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In Troop 501, wearing jeans with the uniform a fine fit

The troop’s number, 501, is no coincidence.

Named for the famous Levi’s jeans, Troop 501 allows its Scouts to wear any kind of pants or shorts they want with their uniform shirt. Yes, even denim.

Made up of Scouts who can barely afford to participate in Scouting, Troop 501 has more important things to worry about than what kind of pants its Scouts wear.

Personally, I’m still impressed when I see a group of Scouts in their full field uniform, including Scout pants. But units like Troop 501 prove that the clothes don’t always make the man. A Scout in jeans is always preferred to no Scout at all.

As you can see in the photo above, the Scouts of Troop 501 look sharp in their field uniform shirt, denim or cargo shorts, neckerchiefs, and — for the older Scouts — campaign hats.

In fact, the troop was named sharpest-dressed unit during its week at Camp Geiger this summer.

What’s their secret? It’s a really great story.

Troop 501 meets at New Hope United Methodist Church in Arnold, Mo., and has no “feeder” pack from which it draws new recruits.

It’s one of four troops on the same street, so competition is high.

But the troop intentionally seeks out boys who can’t otherwise afford to participate in Scouting. By not requiring uniform pants, one cost is eliminated for new Scouting families.

“If they cannot afford an official shirt, we have a uniform closet from which we can draw,” says Scoutmaster S. Craig Hufford.

These Scouts are only required to wear the the official field uniform shirt and troop neckerchief.

As for pants, “we tell them that they can wear green cargo pants or cargo shorts. At the very least, nice jeans or denim shorts,” Hufford says.

Then there are the hats. Senior-ranking Scouts (considered in Troop 501 to be First Class and above) wear campaign hats. How do they afford them?

The Stratton hat company gave them “quite a deal” to buy the hats.

“It’s really amazing to me that a Scout will work so hard to earn the privilege of wearing a campaign hat,” Hufford says.

In addition to being named sharpest-dressed unit at summer camp, Troop 501 will serve as the color guard at a St. Louis Cardinals baseball game next month.

“I know that Scout honor guards at sporting events are not uncommon, but given this troop’s history, and grassroots nature, it is kind of a rags-to-riches story that shows how important the uniform, as a method of Scouting is,” Hufford says.

Troop 501, I salute you.

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165 Comments on In Troop 501, wearing jeans with the uniform a fine fit

  1. How awesome! Representing the true spirit of Scouting.

  2. Agreed! What I am not okay with is pajama pants and unbuttoned class A shirts worn to a flag ceremony! This is a disgrace!At 2 different summer camps I attended with my son we had troops come walking up in the middle of a flag ceremony laughing and joking wearing swim suits wrapped in towels around their necks and pajama bottoms. UHHGGGG! Our boys won camp and it was no coincidence our very small troop has respect for the uniform, the flag and the scouting organization! Jeans and sharp dressed well behaved boys YES!!!

  3. I didn’t know that Levi jeans were that much cheaper than scout pants. Interesting that you promote clothing from a company that is not BSA friendly.

    • Bryan Wendell // August 8, 2014 at 8:36 am // Reply

      I’m not promoting them, I’m merely passing along that the troop derived its name from the famous 501 number. And the troop allows Scouts to wear any brand of jeans (or non-jeans), not just 501s.

    • You can get Levi for under $20 and at the resale shops easier and less expensive than uniform pants

      • Don’t forgot, the BSA pants will only be worn for Scouting. A pair of jeans can be worn to Scouts, school, on weekends, etc. Multi-purpose vs. single-purpose, so even if they’re more expensive, they can be worn daily.

        • but jeans are not more expensive if you bargain shop. But you are right, jeans are multi-purpose AND CHEAPER.

        • I disagree, ScoutMom. The wicking scout pants can be worn for all kinds of activities. I usually wear wicking pants for most activities, unless I need to be dressed up for some event. I advise parents to purchase wicking pants that can be used for hiking and camping – and I point out to them that they can find alternatives from the BSA that are pretty similar at several vendors. But the scouts in our troop need to have wicking pants for hiking, camping and backpacking. (Cotton is rotten – to the point of hypothermia) They are going to need to buy wicking pants, so why not buy some that can double as your scout uniform?

    • ScoutingManiac // August 16, 2014 at 9:39 pm // Reply

      Just go to Walmart or other similar big box store and you can find Levi’s for very cheap. But I think more to the point is that people associate 501′s with Levi and then associate Levi with jeans. It was more to show what the connection is about than anything else.

  4. Bryan Frederick // August 8, 2014 at 8:23 am // Reply

    I agree that it is fine. With the cost of just a new shirt costing almost $50, with troop numbers, council patch, world scout emblem. Then add in the cost of joining scouts and you are now close to $100. Throw in a book another $10. Now if you don’t have camping gear…..
    I let our troop wear what ever pants or shorts that they have. I often wear jeans to meetings even though I do have uniform pants…
    We make sure they have their shirts tucked in and looking sharp when wearing our class A’s and proud to wear them!!!!

  5. You know, my district hosted an international Scout Group a couple years ago, and upon first meeting, they were dismayed that none my Venturers didn’t wear “neckers” at the first meeting. In fact in meeting over 300 Scouts that week, about 20% wore neckerchiefs. I really couldn’t understand why they felt this way until mid-way into their visit.
    I noticed one Webelos-aged boy in the group didn’t wear a necker. So thinking he may have lost his or traded his off, and seeing that they placed a big deal on the wearing of the neckerchief, I grabbed a BSA one, and brought it the next day, where I discreetly pulled a leader aside and offered it for the boy.

    The response surprised me a great deal. The leader told me that this one boy wasn’t wearing a neckerchief by choice. The boy was raised to be atheist, and did not personally feel that he could fully live up to the Scout Law. His deliberate lack of a neckerchief symbolized this. He wasn’t shunned, nor ostracized. He was fully allowed to participate, and judging by how his fellows were with him, I’d say he was fully accepted.

    To many, the necker is a symbol of Scouting, and can be worn “as” the activity uniform. Wearing it alone, serves as a symbol to others that you believe in the Oath and Law. The shirts, the patches are all merely symbols, but having one doesn’t make a Scout any more a Scout than those who can’t otherwise afford one.

    Great show Troop 501! Thank you for reminding us all of this very important lesson!!!

    • Yes- scouts around the world wear a neckerchief and a t-shirt. And they always wear the neckerchief over the collar if the shirt has one. The USA is the only scouting organization in the world that makes the neckerchief optional. We used to wear the necker correctly, and all scouts in the BSA wore them, until 1972 when we first began tinkering with the uniform.

      I wish the BSA would at least eliminate the “under-the-collar” option and sell full-sized neckerchiefs instead of the small kerchiefs.

      • In fact, after revisiting the photo of troop 501 – I wonder if they won “best dressed” because they are all neatly wearing their neckerchief. Their yellow neckerchief is nice looking and they are tightly rolled. If you look at the other assembled troops nearby – no one is wearing a neckerchief. The three campaign hats help differentiate them – but so does their neckerchief.

  6. Kaia, I agree the boys should come dressed to respect the flag, even if they will be heading right off to the waterfront. Kudos to T501 for recognizing that it is about the boys and Scouting, not the uniform. Hopefully the other Troops in the area will kick in to help T501 with uniforms for the Cardinals game.

  7. Currently residing in Texas…

    A troop where everyone is wearing jeans looks very, very sharp. As long as the jeans don’t have holes in them (at the beginning of the trip), I find them to be an excellent choice.

  8. Well…. As far as that is concerned – this could be a legal issue. First, 501 is a Patented Trademark of Levis. So if they are wearing said jeans and implying that they are part of that brand, that unit can find themselves in trouble.

    Second, We have to make a conscience decision here to either remove uniforming from the Methods of Scouting, or stick to them. As Bob Mazzuca stated – it is not Al-La-Carte, it is all or nothing. We have to either copy the Venturing method of Uniforming or we make it all optional.

    Third, for those who want to whine about costs of Scout Pants. A pair of 501′s cost around $70. A Pair of Scout Pants with zip off legs is $35. So the idea that you are doing a favor of the parents or the scout by the pocketbook is not the case.

    Fourth, What is a sharp dressed Scouts? A Rainbow of colored Jeans? How about when they go for their Eagle and they want to see Scout pants? What happened to the idea that the purpose of the uniform to remove Societal and Economic boundaries from Scouts?

    • Bryan Wendell // August 8, 2014 at 8:40 am // Reply

      Please don’t mistake the troop’s number to mean that they have any sort of association with a specific clothing company. Or that they require their Scouts to wear a certain brand of jeans.

      And if adults sitting on an Eagle Scout Board of Review reject an Eagle candidate solely because of his choice of pants, I’d like to speak with them. They’re doing it wrong.

      • Bryan, I’ll give you the names here in Memphis. Our district requires BSA Socks for the eagle board. I have heard of SM’s turning boys away from advancement for similar uniform violations…

        • Bill Nelson // August 8, 2014 at 9:08 am //

          Art, requiring uniform parts to be purchased to attend a BOR policy. You might point that out to your district. See section 8.0.0.4 in the Guide to Advancement.

        • Bill Nelson // August 8, 2014 at 9:09 am //

          Art, requiring uniform parts to be purchased to attend a BOR is against BSA policy. You might point that out to your district. See section 8.0.0.4 in the Guide to Advancement.

        • See section 8.0.0.4 of the guide to advancement.

          Wearing the Uniform–or Neat in Appearance

          “It is preferred a Scout be in full field uniform for any board of review. He should wear as much of it as he owns, and it should be as correct as possible, with the badges worn properly. It may be the uniform as the members of his troop, team, crew, or ship wear it. If wearing all or part of the uniform is impractical for whatever reason, the candidate should be clean and neat in his appearance and dressed appropriately, according to his means, for the milestone marked by the occasion. Regardelss of unit, district or council expectations or rules, boards of review shall not reject candidates solely for reasons related to uniforming or attire, as long as they are dressed to the above description. Candidates shall not be required to purchase uniforming or clothing such as coats and ties to participate in a board of review.

          http://www.scouting.org/filestore/pdf/33088.pdf

          That said, I can live with jeans regardless of brand and a field uniform shirt as long as the jeans are not torn up. I can’t stand gym shorts with a uniform shirt Scout pants are very expensive and don’t hold up well. Our Troop would always require uniforms at Troop campfires. My son’s shirt has a hole in it from an ember from a campfire from very early in his Scouting career. That shirt fit him until he aged out. It is the shirt he wore for his Eagle BoR.

      • If a boy has reached the level of eagle scout, he certainly has the ability to earn enough money to purchase a full field uniform. If the boy is unable to acquire to obtain the $150 dollars necessary to purchase a uniform, perhaps he is not ready for his eagle. When the boy goes for a job interview his attire will be judged. His attire choice and appearance will be every bit as important as his resume and interview. In the real world, you usually only have one chance to impress. Unlike an eagle board you may not get a second chance. The goal is to prepare the boys for life. So at the level of eagle, I don’t not think that a full field uniform is to much to expect.

        • Bryan Wendell // August 8, 2014 at 11:04 am //

          In some families, this Eagle candidate may be earning money to help his family buy groceries or pay the electricity bill. That would be prioritized over buying a uniform.

          This isn’t just me talking. The Guide to Advancement specifically states that a candidate cannot be denied his Eagle because he’s not in full uniform.

        • And some families (who can afford to do so- meaning money from kid not required to support family) put more importance on education than earning money.

          Therefore the kid would not have money to buy it himself. And, many kids earn Eagle before the age of ‘working’. Mine earned it at 14…worked his butt off for it, and yes, I pushed. As SM I saw several of our boys reach the ‘almost’ level….just need project and/or a few badges …..then got into the girls, gas, sports thing.

          I cried for them. Because later in life they will regret letting those things get in the way. My point? Most boys at 14 don’t have a lot of money, if any, and scout pants would be low on that priority list if they did. Just the facts. Looking nice, presentable and being able to show that you truly EARNED the Eagle rank is what’s important.

        • At thirteen I lived in a battered women shelter with my mother. At fourteen I lived in a halfway house with her. I completely understand how to survive without. My mother spent all of two dollars on my birthday present that year and it was the best present I ever got from her. So I get It.

