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:

Right and Wrong
“Depending on the individual boys’ situations, the Scoutmaster may be correct. That said, he shouldn’t be contributing to the problem. Maybe he shouldn’t require uniforms for certain activities in the public eye, but he should never say anything that might be taken to mean that a Scout (or Scouter) should not be proud of the uniform. He’s only making the situation worse.”
— Iain A.

Get Some Outside Help
“Our SM has always believed in [uniforms]; however, our boys had that same mentality [as the Scoutmaster in B.C.’s troop]. We brought in a few Marines a month or two ago, to talk to them about the uniform. We’ve had 100 percent uniform on all the youth, since then. Sometimes it takes a motivator that isn’t in Scouting to talk about unity with the uniform, to make the change.”
— Daniel G.

No Shame Here
“Well, I think all units are different and that is part of what makes Scouting so successful because you can participate in a unit that demonstrates your specific views/ideals. That said, social suicide because of wearing your uniform? If you’re ashamed that you’re in Scouting, you should not be in Scouting. You shouldn’t have to hide it and not wear in public. I wore my uniform to high school in 2002 and was just fine. I was still liked. I think the Scoutmaster is showing that not portraying your true self and hiding part of you is a socially acceptable practice, which is even more detrimental to the development of that Scout and the entire unit. ”
— Mark T.

Visual Reminder
“I was dumfounded one day, as I stopped by a local drug store to pick up some water on the way to a meeting, and the cashier asked me if the uniform I was wearing was a Boy Scout uniform. I told her that it was. She responded with “I didn’t think they existed anymore!” That tells me that the uniform needs to be in the public eye more.”
— Dan B.

Perception Isn’t Always Reality
“My son’s troop doesn’t march in the local parades for the same reason, that the older Scouts think they’ll be made fun of for being in their uniforms; that the uniform is ‘uncool.’ But a large number of them are also in the marching band with way goofier uniforms (and hats) than Scouts! It’s a perception thing and I think Daniel up above has a great idea that sometimes it needs brought to the forefront that uniforms are a part of life and a part of recognition of who and what you are and that those who are police, fire fighters, nurses, and military may be the way to bring that message home rather than a Scoutmaster or by holding uniform inspections.”
— Scott W.

Leave it to the Scouts
“Perhaps older Scouts might not want to be seen in uniform by school friends. Seems we should respect their preference and not take a stand on this issue.”
— Tom M.

Neckerchiefs Nixed?
“We had a similar situation that just got fixed. My three sons went to their first meeting at our new troop after moving 400 miles away. What was their greeting from the Scouts? ‘We don’t wear neckerchiefs. If you want to belong to this troop, you will take those OFF.’ That was a young First Class Scout talking to my brand new Eagle Scout son, who was proud to wear his new Eagle neckerchief to his new troop! The Scoutmaster said, ‘we haven’t wanted neckerchiefs because they’re too expensive and no one wants them.’ I replied that since the troop just grew from five to 20 boys in one year, we have enough new Scouts that we should let them vote. Surprise, the boys wanted coordinating neckerchiefs, and boy, did they look nice at a recent public appearance. The Scoutmaster let the boys vote and decide, instead of just laying down the law. The boys are happy, and the Scoutmaster was too, because he allowed that uniform policy to be “boy-led.”
— Elizabeth J.

The Tuck Rule
“I love wearing mine in public, and most importantly…IT MUST BE TUCKED IN! Scouts that can’t tuck it in find out very quickly from me that is not allowed. Now the ‘social suicide’  — I think that is just one person’s poor opinion. Been in the program since I was a Tiger Cub, and I just turned 30! Best program around.”
— Justin K.

No Quit in Them
“Just as a high school football star might want to keep his straight A’s and perfect attendance a “secret” so as to better fit in with his teammates, so might a Scout in certain parts of the country where a Boy Scout is ridiculed as the ultimate image of dorkiness want to keep his membership “on the down low.” It doesn’t mean the football player isn’t proud of his grades or that the Scout isn’t proud of what he does. Although I hope the Scoutmaster does not call it “social suicide” in front of the boys and that the boys are encouraged to wear and be proud of their uniforms whenever possible, I can understand uniforms not being required in public if it means the boys will feel so ostracized they would likely quit Scouting rather than wear it. Should this be a policy for all Scout groups? No. But in some situations I can see it as being a plausible solution to a very real problem for teenagers who need desperately to have social acceptance.”
— Melody S.

By Any Other Name
“Let the current SM create another youth program and call it by another name. If he uses the program of the BSA he needs to follow our rules… We struggle to uniform our Scouts to show their pride in the program.”
— Kay T.

