Re: Uniform thoughts
golden cliff (c60clg1@CORN.CSO.NIU.EDU)
Wed, 29 Oct 1997 00:30:58 -0600
Russ, and Scoutss-L,
I will try to make this my last post on uniforms, since many have
declared it a dead horse. Actually it's a dead horse "again", since it
is a perennial topic on Scouts-L.
My apologies to Jon Eidson, our listowner. I will try to quote as little as
possible (though it's very very hard). I also know this post is way too
long. I'm really sorry about that and I apologize.
> challenge me to find any official BSA policy stating that all eight methods
> are of equal value, knowing full well that no such statement exists; but the
> very fact that no such statement exists is the proof of the point I make.
No, this is not true. Actually, I challenged you to find it so we could
begin another thread. "Do people on this list believe all the methods of
Scouting are of equal importance as the BSA states?"
New thread = "METHODS--PRIORITY?"
Without getting out of your chair, you can visit the official BSA web site
Under the headline "AIMS AND METHODS OF THE SCOUTING PROGRAM", go down to
the third line, it reads...
"The methods by which the aims are achieved are listed below in random
order to emphasize the equal importance of each."
There you go, official and in writing (if you print it out).
It goes on to list; Ideals, Patrols, Outdoor Programs, Advancement,
Personal Growth, Leadership Development, and Uniform.
Now you're wondering, wait! That's only seven methods! Aren't there
supposed to be eight? Yes there are. Adult Association is not on the
list. Either the BSA has a big suprise for us, or someone wasn't paying
attention while they were writing the file. (Maybe this is meant to be the
ultimate youth protection policy, no adult association.)
I think the BSA needs to do a little reviewing of their home page content.
> No, the eight methods are not easily separated, as you say. The point is,
> they are not meant to be. All eight are intended to be used in a
> coordinated, integrated fashion that results in a viable program to achieve
> the aims of Scouting.
Well said and absolutely true. I don't disagree at all (except that Scout
pants are too expensive and unnecessary).
Indulge me a little. Scouting is a little like cooking. The BSA has
given us the ingredients (methods) to create a feast (program) for boys.
Each troop adds an extra pinch here and there which gives each unit their
own particular flavor. Some units offer better outdoor programs than
others, some have amazing advancement tradition, some are sharply
uniformed head to toe, others have such a boy led program other troops
come by and take notes, and so on.
Some ingredients will be a subtle hint of flavor, while others have an
overwhelming flavor. As all great cooks, we don't agree on the exact
recipe and probably never will, I can live with that.
> You ask me to consider the hypothetical situation of two Scouts--one who
> believes in the ideals of Scouting but does not own the uniform, and another
> who owns the uniform but does not believe in the ideals--and ask if the two
> boys are equal.
You miss my point entirely on this. It's the methods I'm getting at here,
they are not equal. Instilling within a Scout the ideals of the Oath and
Law, IMHO is far more important than teaching boys to dress alike. OK, I
know, the uniform method is more than dressing alike, but it's still not
even remotely close to the importantance of teaching the ideals of
Scouting. I definately believe ideals are far more important than
uniforming, I do not believe those methods are of equal value. That was
> What the Boy Scout Handbook says about wearing the uniform can be taken
> as either policy or guideline, I suppose, but in point of fact it is
> probably both.
I'm not sure how it can be both, but as long as you've given me the
option, I'll take it as a guideline. Guidelines mean you should, but you
don't have to. I have no problem with that. I do believe full uniforming
is meant to be only a guidline, and we have been operating as such.
> At one time a few years ago, BSA authorized what it called an "activity"
> uniform, consisting of white socks, khaki shorts, and a knitted
> polo-type shirt of a certain color depending on the type of unit, but
> that was a short-lived offering that is no longer available.
The activity uniform is still available in the most recent Scout
> What we know as a "class B uniform" is not really a BSA uniform at
> all. While the wearing of such is not specifically prohibited by the
> BSA, neither is it sanctioned, and it is certainly not the uniform we
> have been discussing. The fact that virtually every unit has its
> "class B uniform" does not change the fact that neither the PLC nor the
> adult leadership has the authority to decide what the official uniform
> consists of.
I have been discussing uniform method, which, to me, includes all forms of
uniforming. The "class B uniform" is used by units and camps all over the
country. If the uniform guidelines are only guidelines, then it's not a
problem. However, if they are regulations, then the uniform police will
be working double shifts.