          I am not arguing the point that there can not be exceptions. What I am saying is that it should be expected with few exceptions. If a boy needs pants he can borrow them from another scout or his SM or an ASM. They are all the same pants. A shirt would be a little more difficult as they have unit and rank badges on them. If there is a will there is a way. I am not to proud to say that I have borrowed a suit before when I couldn’t afford one or even a used one at the thrift store. If I don’t have a tool for a job and I can’t afford, I borrow one. Cost of borrowing, zero dollars.

      • ScoutingManiac // August 29, 2014 at 5:42 pm // Reply

        If a board for the Eagle Board of Review did this to one of my Scouts. You bet I would be putting in a complaint and lets just say the members of the Board of Review, would be getting a piece of my mind. To put it nicely, I don’t think they would ever want to do a Board of Review for my Troop again. In fact I may even go as far as saying I wouldn’t allow those board members to conduct a Board of Review for my unit again.
        ####End Rant####
        Sorry, but stuff like this isn’t about doing the best for the boys. But anyway I have heard and more frequently have heard the uniform is getting too expensive, especially with requiring a complete uniform from head to toe. While, I would like to see everyone in my unit in full uniform, I have comprised and only require the shirt with appropriate neckerchief.

    • Jim Kangas // August 8, 2014 at 8:52 am // Reply

      Can anyone really patent a number? If so, there are many addresses around the world currently violating copyright laws. Then there are room numbers, etc.

      Using the cost of the jeans or pants is not a valid argument here – no one said the troop actually wears that brand of jeans, it is merely their troop number. You can pick up a pair of jeans for $10.

      I also support full uniforming, but there are many families out there who struggle financially every month, and this seems difficult for some people to understand. It often comes down to a choice between putting food on the table, keeping the lights on, buying school supplies or putting gas in the car; on a priority scale, buying a pair of Scout pants may be at the bottom of the list.

      • And many scout families, are just that, SCOUT FAMILIES. Meaning several boys and/or girls in scouting, and many times the parents are also the leaders requiring uniforms. IT is not feasible to expect them to be dressed like we do in the military. We are not military, although many of our boys have that goal in mind.

    • If they can’t afford scout pants, do you seriously think they get their jeans at MACY’s!??? As a mother, grandmother….I BARGAIN shop. If I happen to find 501′s at Salvation Army, Goodwill, thrift shops, or even ON SALE at Wally World…that’s one thing, but to assume they pay $70? REALLY?

      And about the BOR. Your group is sick. I’m being blunt. For anyone to refuse a boy his BOR based on the pants….well, I question the ethics of that BOR!

      And yes, I’m speaking personally. My grandson got his in 2012 at the age of 14. He was wearing NICE JEANS. Fully uniformed otherwise including necerkchief and sash with 70 badges. This boy worked his tail off to get there, and believe me, that board (of which I am a member giving my time when I’m free) would have hell to pay had they refused to see him!

      Now not tucking in the shirt, unbuttoned, wrinkled, or uclean…..that’s an entirely different issue. That’s about training and respect….not cost.

      BTW: I don’t pay $70 for my OWN jeans. NEVER EVER EVER. I guess if money is nothin to you, you can do that.

      • ScoutingManiac // August 29, 2014 at 5:44 pm // Reply

        I as well would NEVER EVER EVER pay $70 for a pair of pants.

    • David Pottorff // August 8, 2014 at 10:58 am // Reply

      Matt,
      I totally agree with your comments. Having been in Scouting nearly 60 years in many capacities, uniforming is NOT negotiable. We have a troop in our area that has received over $20,000 in donations, yet they travel to the State & National capitals in jeans! Although they are from a disadvantaged area in our town, they still need to join their fellow Scouts in proper uniforming.

      • 20,000 in donations? What do they do with the money? That’s a different issue…we are talking about not wanting to spend $35-50 for uniform pants, but seems to me if they have 20,000, the TROOP could purchase complete uniforms for ALL the members unless they had 200 members (based on the assumption of uniforms at approximately $100).

        How did they get that much in donations? Would like to know their secret?

    • Matt,
      You’re in my district. The Crosswinds EBOR does not require a full uniform. They follow the GTA as quoted below.

    • You might want to take up the legal issue with http://www.501st.com/. Hopefully the Force is with you.

    • Their troop number being 501 no more implies association with Levi then does troop 666 being “of the devil.” Also, they wear blue jeans. Not necessarily “501 Levi jeans.”
      My biggest point is I have issue with “all or nothing” as an absolute. With ethics or perhaps values, yes. But in most things in life, it depends. Jeans works for this troop. So fine. Twice a month meetings on Sunday afternoons plus 1-2 activities a month works for my troop. Going to winter camp and not summer camp (so he can go to summer school) works for my son. The LDS troops in my area never meet/camp/etc on Sunday. It’s all fine. That is not important. Teaching scouting’s fundamental values and helping boys become well-rounded and morally grounded men – that is what is important.

    • ScoutingManiac // August 29, 2014 at 5:33 pm // Reply

      Would you people quit it and stop nitpicking about copyright. The stuff that the BSA does with licensing and the brand identity guide is quite frankly more than enough. But then again part of this irritation is the fact that I believe the entire patent and copyright system in the US is totally messed up.

  9. Hector Hernandez // August 8, 2014 at 8:31 am // Reply

    If the troop can afford to buy the campaing hat, with that money they can buy the pants. It no excuse. I’m against jean on Scouting. That damage the Scouting image, not looking sharp on that uniform. I’m sorry if you don’t agree with me but that have to change. I’m a scout from Puerto Rico and we all in the island wear our complete uniform, because we’re proud of been part of the Boy Scouts of America. And we also have young kids that can’t afford the uniform, but we do our best to help them get the uniform. Buying it or from olders scouters, or donated. But we cannot encourage that behavior. Sorry folk. If you don’t agree.

    • Bryan Wendell // August 8, 2014 at 8:37 am // Reply

      Hi Hector, please read the post. They get a great deal on the hats from the company that makes them.

      • Yes, and new ones (aka copycats) are not that expensive if you ebay or look around. I wanted the real thing, so mine came with a higher price – some with signatures of the original wearers and their military numbers inside. But these are collectors items…to be passed down generation to generation. And are insured as such.

        I’m a past SM, Bobwhite, OA Brotherhood, and Senior Buckskinner with Sons of Daniel Boone, and long time scouting history in the family. I do not have the pants and no one has condemned me for it. I do, however, dress completely and neatly from the waist up!

        I’m an armed security officer and I wear the cargo pants (black), maybe that would look better with my scout shirt, I don’t know. But I don’t. I wear nice jeans, black or blue.

  10. In my troop you can wear what ever pants you want. During court of honors on the other hand you must wear where scout pants or green or grey dress pants.

  11. I believe in the full class A , but reading this story I find it to be a refreshing new take on the spirit of scouting. I think it’s not the clothes that make the scout , it’s The spirit and heart of scouting that makes the scout.

  12. Ray Crouch, Sr. // August 8, 2014 at 8:47 am // Reply

    Bryan, I find it to be counter productive to publicize not wearing the full uniform. One of the 8 methods of scouting is uniforming. Scout pants do not cost any more than other pants and are very durable. If these scouts were wearing denim shirts with scout patches sewn on them, would you be willing to brag on them. I admit, there are some financial challenges to full uniforming, but this should be worked on by used uniform banks or other methods. I love your articles and information, but in this case I disagree that this situation should have been publicly displayed.

    • Bryan Wendell // August 8, 2014 at 8:56 am // Reply

      Hi, Ray. To me, Troop 501 does uphold the eighth method, Uniforming (the others, of course, being ideals, patrols, outdoors, advancement, adult association, personal growth and leadership development).

      Troop 501 Scouts wear the uniform shirt, matching neckerchiefs and campaign hats. By doing so, they create “a positive youth image in the community” and give “the Scout identity in a world brotherhood of youth who believe in the same ideals.” (Quoting from this Aims and Methods of Scouting document.)

    • “Scout pants do not cost any more than other pants and are very durable.” I disagree.

      Youth BSA Pants start at $35 and top out at $50. For a youth who is growing out of them at an alarming rate, it is too much. Shirts can be purchased two sizes too big and still be manageable, but pants are another story. On Walmart.com, Dickies Boys’ Double-Knee Twill Pants in hunter green are $15.

      This summer I hemmed a pair of olive drab canvas cargo pants I found at Goodwill for $3 into shorts so my son could have proper shorts to wear to colors at camp. Turns out he liked them so much, he wore them 3 of the 4 days he was there.

      Did the camp director give any of these boys a hard time for showing up to colors in anything other than uniform bottoms? No, because the pants do not make the Scout.

      • I will have to interject here that I don’t know from experience, but I have read hundreds of posts (when the issue of raising the rates came up last year which spread to the cost of scouting discussion) that said these pants are absolutely NOT DURABLE. That evidently the vendor is worthless and they fall apart quickly. But since I do not own a pair, I am only repeating what was said over ad over again last year.

    • Ray,

      I’ve got to agree with you. This article is a disservice. Besides your points, if the Troop can do a uniform closet, why not include pants? And I’m sorry Brian. A “great deal” on a hat (optional uniform wear) doesn’t excuse not spending the money on a full uniform. Unless they get the hats for less than ~$35 (Which I seriously doubt), they could have bought new pants.

      There are just too many ways for a Troop to raise the money to have their Scouts in uniform. If you don’t have pants, you are not in uniform. Besides meaning our clothes, the other meaning (and is used that way as a Method of Scouting) is that everyone is the same.Wearing the pants you feel like day like is not uniform.

      I spent 20 years in economically depressed areas of Mississippi and Louisiana working at all levels of Scouting. I’ve been a Scoutmaster for years there (of a fully uniformed Troop) I’ve heard all the excuses. And that’s what it comes down to. If a unit is delivering ALL of the Scouting program, they spend a little energy to make sure every boy and adult have a full uniform. Obviously it is only 1/8th of Scouting’s methods, but if you feel like it’s OK to only deliver 7/8′s of the program, what else are you ignoring? Where is the line between what is acceptable to ignore and not? The methods provide that line and this blog post is promoting otherwise.

      I’m happy Scouting is making a difference in these boy’s lives, but I think the adults can channel some of that enthusiasm a little better. Everyone has seen those units. They have a million excuses to not wear the uniform. A unit in bluejeans does not look sharp. They look like they don’t care enough to do it right and that the rules do not apply to them.

      Brian, how about doing a story about one of the thousands of units in poor areas and their efforts to wear a full uniform? THAT would be much more inspirational.

      • Some of us do not have access to ‘uniform closets’. Some of us barely have enough money to go on campouts. My troop died in 2012, but had been in existence for more than 50 years. It NEVER had a ‘closet’. The troop we are in now does not have a ‘closet’. I resent the assumption that all troops have access to unlimited clothing closets!

        • Our uniform “closet” is a box. A cardboard box that we ask older scouts to throw their uniform parts that they’ve outgrown. It costs nothing to do this. It’s a great job for a parent who cannot help out by going outdoors with the scouts, but still wants to contribute to the success of the boys.

  13. Bryan, seems like there just might be another story here – Does your Troop number have a meaning? We are Troop 316 in Saugus, CA. Our Troop fought hard to get this number at its inception in 1999. Why? We were founded as a Christian-based Troop and our Troop number comes from John 3:16, our official Troop bible verse. We must be doing something right, our Eagle Scout rate is about 15%.

    • Bryan Wendell // August 8, 2014 at 9:00 am // Reply

      Hadn’t thought of that. Will make this a future discussion post. Thanks, Robert.

    • Ours is 9212 from Psalm 92:12.

  14. Kevin L. Warmack, E.J.D. // August 8, 2014 at 8:51 am // Reply

    In my prior Boy Scout Troops in various south side neighborhoods of Chicago, I found that it more important for the boys to have the uniform shirt with the appropriate insignia than the pants. I dealt with boys from families that could barely afford to be a part of scouting but the boy had the interest in being a part of this positive “gang”.

    One of the problems that exists is that they are growing boys. A parent buys the scout pants in one size and then look up and the boy has out grown the pants. It was more cost effective that the boy wear decent jeans or khaki’s which were much less expensive than the Scout pants. The other thing that I would emphasize about the uniform shirts is that you have the boy buy a short sleve shirt in a couple of sizes big as opposed to the long sleeve shirt. IN the winter, have the scout wear the unform shirt with a long sleeve turtle nect shirt underneath (layering).

