scouts-l Mail Archive for February of 2000: REF: Wednesday
MAJ) Mike Walton (settummanque, the blackeagle (blackeagle@POP3.SCOUTER.NET
Fri Feb 11 2000 - 22:54:19 CST
Like many of my peers, and as a visible example to youth whom I would come
in contact with today, I wore my Scout uniform instead of my normal �street
The current Scout field uniform, created by clothing designer Oscar de la
Renta, replaced a completely olive drab (we called it khaki but it was much
closer to green than tan) uniform. The shirt, a light tan job with shoulder
epaulets (so that we can attach cords, sashes and colorful shoulder loops to
them) is complimented by a pair of pants originally with cargo pockets on
the sides in that same old olive drab color. The pants I was wearing this
day have no such cargo pockets; the BSA decided to remove them and then
later last year, to bring them back � only smaller.
Worn correctly, with the colorful insignia (darker and brighter colors, like
blacks, blues, reds and yellows show up best in this outfit!) designed by
the BSA, along with a neckerchief (one of those scarf-like things
traditionally worn by Boy Scouts since the start of the movement), slide (to
hold the neckerchief in place) and in my personal case, the Wood Badge
training award recognition, one becomes a beacon walking or riding or
driving wherever I was to go.
Or in my case, a �Christmas Tree.� That�s what my wife calls my �complete
Still, it has been more than 20 years since this new uniform first appeared
and despite the red �Boy Scouts of America� strip above the breast line on
the right side of the shirt, people STILL mistake me for something else
OTHER than a part of the Boy Scouts of America.
My first stop on this cold morning was to the stop-and-go convinence store
just around the corner from our apartment complex. After I have stood in
the cold watching the numbers on the gas pump increase as my car�s gas tank
was being filled, and after I have returned the nozzle to its resting
position on the pump, a man comes over and starts up a conversation with me.
�Been in the service long, huh?� I thought he was joking me, so I played
along for a short bit. After all, I AM �in the service,� and on my way to
the �Fort� where I work at.
�Yeah, I�ve working on year 19 this year, � I responded, looking at him
first, and then at the tires on the car. My wife wanted the left front tire
filled with air, so I walked over to the air hose, placed my quarter in the
slot and brought the hose over to the front of my wife�s car.
�The Army�s really changed a whole lot. What rank are you? I don�t even
recognize the old chevrons anymore.� That�s when I knew I had to correct
him. I started to say �You old coot!! Can�t you read?? Boy Scouts of
America!!� Right there!�
But I didn�t. �I�m a Major, but I�m not wearing a military uniform today,
sir�this is a Boy Scout leaders� uniform.�
�Boy Scouts!� he yelled. �That doesn�t look like the Boy Scout outfit I
wore back in �62! He walked over and I stood as he examined my uniform as
a drill sergeant would examine a new recruits� digs.
�God almighty! From a distance, it looks like one of those new Army
uniforms. You must think I�m crazy or something�Boy Scout here in town? � he
asked of me. I told him nope, that I was wearing it as part of a school
program that I am taking part in my official role as an Army officer.
With that event over, my next stop was to a local copier firm to check on
some items they are copying for me for a personal sales item. These people
have seen me in the store in my military battle dress uniform � those
camouflaged outfits that most Army soldiers wear as �work clothing�; in a
sweater and pants; even in blue jeans and a tee shirt. All bets are off,
however, once I walked in this morning wearing my Scouting best.
�Hey! Nice outfit. Getting ready to bury someone today?� the young woman
on the other side of the counter asked me upon entering the store.
�Nah�I�m taking part in a program today at a school.�
�That�s a Boy Scout uniform, right??� I swore that I heard one of those
�that�s right!� bells go off in my head as I nodded. �You�re kinda old to
be a Boy Scout, right?? You must be a leader or something, right?�
�Yeah, something like that�� I answered. I didn�t want to go into a lot of
detail explaining what Advisory Board members do�
Oh and at work: one would think that ARMY people would be used to seeing
uniforms; after all, we are around them for at least 50 hours a week, with
some of us around uniformed soldiers even longer. But as I sat in my corner
cubicle, working on back work and making sure that I finish all of my tasks
before I leave for the school later in the day, one by one, my peers wanted
to know about the strange uniform I was wearing.
�You look like a Russian General!� one guy said. �You�ve got more ribbons on
that shirt then you do on your green uniform, don�tcha?� I didn�t answer him.
�Are you like the Boy Scout Recruiter or something?� another workmate asked.
I�ve heard that question before. �Nope. They have professionals to do that
�At least they don�t make you wear a swim suit!� one of my peers teased me
when I explained my reason for wearing the uniform.
At the school, kids right off knew that I was a Scout leader��Wow! Look at
that guy!!� one of the third graders whispered while I was waiting my turn
at Service to America Week activities. His friend said �Aw, that�s
nothing�I know this guy that has MORE stuff than he has�he has this thing
with all of these round badges on it all the way down the front and half way
down the back! This guy is lame!�
I laughed and then turned back to look at them. They knew I heard them and
quickly quieted themselves.
I have had other Scouters � Scouting leaders � to tell me that over the
years, they have been mistaken for forest rangers, state or federal park
employees, and even highway patrol officers. One man loves wearing his
Scout �Smokey the Bear� type hat while driving down the highway from the
Scout office to his home. See, his car, he explained to me, is one of those
Chevys or Fords or something that the local state police use as their
�unmarked police cars.� So, here he is, doing the speed limit, and watching
every other car slow down or pull over so that he can pass them so they
don�t run the chance of getting a ticket!
It is only when they see the Scout uniform, with the colorful shoulder
patches, then they relax somewhat.
My reason why people don�t recognize the uniform is because they don�t see
it enough for them to understand that it�s not a sign of early invasion by
Russia (those red shoulder loops, the red hat and the red canteen do it
every time!); nor is there a convention of park rangers meeting in town;
it�s not even an outward sign of a New World Order police department!!
It�s just a guy or gal, outfitted for service to others. That�s all.