Re: Scout Uniform Problem
Charles Batteau (B3ZAATN@CPSLSOPS.BELL-ATL.COM)
Fri, 8 Mar 1996 12:03:40 -0500
The problem that you are experiencing in your troop is, unfortunately,
NOT uncommon. Many boys, especially in the 13-15 year old range, find
SCOUT uniforms "uncool".
You actually have two problems:
1. The uniform problem
2. A patrol leader who is that in name only.
You need to attack each problem separately.
For uniforms, the PLC should set a standard for uniforming. The
standard in our troop is that FULL "Class A" uniform is EXPECTED for
meetings and REQUIRED for campouts and trips. Full uniform is also
required for all Scoutmaster Conferences and Boards of Review. If your
troop works on merit badges before or after meetings, you could extend
the standard to that, also: no uniform, no sign-offs. (Our standard is
more relaxed for meetings because sometimes boys come to the meeting
directly from other activities and cannot get their uniform and make
it to the meeting. Your own ability to change so fast is quite
extraordinary! Also, many boys' uniforms are still in the laundry on
the Monday after a campout!) If a boy shows up for a campout without
his uniform or in incomplete uniform, he doesn't go.
The difference between "expected" and "required" means that you don't
send a boy home from a meeting for not wearing his uniform. After all,
the MOST IMPORTANT thing is to have the boy AT THE ACTIVITIES. If you
send him home FROM A MEETING to get his uniform, he's unlikely to
return UNLESS he has a SMC or BOR scheduled. OTOH, if he's signed up,
paid for and pumped up about a trip, sending him home will reinforce
You need, of course, to make allowance for any boys who may have
outgrown a uniform item and cannot afford to replace it immediately.
If you put yourself in the boy's place you can usually get a good feel
for what should be allowed and what not.
If a boy consistently refuses to wear his uniform to meetings, your SM
should have a talk with that boy. BTW, I'm assuming that the SM & ASMs
all come in proper uniform ... He can explain the point of wearing a
uniform and showing unity in scouting. If the other boys in the troop
are wearing uniforms regularly, the reluctant ones will usually come
around, even if it's only due to peer pressure.
If the "cool" guy in the troop is one of those who doesn't wear his
uniform, work on him especially. Many times the boys will follow the
"lead" of the guy they consider to be the "coolest."
Finally, the PLC should consider having some times when Class A is NOT
expected. Our troop, for instance, goes to "class B" in July and
August EXCEPT for going to & from summer camp. If you have outings
like a night at a baseball or basketball game, consider going in Class
B. The PLC may want to adopt a TROOP T-shirt (either from the BSA
catalog or from a local dealer) and a different hat for its Class B
uniform. Berets or a solid color baseball cap with a Troop-specific
patch are good for this.
Now, for the PL who won't lead his patrol. We have one, too (sigh)
> ... that same Patrol Leader never calls and tells his patrol members
> anything. Everyone of his patrol members always call and ask me
> about it.
By acting in his stead, YOU are enabling the PL to shirk his duty. It
may pain you to do this (and, in the short run, give you more grief),
but you need to make this HIS problem. If a patrol member calls you
for information, ask him if he has called his PL first. If he hasn't
done so, tell him to call his PL. Tell him to call the APL next. Only
if he has exhausted his "chain of command" should you give him the
The reason for the chain of command is simple -- if the boys skip it,
you are going to be talking individually with every member of the
troop. Not a pretty situation, huh? The CoC exists to spread the
By forcing the patrol members to call their PL, you will cause one or
two things to happen: One (happy situation) -- the PL wakes up to the
fact that his patrol members EXPECT something of him and starts doing
his duty. Two (unhappy, but still solves the problem) -- the patrol
members get disgusted with the PL and vote him out of office. (If
troop elections are a long time from now, the patrol CAN decide to
have one sooner.)