Battling the Bully Climate
“I could not agree more with all the previous comments, it was my task to make a presentation on proper uniforming at our last roundtable. However, there may be an existing social climate in the letter writer’s area that you might not understand. It is all well and good to expect these scouts to be uniformed in the required situations like meetings and travel, yes, but there are towns and schools where bullying is status quo. Sad but true. Asking kids to subject themselves to additional torment if you unfortunately live in such an area might be too much. Sure there are some that are strong enough to stand up against the crowd but for the average 12 yr old they want to have friends and not be ridiculed. Expect them to be martyrs for a tan shirt and you may lose a whole troop. The greater challenge is changing the bully climate that exists and that is our responsibility.”
— Chris D.

Trouble at the Top?
“You wear the uniform. Does not matter the age, you are Scout and the older Scouts set the example. The adults need to set the example. Are you as a Scoutmaster ashame of the uniform? If you are time to step down.”
— David J.

What Are You Doing?
“Perhaps they should look into why this SM thinks it would be “social suicide” to wear the uniform. Is their troop active? Do they do wicked cool stuff like camping, hiking, rock climbing, canoeing, etc? Do they go on worthwhile trips? Are they active and productive in the community? Or are they a “meeting” troop, where all they do is meet and nothing else? Perhaps that’s where the “social suicide” comes in… if a young man doesn’t see the uniform as representing something of value, he’s not going to be proud to wear it, and he’s not going to be ready to stand up to those who might ridicule. He won’t have any ammunition against those who hate. But if someone says, “gee, Scouts. You’re a big nerd!” and he can come back with, “Yeah, this ‘nerd’ scaled a 100-foot rock wall this weekend, what’d you do?” he’s not going to care about the haters. ”
— Laura H.

Read more thoughts

This is only a small sampling of the excellent discussion from Facebook. Read many more responses here.

Related post

What’s your unit’s uniform policy? Read the Bryan on Scouting discussion from last year.

What do you think?

What would you say to the Scoutmaster mentioned in the question above? How does your troop handle this tricky situation? Leave a comment below.


  1. I am familiar with B.C.’s situation as I am a parent of a 13 year old Star Scout in the same troop. This is not a bullying situation. A couple of years ago, the same well-intentioned SM told our son who had recently crossed over from Webelos that when he showed up at a bike outing wearing his uniform that they don’t wear uniforms in public; it is social suicide. Until then, our son was comfortable wearing the uniform on Scout outings. All of the younger boys who join the troop are told that they don’t have to wear the Class A uniform to other Scout outings and told that it is social suicide. We told our son long ago that if he is embarrassed to wear the uniform, he should not be a Scout. I don’t expect them to wear them to school or to any event that is not a Scout event. I do expect them to wear them to all Scout events where the uniform is practical and won’t get ruined. The SPL in this particular troop (Life Scout) was asked for input on a Class B design. He asked if Boy Scouts could be in very small print. I do not believe that the disdain for the uniform has spread to the younger scouts – yet.

  2. When I was in the scouts, I loved to wear the Uniform, but let’s be clear, I wore it when I was at Scouting Activities. I might wear a troop t-shirt out of activities, but not the Uniform, that just seemed to be the way for me.

  3. I shocked and disappointed by this Scoutmaster’s social suicide attitude. As a retired Marine I remember in the early 80’s when wearing that uniform off base was considered social suicide as well. But we were proud of our uniforms and really didn’t care what the vocal minority had to say or think and that’s what we need to instill in our Scouts now! This gentleman is sending the wrong message, I think think he needs a refresher on the Scout Law with emphasis on what it means to be brave.


  4. A few years ago when I stepped up as the new Scoutmaster, I had a kid in the Troop, let’ call him “Joe”. He was a Life Scout, finishing off his Eagle. He was alos one of the Captains of our Championship High School Football Team. A Tal good looking guy, who drove a black 1970’s trans-am he rebuilt. This kid was cool, and popular. One night he came rushing in about 10 minutes late as the opening was wrapping up. He came to me and apologized that he was late because practice ran over, and he even had to change straight into his uniform in teh locker room… I said, Joe, you walked across campus in your uniform? Didn’t your friends say anything? You know what he said? He stood tall, stepped right up to me, looked me eye to eye, and asked,”What, exactly would they say?”
    I couldn’t think of anything they might say, and kinda thought it’d be foolish for any teen to challenge this kid. Many of my older Scouts are popular at school, many carry over their friendships from the Scout Hall to the High School.
    Social Suicide? Nah, most of these guys are proud of who they are and their uniform. Know why, it’s their program, we do the trips they want to do and THEY plan, with adult support. They WANT to tell their friends they went backpacking, or whitewater rafting.
    Make your Scouts proud of what that uniform represents and they’ll be proud to wear it. Frankly it’s my Junior high guys that get embarassed, but they’re embarassed about everything.

    Chris Hagerty

  5. When I was a Scout and later an Explorer in the late 50’s and early 60’s, it was very acceptable to wear a uniform to school or in public and there was a respect that other non-Scout peers had for those youth who were in the program, just as there was for those who were in band, athletics, etc. However, that all seemed to change in the late 60’s and thereafter, possibly because of the anti-war demonstrations that perhaps associated uniforms with the military and did not fit in with the values of many of the non-Scout young folks of that era, so bullying and ridicule seemed to evolve for Scouts and particularly teens if they wore the uniform in public or particularly at school.