    Yes, getting uniformed is important. But what is even more important is that the young man is filled and clothed in the Scouting Spirit to be the best that he can be.

    • Nahila Nakne // August 11, 2014 at 9:02 am // Reply

      Kevin,

      One way to delay, or avoid altogether, the outgrowing problem is to A) buy pants that are a little bigger in the waist, and B) hem the pants “high” so they can be let out as they grow.

      I know the older, ODL shorts and pants had elastic in the waist. The size listed on the pants and shorts was the size witht he elastic fully expanded. So a Scout could go up 1 ro 2 size in shorts or pants, and not have the elastic stretched out. Then as they grow the pants grow with them.

  15. You can find ‘nice looking jeans or green pants’ at Walmart, this article doesn’t at all imply that they are specifically wearing Levis.

    I don’t believe that the non-uniform pants take away from the true meaning of scouting.

    “A Scout in jeans is always preferred to no Scout at all.”

  16. Chris Hansen // August 8, 2014 at 9:04 am // Reply

    I would like the BSA to offer uniform pants at 1 dollar above cost so a scout can afford to look like a scout. The uniform banks exist because of the high cost and the fact that the boys are growing fast. You can buy 3 pair of school pants for the cost of one pair of scout pants.

  17. Some of you have hit on the nail head. SPIRIT. My Troop is in the same boat, most my scouts from from families that have been torn apart, or sent to live with grandparents who are living on retirement or SS benefits. We do the same along the line of pants, but we have a retailer that carries cargo pants that almost match the Boy Scout colors; I take a scout to him and purchase the pants/shorts at 5% over the retailers costs. The retailer was a scout and a Marine. As with Stratton, we too have supporters for Scouting. We also have a troop policy, No Scout is Left Behind, when it comes to Camping, fundraisers in a year round play ground do not always work, most people come here for a weekend or a week long venture (Are You Tougher than A Scout was filmed on our lake and in our mountains (Camp Whittset)). So unless you have the product on hand to sell, you have lost out (Pop Corn sales no not work with dentures) We buy (we being Eagles Scouts) their handbook, the first thing they receive on the first night they come to us, even if they do not return (the seed is planned). Again we are small coummnitee, maybe 18 thousand in population counting seasonal workers. All or most of our l Scout leaders have no scouts of their own or their sons became Eagles. We up hold the Rocking Chair Patrol as must of us are in our 60′s and still Scouting. 55 years in our valley and 86 Eagle Scouts.

  18. Brian Catalano // August 8, 2014 at 9:08 am // Reply

    Clearly, I’m in the minority… but I read something on the “Ask Andy” site that’s stuck with me….. You don’t see baseball players wearing street pants while on the field. You don’t see football players doing the same or hockey players wearing jeans on the ice. There’s no reason a Scout shouldn’t wear the correct uniform pants. Also wondering how many of those boys have cell phones, iPads, etc… Where there’s a will there’s a way.

    • Well said. I remember that Ask Andy. No one says the family must buy them. Fund raising, clothing closets, family members, etc can provide them free or low cost. The family’s economic status is absolutely no excuse. I’ve been there. Run that unit, and got the T-shirt (and pants!)

      • I would say all in all we can debate this all day. I would say two things more on the matter first off. Each scout troop is different. I tell my Webelos scouts to go and visit multiple troops in the area. Ask questions and watch everything. We have areas like 501. There is a streach of road in our district that has 5 troops with in two miles two of them accros the street. But its all up to them were they bridge into. If there that uniform pervy like uniform police then they will find a troop like that.

        BUT I hope that NO troop is not holding any scout back from going on trips or advancing because they don’t have all the uniform parts. If I found that out I’ll have a nice little talk with the unit/adult that does that. As it can be a form of hazing.

        There are other aspects to scouting then a uniform and before you go into well the military does and pro sports does. They are issued uniforms. There single mom with three kids didn’t have to buy them. There parents who each have to work two jobs maybe three. (Yes I knew a couple who each work three jobs) just to pay rent and put food on the table. And if parents are going through that how is the rest of the community doing probably not so great.

        Each unit is different and it depends on the members and the community if your raising money all the time for uniforms like youth sports then what activities are you doing. Probably not white water rafting and summer camp. Some units will be stronger in one method of scouting then others.

        • And the size of your unit plays into that. The larger the unit the more capable of fundraising. Before our troop bit the dust (by our own choice due to conflicts with the CO ad COR) we had 9 registered and 5 active, with parents ‘supportive’ but not active. You can’t do fundraisers with 5 boys and 2 parents and accomplish much. We did manage to be able to purchase a canopy for the troop once. Don’t assume all troops can accomplish fundraising. I know popcorn is a big deal. But here’s the rub. It’s like my horse shows asking for sponsors. The same sponsors get asked ALL THE TIME by EVERYBODY. They have to limit it sometime.

          And then there’s the product. Compare it to GS cookies. Everyone LOVES GS cookies and look forward to the first of the year. Why? Because you can’t get anything like them, especially the THIN MINTS any other time or place.

          Switch back to popcorn….Orville’s popcorn is cheaper and puts BSA popcorn to shame. Not everyone buys popcorn to ‘support’ BSA. They buy it because they like it. But it has gotten so expensive, at least in our area, its hard to sell….except for those boys who have unlimited resouces – aka – large and extended families.

          BSA needs to rethink pricing and product. But that won’t happen.

    • I’m hoping your not comparing professional sports to a volunteer outdoor program.

      • He was, I responded as well. Rather lengthy, lol.

        • Summit Scouter // August 8, 2014 at 11:05 am //

          No, he wasn’t. He replied to Chris B below, and then to you, Maria directing you to his reply to Chris. He is talking about uniforming in youth sports which is an excellent analogy. Around here, they charge $180-$220 for youth sports per season and include the uniform. I can imagine showing up to a baseball game or football game in jeans – you couldn’t play. I like the BSA’s approach of just charging $15 per year.

        • Brian Catalano // August 8, 2014 at 11:07 am //

          No, I wasn’t.

    • I agree whole heartedly! Accountability starts at this young age. If a boy shows up for work with out the uniform of his employer on,he is sent home. Every board of review is a interview and a preparation for a real life job interview. If you let them by on this, you are setting the stage for failure later. Our Troop has experienced uniforms that are passed to those who need them.

      • Again, the issue is back to being PAID to dress properly. When scouting starts buying the uniforms for the boys and/or paying them a salary (aka military, sports, or jobs that require uniforms), then we can talk. Not the same issue.

    • One problem with your analogy. Sports teams get paid millions and millions to do what they do! You are comparing that to scout families who get NO money, as a matter of face we SHELL OUT money. Your analogy is ridiculous. The one saying it should be a uniform to show uniformity makes more sense. This doesn’t. When they start paying scouts to WEAR the uniform, then it would make sense.

      BTW: I think children with Ipads is ridiculous as well, they are just social networking overpriced expensive toys. Yes, I get a lot of guff from people about that because ipad lovers resent it. Sorry, it’s a fact. They are not a computer.

      Cell phones a different story. To me it is a safety issue and a way to stay in contact.

      • Brian Catalano // August 8, 2014 at 10:20 am // Reply

        @Maria… see my comment below… talking about youth sports with volunteer coaches. 5 years old and up. Full head-to-toe uniform is required. You don’t have it, you don’t play.

        You also have some “catching up” to do in the technology world as well… My kids use an iPad mini to complete any task done on a personal computer… Spreadsheets, Word Processing, Internet, e-mailing teachers and other students, etc. Just because it’s not some big beige box you’re used to sitting in front of doesn’t mean it’s not how people “compute” in the modern age.

        • UH NO! I’ve been in the computer field since 1988. They are not a computer. The ‘programs’ are apps, not programs. And even those that do the spreadsheets, etc. are not full versions.

          I do have a tablet…but it is a COMPUTER, not a toy. It is a Lenovo Thinkpad. Like I said, I get guff about my feelings, but I won’t change my mind. And I dealt with Apple on a professional level for 8 years. That’s part of my feeling. While other companies deal with universities because of the mass ordering, Apple would not. And my field was communications – aka yearbook, radio, television, newspaper….all of which required Apple except the TV.

          I use Corel Draw, Adobe Master Suite, Office Pro, high end movie software, etc.

          I haven’t used the big beige box you talk about for the last 8 years. You need to ask before you assume!

    • Brian Catalano // August 8, 2014 at 10:13 am // Reply

      @ Chris B…. of course I’m not comparing them to professional athletes. I’m talking about driving through the poorest parts of Southern California and seeing teams of kids in full baseball uniform. Going to the hockey rink and seeing a full uniform. Football, head to toe, pads and all… And coming from me? I still have pics of me being awarded my Eagle…. in Jeans. I look rediculous lol.

      • Were you any less thrilled and honored with your Eagle because you were wearing jeans? I’m guessing not. You earned that honor, and should be proud….jeans or otherwise.

        • Brian Catalano // August 8, 2014 at 11:05 am //

          No one said anything about not being proud or honored of my accomplishments. You’re putting words in people’s mouths that aren’t there. Stop trying to read between the lines! 8-)

        • Obviously some people do not want responses on their comments since there is no ‘reply’ button on their posts. That says a lot.

        • Brian Catalano // August 8, 2014 at 11:19 am //

          You can only “Reply” to a thread in it’s first 3 levels. No one’s dodging you, although at this point, I wish I could. Maria, you’re bordering on trolling. Let it go lol.

        • Geez, give me a break. Pot calling the kettle black. Oh well.

  19. On financial assistance forms from council pants are not on it. Therefore they are not required. That being said, scout fundraisers can do just that..let the scout earn his uniform. Now, being in cub scouts we “strongly encourage” scouts to have the full uniform. The only time we require full uniform is for parades and special ceremonies. We do not require BSA pants. They just need to blend in. We let scouts borrow what we have extra of and give them the opportunity to earn uniforms. It was sad at the last Veterans Day Parade to see scouts in class B shirts or regular clothes. Our Pack was well dressed, respectful, and really got the crowds attention. We marched behind Jr ROTC and our boys carried our large flags for a mile while singing scout songs. THEY were proud. I was in tears hearing the kids saying “wow, look at the scouts.” Short answer: A scout in full uniform, is a scout that is proud, encouraged, respectful, and looked up to.

    • No question that full uniform is much more pleasing to the eye and an attention getter. I just resent those who think a scout is any less of a scout for wearing jeans.

  20. Tim Gilmore // August 8, 2014 at 9:25 am // Reply

    Having been a Scoutmaster in a small rural town, were lucky when boys showed up in uniform shirt!!! Considered lucky if they had cap and/or belt and blessed of they had a scouting book! Some of the boys parents spoke no English, they were a proud bunch and tried very hard to make the best of it with what we had!!!
    Some of the other adults & myself spent money out of our pockets when needed so no boy would be left out, told them someone donated to us!!!
    We all worked as a team and the boys wanted to go to Corpus and spend the night on the USS Lexington Air Craft Carrier! When they decided that was their goal, lots of people laughed, said nobody in this little town will support such a undertaking to raise enough money so whole troop could go. They were wrong, local businesses donated supplies for pancake breakfast, grocery store donated, hardware store and many businesses I can’t remember and even the school district donated the use if a charter bus and driver for the trip. The boys worked hard for many months and saved for the trip. When we tallied the total at the end they fell short a group of men anomously donated the rest of the money they needed!
    Well some of the local people said our boys would look out of place without complete uniforms and did not want embarris our boys in front of Troops from all over at The Lexington. They called our Scouting Rep. and got a list of all requirements for scouting uniform and placement of patches. Short of story, before we departed for Corpus every boy had complete uniform, hat & book! Oh yeah the boys earned enough for the trip so that each scouts siblings and a parent could accompany them on the trip!!!
    I want to thank the boys and the adults who helped me in that small town make scouting a wonderful experience for everybody envolved. We started with next to nothing but they still talk about us today in that small town as the bunch that did!!!!

    • That is the story this blog should have run.

  21. There are always to seem to be at least one. Out there on the message board always complaining that its not done verbatem by what it says in the uniform book. Aka uniform police. They look at them and not the spirit of the concept.

