Ask 90 different Scouters for their unit’s uniform policy, and you’ll get 90 different answers.
Sure enough, that was the case a couple of weeks ago when I polled Scouting‘s Facebook fans on the subject and got 90 responses.
The Boy Scouts of America Insignia Guide says it’s your responsibility as an adult leader to “promote the wearing of the correct complete uniform on all suitable occasions.”
But what constitutes a “suitable occasion”? And what exactly is considered a “correct complete uniform”?
Here’s what you had to say on the subject:
Get your priorities straight
“Would you rather they learn how to be good men (including, I believe, that a Scout is thrifty) or how to be good dressers? Not that the two have to be mutually exclusive, but flexibility among the troops as to the required uniform should be informed by the national organization as far as is possible and then practicality should be the guide.”
– Jen S.
“Field uniform is a must all the way down to the socks; no other pants are acceptable. Old or new pants are acceptable, so we have an exchange program in the troop to help cut down the cost of uniforms.”
– Jerry C.
Do your best
“Our Patrol Leaders Council decides what the uniform is, and currently they allow jeans but encourage Scout pants/shorts. We are an inner-city troop, and some of our boys can’t afford the uniform shirt much less the pants. We help them with buy/find/earn the shirt (top priority) and do not focus on the pants so much.”
– Tim B.
Uniforms should be uniform
“I’m going to work on improving our Scout uniform requirements ’cause the uniform is an important part of the program. Try telling your football or soccer coach that you aren’t wearing the team uniform and see what their response will be.”
– Ellie L.
Put the program first
“While jeans typically shouldn’t be a part of the uniform, and are absolutely inappropriate for an Eagle Court of Honor, we have Scouts who cannot afford the regulation pants. It is far more important for the guys to learn and to be a part of a group than to expect a single unemployed parent who receives no child support to purchase said item.”
– Nancy M.
Pay your way
“Cost is a lame excuse, ’cause you hear years later, ‘Oh, we still can’t afford them!’ What about a Scout paying his own way? The uniform is a part of Scouting, and it’s not like buying a house. Mow a lawn or two and earn them!”
– Steve T.
A time and a place
“Seems to vary with ours. Big events like a parade call for full uniform except for footwear (but it has to be shoes, sneakers). Otherwise we allow jeans generally.”
– Frank D.
Show some pride
“The uniform in one of the most important parts of Scouting; it sets us apart from the group of boys on the corner. When the public sees a Scout in full uniform, they give the boy a little more respect and in some places are not afraid of the youth. Lord Baden-Powell would be rolling over in his grave if he saw a Scout in jeans and sneakers.”
– Michael O.
Free from exclusion
“I totally agree with Nancy. While you can ‘require’ pants (NYLT does for their program) there remains that portion of kids who, for whatever reason, can’t afford pants and socks. To exclude anyone like that would be a really bad idea.”
– Joel H.
Little to interpret
“Full uniform is pretty specific … not sure why there are so many units that do not use it. I cringed when I saw a picture of a Scout leader in jeans while his senior patrol leader was in full uniform presenting a wreath at a Memorial Day ceremony.”
– Ron B.
Where do you fall on the subject? Leave your thoughts as a comment here.