Re: Uniform thoughts
Russ Jones (CSRTJ@TTUHSC.EDU)
Sun, 26 Oct 1997 11:05:36 -0600
At 01:35 AM 10/26/97 -0500, Cliff Golden wrote, in part:
>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
Sorry, Cliff, but your reasoning here simply does not hold water. If the
order of this list were meant to reflect BSA's priorities, then it would
somehow be more important for a Scout to be a member of a patrol than for
him to experience personal growth, and somehow more desirable for him to
merely go camping or be awarded rank advancement than for him to acquire
leadership skills. This list is simply what it appears to be: a list of
the eight methods of Scouting, in no particular order. It is not intended
to assign any greater importance to one method over another, nor should it
be used to give credence to the relatively low priority you evidently assign
to the uniform.
What many seem to fail to realize is that "uniform" is a collective noun.
According to page 566 of the Boy Scout Handbook, in head-to-toe order "the
Scout uniform consists of a cap or a broad-brim (sic) hat, a shirt, trousers
or shorts, a belt, socks, and shoes or hiking boots." Anything less is not
the uniform, only a part of the uniform. If one wears the shirt with jeans,
one is wearing part of the uniform, but he is not in uniform.
As to when and where the uniform should be worn, page 567 of the Boy Scout
Handbook says to "wear (the) complete uniform proudly and correctly at all
Scouting events," including "patrol and troop meetings, hikes, camps, and
rallies," when appearing "before a board of review or a court of honor,"
when taking part "in Scout service projects in (the) community and in the
backcountry," and "during Scouting Anniversary Week in February." Unlike
what you mistakenly allege is implied by the order in which the methods are
listed, this is explicit guidance from the BSA. Except for the neckerchief
and the style of headgear, which are specific unit options, the only
variation the literature authorizes is that "Scouts involved in conservation
projects may wear work pants or jeans with their Scout shirts" (Boy Scout
Handbook, page 566).
It seems to me that the fact that complete uniforms are the norm at Philmont
base camp, and that the rangers wear uniform pants or shorts even in the
backcountry, is more a point in favor of full uniform usage than against it.
No one is arguing that one should wear the complete uniform when it is not
appropriate to the activity--I would not want Scouts painting the Scout Hut
in uniform or hiking in Scout socks, for example--but for troop, patrol, and
PLC meetings, traveling to and from weekend campouts, and especially for
boards of review, courts of honor, color guard functions, and virtually any
activity before the public eye, the uniform is just as functional as jeans
and should be worn.
I do not necessarily believe that units which only require half the uniform
are only providing half the program. However, it does raise the question.
Ideals are one of Scouting's methods, and what those ideals are is fully
defined. Advancement is a method, and what advancement consists of is fully
defined. The uniform is a method, and the uniform is fully defined. If a
unit does not fully implement the defined uniform, might it not also be
failing to fully implement the ideals? If it picks and chooses from among
the parts of the uniform, leaving some parts out and yet still calling the
remainder "the uniform," might it not also be picking and choosing from the
advancement method as well, leaving some parts out and still claiming to be
correctly implementing the advancement method? You ask how many units are
providing a "full outdoor program" (which yours presumably does), in a tone
which indicates that you feel others ought to be doing so; yet you argue
against a "full uniform program." Your priorities are evident, but the BSA
does not assign priorities to its methods. All eight methods are meant to
be fully implemented, and anything less than full implementation of all
eight is less than full implementation of Scouting.
Does this mean that you do not offer a quality program? Not necessarily;
but it does mean that your program is not all that it could be or should be.
No unit's program is perfect; there is always room for improvement, even in
the best of them. Full implementation of the uniform method is but one area
in which many units could improve. Full implementation of all eight methods
should be the goal--impossible to achieve, perhaps, but the nearer one comes
to achieving that goal, the higher the quality of the program is bound to be.
The uniform is defined by BSA. It is not within the authority of either the
PLC or the adult leadership to decide which parts of it to omit, any more
than it is within their authority to decide which rank advancements to omit
or which ideals to omit. The uniform is a method of Scouting, equal in
importance to each of the other seven methods, and I challenge you to find
any official policy indicating otherwise. According to the inside front
cover of the latest issue of the Insignia Guide, official policy is that
"the leaders of Scouting--both volunteer and professional--promote the
wearing of the CORRECT COMPLETE UNIFORM on all suitable occasions" (emphasis
added). Moreover, this policy may not be "added to or changed in any way
unless approved by the National Executive Board of the Boy Scouts of America
through its Program Group Committee."
Yes, the uniform is relatively expensive. Yes, it is not suitable for all
the things that Scouts do. Yes, the boys outgrow them. Yes, not all the
boys want to wear it. But failing to promote its wear on all suitable
occasions is a violation of official BSA policy, and "a Scout is obedient."
Yours in Scouting,
Russ Jones <email@example.com>
Scoutmaster, Troop 575
South Plains Council, Lubbock, Texas
Eagle Scout, class of 1965
"I used to be a fox..." SC-295
"I used to be a staffer..." SC-430, SR-110, SR-206
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City