    Walmart has cheaper Jeane’s and yes they say Levi on them between 10 and 20 dollars depending on a sale. I also didn’t come from a family with money. When I was in cubs we were on food stamps. Our pack and troop didn’t require the members to wear scout pants but if they could afford it they could. If not you came in jeans. I went to my eagle board in jeans. The district advancement committee won’t have a eagle BOR be made or break becouse his uniform doesn’t match what it says in the insignia guide.

    I would leave you with this though. Scout pants now a days SUCK. I am now sewing up the seam of my 5 and 6 pair of scout paints this year. Yes I wear them every day but I’m about to go to cargo pants until The quality of scout clothing improves. They should be made stronger and better if they expect scouts to take them to philmont and northan tier where there walking long distance. Let alone working at scout camp where there being worn for up to two months all day.

    • Chris,
      I wore zip off pants that I got at REI or Dick’s at Philmont. My uniform pants stayed back at the basecamp for the trip home. Zip offs are great for Philmont, they were the only pants I had on the trek. I was either wearing those, with or without the bottom part of the legs or I was wearing a pair of running shorts with a built in liner. The only people I saw in uniform at Philmont out on the trail were staff people.

      I agree with your assessment of Scout pants though, they just don’t hold up. And at $35 to $50 each they are pretty expensive for a growing boy. I’ve advised parents in our Troop to look at Old Navy for OD pants. I picked up a pair for about $15 years ago.

  22. Summit Scouter // August 8, 2014 at 10:14 am // Reply

    I would rather have a scout in jeans (or other non-uniform pants) than no scout at all and that happens in our troop. No one is ever turned away or admonished. However, I would never tell a scout it is OK to wear unofficial pants and that is my issue with this troop’s philosophy and even more so with Bryan (with all due respect) for publicizing this attitude and giving it an air of acceptability. Our troop’s policy is the BSA’s policy quoted here:
    “Pants/Shorts. Official, olive, pressed; no cuffs. (Units have no option to change.)” If you have a uniform closet with shirts, start adding pants to it. When I do uniform inspections, I reward those in full uniform (pants, belt, socks, shirts) with some trinket, candy, or other recognition. So it’s rewarding good uniforming but not punishing bad uniforming. We can’t pick and choose like a cafeteria which methods we choose to follow nor should we demote one method as less important.

    Yes, boys are turned down for BORs if they are not in complete uniform although that can be overlooked up to First Class. I’ve never seen it but it is my understanding that they are turned away from Eagle BORs as well. In both of these cases, all the boys do is simply borrow the socks or pants or whatever for the duration of the BOR. They can also wear a suit or other nice clothes, the uniform is not required for a BOR.

    It can be hard enough for boys to wear full uniforms, the last thing we need is for leaders to say it’s OK. All I would ask is for us to not tell youth or parents/adults that it is OK to not wear the full uniform or “don’t worry about it”. Simply tell them a full uniform is expected and to do their best at getting one.

    • If boys are being turned down for BORs if not in complete uniform, those participating need to review 8.0.0.4 of the Guide to Advancement if the reason for not coming in full uniform is that the boy does not own the missing portions of the uniform. National policy explicitly prohibits rejecting candidates simply for not wearing uniforming they do not own, even if that is/was unit policy.

      http://www.scouting.org/scoutsource/guidetoadvancement/boardsofreview.aspx

      “8.0.0.4 Wearing the Uniform—or Neat in Appearance

      It is preferred a Scout be in full field uniform for any board of review. He should wear as much of it as he owns, and it should be as correct as possible, with the badges worn properly. It may be the uniform as the members of his troop, team, crew, or ship wear it. If wearing all or part of the uniform is impractical for whatever reason, the candidate should be clean and neat in his appearance and dressed appropriately, according to his means, for the milestone marked by the occasion.Regardless of unit, district, or council expectations or rules, boards of review shall not reject candidates solely for reasons related to uniforming or attire, as long as they are dressed to the above description. Candidates shall not be required to purchase uniforming or clothing such as coats and ties to participate in a board of review.”

      • Summit Scouter // August 8, 2014 at 1:26 pm // Reply

        Thanks Ray. I’ll pass that along to the Committee Chair and Advancement chair at the Troop and District level. In our troop, only Committee Members do BsOR so I’ve never been involved in one.

        Note that one interpretation of 8.0.0.4 is that a Scout could be denied if he owned part of a uniform and didn’t wear it!

        • That’s the issue. although the TROOP would know if a kid had uniform parts (assuming he was wearing them at one time or another), but an Eagle BOR would not know. Nor do I want scouting council reps or volunteers (like me on the Eagle BOR’s) to have the right to question or enter into a child’s home. We already have BB in our government….would not want to see it in scouting. Remember, one of the laws is honesty.

    • I am confused. You are for the value of a “complete” uniform, which you view as including pants. You require pants for BofR (which is against BSA requirements), BUT your “overlook up to first class.” What a minute, why different values for lower rank scouts?

      • Summit Scouter // August 10, 2014 at 8:20 am // Reply

        Since my original post, I’ve done some investigating and our troop would only deny the BOR if they own the uniform and did not wear it or the parts they own. This is in accordance with the GTA 8.0.0.4. So they don’t really overlook the Tenderfoots and Second Class, we just would be more likely to have more of them without a uniform in theory. It’s never been an issue and no one in the troop as far as I know has ever been denied advancement for lack of uniforming. Last year one boy asked to reschedule his BOR because he forgot to wear his Merit Badge sash. It was his option but perhaps he read the quote from BP posted on this page about scout spirit.

        If you tell someone they don’t have to follow rules or policy, then there’s a chance they won’t. Our troop’s uniform is the same as the BSA’s, and that’s what we tell everyone. If a troop tells a scout they prefer and strongly encourage you to wear a full uniform, that’s not the same and you end up with kids who don’t wear the full uniform because you’ve told them it is OK.

        BTW, it is not just my view that the “complete” uniform includes pants, it is straight from the BSA Handbook. The full uniform includes pants, belt, socks, and shirt.

  23. FWIW, I stumbled upon canvas shorts at the scout shop, and they have been totally awesome and worth every dime I spent on them.

    Every other piece of BSA pants … not worth the line I’d used to hang them on.

    10th point of the scout law, huzzah!

  24. I think most people who are commenting on this blog are missing the point. The youth in Troop 501 ARE presenting a uniform presence by requiring the shirt and neckerchief. As for the campaign hats, I see that as an incentive to achieve First Class rank. Folks, we need to “come into the 21st century” when it comes to what we have always done. If we don’t adapt, we run the risk of having the Scouting program become obsolete. Many boys come from non-traditional families and requiring boys to purchase “official” Scout pants puts an economic burden on those boys. I am of the opinion that, yes, uniforming is one of the 8 principals of Scouting, but I would rather see a boy in scouting than NOT seeing him in Scouting because we are so tied to tradition that we REQUIRE him to purchase “official” Scout pants.

  25. Jaime Tomé // August 8, 2014 at 10:33 am // Reply

    I dont really buy the economic argument for jeans. I think prople may overlook that BSA pants are ideal for camping/hiking, where you’d be remiss to wear jeans. You probably will end up spending almost as much anyway for suitable outdoor pants from quality brands (e.g., Columbia, Patagonia). I live in Puerto Rico and I have worn my BSA pants from thick tropical underbrush to Northern Tier. I wouldn’t wear anything else.

    IMO the argument for jeans is really a misguided approach to making the program more appealing to the boys and less stressful for the adults by placing less demands on the boys, not so much about money.

    • Not true. Perhaps the product quality is better in Puerto Rico? They stink here. Worthless. So yes, money is the issue…and quality.

      • Jaime Tomé // August 8, 2014 at 11:10 am // Reply

        It’s exactly the same BSA apparel. I love these pants so much I wear then every time I have to hike in the jungle, whether or not it’s a BSA activity.

        • That’s great for you, but read the other posts or go back to the hot topic from last year about the rate hike….the quality of these pants came into play many times. Just on this post alone I counted 6 people saying they were junk. I can’t explain why you have had a good experience. I’m glad you have, but not everyone has experienced your good luck. I may eventually bite the bullet and buy them, but I also may just buy a knockoff pair at Wally World.

        • Laurie Caulk // August 9, 2014 at 4:24 pm //

          Maria, Maybe Jaime has pants from 25 yrs ago. Those were very durable, long lasting pants. It is the pants of the last 10 or so years that people are calling junk. And I agree. I used to wear the older style pants and they were excellent

  26. Thank you! The campaign hats were the idea of the Scouts, though to help with the cost to the parents, and to encourage advancement, we limit them to the “senior-ranking” Scouts. You may notice that we wear them, “old-school”: The Scouts wear the the pin-badge of their rank on their hats. This works well for all ranks, except Star (have you noticed how tiny that one is?!).

  27. Uniform IS NOT required, period. It IS ENCOURAGED, and yes is noted as one of the 8 methods. Our unit encourages, and has a closet; but often the closet has only small shirts, which is okay for entry level most of the time. But that first growth spurt does a number. Still, those that stay generally manage the uniform waist up fairly soon. We too do not require scout pants, though they are preferred if possible. We loan pants out for Eagle boards on occasion, as the older scouts (usually the case for Eagle) have outgrown what they had and many families find it difficult, especially if there are multiple kids.

    Clean, neat, and sharply put together is all we ask.

  28. Regardless of what they wear, it’s what’s inside the uniform that’s important. It’s called Scout Spirit, and the Scouts of Troop 501 sure do have plenty of it.

  29. John A. Kingston Sr // August 8, 2014 at 10:59 am // Reply

    Wow, this has been one of the most talked about topics in some time. My dad is just shy of 90 and was a Scout. His only uniform was a hand-me-down neckerchief. He wore it to each meeting and still fondly recalls those days during the Depression when almost no one had a full uniform. It was all about being part of the Troop and being with friends.
    For my part, my old Troop had a Scout Quartermaster who oversaw uniform parts and used patches. These were from older Scouts who outgrew them. We would give them a “credit” or trade on new/used items in stock. If a Scout dropped out of the program, we would offer to buy the uniform back at a pro-rated amount and rarely was this turned down.
    Thus demonstrating the concept of “Thrifty”.
    I would also cruise the local thrift stores and flea markets for uniforms and strip and clean them for use. Paid pennies on the dollar and, in some cases, the items were donated when the vendor found out what I was doing with them.

  30. Our Cub Pack uniform requirements are belt up. Official socks and pants/shorts are simply not worth the expense when many of our parents already balk at the pieces of uniform we do require (shirt, belt, neckerchief, and book. We ask that if they do wear a hat, it be the official one for their den, but do not require any hat at all and relax the standard for certain summer outdoor activities where sun protection takes precedence).
    Though we don’t have a uniform closet, we do have systems in place to help out the families in true need through our charter organization. Our pants policy is “any dark blue pants or shorts in good condition.” For Pack meetings, our boys look sharp. They will have their belt-loops proudly displayed on their official belts, and requiring the belt makes it so that they won’t show up in swim trunks, sweats, or any other sloppy-looking pants.
    Many wear slides they made, but the official uniform inspection sheet says they can. It makes for a fun conversation to ask a boy to tell the story of his slide and allows that tiny piece of individuality while being uniform still. As for shoes and socks, we ask they be appropriate to the activity. Our 2 Wolf dens combined last week for a water party and many boys wore flip flops and did wear swim trunks, but it was appropriate for that activity.
    Sometimes, reason has to trump policy. The boys in the post here do look sharp and are uniform within their troop. That right there is what matters most. Not what a book says. Should we still strive for “official?” Of course. But we must also remain logical and provide a decent program to ALL of our boys, not just those who can afford to have all the elite, top-of-the-line camping gear on a camp-out, the full uniform even though they outgrow or put a hole in their pants every 2 months, etc, etc. The #1 thing I ask of new volunteers is to love the boys, including the difficult ones. Yes, every troop or den has one or two kids who you’re not sad to see graduate or move or whatever. BUT if you really put the boys first, and truly let yourself love them as though they’re your own sons, nephews, etc, then from there do all the required trainings for your position, the rest of the program falls into place pretty quickly.

