time back, "rad to wear" (the
uniform), is now "nothing". My personal feeling is that when the BSA
decided to make everything worn on the uniform blend in with the tan
shirt, they lost the colorful "billboard" which attracted a large
number of youth to the program in the past.
As I've stated, you nor I nor the BSA can "force us to instill pride
in our program". That has to come from each of us, and our job as
Scouters in part is in instilling pride in what we do wear to your
youth. As Professor Beaver stated, it all starts with you and me. We
need to insist that we wear our uniform -- the old ones or the present
one -- with as much attention to detail as a military person would in
wearing their classic uniforms would. While we should not MAKE Scouts
do the same, our personal example will move them toward doing the same
when they wore their uniforms.
I've stated this a couple of times before, so I won't go into much
detail as I've done before. My parents -- father military NCO, which
at the time I was in Scouting, was a Senior Drill Instructor ("Drill
Sergeant"); mother beautician -- did not want me in Scouting. They
felt that it was a waste of time and money, because Black children
don't get anything out of it. However, my father told me that
"whatever you did, you do it the very best you can do it. If you want
to be in Scouts, you wear the complete uniform. Don't half-do
anything. People will notice you in half of a uniform, with things
not where they are supposed to be and they will remember THAT more
than they will if you had everything where it's supposed to be. You
need to pretend that every time you put that stuff on, you are getting
a award from the President. Have some pride!"
I think that if we all took my Dad's advice, local Councils won't have
a reason to do what you've (and soon, some others) will have to do to
remind us that we belong to a UNIFORMED organization.
Settummanque, the blackeagle... (MAJ) Mike L. Walton (
co-Owner, Blackeagle Services ___)_
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