Finally (long term solution), the PLC needs to develop a set of
expectations for EACH junior leader (not just PLs) and communicate
these to the new leaders VERY SOON after elections. It wouldn't hurt
to have these posted before elections so that boys running for office
KNOW that it's not a "do-nothing" job. This could actually be in the
form of a "contract", written down and given to the Junior Leader so
that he KNOWS what is expected of him. Below is what we gave to our
patrol leaders after the last election (this was adapted from the
Junior Leader Training Guide and from Troop 24, Berkley CA.)
BTW, although the text below is in the form of a "contract," the
contract is REALLY between the junior leader and himself. There are no
enforcement provisions, although some SMs will not sign off for
leadership unless the jr ldr has done his best to meet the expectations
of the office. (Note that in this case the jr ldr MUST KNOW what the
expectations are when he begins the job!)
Junior Leader Job Contract for Patrol Leader
INTRODUCTION: When you accepted the position of Patrol Leader, you
agreed to provide service and leadership in our troop. That
responsibility should be fun and rewarding. This contract covers some
of the things you are expected to do while serving as a junior leader.
You should make notes on this sheet as you participate in an
introduction to leadership conference with an adult troop leader.
RESPONSIBLE TO: Senior Patrol Leader
SPECIFIC DUTIES: I will ...
z Plan and lead patrol meetings and activities.
z Keep patrol members informed.
z Assign each patrol member a job and help them succeed.
z Prepare the patrol to take part in all troop activities.
z Appoint an Assistant Patrol Leader who will function as Patrol
Leader in my absence.
z Appoint a Patrol Scribe keep track of patrol members attendance at
troop and patrol meetings and outings and who will collect money from
patrol members for troop dues and outings
z Appoint a Patrol Quartermaster who will keep track of all patrol
equipment between outings and who will supervise cleaning of that
equipment after each outing.
z Represent my patrol at PLC meetings and at the annual planning
z Report back to patrol on responsibilities for troop meetings and
Leadership by Example:
z Develop patrol spirit.
z Work with other troop leaders to make the troop run well.
z Know what patrol members and other leaders can do.
z Set a good example.
z Wear the uniform correctly.
z Live by the Scout Oath and Law.
As Patrol Leader, I promise to do my best to fulfill the requirements
of this position during the coming year. I understand that my
performance in this position will be evaluated by the Senior Patrol
Leader and the adult leaders on the basis of my abilities and the job
description above, as well as the demonstration of Scout Spirit and
leadership at Troop meetings and other events.
RESOURCES: There are many resources available to you to help you do
your job. These include people such as your Scoutmaster, assistant
Scoutmasters, troop committee members, your fellow junior leaders,
teachers, religious advisers, and community leaders. Some literature
resources that can help you follow:
z Boy Scout Handbook
z Junior Leader Handbook
z Boy Scout Songbook
z Boy Scout Requirements (advancement)
z Boys' Life
z Merit badge pamphlets
z Copy of troop rules and policies
z Troop and patrol rosters
z Activity calendars (troop, district, school)
z First Class Tracking Sheet
z Campfire planner sheets
Soon after the troop holds elections, the ASPL and one of the ASMs
(preferably) should sit down with each junior leader and explain his
job to him. The SM counsels the SPL, and the SPL counsels the ASPL(s).
This is NOT junior leader training -- it is more like a SM conference.
At this conference, the boy has an opportunity to clear up any
misunderstandings about the position.
If you can print up the responsibility list for each position BEFORE
elections, the boys may have a better understanding of what is
expected. This understanding may make some boys decide they aren't
ready for a particular position. (Others may look at something they
had never before considered and say, "Hey -- a piece of cake!") It can
also help the boys say to themselves, "Jon NEVER sets the example --
why should we elect him? Brad seems kind of young, but he's
enthusiastic -- let's give HIM a chance."
For both problems, look for solutions that build boys' esteem. If a
boy can be proud of the way he looks or of the job he is doing, he is
more likely to stick with it than if he's just trying to avoid
criticism. Keep us posted on how this works out.
Chuck Batteau -- SM, Troop 751, Glen Allen VA USA
maybe they meant an hour a DAY! :-)
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City