  31. Scouting activities are hard on any clothing and ruining a new pair of expensive pants by burning a hole in them is distressful. I allow my guys to attend meetings with the Scout shirt, but what ever pants/short they want to wear. All functions such as board of reviews,color guards and court of honors require a full uniform. For those that can’t afford a full ‘legal’ uniform, we make arrangements for them to earn one. Most of my troop is made up of Scouts that are economically challenged. The uniform is part of the discipline and participation of a responsible Scout. That said it appears the leaders of troop 501 have maintained that discipline while easing the burden on the needy Scouts. You do what you can where you are with what you have.

    • Good answer. Especially the last line. As long as the scouts are respectful, knoweldgeable (as expected for their rank), neat and clean….that’s what counts. Should they have full uniform? IT IS PREFERABLE!

  32. Sorry but a traditional uniform would be better served so that they scouts all look consistent. Also I personally don’t mind the “Don’t Tread on Me” flag but I don’t think the scouts should be using if to prevent controversy.

    • I re-read the posts and I can’t find the ‘don’t tread on me’ reference. Where did I miss it? Not being nasty, I’m asking. Want to be sure to read it.

      I do have a t-shirt with that, but then I’m an NRA/BSA range officer and instructor, Venturing Crew Advisor (shooting) ad prior military….mine has nothing to do with scouting.

      • In the photo, Troop 501 is using the First Navy Jack instead of an American Flag. This would be cool, except for the fact that the First Navy Jack is very similar to the Gadsden Flag. The Gadsden flag has been appropriated by a faction of a political party. The BSA has had a long standing policy of encouraging units and those in uniform to not endorse one political party over another.

        • OK, I see it now. I didn’t even know you could get the American Flag with that on it. I gotta’ think about this one.

          I don’t think (IMHO) that that saying is related to a political party, but more a political belief….as in no, you can’t have my guns, and yes, I will fight back. ANd there are plenty of libs and cons that believe that.

          but it probably isn’t something the scouts should be using, but I need to think on it a little more.

        • Hi Mariah – it’s not the standard American Flag with the words added to it. It’s the Navy Jack used on American Navy vessels. The Coast Guard flies a jack that is blue with fifty stars (and no stripes). It is kind of an odd choice of a flag for scouts to be using. Personally – I like the use of historical flags But usually it is in association with the current American Flag. Camp Baldwin in Oregon flies many historical flags – and gives a piece of US history as they are raised. But at the center of the circle is the current flag.

    • That is, in fact, the First Navy Jack. It was given to our troop by the United States Navy. The boys use it, not because of anyone’s personal political agenda, but because it suits them. They have spunk, determination, attitude, true grit, and Spirit. They carry the Flag of their Country. It is an historic flag of The United States, that daysback toore founding, and is flown by every ship in the US Navy’s fleet. Is it any different than any other historic Flag of the United States, life the Betsy Ross, or ’76? Of course not! And, as an historic Flag of the US, it remains a valid, living, breathing symbol of our Country, and is due all privileges, customs, and honors of same.

      Our boys like snakes. They are the Rattlesnake Patrol. The First Navy Jack has a rattlesnake on it.

      By the way, I often carry an Official BSA Western sheath knife from the 80′s.

      • Thank you. I should have remembered where that quote came from, but as someone said it has become associated with a political viewpoint (not party as they said – because pro-gun is not just conservatives). My ex was in the Navy during Viet Nam, my bad for not remembering!

        As a historical flag, I think it’s fantastic that the boys want to use it.

  33. Our troop was always in full uniform (Looks)…sure we had some real poor kids…but they still looked like Scouts (100%). We had a uniform bank that had tons of small scout pants and green pants (looked like scout pants). As long as it was the same color as official pants, we didn’t care. One time I went to Salvation Army and purchased 10 pairs of New green pants that looked just like the official pants for $3.50 each….Keep your eyes open and you can dump the blue for the green and save money at the same time.
    Cliff
    Scoutmaster for 35 years

  34. As a parent on a VERY tight budget.. when we had our son cross over i was nearly crying at the cost of the scout pants. We searched high and low for ones that were close in color and style. We found ONE pair of something close at a good will store and that was what he had.. Then another parent handed me a garbage bag at drop offs on scout meeting day and said here. In it was 6 scout pants 5 pairs of sock and 2 extra troop shirts HER son had outgrown. I have to say it was a blessing! I would like to see the pants the boys need to wear a little less pricey!!! We will get alot of use out of these hand me downs as We have a webelo-1 who will need them too!.. Thanks to mom who decided to recycle! Since that day the troop has started trade in box.. bring what doesnt fit and take what does!

  35. The flag held by one of our Scouts is, indeed, the First Navy Jack. It is not being held because it stirs controversy. It is a historical flag that dates back to the birth of our nation. It has nothing to do with anyone’s personal, political agenda, and as a matter of fact, was donated by the United States Navy. Would it be any different if we used a Betsy Ross, or 76 Flag? Of course not! Remember, the US Flag is a Living, Breathing Representation of the United States of America. As such, every historic flag continues to represent our Nation, so long as it remains serviceable, much like the Scout uniform. All parts of the Scout Uniform are acceptable for continued use, regardless of newer styles being made available.

    • thank you for the explanation. Like I said, I needed further thought on the issue, but you cleared it up for me. I didn’t realize it had historical meaning. I should have known, but I didn’t. And it does have personal meaning due to the controversy right now for me.

      So you go for it. Carry it proudly.

  36. Nahila Nakne // August 8, 2014 at 3:31 pm // Reply

    Mixed emotions here. One one hand, I was one of thsoe Scouts grwing up who could not afford a complete, new uniform. Yes I wore green, non-uniform shorts and pants for a while, but that was until I could get the pants and shorts that I needed.

    There are so many options out there: thrift stores, ebay, unit uniform closets, that there is nto really any excuse for folks not be have a complete uniform within 2 years of joining.

    One thing that has not been mentioned, either in the article, or in anyof the commentary: Who is buying the uniform, the Scouts or the parents?

    Maybe I’m old school, having grown up with Green Bar Bill’s handbook, but I think the Scouts should pay for their own uniforms. Yes I admit, I helped out my oldest and middle sons a bit, I spotted them the money and they paid me back. Can’t imagine the pride both I and all three of my sons had when they purchased their “experienced” uniforms.

    • ok, here’s the thing. IF a scout is only attending troop meetings and troop campouts, then I would be hard pressed to demand a full uniform. If they are doing council activities, it would be preferable. And the parents? Well, if they buy their own shirt and help out….I am certainly not going to bite the troop in the rear end by saying if you don’t you can’t help out or attend. Only me and our assistant SM’s were ever in uniform. And even then we did not have the pants.

      Reading all this I am beginning to feel a tad guilty since I’m extremely active in scouting, so perhaps I should invest in at least the knockoff pants. No, I’m not buying BSA.

      But for me, it still comes down to what is best for the boys. Is it that important that the leaders and boys be dressed to the hilt versus being an active scout? I, personally, do not think so. That’s not to say that being properly dressed should not be emphasized.

      • Nahila Nakne // August 8, 2014 at 9:04 pm // Reply

        Maria,

        Do you ever stop at a store on the way to a meeting or camp out? Do you ever go to public places for events like baseball games, public parks or museums with your unit? Do you ever do service projects or popcorn sales? I know I have.

        The uniform identifies you as being a member of the Scouting movement.

        And as I stated, there are ways to get “experienced” uniforms very cheaply. My youngest son paid about $6.00 for a complete “experienced” uniform, including the socks! I take that back. I take that back, everything but the Tiger neckerchief I got him that. Grant you he lucked out as he got everything from someone who outgrew his uniform. But both my middle and oldest sons spent about $15-$20 on their uniforms. It took the oldest about 4 months to get his complete Cub uniform, and 3 months for his tan and green uniform.

        So there are ways to get uniforms cheaply.

        • Oh, I absolutely do! And I’m proud to wear it (the shirt and accessories including my OA, SDB and Woodbadge beads). I get asked a lot of questions which is good for BSA.

          Just a note….at one pharmacy I stopped at, I was talking to a fellow vet, and the scouting thing came up. He said he was in as a young boy, but he thought scouting had died.

          That took me aback! I know we don’t advertise on TV (I don’t think so anyway) or anything but I was shocked that anyone could think it didn’t exist anymore.

          Made me think maybe we SHOULD do some more promotion for an organization that can SAVE so many youth today if led by leaders with ethics and common goals. Promotion with methods that the youth understand. Yes, I know we have a website and many of our troops, crews, etc. have a FB page. But those items are found when people are searching for them.

          Perhaps we should do TV? It’s not like the coiffures aren’t stacked enough to pay for it!

          But I stll go back to the cost for the uniform being too high, period. $50 for a shirt is ridiculous for a growing boy, and around here , many of the boys KEEP their shirts as mementos or to pass down. Many buy them too large as has been mentioned so they only have to buy it once, hence no pass down.

          That’s great if you can get them that way. It has not been my experience in my area.

        • Nahila Nakne // August 11, 2014 at 9:12 am //

          Maria,

          In regards to finding uniforms, may need to talk to folks. I know the thrift stores in my district have been contacted to put scout uniforms on the side for our SCOUTREACH in the council. If the wife finds a uniform inadvertantly on the racks, she snatches it up. Either one of the boys will buy it, or donated to the uniform closet.

          As to the perception that Scouting is dead, I really think it is a lack of visibilty due to uniforming. If Scouts don’t look like scouts, wearing incomplete uniforms, they are not visible.

          I was at Walmart in uniform after a meeting, and was talking to a cashier who was a Girl Scout. She commented on the GSUSA’s lack of uniform emphasis; she never sees Girl Scouts in uniforms doing stuff. She stated the only time she know folks are Girl Scouts is during cookie time, and even then they do not always wear something identifying them as Girl Scouts.

        • When the vet in the pharmacy said scouting was dead, it was after seeing me in uniform. He thought I was wearing it to take part in a parade – for historical purposes.

          I should have asked him if he had any of his old shirts he wanted to get rid of, lol.

          Usually we got eat somewhere before a scouting event. It’s heartening to hear people comment as we walk by, or people actually ask questions.

          But what I DO still get a LOT, is people assuming I’m a GS leader rather than BS. There’s still some hardcore guys who think women have no place in boy scouts. It leads to some interesting discussions in public, lol.

          Even my dad – a past scoutmaster, started our troop and cub pack back in the 50′s, and an OA Vigil…said to me when I was asked to be SM….

          ‘you can’t do that, you’re a girl’. I said, dad, times have changed.

          Then when I was nominated for OA, he said it again. I said it again.

          We come from a family who loved making digs at each, so he said, you still can’t because you can’t shut up for 24 hours!

          So I told him, that’s what DUCT TAPE is for.

          Off topic for a second. When my bro and dad went through it (early 1960′s) it was a very somber event (ordeal)….absolutely zero talking. My bro said that if you talked you were asked to leave and try your ordeal another time. When I went through it, I was one of about 5 who actually DID NOT talk, and it was hard because you had people talking to YOU. Sign language helps, lol!

          But my point is the uniform gets people talking, but in all honesty, it is NOT the pants that get them noticing you….it’s the shirt, especially if you have a lot of stuff on it or beads around your neck….oa, woodbadge, sdb.

          And talking is what we need….as long as its in a positive way, unlike the last year or so.

        • Nahila Nakne // August 12, 2014 at 8:41 am //

          Maria,

          Must repectfully disagree. with just the shirt and “bling,” or as BP would call it, “swank.” I was at one council event for both Cub and Boy Scouts. We had Boy Scouts in shirts with bling on it, We had Boy Scouts and Cub not in uniform, but only 3 Cubs in full uniform. One of which was only in 3 months and had just got his pants. Guess who were chosen for the flag ceremony. You got it the three Cubs in full uniform.

          At another place, we had Cub and Boy Scouts from all over. Most were in partial uniforms, if any. The NPS rangers picked the 2 Cubs in full uniform to take charge of the flag ceremony.

        • You’re absolutely right. I have not said anything different in my posts. A full uniform is preferable and wlll probably be picked over a partial for doing things. And this is how it should be….IF they can perform whatever activity is being asked.

          But when I say bling, I mean getting people talking about scouts or asking questions, not events that are already scout related or scout knowledgeable. They already know what all the patches and stuff are.

