scouts-l Mail Archive for February of 2000: Re: Need some support on Uniforms (long)
MAJ) Mike Walton (settummanque, the blackeagle (blackeagle@POP3.SCOUTER.NET
Tue Feb 01 2000 - 00:35:18 CST
Bill Corwin wrote and asked:
>At our last Troop Committee Meeting the SM and one of the ASM, brought up
>they wanted to eliminate the Scout pants as a required part of our uniform.
>It was said this cause our boys to leave since the clothing was so
>expensive. My feelings were we should then purchase them for the boys that
>need them. I need any comments or thought for or against so I can make a
>good decision. I want to keep the full uniform.
I feel as Bill does, that the Scout should wear the complete and full Scout
uniform while taking part in Scouting activities. I have a lot of reasons
for this, but I wanted to relate three examples of why I feel the way I do
about this. When I talk to Commisioners, I talk about "the uniform of the
leader being the uniform of the youth."
Jessi and I attended a District Recognition Banquet in Stockbridge, Georgia
last weekend. Not all of the Scouts that opened the District Banquet were
wearing complete uniforms....they all had shirts and neckerchiefs, but some
wore bluejeans, while other were wearing cargo pants, and one Scout was
wearing hunting pants.
This was simply a reflection of the adults in attendance, while many were
wearing the official uniform complete, there were many others that were
wearing other pants instead of the official pants....
I never make a big deal about this...after all, they ATTEND the event, and
to me as a former Paraprofessional as well as one of those folks that
coordinated such an event for my District, I'm just glad that they made it
through the weather brewing up outside that evening to attend!! But surely,
their Executive (whom was in a complete uniform) and Commissioner (likewised
dressed) and Chair (whom was absent!) should have set the tone for the
activity and ALL activities and made sure they not just wear the "tops" but
the "bottoms" too.
When talking with Commissioners during Commissioner Conferences or other
training events, I always get the same responses:
*I only wear the uniform once or twice a month. Why the large expense?
I wear my military Battle Dress Uniform on the average two days each month.
They are close to $80 for the set, and add another $80 for the boots. They
too, are deductable, as is their cleaning and pressing (and starching) for
tax purposes. Even if you don't itemize for the feds, you may be able to
take it off for the state.
*The uniform is so unconfortable. They can never get a uniform in my size.
I'm big-breasted or large boned or have wide hips. There's no way that the
BSA will make a uniform just for me.
Yeah, you can. You may have to pay a little more for it, but the BSA will
make a uniform for Scouters in 5X, and pants as large as 80 inches at the
waist. The Supply Division will work with ANY volunteer or professional or
parent of a youth member to get the right uniform. As a matter of fact,
you can go to a retail store or a clothing store, get measured, and send
those measurements to the BSA's Supply Division. They will make a uniform
to those measurements.
*I can't change into it like Superman or Wonder Woman. It's just enough that
I'm volunteering to do this stuff....I'm doing enough to meet my
Commissioner obligations after a long day of work!
I place a uniform in the trunk of my car...that way, I can change literally
anywhere (like in the men's room) of the meeting place I'm going to. I've
changed shirts once during a long light change on a highway. You don't have
to wear the "class A" uniform (you know, the one with everything on it and
with every device in place).
Other Commissioners have a uniform at work and at the end of the day, they
simply change into it, take their street clothing home, greet and eat with
your family, and then go to the unit meeting or Commissioners' meeting.
*Why do I want to wear my uniform when the unit leaders where I'm going to
are not going to be wearing theirs?
Simple. You're the example, and you represent the BSA. And what you wear
(or not) is exactly what others whom see you will wear (or not).
The following evening, our hosts (Bill and Beth Reiller), Jessi and myself
watched "Follow Me Boys," the old Disney movie on Scouting over the years
starring Fred MacMurray.
Fred's Troop didn't have a flag at first...and Scouts wore shirts with jeans
or school pants. But slowly but surely, those Scouts and their parents
caught the Scouting spirit and by mid-movie, all of those Scouts (and their
Scoutmaster!) had complete uniforms and the Troop had a flag.
Throughout the movie, Bill and I were commenting on the fact that by
*today's standards*, this Troop would be forced to really do some massive
changes to, "survive as a Troop". No Assistant Scoutmaster, no tour permits
filed before camping, no Safe Swim Defense before going to the water (their
"Scout Hut" as first built, didn't meet anyone's standards for building; the
rebuilt "Hut" could have....).
