Re: Uniform thoughts
golden cliff (c60clg1@CORN.CSO.NIU.EDU)
Sun, 26 Oct 1997 01:35:24 -0500
First, let me apologize for sending a couple short personal responses to
the list by mistake. I keep hitting the wrong key. I also apologize for
the length of this post. Sorry everyone.
Uniforming is always an interesting topic to read about on Scouts-L. Good
intelligent people discussing a popular subject, with much variety of
I have observed in BSA publications that the 8 methods of Scouting have
always been listed in a specific order; Ideals being first, Uniform
being last. It's not an alphabetical order, it's a priority order.
- Personal Growth
- Adult Association
Can anyone find an official listing where they are listed in a different
order? Some people seem to feel Uniform should be much higher on the list.
Of course all 8 methods are a necessary part of Scouting. What level must
we achieve to "qualify" as using a method successfully? Is there a list
The only official listing I can think of offhand is the Quality Unit
Award. Uniforming is not a major component of that award. If the
national council was as concerned about uniforming as some members of this
list, I would think there would be a starred item requiring xx% of Scouts
earning xx points on an annual Uniform Inspection. There is no such
Some on this list seem to suggest a troop requiring only Scout Shirts,
is something less than a quality unit. Half a uniform = half a program.
A Scout in only half in a uniform is only half in Scouting. I must
I am curious of those troops requiring full uniforms, do you require them
all the time, all meetings, all activities? Full uniforming--full time.
Full uniforming--part time. Partial uniforming--part time. Which is
practiced by your unit? Considering the importance given to the full
uniform, at which times is the full uniform not important enough to wear?
Are there any units that require full field uniforms for meetings, and
full BSA activity uniforms (polo shirt & shorts) for activities?
Anyone require Smokey Bear hats and red jackets? Buying all uniform parts
in the catalog for their intended functions would really dent the wallet.
I have hiked Philmont Scout Ranch several times. I've encountered very
few full uniforms in the backcountry (except for Philmont rangers--even
they weren't 100% official --wool hiking socks instead of Scout socks--for
good reason) Philmont is a highlight Scouting experience where unity,
pride, and Scoutlike attitude is essential. If those are the things a
uniform helps to accomplish, why doesn't Philmont "require" full uniforms on
I see full uniforms in base camp, but base camp is not where the most
significant aspects of Philmont are experienced. If you climb Baldy
without a full uniform, is that experience somehow diminished?
If there is a healthy growing Scout in my troop, I would rather see him
spend $200/year on outdoor programs rather than $200 on uniforming he is
constantly outgrowing. The outdoor method overlaps with nearly all other
methods of Scouting. That's where I want to see our fundraising dollars
going. Outdoor method I consider much more important than uniforming.
It's not that I don't believe in uniforming, I have a significant
investment in shirts, pants, etc. It is a matter of priorities,
and uniforming is not at the top of my list. From the BSA literature I've
read, it's not at the top of national's either. (of 8 methods, it ranks #8)
Is the method written as "Uniform" or "Full Uniform". If a unit is
encouraging the wearing of the Scout shirt, isn't that using the "Uniform"
method? Isn't the Scout shirt the most significant part of the uniform?
A Scout's uniform shirt can display pride in his unit, his advancement
achievements, remind him he is a Scout, and provide a sense of unity with
fellow troop members while also acting as an outward symbol of Scouting to
the community. The shirt alone can do all that.
The pants don't add any information about the Scout or his unit. There are
other aspects about the pants...
- Makes the boys more uniform looking and sharper in appearance.
- Doubles the cost of the uniform.
- Most easily outgrown uniform piece requiring more frequent replacement,
(further escalating uniform costs).
- More difficult to fit, requiring several sizes stocked in a "uniform
exchange" to be effective. Shirts are much easier to fit to a boy.
- No longer have convenient and popular cargo pockets. (I miss those)
- Looks dumb without the official belt--more $$ spent--
- Not practical for many outdoor activities.
--Poor material for cold weather camping.
--Inappropriate for long distance bicycle touring.
--Philmont Wranglers require jeans for Cavalcades, not uniform pants
--etc., etc., etc.
The arguments that the police, fire dept., and sports teams require full
uniforms don't matter to me. We are not arresting criminals, fighting
fires, or scoring field goals.
Clothes can distinguish wealthy from impoverished, a uniform makes them
more the same. That was one of Baden-Powell's intentions. Today status
doesn't end with shirts and pants, there's sport shoes, team jackets, cars,
homes, etc. Regardless of full uniform the boys know who is wealthy or
not. B-P created Scouting in a very class conscious society near the turn
of the century, things have changed a bit since then.
What uniform should be used by a troop? How do they establish effective
uniform method. I think that can vary greatly.
A long time back on Scouts-L there was a story of Scouting in the emerging
democracies of eastern europe. One Scouting group adopted a colored hat
as their uniform, they could afford no more. One little boy had his
father's oversized cap which he wore with great pride. It symbolized a new
hope, a brighter future. It symbolized Scouting for him, and anyone would
have to fight to take it away from him. This rag tag group of boys with
only a colored cap as their uniform found unity, pride, and their symbol of
Scouting. That's what the Uniform method is about, whether the cost is $2
or $100, whether it covers one's head, or is a uniform from head to toe.
Scouting is about what we instill within boys. It's not about how snappy
we dress them. Few troops could afford full uniforms back in the depression
era of the 1930's, were they less because of it?
Whatever your troop encourages with regard to uniforming, if it
instills personal pride, generates group unity, promotes scoutlike
actions, and is identifiable to the community as a Scouting group doing
positive actions, then in my opinion you are effectively using the Uniform
method of Scouting.
The uniform method is measured by it's positive effect on boys. It's
not measured by the dollars spent or the yards of cotton/polyester we buy
from national supply.
My troop encourages Scouts to wear the Scout Shirt as their uniform.
Until my PLC changes that, that is what we'll do. (Personally, I own
several full uniforms.)
If you have a fully uniformed troop, great! More power to you. You've
accomplished a perfect score on Uniform method. I do respect and
admire that very much. But don't trash those that wear their Scout shirts
just as proudly (with jeans).
Now, let's move on to a much more important topic.
How many troops out there provide a "full outdoor program", including year
round monthly camping trips, day trips, summer camp, and a high adventure
program for older Scouts?
Scouting was born outdoors, on an island in the North Sea. That's where it
lives and breathes. That's where the methods of Scouting become actions.
Scouting wasn't born in a fitting room.
You don't outgrow the outdoors.
YIS, Cliff Golden
Scoutmaster Troop 33; DeKalb, Illinois
Three Fires Council BSA
--- Sorry for the long post. I couldn't hold it in any longer. ---
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City