          AKA – restaurants where people when come up to me and ask questions. What are those beads for, what is the sash for, what is that medal for. IT gets people thinking about scouting and what we do. Those people who are asking usually don’t know about scouting to begin with and would not know that there are official pants we are expected to wear…they see the shirt. That was my point.

          I definitely agree that a full uniform will get you further.

  37. Jerry Andrewd // August 8, 2014 at 3:44 pm // Reply

    Couple of points:

    1: while setting up a Cub Ack in an Orthodox synagogue, I was told that while they like the Scout program, they don’t require scout pants. Many of the Grand parents are Holicaust survivors and they done like their children in uniforms.

    2. Ventureing allows each Crew to select their own uniform. Our original Crew members decided on jeans and the green shirt.

    3. I will not wear anything made by Livi-Strauss.After almost 60 years in the Scout program, I have watched LS work diligently to distort the Scout program over it’s policies on gay adults being banned from the program. They have lead the charge and have strong-armed othe companies into removing their support from Scouting.

  38. How sad to see such ugly responses and the purposeful exclusion of those not “conforming”. Shocked at the remark about if a scout can’t afford scout pants, then they shouldn’t get their Eagle. Really. That is being a good Scout? What message does that send to the kids? How does that encourage youth to join? I think a lot of this is boiling down to creating an exclusiveness in our community, and that is exactly one of the things that turns away the kids and parents wanting to join or even thinking about it. Many troops and packs are lucky to have members at all, not all come from wealthy communities, or have access to deep pockets. I am glad to be a part of a pack that doesn’t turn someone away because they can’t wear the complete garb.

    I am glad to see many comments about how great it is that Troop 501 is doing what they are doing. Looks like a great group and I would be proud to be a member of that group. What a happy looking group of young men.

    I have seen posts about if this was a sports team and so forth. Many sports organizations build into their costs the uniforms and hold fund raising for such items. Yes, there are opportunities for Scouts to do the same, but many times those funds are being used to pay for camps, outings, and cover the costs of awards so parents don’t have to cough up another monthly fee for dues.

  39. I am curious why new uniforms are so expensive in the first place?

    It would also be nice to order the shirt with all the patches in place.

  40. Thanks for posting this, Bryan.

    I hope that the “complete uniform” folks are paying as much attention to socks, belts, neckerchiefs, hats, merit badge sashes, OA sashes, and the proper amount and placement of insignia as they are to pants. If a uniform is supposed to be complete and correct, there is no middle ground.

    But I think a lot of people have misinterpreted the concept of the Uniform as a “Method” of Scouting. A Method of Scouting is not a _requirement for_ Scouting. Rather, the Methods are the particular paths we take, the specific mix of processes that we use to get to the Aims of Scouting — character, citizenship, and fitness. A Method is not a goal, and it is not a starting place; and trying to make it one misses the point.

    It isn’t about a sharp-looking uniform. It is about what a Scout learns in the process of acquiring the uniform, adding insignia to the uniform, laundering the uniform, folding the uniform, properly wearing the uniform, and wearing the uniform with a group of other guys who are wearing the uniform while carrying out activities. That is what matters. What does a Scout learn from the Uniform Method if Mom buys the uniform for him, has his insignia professionally sewn on, washes it an irons it, and hangs it in his closet? If he looks like a BSA uniform model when he wears it, how has that helped develop his character, given him training in citizenship, or improved his personal fitness?

    On the other hand, what does a youth learn when the uniform shirt is sufficient for all Scout activities in his troop, except that he has to have uniform pants for a Board of Review? He learns that adults get to make up arbitrary rules that bear no relationship to BSA’s rules.

    I don’t know if the Scouts of Troop 501 have really learned anything from how they use the Uniform Method of Scouting, because the article was about how their uniforms (especially the old timey hats) make them stand out from other Scouts and look sharp, despite wearing jeans. It only tells us about what is on the outside of those Scouts, not what is inside them. It tells us about uniforms, but not about the Uniform Method.

  41. If the professionals in Scouting did not need so much money to pay the big salaries of the Chief Scout Executive and his multitude of Assistant Chief Scout Executives, the Scouting uniforms would be MUCH cheaper. Why should a boy care about the uniform, if the program he enjoys is worthwhile? If it’s not for the boys, it’s for the birds!

  42. OK. I gotta cal “Foul” here. I agree that if the boys can’t afford uniform pants, then, by all means wear whatever that is appropriate. HOWEVER, the hat is not an official part of the uniform – pants are. And, in the photo, I see campaign hats. Not cheap, and, at least the price of uniform pants. If Mom has the money for the hat, she should spend it on uniform pants.

  43. Wayne Hollar // August 8, 2014 at 9:26 pm // Reply

    There were many thousands of us who came up through packs and troops of very meager means. We found many creative ways to come up with ALL of the uniform parts, so we could look the same as all other Scouts and NOT be labeled socioeconomically! “Full uniform” is a redundant phrase. If it’s a uniform, then it’s full!! If it’s not full, then it’s not the uniform. Anything short of that is just an EXCUSE. What you tolerate you encourage!! AND… last time I checked only the National Cmte has the authority to make changes to the uniform.

    Wayne Hollar, DDS, MAGD
    Eagle Scout from a poor troop
    Vigil Honor as a youth
    Silver Beaver against watered down Scouting

    • Jaime Tomé // August 9, 2014 at 10:46 am // Reply

      I can think of a few troops in my district that come from disadvantaged environments and yet are always impeccably uniformed. Their common denominator is that their Scoutmasters are alumni of their own troops!

  44. Jaime Tomé // August 8, 2014 at 9:34 pm // Reply

    WEARING THE UNIFORM

    (excerpt)

    “The correct wearing of the Uniform and
    smartness of turnout of the individual
    Scout makes him a credit to our
    Movement. It shows his pride in himself
    and in his Troop. One slovenly Scout, on the other hand,
    inaccurately dressed may let down the
    whole Movement in the eyes of the
    public. Show me such a fellow and I can
    show you one who has not grasped the
    true Scouting spirit and who takes no
    pride in his membership of our great
    Brotherhood.”

    “Campfire Yarn No.3. Becoming a Scout.”
    Scouting for Boys, 1908.

    • Exactly right. Notice how B-P ties a good external appearance to what is in the Scout’s heart and head: “It shows his pride in himself and in his Troop.” You can’t impose a feeling of pride in a boy from the outside by requiring a uniform. He won’t take pride in his uniform until he “grasp[s] the true Scouting spirit”; that is, until he takes pride in being a Scout by finding meaning and value in what Scouting has to offer.

  45. Jaime Tomé // August 9, 2014 at 9:19 am // Reply

    Well, what I grasped from this article and the ensuing conversation is that the uniform has really no connection to what is inside the Scout, it’s the spirit inside that matters, etc.

    FTR, in my Troop we have never turned anyone away from any activity due to less than a full uniform, but we insist and persist that a sharp full uniform is an essential part of who we are and what makes us proud. Fortunately, it is not the rule in our group, but if the Scout is in a bind he can always get a full uniform if he wants it between donations and experienced items.

    Imposing is one thing, instilling as another. Pride cannot be imposed but it can be instilled, and in 12-15 year olds it must be instilled, just like pride in our country for example. Basically telling them “wear whatever you want” is the exact opposite of instilling.

    Maybe I live in a different world, but with most of the 12-15 year olds I know their initial reaction to anything out of their comfort zone is manifest resistance, and adults must be proactive in getting them out of that comfort zone.

    Then our boys are invariably overwhelmed by the public reaction they receive when we travel in full uniform. And when we participate in charity events, even where other troops are present, our Scouts notice that more people come to us and the boys realize that their standing out in full uniform brought them more the positive attention. The few that grumble about the uniforms change their minds after such experiences.

  46. I was wearing blue jeans at my Eagle BOR and my Eagle Court of Honor.
    The troop my son is in has a belt up policy meaning the pants or shorts you are wearing needs belt loop. This keeps the basketball shorts and jogging pants at home.
    Those out there saying if you cannot get the uniform pant than buy the knock off’s. When did knock off become part of the uniform? Your saying is is ok to not have the real thing. Your double standard is not correct.

    • Nahila Nakne // August 12, 2014 at 8:57 am // Reply

      Bob,

      I was one of those scouts with the knock offs for the first 2 years growing up. I wore those because 1) they were the closest thing to the real uniform pants, 2) they were given to me. Once I had the money saved up, and I finally found a pair I could fit, I bought the official uniform pants.

      One of the things I think is missing is that part of the uniform process, at least when I was a youth, was a Scout setting a goal, getting a full uniform, and meeting that goal. It took me 2 years, but I met it.

      IMHO, knock offs look a heck of alot better than jeans. And with the numerous styles of pants that have come out in the past 6 years, ODL pants, Gen1 Switchbacks ( I love by the way), Gen 2 Nylon Switchbacks, Gen 2 Canvas Switchbacks (Son loves but outgrew), and the poly-wool pants, sometimes you have to look REALLY close to discover that the pants are a knock off.

  47. For the flag comments, Our pack has had our State Flag flown over the capital, and donated to us with a certificate. Several troops and packs have their American flags donated. Our District has an American flag flown on base from Afganistan donated to us. It would be an honor to any unit to have that Flag from the Navy as part of their colors.

  48. I guess I am with the crew of old traditionalists here, when you are out and about you should be in the complete scout uniform.

    My troop has been the benefactor of other troops excess equipment, and now we do the same for others. I would much rather read an article on how the troop or troops have gotten together to acquire uniforms through fundraising, trading or donations, than decide “we don’t need them, so we will wear whatever”.

    One thing this article has done for me is to motivate me to go through the closets and see what I have extra.

  49. It is really fascinating to see the wide variety of views on the uniform, as found in the comments to this post, the recent post on wearing kilts, and the June 2011 post “Open for debate: What’s your Scout unit’s uniform policy?”

    At bottom, there are two great truths here: (1) BSA dictates what constitutes the official uniform, and is totally free to decide what the uniform includes (see, for example, the policy on Venturing uniforms) and when — and whether — it must be worn. (2) BSA, the “decider” on all uniform issues, encourages complete, correct uniform wear but does not require any particular uniform wear.

    The point of this article is a very simple one, but seems to have been lost on a number of people: TROOP 501 IS IN FULL COMPLIANCE WITH BSA POLICY.

    In this article, Bryan says that “[a] Scout in jeans is always preferred to no Scout at all.” In the July 9 kilt article, Bryan quotes Larry Cunningham, Chair of the BSA Awards and Recognition Committee, who states:

    “Frankly, wearing the kilt is similar to wearing blue jeans. Blue jeans are not the official uniform, but I would venture that a large majority of our youth wear them to meetings.

    “Personal note: As long as youth are active in a unit, don’t become the uniform police. They can learn skills and have fun in official shorts/pants or blue jeans.”

    Bryan follows up this quote from Mr. Cunningham by saying, “Regardless of what program you’re in, I’d heed the last line of the committee’s response very carefully.”

    So let’s put this all together. Within one month, BSA’s official magazine publishes two articles in the official blog about members not wearing official Scout pants or Scout shorts. In both articles, full uniform wear is described as a guideline or preference, not a requirement. In both articles, Scouters are admonished to not get their knickers in a twist over Scouts not wearing the complete, correct uniform. In the second of those articles in BSA’s official magazine, Scouts are praised for looking great in their uniforms (which they do) despite wearing blue jeans.

    Is anyone still confused about BSA’s views on official Scout pants? Is anyone still in doubt about how BSA wants you to respond when a question about _requiring_ official Scout pants comes up? If so, here is what you say (quoting both the kilt article and this article):

    “While uniforms are one important thing, they’re far from the most important thing.”
    “[A Scout unit] has more important things to worry about than what kind of pants its Scouts wear.”

    • Nahila Nakne // August 11, 2014 at 7:29 am // Reply

      Dan,

      Good point about hte previous post. So if BSA doesn’t care what type of pants or short sto wear, and beleives they are not important, then let’s go all the way; lets do what abunch of other countries do and do away with pants and shorts as part of the uniform. I know of several Scouting associations have doen just that.

