Embarassed to wear the Scout Uniform? (was: Re: Boy Scout uniform)
Lawrence E. Faust (lfaust@ATLANTIC.NET)
Tue, 7 Apr 1998 09:23:58 -0400
>After reading some of the posts regarding the wear of the uniform, and
>some people's comments on having to wear it, I'm curious to find out how
>many people are embarrassed to wear their uniform in public?
>Personally--and this might make some of you ill--I love wearing my
>uniform! I can't wait until the next time I put it on! There's never
>been a time when I thought to myself, "Gosh, I have to put it on
In my case, I'm PROUD to wear the uniform...been so since I earned my
Eagle. Even wore my "spare" green Leadership Corps uniform shirt (sans all
the patches) to classes while in college.
Now that I'm a Cub Scout leader, I frequently stop at Walmart, Target,
Hardee's, Burger King and countless other places around town in my Den
Leader uniform (usually while going to/coming from meetings or other
Scouting events). - Class A with neckerchief of course and sometimes
complete with campaign hat when I'm feeling particulary jazzed. Yes, I've
even stopped to get gas while wearing it.
People around town are used to seeing me in it, and I'd like to think that,
to some degree, they associate the "civilian" me with Scouting. Granted, the
uniform DOES elicit some stares and whispers from the older high school
crowd, but I take the view that life's far too short to be concerned about
what other people think about what I'm wearing.
Besides, it's such a rush when people come up to me and say "I was a
Scout too" or "Are you an Eagle Scout?" or even "How can I be a Scout?" (the
last DOES happen. Best darn advertising in the world, bar none!)
>What makes the uniform an embarrassment to some?
Over the years, I've actually put some thought into this question, with
the result that I still have no idea! It's a mystery to me why kids will
have absolutely no problem wearing uniforms (leather jackets w/rivets or
t-shirts & baggy pants, for examples) while declaring that they don't want
to wear uniforms. It can't be that they don't want to look/dress alike- just
go to any middle/high school and you'll find most of the students dressed in
the same type of "uniform". It MIGHT have something to do with the
rebellious desire of kids to belong to a group and to avoid any type of
clothing style considered or which looks acceptable to the mainstream (oddly
enough, buttons are not cool).
Could kids be avoiding the Scout Uniform because it's too conservative,
too mainstream? Possible. Might the solution be to keep the traditional
khaki/green uniform for "dress" and adopt a similar but "radical" (&
therefore more acceptable to kids & BTW also more practical) uniform for
field/everyday use? Keep the colors, change the material to something
"cool" but practical, maybe have "attachment points" and grommets like a
pack and less buttons. Kids seem to accept patches, but sewing is a hassle-
attach them differently.
> Is it because there's still a "goody two-shoes" stigma attached to it? If
so, then why don't
>we do something to change that?!
It might go even deeper (with an ironic twist): could the kids of today
be avoiding Scouts in general because Scouting represents something
"acceptable to the mainstream"? If so, how should the program be changed to
make it "cool"?
Historically, it appears to me that the appeal of Scouting was that, TO
AN OUTSIDER, it stood for something not quite acceptable to society-
something rebellious, something different- at the time (wearing uniforms,
camping when there are perfectly good houses, cooking for yourself, caring
for and helping others, self-sufficiency, taking responsibility, etc.).
Youth latched onto Scouting in an effort to "stand apart from mainstream
society" & learned things along the way (remember, a game with a purpose?)
In today's society, these Scouting values (caring, helping,
self-sufficiency , self-sufficiency, taking responsibility, etc) are
acceptable, but only as goals- we should care for and help others, we should
be self-sufficient, etc. However, today's economy and value system have
indoctrinated parents & youth with a pervasive cynicism about the actual
attainment & practice of the traditional Scouting values ("why help
him/her/them?", "why even try?", "me first", dependence on others to bail
them out, failure to take responsibility, etc.)
How does the program need to change? I haven't the foggiest. However, it
DOES have to change in such a way as to hang onto the traditional Scouting
values while actively combating society's "pervasive cynicism" about their
practice, yet show kids that they can "express their rebellious sides" by
being a Scout. The program needs to SHOUT out to non-members "Society tells
you that you can't change things, but yes, you CAN make a difference. Join
us, and we'll do it together". Maybe adopting a more youth-acceptable
"field" uniform is a way to do that.
But, then again, maybe not. Your mileage may vary.
Scouting is a way of life,
Cub Scout Pack 303
Gulf Ridge Council
(visit us at http://rio.atlantic.net/~lfaust/pack303/index.html)
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org UIN: 657022
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City