Is an older Scout who wears his uniform in public committing ‘social suicide?’ Weigh in on one Scoutmaster’s policy

Here’s a new one: An East Coast troop’s uniform policy involves telling older Scouts not to wear their uniforms in public.

Yep, it happened in Scouter B.C.’s troop. Here’s how B.C., who asked me not to use their full name, explained it in an email to me last week:

I have recently become the assistant Scoutmaster for my son’s troop. The Scoutmaster has a policy that disturbs me a little. The older Scouts in our troop don’t wear their uniform in public. The Scoutmaster calls it “social suicide!” I believe they should be proud of the uniform. Am I wrong? Does the Scoutmaster have that right?

The BSA has a uniform policy that discusses the “sense of identification and commitment” members get when wearing uniforms. But there’s no specific mention of exactly when uniforms should be worn, other than saying they’re for “suitable occasions.” Deciding what constitutes a “suitable occasion” is left to units.

In other words, the Scoutmaster may have that right, but whether it’s a good idea is open for discussion.

So I posted the question on our Facebook page last week, and it quickly became the most-commented post in the Scouting magazine page’s history. At the time of this writing, more than 250 comments have been posted.

Here are some highlights from the conversation:

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Should Scouters capitalize on archery interest inspired by ‘The Hunger Games’?

Thanks to The Hunger Games, archery is cool again. Your move, Scout leaders.

In the megahit film and book, the character Katniss Everdeen (above) uses a bow and arrow to hunt for food.

And she does it in style.

Sounds like a great opportunity for Scouters to get their troop excited about Archery merit badge, right?

Turns out it’s not that simple.

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What to do when Scouts — or Scouters — use foul language

A Scout is Clean, but what if his mouth isn’t?

Dirty words can soil the reputation of any Scout (or Scouter), but a swift response from you can make the guilty party think twice next time.

But what is that perfect reaction? How do you ban bad language in your pack, troop, team, or crew?

The solutions below will help you decide. I swear!

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What’s your unit’s electronics policy?

Should you allow your Scouts to bring their smartphones on camping trips?

Sure, Scouters and Scouts can do it all with these powerful gadgets. A smartphone (or tablet) is a watch, an alarm clock, a digital compass, a camera, a GPS navigator, a Boy Scout Handbooka constellation map, an encyclopedia, and a guide to tying knots—all in one device.

Costs and size are down, while battery life and cell coverage are up.

And with those factors in mind, many troops, teams, and crews now allow Scouts to carry an iPhone, iPad, Android device, Windows Phone, or BlackBerry on campouts—with certain restrictions, of course.

Still, how did Scout units come to that decision? And if Scouts can bring their smartphones or tablets camping, how can you ensure that they don’t abuse the privilege?

To find out, I asked our Facebook fans for their take on the subject. Here’s what I learned:

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Open for Debate: Who really made that Pinewood Derby car?

There’s something fishy about Hunter’s Pinewood Derby car.

The paint job is a little too professional, the edges a little too perfect. While other cars wobble down the track, this thing’s a rocket every time.

And for some reason, when Hunter picks up his first-place trophy, Mom and Dad seem more excited to hold it than he does.

My verdict? It looks like a classic case of “Mom and Dad did all the work.”

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Open for debate: What’s your Scout unit’s uniform policy?

Ask 90 different Scouters for their unit’s uniform policy, and you’ll get 90 different answers.

Sure enough, that was the case a couple of weeks ago when I polled Scouting‘s Facebook fans on the subject and got 90 responses.

The Boy Scouts of America Insignia Guide says it’s your responsibility as an adult leader to “promote the wearing of the correct complete uniform on all suitable occasions.”

But what constitutes a “suitable occasion”? And what exactly is considered a “correct complete uniform”?

Here’s what you had to say on the subject:

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