      • Oh, BSA _does_ care and _does_ believe the uniform is important. The point is that a _complete, correct_ uniform is not high on the priority list. In the Venturing program, BSA allows any pants or short in the dark gray color (though they still offer an official version). These posts are NOT saying that the uniform is not important, just that we shouldn’t sweat the details if we have uniforming largely covered (so to speak) – which is generally going to be shirt (the most visible piece, and the place where the goodies are). Ideally, the individual member will take such pride in the uniform that he or she will want to have a complete and correct uniform.

        This is really the 80/20 rule in action. The 80/20 rule is the notion that in many endeavors, we end up spending 80% of our effort squeezing out the last 20% of performance. BSA is saying to take that 80% of effort being spent on Scout pants, socks, and belts and put it to work in other issues in your units.

      • And personally, Nahila, I agree. Look at all of the Scouter time and energy that has gone into debating the question of Scout pants while BSA membership continues to drop. We have to focus on the real priorities in Scouting today, and they do not include what pants to wear.

  50. Andy, Scoutmaster // August 11, 2014 at 5:26 am // Reply

    Yes the uniform leads to a sense of belonging. But belonging is more important. You can’t get young men to live their lives by the Oath and Law, if they are not in your Troop.I would rather have 20 scouts in jeans than only a couple who could afford the complete uniform.

  51. Please re-read Dan Kurtenbach’s post (just above). His explanation of the purpose of uniforming is spot on. Why would a unit willingly deny its Scouts the opportunity to learn these lessons which are more important now than ever. With everyone wearing flip-flops and cut-offs to even church services, here else do boys learn when and how to dress for important occasions?

    Overlooked is the leveling effect of uniforms. I would think this especially valuable to an underprivileged unit. Those with the means can spend hundreds on the coolest jeans but scout pants are scout pants. If find it interesting that many schools are adopting uniform policies while many seem to want BSA to move away from its.

    Economy is a false argument. If money is truly the issue, how do the boys afford shirts? With insignia they are far more than pants. And NO ONE in the troop can afford pants? Not even the adults? It seems to me for most units this is a decision of convenience not economics.

    All of this seems to be part of a general race to mediocrity. BSA policies properly makes room for scouts in special circumstances. But then everyone rushes in, waving the “neither add nor subtract” banner, wants to claim the exception whether or not they meet the circumstance. Scouts who cannot afford uniform parts should in no way be penalized for their family’s financial situation. But far too many with the means or ability use the policy as a loophole to justify their lax behaviors and poor decisions. By the way, I see this played out in advancement much more frequently – and to the greater detriment of the program – in advancement than with uniforming.

    By the way, our troop’s stock of used scout pants is overflowing. I have a dozen or more I’ll send if someone can contact me. Troop 501 can call dibs!

    • Richard, thanks. As I said previously, the Uniform Method is about a Scout learning to be thrifty in acquiring a uniform, learning skills such as how to sew on a badge or iron out a wrinkle, learning how care for his uniform (and other gear) by washing his own stuff and putting it away, learning attention to detail and team responsibility through patrol inspections, etc.

      What I think BSA is telling us is to focus on developing those inner qualities through the Uniform Method and the other Methods of Scouting. In light of our larger responsibility to help boys educate themselves through the overall Scouting program, we should not get distracted by details (like pants).

      Stop cutting out the Uniform Method, and depriving our Scouts of all of these learning opportunities, by imposing a uniform requirement. After all, do we expect a brand new Patrol Leaders Council to come up with a perfect activity plan for the troop? Do we expect a new Senior Patrol Leader to run a perfect meeting as soon as he takes office? Do we expect the New Scout Patrol to have a flawless first campout? Of course not! They learn over time (maybe a long time), through trying and failing and trying again, through patience and example and gentle nudging and leading questions. They don’t learn by the adults telling them in detail exactly what they are supposed to do; but that is exactly what adults are doing when they impose uniform requirements.

      We have to provide opportunities (such as a uniform closets and great deals on campaign hats and uniform inspections and ceremonial occasions) for youth to learn for themselves the various skills and qualities described above. Just as we patiently watch pancakes burn and remain quiet as hike leaders spend fifteen minutes at a crossroads trying to figure out which way to turn, it is up to us to endure blue jeans and patches on the wrong sleeves and untucked shirts, secure in the knowledge that, one youth at a time, we’ll start seeing better looking shirts, more tightly rolled neckerchiefs, and (shockingly!) a few official Scout pants.

      Provide opportunities rather than imposing requirements. That is the fundamental difference between Scouting and school that Baden-Powell described at the dawn of our Movement.

  52. When I was a scout, in Troop 447, in Rockville MD. we where required to wear the Offical Scout Uniform Pants. The uniform no longer a uniform, when nobody is wearing the same clothing.It’s interesting that parnets can buy thier kids expensive cell phones but they can’t buy them the Offical Uniform Pants.

    Beond that, just about every company requires it’s employees to wear a uniform, even at McDonalds. So why can’t boys wear the uniform pants?

    • This comes back to the money thing. You are talking about EMPLOYEES who get PAID to dress in a uniform. BTW: the McD’s around here only require the shirt, and they PROVIDE THE SHIRT. The employees don’t buy it.

      And it’s back to me how many scout pants do the parents need to buy….meaning many parents have more than one scout in a troop. Not to mention them if they help as a leader. One pair might be doable for most, but when you are talking 2, 3, 4 or more. It’s not that simple….and that’s on top of BSA raising their rates AGAIN last year.

      We have a set of parents that have 6 kids. 4 of those are in scouting/cubs and the parents help out.

      No, we do not have a uniform closet.

      • Nahila Nakne // August 12, 2014 at 9:19 am // Reply

        Maria,

        You keep mentioning the “…parents need to buy.”

        I don’t know if the current BSA literature now promotes parents buying the uniform, but back in the day, the SCOUTS were to buy their own uniforms. That was part of the goal setting and achievement process. Can it take a year or two for a Scout to buy their own uniforms, absolutely. It took me 2 years to get a complete uniform. But I got it, and was proud.

        I have 3 kids, I know how expensive uniforms can be and ding activities. But all three of my boys bought their own uniforms. But as I have mentioned there are reasources out there: thrift stores, ebay, craigslist, and yes, uniform closets. That is where Oldest bought his current pants.

        And setting up a uniform closet is easy: ask Scouts to donate old uniforms. They sell them at a modest mark up that goes into the troop for supplies and trip. I beleive, I need to ask my oldest, that his troop will allow exchanges as well.

        One thing I recommend: DO NOT GIVE THE UNIFORMS AWAY! (emphasis) You want the Scouts to have some skin in the game. I have been burnt giving uniforms, and camping gear, away to folks who had a need, only to take the stuff and run off, never seeing them again. By having them pay for the stuff, even if it’s a $1 or $2, they have some skin in the game.

        Or if you have an enterprising Scout looking for a way to make money, and collect patches too ;) , have him cruise the thrift stores, buy uniforms, wash them, remove any insignia that need to be removed, and sell them to those who need them. Once I was in HS, and 2 blocks away from a thrift store 5 days a week, that was how I helped pay for trips, got my troop 99.999% fully uniformed (we would cut some slack for new Scouts and give them some time to get 100% uniformed), and got a patch collection that rivaled one of the ASM’s. ;)

        • Well said! Scouts should be paying their own way, earning their uniforms piece by piece as they go along. The purpose of the Uniform Method, as with all of the Methods, is to build character, citizenship, and fitness, not to develop snappy dressers or so that you have Scouts you can show off.

        • For our uniform closet we ask people to pay the modest fee of $5 for a shirt, $5 for pants. Belts and other stuff in there are not ever charged for. That said, when someone donates the uniform item back to the closet in good repair, we credit them $5 per shirt or $5 per pants, or they can simply trade out sizes.

          The key with that program is some investment from the family because it also has them treat the uniforms better.

          On a side note: I have had the idea for years to start a business just remaking Switch Back Legs… seems like the legs always find a way to be eaten with socks in the dryer. Also, when the kids grow, in my experience with 3 sons, they get taller before they get wider. It would be nice to just go get a set that is unhemmed and a little longer to fix the pants for say $10 vs another $50 pair of pants.

  53. A couple of years ago I read Tom Sholes “Rocks in my Backpack” – where he openly poked fun at BSA uniforms and policy- recounting how his troop showed up to a Summer Camp uniform inspection with their uniforms on ‘inside out’ to protest having to wear it at summer camp — while it was a great book, I was disappointed in the attitude toward the uniform-

    Your article, while well written and well intentioned just makes it more difficult to preserve the importance of the scout uniform- holding up examples of ‘exceptions’ soon makes them the rule, which sadly I see way more scouts poorly uniformed than those wearing the uniform- and the responses I get are “at least they have some of the uniform”–

    I am the Scoutmaster of a troop of 70 scouts- and we are full uniform all the time- there is no better advertising for BSA than to see a group of well behaved young gentlemen traveling to an outing or working on a service project- and the parents attest that they do behave better when easily recognized as scouts-

    I appreciate that it is an expense, and we all face it- but it makes it harder to hold the bar up high when we celebrate those who can’t reach it yet- especially when the comment is “more important things to worry about than the official Scout pants”

    • While I agree with most of your points and commend you for being able to have a troop of 70 full uniformed all the time, I do question your saying they do that on SERVICE PROJECTS, well, not questioning doing it, questioning WHY. To me that is over the top…..that is with the assumption that the service projects are something requiring manual labor, often dirty work. I do not think that is necessary….that is when Class B’s come into play. But that’s JMHO.

      If you are talking flag ceremonies, parades, laying wreaths etc….then absolutely Class A.

      • We do wear Class B on campouts, and for actual physical work- but as you point out, many service projects are not manual labor (for those the boys do wear class B- but that uniform still includes scout pants and socks- the only difference is changing the Field shirt & neckerchief for a Troop T-shirt) – among our regular service projects include serving meals at a homeless shelter and others where the boys are visible to the public- so we can’t have better advertising that Scouting is Alive and well than to have folks recognize that scouts are indeed ‘out there, doing stuff that makes us proud’– and we always travel in full Class A

        We don’t expect the same level of effort from everyone- it was a culture change to get scouts ‘out’ of some of the outlandish garb they like to wear to set themselves apart (wild hats, glasses, jewelry, etc.) – so when articles like this one and the book by Mr. Sholes celebrate units openly abandoning the uniform it makes it harder on everyone who is trying to comply–

        • Nahila Nakne // August 12, 2014 at 9:23 am //

          Tom,

          OUTSTANDING! My pack and troop also wear full uniforms for some of the service projects, Scouting for Food and Memorial Day Flags come immediately to mind.

          Then there are the projects that an old set of clothes that can be thrown away at the end come to mind. To quote Mike Rowe, ” A Scout is Clean…but not afraid to get dirty!”

        • That is impressive when you see a troop of 70 get out of a bus or van, lol….all in uniform. I love it. We don’t get to go on many trips, but when we do, we are in SHIRT uniform. Those that have the pants, wear them. If we are going to a campout with no ‘stops’, then no, we don’t wear them, we don’t even TAKE them. We already had 2 boys lose their class A’s somehow on the trip home from summer camp. Not sure how you manage to lose something as obvious as a scout shirt which would have different insignia for each boy (unless a recent crossover)….but we have. I’m sure it will turn up in someone’s wash eventually.

        • We’ve never had all of them to the same event :) but we did take 46 scouts to summer camp in Oregon (quite the busload)- When we reach the trail head, the boys leave their class A shirt & neckerchief in the seat they rode up in- then we hit the trail in class B – but we always travel in Class A (in case we have to stop for something)

        • We have a troop that comes to Camp Hohn every year nicknamed THE HORDE, lol. That’s because they are a troop of around 100 plus. And MOST of those attend summer camp. Because of their size they choose to be at the site at the END of the camp so that they don’t bother the others, lol. But no, they aren’t all in UNIFORM, at least not at camp. Flag ceremonies they are to a point. Some full, some partial. It’s still impressive even when that many scouts have SHIRTS and neckerchiefs on, lol.

  54. Thinking on this some more, I think what irks me the most from the article and the comments is the “We are not going to comply” attitude.

    Normally I wouldn’t give a second look as a scout function when you see the couple of scouts that are wearing jeans but otherwise in uniform. Could be economic, the pants could be in the wash, or he could have outgrown his old ones and needs a new pair.