There was no "push" to get the boys to First Class in a year, nor was their
any "push" to get Scouts to Eagle (although there were several Eagle Scouts,
including a future state Governor). And they didn't have a District
Executive coming by to insure that their Troop supports the local Council
financially, either! *laughter*
And we could just *imagine* the discusssion on getting everyone in uniform!
Many of those kids in that community I'm sure couldn't afford the complete
uniform at what, 3 or 5 dollars complete?? But everyone knew of the
importance of having at least the shirt....
Which leads me to the second example. A few years back, Eddie VanHalen (of
the rock band VanHalen)'s personal assistant or roadie or someone walked
into a second-hand store under Eddie's direction and purchased a Scout
shirt. Right off the rack. Paid in cash, so the story goes. Eddie needed a
new stage outfit, and he figured that wearing a Scout shirt -- the patches
still attached -- would be a good change. He wore it during one of those MTV
interviews prior to one of his performances. And almost overnight, it
seemed that lots of kids -- girls and boys -- wanted to wear a OLD Scout
shirt with patches on it (don't care what the patches are for....it's like
the shirt that Eddie V. wore, and that's all we care about!) without any
care that this shirt represents a program. The BSA had to go out and ask
Goodwill and Salvation Army to "please, please, don't sell any more Scout
shirts...if you get them in, just send them to the local BSA office and
we'll see that kids that need them get them."
Of course, business is business, and both Goodwill and Salvation Army
basically ignored the BSA's request. But the damage was done: Scouts wanted
to "get away with" wearing just the shirt because "that's the coolest part
of the uniform".
And the final example, the one I use more than any other. "The uniform of
the leader is the uniform of the Scout." I've witnessed this expression in
my own life as a Scoutmaster, Explorer Advisor, Skipper, and Team Coach
(I've never served as Cubmaster). If I showed up wearing "street clothing",
that's exactly what my youth members took as a "cue" to wear during the
meetings. If I showed up wearing the official uniform (or the Post, Ship or
Team's dress identity), that's EXACTLY what I got from my youth members
It wasn't overnight. It took sometime (and not browbeating, nor demanding
that "everyone goes out and get what I'm wearing) and there were always
those one or two Scouts or Explorers that refused to wear anything but
"street clothing" to a meeting...but they usually had a very legitimate
reasoning: lack of money to purchase everything; some kid or groups of kids
would beat the living tar out of him if seen in the uniform; or Dad (never
Mom, just Dad) would beat the living tar out of me for wearing the "pansy
uniform" instead of a "real uniform" like a military one.
And in every case, I had a solution which worked well. Money can be earned
and uniforms can be purchased by the Troop and "loaned" to the Scout whom
must pay for the uniform to have it or agree to do some sort of community
project to "pay for his uniform" (and the Troop's Committee would ask that
community agency to "pay for the uniform" in exchange for the Scout's work).
Uniforms can be handed down from Scout family to Scout family.
"kids or groups of kids or Dad" wanting to physically or mentally harm a
Scout for wearing his uniform can be accommodated by the Scout bringing his
uniform to the meeting site and changing prior to and after the meeting (the
same can be done for Scouts going to ball practice and didn't have time to
change before they drove or were driven to meetings).
And those few Scouts that still "haven't caught the clue" would be talked
with during Scoutmaster (or other leaders') conferences in which I would
find out what the REAL reason is, which could be one of the above or
something way out in left field like "the uniform itches" (wearing a set of
underwear or taking a bath -- or both would help!) or "I'm allergic to
cotton" (in which you can wear nylon shirts and pants under the Scout stuff)
or "I am afraid that I'll get it dirty" (in which is one of the reasons why
I use Tide (tm) laundry detergent and Downy (tm) fabric softener...and why I
bring those things and place them in the men's room...to clean "dirty shirts
and pants", which are amazingly "wash and wear" items) or my personal
favorite "I don't see Jackie wearing his" (to which I respond "And if Jackie
cut off his fingers, would you do the same?? If Jackie was to steal a CD
player from the (store) PX, would you do the same?? You're using Jackie as
one great example of living great. How about if you hold yourself up to
your OWN example, huh?")
You know, Bill, if a Troop took a formal group photo twice a year, your
Scouts' parents would be beating down the doors of the neighborhood Scouting
distributor or Scout Shop(tm) to get a uniform. But it doesn't take
that...it takes the personal example of the adults -- all of the adults --
whom have interaction with the youth members.
The uniform of the leader is the uniform of the youth.
(MAJ) Mike L. Walton (settummanque, the blackeagle)
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