Scouts-L Mail Archive for February of 1999: Our experience with BDUs
Our experience with BDUs
Thu, 25 Feb 1999 11:18:58 -0600
I didn't think I would send this post but our experience with the OD BDUs has
been interesting. Our Troop has been working with Scouts on uniform for several.
I could get into who enforces the uniform method but that's another thread. In
short, our Troop believes boy run mean that the Scouts have the burden of
working with the Eight Methods of Scouting. The adults advise.
In the past three years our guys have gone from about 50% of the Scouts wearing
some part of the uniform to 95% wearing at least the shirt. But we have always
stumbled on pants. Last Summer the Scouts agreed that uniform also means pants.
But there was no way they were wearing the Scout Pants. So they picked jeans. At
least then the Troop would look uniform. The parents started scoffing because
many brands of jeans cost more than Scout pants. At our September COR, one of
our leaders brought in a pair of OD BDU. We explain the Scouts were working
towards better uniforming and presented this idea. The Scouts loved the looks
and the large pockets. The parents like the price (about $20), and the size
adjustments that allow the Scout to wear the same pair through four sizes. The
adult leaders like the no elastic waist band. The PLC wore them to the first
meeting in January and by February, 95% of the Scouts and all the adults are
wearing the OD BDU pants. I think we got a couple new Scouts from the them too,
several Webelos commented on them. The adults did little or nothing to encourage
it and the Scouts look pretty sharp.
Last December I went to the Council and told them what the Scouts decided and
why. I ask them how the Council felt about it. I was supporting the Scouts but
wanted to know where we would stand with them. All they said was that we may not
get invited to represent the Council at some official gathering like the
President visiting Oklahoma City. That was not a problem for us because we have
never been invited anyway. I was uncomfortable at first but I wore the new pants
at District events. I wanted to support my Scouts so I was willing to stand out.
However, I have been surprised, so far the only comments from my District
friends have been where can they get them. Last week a person from council told
me that they can't officially approve the pants but that they look close enough
to Scout pants that we didn't need worry about being invited to represent
Council. Seems they envisioned camouflage looking pants and are greatly relieved
by the OD pants.
I don't know if other Troops have the same experience but we get stopped by a
lot of other unit leaders and even one Venture (Venturing?) group. Most all
these units use jeans as their uniform. The two major attractions have been the
large cargo pockets and the non-elastic waistband. I have been very careful not
to make a big deal with the pants. We are not trying to prove any point and we
are not promoting them as a replacement for Scout pants. It is simply the
results of working with our Scouts on the uniform method in their program.
As for the adults in the Troop. We have a couple adults that just couldn't wear
the Scout pants because they created rashes and other physical problems. But all
enjoy wearing these BDUs. A couple of us go to so many Scout functions that we
are considering buying another pair. That's two pairs for the price of one
official BSA pant.
So where does that put me with BSA policy and respected Scouters on Scouts_L. I
am still uncomfortable but most will tell you that I am the boys biggest fan and
support them to the death if I believe it helps them grow to be men of character
and leaders of integrity. I believe and preach the Eight Methods of Scouting and
boy run so much that some consider me extreme. I believe you build a unit by
building each individual Scout and the Scouts are responsible for the Eight
Methods or you loose the boy run part real fast. I could make the Whole Troop
wear a full BSA uniform but then that doesn't fit in working with each
individual Scout. I could make the PLC enforce the BSA uniform but then they
would be creating policy for me, not them. I advice on the values in uniforming
and how it works in the Aims of Scouting, the Scout Law and Scout Oath. They
build a program with their ideas using our advice. The Scouts now think they are
one of the best uniformed Troops in the area. Most of our Scouts understand the
value of the uniform for Scouts and respect it and that is why they chose the OD
BDUs over anything else. Not to go against Scouting's values, but respect them
as guidelines. I believe in the Scouting program so much that I (as the SM) take
responsibility to allow the BDUs because I think it helps our Scouts toward the
Aims of Scouting. The Scouts took in all the facts about uniforms, cost, looks,
utility and yes even fashion and made a decision that most everyone in the unit
are happy with.
I use the uniform as a tool to work towards the Three Aims of Scouting but I
don't believe that National has done the same however. This is a small world and
some of you will see our Troop. Please give me your opinion. Be nice, but I
What's next for the PLC on the Uniform method, shorts. Oh boy, I will save that
one for April.
Best in Scouting