Re: summer camp uniforms
Michael F. Bowman (mfbowman@CAPACCESS.ORG)
Sun, 18 May 1997 23:20:35 -0400
You've received a number of comments with strong feelings about the need
for the adult to be in uniform, made I believe with the assumption that
he is one of the unit's leaders.
If he is a unit leader, I agree that he should be most strongly
encouraged to wear the uniform to set the example, be a visiable leader
to the boys, etc. However, that said I am not aware of any BSA policy
that requires him to attend an event in uniform or not attend - the
policy is that he is to be encouraged to be in uniform.
If he is not a unit leader and simply an adult willing to go to camp to
help out, then I think that your CC is overstepping to require him to be
uniformed, although it would be preferable. In my view it is much better
to get him to camp to be the second adult or to just help out and get his
feet wet than to close him off over the question of uniforming.
Earlier in my Scouting career I served on the staffs of Cary Camp, Camp
Buffalo, Camp Rotary, Ransburg Scout Reservation, Anthony Wayne Scout
Reservation, and Camp Hahobis. In all of these camps we had adults each
week who came to help the boys without uniforms and did a wonderful job
just by being there. Some couldn't afford a uniform, one had religious
convictions about uniforms, some were just dads taking a week from work
to help out, and others we never quite figured out. The bottom line was
that the boys in each case had great summer camping experiences, made
possible by these adults.
Sure they didn't attain perfection and missed opportunites to deliver the
best by not fully utilizing all the methods of Scouting, but they did
what they could to the best of their abilities. Knowing that I'd much
rather have a dad involved with his son than not. In my book its always
better to have the parent involved and work on nudging them along than to
shut one parent out.
And it may be that the dad will later decide to be uniformed, but just
isn't ready yet. It might be that he isn't sure he's worthy to wear the
uniform, doesn't know enough about Scouts and doesn't want to be seen as
an authority figure until he knows more, is afraid that he's going to get
dragged in farther than he thinks he's ready to go, etc. Give the fellow
time to come around with gentle nudges. There's an old saying that you
can catch more flies with honey than vinegar. Over time the reasons why
he doesn't want to be uniformed may disapate or get addressed and he may
change his view as he feels more comfortable with what he's doing.
Finally, I would suggest that the CC remember that uniforming is one of
the eight methods of Scouting --- but that it is not an aim of Scouting!
The goals, the targets, the aims of Scouting are citizenship, character and
fitness. If this adult helps to further these goals, we should be happy
to have his help. I'm not sure that I've met the perfect Scouter just
yet, though I've met a few that would try to persuade me otherwise. :-)
My point is that as a volunteer organization we rely on a good deal of
volunteer help from many quarters, the folks that help are seldom perfect
and some can be challenging, but in most cases they have rich and
generous hearts. We are constantly in the business of training and
educating to help take this energy and direct it productively to helping
the Scouts. We teach the eight methods of Scouting because they work and
work well. We encourage, nudge, arm-twist, and sometimes give a gentle
kick in the rear :-) to further the process. However, despite these
efforts we'll always have some who don't take all the lessons or apply
them perfectly. As long as they aren't a negative, I'd look to get a
100% of what they can offer instead of 100% of my ideal expectations.
I'd encourage your CC to accept his help and work on the education
throughout the process.
Oh, almost forgot a good story from camp from a similar situation. At
Ransburg we had a new ASM that didn't come with a uniform. He was a dad
and really unsure of himself and kind of afraid to put on the uniform. He
in short lacked confidence. Well he had a great week and did very well
with the Scouts. On Thursday, his Scouts at their campfire presented him
with a uniform shirt and shorts they'd purchased with candy money from
the trading post. They'd even managed to sew on his ASM patch with about
a 45 degree list. They told how he'd come to camp and what he'd done and
figured he'd now earned the right to wear the uniform in their Troop.
Well you can bet he had the uniform on the next day as he went about
camp. Saw him a few years later and darned if that patch wasn't still 45
degrees off center. :-) He's been in Scouting as a leader now for nearly
30 years. If his CC had told him not to go to camp, Scouting would have
lost those 30 years of service.
Speaking only for myself in the Scouting Spirit, Michael F. Bowman
Dep.Dist.Commissioner-Training, G.W.Dist., NCAC, BSA (Virginia)
U. S. Scouting Service Project FTP Site Administrator (PC Area)
ftp1 or ftp2.scouter.com/usscouts E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
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