Re: Embarrassed to wear the Scout Uniform?
Godbout, Marc (GodboutM@ANDOVERCONTROLS.COM)
Thu, 9 Apr 1998 13:42:52 -0400
Firstly, asking this list who is embarrassed to wear the uniform is akin
to preaching to the choir. I can't think of any dedicated leader being
embarrassed to be seen in public with it on. Also, most of us are
confident enough with ourselves that we just don't care what others
think, especially when it comes to our dedication. However, just
because we, as adults, will wear it to Walmart doesn't mean that the
boys will follow that example. Peer pressure sometimes is too powerful,
especially at the teenage years.
So, in trying to analyze why the boys are embarrassed to wear the
uniform (and, in general, they are) we've got to look at what they do
wear and figure out why. Many have mentioned that wearing the team
football jersey, sports jacket, and even gang colors is "cool". One big
difference between these uniforms and ours is the team itself. The
previously mentioned teams/gangs are selective. Not just anyone can
make the wrestling team. Anyone can be a Boy Scout, so why brag about
it (which is what the kids are doing when they wear the team uniform and
gang colors). Unfortunately, the popular image of Boy Scouts is not
bragging material, at least between kids at the Scout age level.
So why is that? Well, one place to look is that box in our living
rooms. Ever notice how sitcoms treat characters with high moral values?
These folks are the geeky and nerdy characters - the ones you laugh at,
not with. If a male character admits he's a virgin, the next question
is "What are you, an Eagle Scout or something?" Then the laugh track
kicks in. Sitcoms are not real life, but they are popular, so they
probably reflect a typical mindset. Then the kids watch the shows and
find that to be moral means to be laughed at. I can't think of any one
recent, popular TV show (sitcom or not) or movie where a Scout is seen
as the "cool" one. The show McGyver could have been a great vehicle for
this, but I don't remember any references to McGyver being a Scout.
Another problem with the uniform is the patches. I think the boys are
proud, deep down inside, to receive advancement and merit badge patches,
but I don't think it's cool to *want* to receive patches, at least at
the 7th or 8th grade and above. An example: When kids are young,
kindergarten to maybe 3rd grade or so, teachers give out little stickers
like stars for doing something good. Kids love to wear their stars and
show them off. Can you see a freshman in high school even accepting a
star sticker, let alone wearing one? In the non-scouting mind, a patrol
leader patch, the Life Scout badge, etc. is merely fluff stuff. Anybody
can do it as long as he's a good boy (big deal). Of course, it doesn't
help that even without any patches or embroidery at all, the Scout shirt
is still geeky, adult thing to wear.
So now we're back to image. Whatever uniform we choose, the Boy Scout
image is that of a "goody-two-shoes", a brown-noser. We can't change
the fact that it's not cool to be good. If we change anything, we've
got to start showing the reasons boys join scouts. In other words,
we've got to show off the game, not the purpose. Boys do not join
Scouts to become good men. They want to camp, hike, rock-climb,
mountain-bike, etc. One shirt my son does wear often is a T-shirt with
a rock-climber hanging from a rope on a cliff with the words "Attitude.
Gotta have it". In the bottom corner is the fleur-de-lis. Another
shirt is his T-shirt with an Eagle Scout badge covering the front (proud
dad alert - he's more than earned the right to wear the Eagle badge).
He won't wear the uniform shirt anywhere but a Scouting event. Another
anecdote (anybody still awake?): An Eagle Scout in our district got up
in front of his high school to talk about a club he belongs to. He
brought in his rock-climbing equipment, mountain-bike stuff, and some
other high-adventure gear to show off and explain how it was used.
Then, when passing out information sheets, he ducked out of sight and
changed into the Scout uniform and told them some more about his "club".
I don't have any details about the audience reaction, but I can't
believe it hurt the Scout image.
So my suggestion is to show off what we do, not what we are.
SM Troop 98
SMA Troop 412
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City