I believe the uniform method to be an important part of the Scouting
program. I don't believe I have ever said that it wasn't. If I have
given that impression somewhere in a post, then either the reader was
misunderstanding my intention or it was a failure of clear expression on
I know this post has already gone on too long, but if you'll bear with me
and read the following, you'll better understand my perspective on all of
HERE'S WHAT I BELIEVE ABOUT UNIFORMING
Uniforms. It helps a boy sell more popcorn and pancake breakfast tickets.
Wearing it shows a boy's committment to Scouting. It identifies him as
part of a worldwide movement with millions of other boys. It instills
pride within him and unity among his troop. It reminds him of who he is
and what's expected of him. It provides a platform from which to display
his achievements in Scouting. Cubs and little brothers look up to him in
his uniform as an example of what they might one day become. It instills
pride in his parents and grandparents. His uniform tells his neighbors
and people he doesn't even know that he's involved in something wholesome
and positive and there's still hope for this nation's youth. He stands
out in a crowd of people, more is expected of him because of it. It
attracts all dirt and stains within 100 feet of him, giving his mother
something to do with her spare time. Each one he outgrows tells him he is
a little closer to manhood. Eventually one day he sees it not merely as a
product of stitched cloth, but as a symbol of something that's become a
part of him.
To me that is the significance of the uniform method in Scouting. I believe
those things to be very important indeed. If anyone feels I require
further instruction on the purpose of the uniform method, they can contact
me by personal e-mail.
I also believe that a simple Scout shirt can accomplish all of the
You can spend more money to own the full set of uniform parts national has
for sale. For some, it is the only acceptable way to do it. For me, it's
not about how much clothes we buy, it's about how the uniform method
effects the boys. I believe in most situations a simple Scout shirt will
do very nicely. It gets the job done for the boys in my troop.
I have made an effort to recruit some hispanic youth from my community.
They are immigrants to this nation. Their parents do not speak english.
One such Scout is named David. His father works two full time jobs
earning minimum wage to support the family, such as it is. David's sister
is still in Mexico. They are hoping to earn enough money someday to bring
her to the United States. It's very expensive, many government officials
need to be "tipped". David doesn't have a mother. His older cousin takes
care of the house and family. We waived David's troop dues, bought him a
handbook, Scout shirt, and the patches to go on it. We tried to give him
a sleeping bag, but he refused it. He insists to only "borrow" it until
he can buy his own, returning it at the end of each trip. He earned money
for his Scout Account through our fundraisers to pay for activities. We
gave him a bicycle, telling him it was grand prize for selling the most
pancake breakfast tickets. His family is very proud and dislikes
receiving any form of charity. David is a very healthy growing 11 year
old who enjoys the adventure of being a Scout, especially an American
Shirts can be purchased extra big and made to last a while, pants are more
difficult to do this with. We have a uniform exchange, shirts don't
remain there very long before being claimed. We have pants there too, but
we never seem to have the right fit for anyone, so they lay unclaimed and
I know one of the intentions of the uniform is to make everyone equal, to
erase the differences between the wealthy and the poor. It's therefore
somewhat ironic that by requiring "full complete uniform" we clearly
identify each Scout who can and can't afford to buy it. I fail to see a
"major" benefit from the addition of the pants, etc. My troop's PLC seem
to feel the shirt is enough and Scouts should be encouraged to wear it.
We strongly encourage each Scout to wear his Scout shirt as his uniform.
In theory, I absolutley agree a fully uniformed troop looks very sharp and
the additional pride they feel from full uniforming can be substantial. I
also recognize the difference between theory and reality. Although I
might agree in theory, I have a troop of boys that must deal in reality.
Reality isn't always what we want it to be. Just ask David.
I try to use all the methods of Scouting as best I can to benefit the
boys I work with. In some people's eyes we might be falling short in one
or more area. That is not a major concern for me. My major concern is
what the boys see through their eyes and how Scouting effects their lives.
There are three aims in Scouting and I use eight methods to help instill
within my Scouts a positive and significant Scouting experience.
I have tremendous respect for Russ, and have enjoyed reading his posts.
Never have I regarded any of this to be of a personal nature, only the
lively discussion of a Scouting subject with an experienced and
knowledgeable Scouter from Texas.
We are probably too far apart on the uniforming issue to ever come
together on it, but I know we both believe very deeply in what we do and the
boys we serve. On that firm base we will always stand united.
YIS, Cliff Golden
Scoutmaster Troop 33; DeKalb, Illinois
Three Fires Council BSA
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City