Re: Uniforms on Board of Review members?
Bruce E. Cobern (bec@PIPELINE.COM)
Tue, 2 Dec 1997 18:20:38 -0500
> From: Steven G. Tyler <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> Date: Tuesday, December 02, 1997 3:24 PM
> Gotta disagree with you on this, Bruce. Expectations vary from unit to
> unit, and I am not aware that BSA has officially (dare I say,
> "uniformly?" NAAH!) relegated the members of the unit committee to
> second-class status in uniforming. Granted, for those Scouters who are
> EXPECTED to be in front of the unit regularly (e.g., SM and ASM's), the
> need for proper uniforming is perhaps more obvious, but in units like
> ours where the distinction between the members of the committee and the
> SM and ASM's is fuzzy at best, most of the "active" MC's (like myself)
> are as well- and often-uniformed as any of the other Scouters.
I don't have all my references handy, nor could I guarantee that I could
find it, but somewhere I remember a definition of "uniformed leadership."
It included the leaders and assistant leaders. It did not include the
committee since their function, as defined by the BSA structure, is to
provide the logistical support necessary for the program to function.
Thus, there should never be any need for the members of the committee to
be "in front of" the troop, or even, necessarily, present at functions in
the background. Now, I KNOW that in many units members of the committee
function in much the same manner as SA's, but I believe that is a weakness
in the functioning of those units since there should be a clear functional
Now, I know there is a patch for MC. I believe that is a concession to
the fact that many MC's do, in fact, function in common view of the Scouts
and that many MC's CHOOSE to be in uniform. (I do, BTW, although I have
considered NOT wearing it to unit events since I am currently registered
as an MC.) However, committee members in uniform can actually have a
confusing affect on the Scouts. The SM and SA's serve a particular
function that MC's, even if uniformed, do not. You need to be careful
that the omnipresent MC's don't start doing things that should be done by
the SM/SA. That would be a clear violation of the job responsibilities
between the committee and the leadership.
> Maybe so, but I have yet to be shown where the Scouter uniform
> requirement for MC's is different in anything other than degree of
> importance from other Scouters.
I agree, it is in degree of importance. MC's are Scouter's who CAN wear a
uniform IF THEY CHOOSE. SM's and SA's are uniformed leaders of the troop
who NEED to wear the uniform because it is one of the methods of Scouting.
I actually see that distinction as quite clear and quite significant.
> I disagree completely -- if by "warrant" you mean "justify" rather than
> "require." The thought of a fully and properly uniformed Scout (such
> uniforming being a virtual prerequisite for being allowed to HAVE a BOR,
> as some on the list would have it) facing a panel of "second-class"
> Scouters, NONE of which are in uniform, is not a picture I care to
> contemplate. A BOR certainly "warrants" the committee members wearing
> uniforms, IMHO.
My statement meant that I agree, probably (because after writing the
paragraphs above I'm no longer so sure), that MC's who regularly interact
with the youth should be in uniform. So then the question was whether
BOR's was sufficient contact to trigger the "should be in uniform" status.
I believe not.
The program has basically been structured so that MC's who are doing the
things defined for the committee in the structure of the BSA need not have
significant direct contact with the youth and need not be in uniform.
Thus, there is no requirement that MC's be uniformed leaders. Since BOR's
are part of these functions, it would seem improbable that a MC would or
should have to get a uniform merely to fulfill ONE of his functions on the
committee. That is my point. This thread started with the question of
whether it was appropriate for a troop to REQUIRE MC's to be in uniform at
> There may be some units in which the organizational chart is strictly
> adhered to, to the point that the committee members could be said to not
> be part of the "adult leadership," but certainly that does not fit our
> unit or any other I'm familiar with. I'll use myself as an example: in
> addition to being the Troop Web site "webmaster" and all-around
> techno-geek (Computer MB counselor, for example), I am responsible for
> scheduling and conducting BOR's, submitting advancement reports, and
> (with the able assistance of an ASM) logging Troop advancement. I also
> attend virtually all Troop meetings and most outings. I have been the
> organizer and POC for several Troop events, and am in general as active
> (in ANY sense of the word) as any other "adult leader" in the Troop.
But every one of the functions you describe, including attending meetings
and events, although that is a possible exception, are the very SUPPORT
roles suggested for the committee which do not suggest any need for
uniforming. Neither does being present at a meeting or on a trip if you
are functioning as background support for the adults who are supervising
the program (in other words, doing committee type work). If you are
functioning in a more active capacity then maybe you should be an SA, and
NOT a MC, since BSA says you can't register as both. (BTW: You
essentially described by function. I am registered as a MC but really
function as an SA. There were specific reasons for this, but I understand
> As I said before, I agree that there is no "need" (as in "requirement")
> for all members of the BOR to be in uniform, but I certainly think the
> members of the BOR SHOULD be uniformed, if at all (and to the greatest
> extent) possible.
I have no problem with board members choosing to be in uniform, if that is
what makes them comfortable, but since MC's have no uniform requirement,
saying that they SHOULD be in uniform, or even that they SHOULD be in
uniform IF POSSIBLE, is saying that it is BETTER if they are in uniform.
I still disagree.
> Bruce, I think you've gone WAY out of line to make a simple point: there
> is less need for the members of the committee to have and wear uniforms,
> even to BOR's, than for the SM and ASM's who are expected to be with the
> Scouts constantly. With that point, I readily concur. However, to make
> such a global and bright-line distinction between the SM and ASM's on
> the one hand, and the committee members on the other, to the point of
> denying that MC's are part of the "adult leadership" or fill a
> "uniformed position" is an unnecessary and, IMHO, completely unwarranted
> delegation of MC's to second-class Scouter status. I'm sure no
> condescension was intended, but I see no need to make such a
> distinction, and if such a distinction is an articulated BSA policy,
> that's news to me.
Clearly there was no condescension intended. If there were I would be
putting myself down as well. As I said, I think that MC's need to be very
careful that they don't start doing SA work without being an SA. MC's are
not a second class form of leadership within the unit, they are a
different class of leaders, although I believe it could be argued that
they are support staff and not leaders at all. I am cognizant that in
many or most units these lines are blurred, but the answers to questions
like this need to be given in the context of how a troop should function,
under the organization structure set out by BSA.
Bruce E. Cobern
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City