    The most important thing in scouting is the Scout, in uniform or not I think we can all agree on that. But why is there NEED to say publicly we aren’t even going to try to comply and blame the failure on the BSA policy?

    A troop that has strict uniform requyirements for scouts is WRONG, but a troop that openly condemns guidelines and wants to make up its own rules is just as wrong.

    Do your best is all that is asked, if you don’t have a complete uniform there is no need to publicize it and make it the “new normal”.

  55. @ Richard B.:
    Thank you for your generous offer. Please contact me so that we can take you up on it (you – or anyone else – should be able to get in touch with me through our troop’s website, which should be clickable in the header of this response, or you can reach out to me at scoutmaster at our troop number, dot net)!

    For those of you who question our use of the Uniform Method: We, of course, prefer the official Scout pants/shorts. As a matter of fact, many of our Scouts were able to purchase new Scout shorts prior to summer camp, this year (the Scout shop had a special on the new shorts that are suitable for wear as swim trunks, also). They worked out great. Some bought the canvas shorts. I had to purchase my own son another pair of shorts, as at the age of 13 1/2, he had outgrown his old ones (and prayed my original-style switchbacks made it through another summer camp!). Of course, there were a few Scouts whose families had already spent so much money on camp, equipment, and outfitting their boys for Boy Scouts and summer camp, that there just was not the extra funds available for official shorts/pants (we had eight boys cross over from Cub Scouting, and all eight went to summer camp). Of the 15 boys in our troop, 13 went to summer camp with the troop. One went to NYLT (with official scout pants), and one went to Venturing camp.

    Here, I just go back to the old Scouter adage, and Wood Badge concept, “Keep it Simple, Make it Fun.” We don’t sweat the small stuff. What’s the point in getting a Scout all excited about camp, if it means provoking anxiety for some? As for the hats, yes, we got a really phenomenal deal, and they cost us less than a pair of official pants/shorts. Really. However, for the most part, those boys that do have them, also have official pants/shorts, already. There may be an exception or two, but I’m happy to work with what I have. Maybe, if not for our troop, some of these boys wouldn’t be in Scouting, at all. I’ll take ‘em! Give them all to me! I’ve had boys in the troop that loved to go camping because they ate better at weekend camps than at home (and that’s at only $15 for a boy for the weekend). Official Scout pants? Please. I’m just happy we can get them fed, and as a result, get them into the out of doors, and work on instilling the values of Scouting. By training, I’m a counselor; by trade, I’m a probation and parole officer (for adult felons). Any chance I can get to work with them face-to-face with them now, instead of across the desk 10 years or so down the road, I’ll take it!

    To Bryan and everyone else who has been so positive: Thank you for your support! It is only through recognizing that we have to stop getting bogged-down in these little things that we will be able to re-direct our energy into providing our Scouts with the best possible value-laden program disguised as a FUN, and exciting adventure that will last a lifetime!

    • I love your response. Even if my responses (which got such angst from some of the others) appear to mean I don’t care, that is not the way I meant it. My point is your point. It defiinitely looks better to have the pants, especially given there are a million different colors and styles of jeans that other than being blue jeans there really isn’t a ‘uniform’. Don’t get me wrong, I am not dissing blue jeans. I wear them, my grandson wears them. I’m just talking appearance of similarity.

      I commend you on carrying your job into your extra-curricular activities. I have another friend who is also P&P and in scouting and wood badge. He sounds a lot like you, lol. He lives in Hannibal.

      Just a side note…we just recently had an Eagle ceremony. Given this discussion I was watching to see who wore what.

      The irony is that the younger boys mostly had on the pants, or knockoffs. Sometimes hard to tell.

      But when the MC said for all the past Eagle scouts to go escort the new Eagle up…..all but the adults (most in suits having come from church) wore jeans. I found that interesting.

      And this is NOT the first time I’ve seen this as well as with other troops.

      Our OA groups (I belong to 2) meet during roundtable for our respective districts. Hardly any of the boys where the full uniform for that. Not sure if they HAVE it and just don’t wear it or if they don’t have it.

      Point with that is that we have enough trouble getting our OA boys to take part in boring meetings, that we are not going to let clothing be a factor in whether they come or not. We need the boys, with or without official pants.

    • Well done, sir. In my view, you are using the Uniform Method as it should be used, with exactly the right attitude (have FUN and don’t sweat the small stuff), and fully integrated with all of the other Methods. Keep up the great work!

    • Mr. Hufford– I’m away with limited internet but will contact you privately next week.

  56. Nelson Block // August 12, 2014 at 9:15 am // Reply

    What I got from this conversation is that some Scout leaders don’t think it’s important for Scouts to be correctly uniformed. Those who do make an effort to see that their boys have official pants or shorts. Those who don’t find some excuse to focus on something else they think is more important. Our unit chooses to use proper uniforming as part of our program, and it works well. Our uniform exchange gives every boy who needs uniform parts whatever he needs (including buying it new when our “experienced” supply does not have his size. Best of luck to all fellow Scouters in providing a good program to our young people.

    • @Nelson: I think you are making a sweeping over-generalization that just isn’t true. As the scoutmaster for Troop #501, in this story (there are other troops with the same number), I do feel that proper uniforming is very important. Period. I challenge you, or anyone, to find one badge or insignia that is out of place, shirt un-tucked, OA or merit badge sash worn wrong, or at inappropriate times (non-OA events), or dangles, doo-dads, bling, or pins worn on our Scouts’ uniforms. You just won’t. Why? Because it’s not how the uniform is worn, and these Scouts take pride in their uniforms, the way they look, and the way each Scout reflects on the troop, and Scouting, as a whole. This is also a standard demonstrated by our troop’s leadership, youth and adult. To presume we don’t care, that we don’t think it’s important, or imposing whatever presumptuous thought may come to your mind about our motives, or lack of motivation is just that: an assumption. You know how your mother taught you how to spell “assume?” Well, she was only half-right right. It says nothing of me, or our troop! Our troop wasn’t named “Sharpest Unit” at our week of summer camp because we don’t care!

      We started our troop with only 3 _active_ Scouts. Yes, I know you have to have 5 youth, but we had three on that cold December 29th. We now have 15 Scouts. The most we’ve had in 4 1/2 years. That’s a 500% increase! Not bad, if you ask me. There’s something that’s drawing these boys to our troop, and it has nothing to do with official pants, or lack thereof. We have a uniform closet. Mostly shirts that are tiny. We just haven’t had the numbers, yet, to support a good-sized uniform exchange. We don’t ignore, or choose to “defy” policies and regulations. We choose to focus on providing each Scout, and his family (yes, his entire family – I want those siblings, and the boys of the friends of their families), a wholesome, experience that will instill values, principles, and skills that will last a lifetime.

      With a small troop, we don’t have the ability to raise the funds that a larger troop can. As such, the funds we do raise are used to support infrastructure, such as tents, flies, and other troop equipment necessary to support a viable outdoor program, as well as sustain the other Methods of Scouting: Ideals, patrols, outdoors, advancement, adult association, personal growth and leadership development. Sure, the implementation of some of those methods cost little, if anything at all, such as the Ideals, and Adult Association. However, advancement, especially the representation and recognition of same, as manifested in the associated awards and badges, are far from free, and can be quite costly. What good is a “full and complete” official uniform, if you have no rank badges, awards, or badges of office to display on it? There is not a single Scout in our unit that does not want the pants. Sometimes, it just comes down to funding. Again, rather than making an issue out of the pants, or lack thereof, we work with what we have.

      The uniform is _one_ of _several_ _methods_ of Scouting, and in and of itself, does not constitute the Scouting program, in its _entirety_! We choose to focus on the Scout, as a whole, rather than the pants!

      • Scoutmaster,

        It is easy for the masses to give you their 2 cents about nothing they really know about or how it works in their established troops. Most Scouters have never started a unit from scratch with limited resources and support let alone taken a unit with nothing from scratch and turned it into successful programs. I myself have started three units in the last 7 years. First the Pack with …. 5 boys. Then the Troop with 5 boys who signed up…4 who showed up so I understand when you say you had 3. Then the AHG Troop. All three programs are now top tier with extremely active Scouts, funds, adventures, etc. But that took leadership, direction, time, patience, willingness to fail, failure, the dust off, getting back up…trying again!

        When you start from scratch it is tough to have all the Scoutopia programs instantly show up. When you are small, think and dream big is my advice, but don’t loose the focus on the most important thing… the boy. Seems like that is where you are at, focused on the boys.

        Also, take the advice from the guy who wrote the article about “Oreo Cookies” that was featured here a few months back. The folks that tend to be the most critical and willing to lend the “how it is in my troop” or “what about this scenario…yada yada yada” are missing the bigger point; again that being “the boy.” They will lend their critique in a fashion as to discredit what you are doing instead of building up and edifying each other in our failures, and congratulating each other in our successes. That seems to be a common theme in an organization built around helping children is that we (and I’m probably in the collective we as well) forget that we are all on the bigger team as part of the World Scout movement. We seek to make one unit better than the next vs. helping each other out. I bet if you really asked for help from the advice givers to help you start a uniform closet you would see how few would respond with actual help.

        I would also recommend you need not respond to those who post their rubric on how Scoutopia should be on this forum and how you are doing it wrong. Simply keep the faith, steer the ship, and not be upset with them or engage in them in a retort. It will ultimately effect your spirit which is the spirit you need to help change the lives in the boys.

        Scoutmaster I congratulate you for your dedication to the youth of our country. If there is anything in which my entire 9212 Scouting Organization can do to assist you in your success; be it friendship, fellowship, or otherwise please let me know. You can contact me at the email I used to post this comment and I will do what I can.

        In closing: You have a sharp looking bunch of boys who show pride in their uniforms and troop. Well done!

  57. I understand your anger, for lack of a better word. This post has come down to bashing you specifically and any of the rest of us who feel the BOY is more important than the uniform. Not saying it is not important, just saying it’s low on the priority list – at least for me, and any troop is having trouble surviving much less being uniform police.

    Until such time as they say it is a requirement (and then it comes down to how do yo enforce something that is voluntary and paid for by the kid/parent – it’s not like employees)…then this argument will continue.

    You keep doing what you are doing. At least you are growing. Our troop did the opposite. We were 60 years old at the time we disbanded. We had a bus, literally, and 50 members back in the 70′s. When we disbanded we had 8 registered, 5 active. That isn’t why we disbanded. That’s another horrific story of a bad CO and COR.

    • Maria,

      Thanks for your continued support. One of the things I dislike most about SMS, Facebook, email us the lack of emotion cues. Please do not think I am angry. I am very passionate about what we do as Scouters, and about delivering the promise. I am not angry, or upset. It is what it is, and I think that other people need to see it for just that, instead of making baseless assumptions about other people, or about their constitution. We have to all remember we are in this together. Aren’t we all trying to deliver the same promise? Isn’t the end goal the same for all of us? I truly believe so.

      I think that this story came at the right time. Sometimes we get so mired in the minutia, that we lose sight of the end goal… We lose sight of the forest for the trees! Sometimes, like our Scouts, we need to be reminded of what’s important, and what’s not. When we lose sight of what it is that we are trying to accomplish, we begin to decline in accomplishing it. And, ultimately, I think that’s why we are all here. Obviously, this is a topic that hits close to home for many people. Sometimes, the “teacher” can stand to learn a lesson from the “pupil.” Surely, we can all learn from each other. We just have to let go of preconceived notions, and move away from some of the absolutes.

  58. Just thought I would make note of some observations I made at roundtable on Tuesday and will do so tonight at the other district I belong to.

    1. kickoff roundtables are generally the largest group of district people in one location short of a camporee, etc.

    2. We had probably in excess of 100 people. Men, women, some boys (oa), venture, cub, scouts. Wide variety.

    3. Of those approximately 100 I counted 22 in pants.

    4. 5 of the execs – 3 paid employees – WERE IN JEANS. 1 paid employee in suit and tie.

    5. While there, I did an impromptu survey. How many had uniform closets? NONE. Some of them make every effort to help out a disadvantaged family, but there was no set method for doing so.

    In the discussions that followed, 99% said pants were nice, but not a priority. And a good amount of them also said what has been said on here…that the quality of the pants suck. Not made like they were 20 years ago. Some do have the knockoffs.

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