Scouts-L Mail Archive for February of 1999: Re: BDU
Sun, 28 Feb 1999 03:00:09 -0600
Several Scouters have asked me "What do YOU think of the current
BDU thread?" and specifically the following questions.
My *opinion* is that while we have a lot of variation within the
BSA's uniforming options presently...a lot more than we USED to
have...that we shouldn't be recommending to our youth nor to their
parents or other Scouters the wearing of non-official items.
The Battle Dress Uniform (BDU) pants, no matter what color they
are, are just that...military (battle) uniform items. While I have
to agree with several of you that the pants ARE confortable (as a
military officer and before that, an enlisted soldier, I enjoyed
wearing them and STILL DO!), look sharp when pressed or starched,
and has a LOT of really nice features (extra padding around the
buttocks and kneecaps; the strings which are used to "blouse" the
pants around boots as well as to keep out bugs; and lots and lots
of pockets), let's remember what those pants are MADE FOR.
They are NOT made for kids to wear on overnight outings even in
places like Philmont or Maine; nor are they made for kids to wear
during "playtime". They are made for MILITARY members to wear to
carry extra ammo, extra food, and extra items to sustain and
support them during extended operations...in the snow, woodlands,
desert, or "in garrison."
Even though they look good and from a distance or close up, not
very distinguishable from the BSA's official colored pants, they
ARE NOT BSA issued pants.
"Would you wear them if you could find a pair?"
I would wear them, but NOT with a BSA uniform shirt. I would wear
them with a unit teeshirt, but not as a part of an "official
uniform". I feel the same about wearing the BSA uniform shirt with
"Look at it from a cost advantage, Mike: many of our boys cannot
afford the $35 it costs for the BSA's pants...and they don't last
long, nor do they have the deep pockets."
I've called Brigade Quartermaster, the US Cavalry Store, and a
couple of local Army-Navy stores close to here in Minnesota and
back home in Kentucky. The costs, when you toss in shipping and
handling, is about the same. There may be a couple of dollars'
difference between the youth styled OG (Olive Green, also called
"Olive Drab") pants and the BSA's pants.
But will the Cav Store take back and exchange those pants if the
seam's busted? No, they won't. Nor will Brigade Quartermaster take
back a smaller pair for a larger pair and you pay the difference
between the two. And definately none of the Army-Navy stores I've
called and talked with will exchange ANYTHING after I've worn them
for a couple of years and have "outgrown them."
The BSA WILL, and they won't ask any questions about it. It's part
of the BSA's guarantee of quality in all of the things they sell to
us or make available to us. If it was made by the BSA, carry the
BSA seal, the Supply Division is in the business of supporting
As far as the fact that the BDU pants have deeper and more
plentiful pockets, what are we letting them fill those pockets
with?? Again, I can see this if they were on an expedition at
Philmont, in Maine or in the Northwoods. I can also see it if they
were on an extended summer camp program. But I cannot see it for
just "regular wear."
"Many of our Scouts think this is cool..and they are now wearing
their uniform with a new degree of pride than they were with the
It's a matter of emphasis. If I was to come to your Troop meeting
next week, wearing a really nice and distinctive neckerchief, and
after explaining all of the various uses of that neckerchief and
the fact that it's available for sale at different places...some of
your Scouts would want to get and wear it too. Pretty soon,
EVERYONE in your Troop is wearing this "special item" because it
makes them look "cool" too. This is also the same appeal that
wearing beaded Order of the Arrow sashes, sashes with "Legend
strips" on the backside, and fully embrodered sashes have to
Arrowmen. They see it worn, think that it's GREAT, want to get
one, and it catches on.
"Once we wear them and convince other Scouters and Scouts that this
is the way we should go with those pants, National will HAVE to
listen to us!"
True to a point: there's power, mighty power, in numbers. But
instead of convincing your fellow Scouters and Scouts to abandon
what the BSA has made available to us all, how about convincing the
BSA's Supply Division of the need for BETTER pants. SEND THEM a
photo of one of your Scouts or Scouters in those pants. SEND THEM
letters and post cards from all of your youth members and their
parents. SEND THEM pairs of those BDU pants and ASK THEM to "get
on the stick" and make OUR pants like those.
I'll give you a little clue here, gang: The BSA outsources their
uniforming items to American businesses by policy. It's this "made
in the USA" policy that you'll have to get by, because many of
those BDU pants are made OUTSIDE of the USA. So you'll have to
find a company in the USA that will make them in the color for
youth and adults! (and it's this "Made in the USA" policy that
actually drives the price of items...all items...upward!)
"We should be able to decide on our own uniforming; after all, when
the BSA started, there was no official uniform...Scouts and
Scouters were wearing old WWI uniforms with BSA emblems!"
True again, to a point. There was no official uniform for many
years, and BSA Scouts and Scouters wore military "handmedowns".
It was before we had a national organization, and a national
uniform, and even national officers for the most part. And many of
those boys and adults were confused with adults that "should have
been fighting" instead of "marching around on the streets..."
But that's part of the reason why the BSA has this "don't wear
military uniforms" policy...because it's really hard to for the
"average joe or jane" to tell the difference between a kid playing
Scouting and another kid "doing the military thing."
Last night, I saw a segment on our local news concerning
Minnesota's National Guard recruiting teens through "wargames"
complete with laser-tag-like weapons and gear. Many of those teens
wore not just military BDUs but also camo paint... the point being
that "wearing the gear puts us in the mood." While I've got to
agree that the tactic may gain them some additional soldiers, I've
also got to question what happens when they go to basic training
and finds out that it's NOTHING like "playing laser tag games" as
they were led to believe during their recruitment?
The same would go for Scouts wearing military-style clothing...what
keeps a Scouter from introducing military drill and ceremonies?
Nothing wrong with that..we used to do those things earlier in our
Scouting history. Then, he or she introduces military tactics.
Huh? Bounding overwatch?? To CAMP?? To AVOID THE EMEMY??
Nah...but we've already started it, they will say...you "let us
wear the field uniform and stuff...nobody complained..they loved
If we want to change the uniform pants, for WHATEVER reason, we
need to do it from WITHIN the program and WITHOUT abandoning the
existing products. Yeah, those pants are expensive (I've got a
pair of BSA size 40 pants I'm getting ready to send to the Supply
Division to get a swapout for one four sizes smaller!), and so is
the rest of the uniform. But there are ways to get around those
costs...and there are ways that we can encourage our youth to wear
those uniforms properly.
It starts with US, the adult role models. What we wear and how we
wear it speaks volumes to our youth members. They do pay attention
and they do pattern us.
I would be happy to join with anyone that wants to challenge the
BSA's Supply Division to give us a pair of pants that would be
confortable for ALL of us (males and females, large framed and
small-framed individuals, all areas of this nation) to wear. But I
would be happy to do this sign of support NOT through ignorance of
what the BSA's Supply Division (representing the BSA itself) says
is our official uniform.
Notwithstanding options available to Ventures and Explorers, we
only have a limited number of uniform pants to wear...at least we
Hope this helps in the continued discussion...
(c) 1999 Mike Walton ("no such thing as strong coffee,...") email@example.com
http://www.mninter.net/~blkeagle Burnsville, MN 55306-7130 (612) 435-3068
privately at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
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