Bob Knudson (rknudson@DU.EDU)
Sat, 25 Oct 1997 13:29:47 -0700
After reading and thinking about the uniforming discussion, I've
concluded that the problem rests with the adult scouters and BSA, and it
is a BIG problem.
The debate is basically whether we think that complete uniforming is a
necessary value or not. All the other questions, such as pants design,
style, etc., can't be resolved unless we all agree that a complete
uniform, including pants, are a required element of the program OR NOT.
I'm not convinced by the argument that the youth won't wear the pants
because of peer pressure or fashion concerns. In the long run, the youth
will comply with what the adult leaders require, and we won't lose any
scouts over the pants issue that we wouldn't lose already over any other
core issue that is enforced. Other contributers have suggested good ways
to eliminate the finanical and implementation challenges.
I don't know what the numbers are nationally (most youth in units in my
district are not completely uniformed), but if a substantial number
(30-70%) of scouters are not advocating a full uniform, then we have a
major out-of-balance situation of BSA requirements vs. practice. And as a
manager/leader, when you have an out-of-balance situation between core
values and practice, you've got a values and ethics problem that will
fester into other problems. And BSA, through the literature (e.g. the
cub scout leader book), clearly indicates that the current full uniform
is a core value and NOT ALTERABLE through unit policies.
So, to bring actual practice back into line with its values, BSA has to
apply leadership to restore and enforce complete uniforms. It does this
now through the leadership and example of professionals, commissioners,
trainers, and wood badge participants, and specific requirements for
youth participating in jamborees and other areas. (However, as noted
earlier, it doesn't enforce complete and correct uniforms for photos of
scouts appearing in its official magazines.) But, given the current
uniforming practice, this leadership clearly won't be enough to change
the status quo unless BSA enforces the rule by pulling charters -- and (I
think) BSA considers the value of membership growth and spreading
scouting ideals as greater than the value of the uniform. So, BSA needs
to find a new uniform policy that allows all of us to be in conformance
with all the values of BSA. Redesigning the uniform is a graceful
vehicle to do that. Allowing blue jeans as an optional pant, recognizing
the rough and tumble activities of today's scouts, is another.
Does anyone have any information on the thoughts and philosophy of the
national uniforming committee? Are they in-line with my discussion
above, or are they oblivious to the scope of the problem?
Speaking only for myself...
A concerned scouter, Bob Knudson
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City