    When I was a Scoutmaster and an Explorer Advisor/Venturing Advisor and Sea Scout Skipper over the past 30 years, our Scouts, Explorers, and Venturers/Sea Scouts told me that they sometimes got hassled by some of their non Scout peers, but since many of them were also outstanding athletes and excelled in both academic and extracurricular activities, they were respected for their Scouting and older youth affiliation in Venturing and Sea Scouts, particularly since that was considered an age appropriate program for teens and was also coed..

    We had a good deal of success in getting non -Scouts to join the Crew and Ship particularly when they heard about the cool things our youth were doing such as sailing, SCUBA diving in Cozumel, attending national and World Jamborees, high adventure trips to Arches and Canyonlands, Rappelliung and Rock Climbing, and much more. Our activity uniform was a navy blue polo shirt with the Crew and Ship logo embroidered on it and the name of the youth member, so that helped with creating interest by non Scout peers and helped us to recruit new members. The youth also liked the Sea Scout uniforms in chambray and dress whites, and the venturing forest green shirts and gray cargo pants. Their non-Scout friends thought they were cool and impressive so our older youth didn’t seem to have any issues with bullying or harassment at all.

    I would certainly recommend getting older Scouts into Venturing Crews and Sea Scout Ships when they enter high school as it just seems to be a better fit for them as an age appropriate program for teens. They can still continue their involvement in helping their Scout troop and younger Scouts, just as ours did, but it gives them a new identify and affiliation often known as “Scouting’s Next Step” that really helps to keep them active and involved up through age 20. Statistics show that many Scouts drop out of traditional Boy Scout troops when they enter high school for want of an age appropriate program that offers full coed membership and due to the competition for their time posed by athletics, band, as well as other teen interests that involve young women and cars, etc.

    Our younger Scouts looked up to their older peers who were in the Crew and Ship and could hardly wait to be old enough to join the crew and ship so we kept them active and many earned Eagle as well as the Venturing Awards of Bronze, Gold, Silver, Ranger, and the complementary awards of Sea Scout apprentice, Ordinary, Able and Quartermaster.

    Most of all they planned and conducted their programs themselves and we as advisors were just along for the ride, so we got to go with them on some of the most memorable and fun trips all over the World.

    Many of our Eagles told us they would have dropped out of Scouting if they had not had the opportunities of Venturing and Sea Scouts to keep them involved.


  6. I used to have a real problem wearing my uniform in public in the early 1970’s, but after I went to Philmont in 1973 (16 Years Old) I never had that problem again, this Friday I will be in uniform at my oldest son’s high school graduation as I am coming straight from Wood Badge where I am serving as Senior Patrol Leader…


  7. This SM has some strange notions. Just this last weekend, I entered a local restaurant with 3 other uniformed Scouts/Adults. An elderly gentleman approached us, asked if we were Boy Scouts, we were wearing the green shirts, and then told us about an Eagle project honoring a relative/veteran of his in the East somewhere. He was happy to tell us and the boys felt really proud. This happens all the time. Wouldn’t have missed it for the world but would have if not in uniform.

  8. The uniform is massively important to Scouting. As noted by Judy, other adults respect scout leaders. The scouts with us see that. And that respect is offered to the youth scouts as well. It is too bad that some folks make fun of scouts (or others) in uniform. This is an opportunity for your scouts to build character.

    The uniform also keeps your scouts from being identified as a group of thugs. Stop at any convenience store for a potty stop on a trip. You know your scouts will behave without over site. You will watch anyway, but they will do right. The store needn’t worry about the large group entering their store.

    And if your older scouts aren’t in uniform how do you think you will keep the younger ones wearing it?

  9. every time we have a meeting its class A. recently the troop went on a historical trip. They all had on class A. We got so many compliments on how great they looked.
    Some are concerned about what their friends might say but most are proud of their uniform.

  10. As an older scout who wears his uniform proudly i have had several people stop me just to talk about scouting, its great for recruiting and not even gonna lie… I’ve scored more than one phone # while in uniform. 😉

    The only time i have ever been made fun of or ridiculed for wearing my uniform in public was i was in a gas station and saw someone there who promptly made rude comments about scouting and how “gay” it was. I asked him when the last time he went rock climbing, mountain boarding, zip lining, or did anything fun was. He very promptly left the gas station.

    If its up to me. I’m wearing the uniform.

    • Preston, this is a great answer, and exactly what I advise my sons and the other Scouts in their Patrols to do.

      I was shocked when my oldest son joined his Troop and was told at the orientation meeting by the Scoutmaster’s wife (herself also an active ASM) that he’d be a social outcast if he was ever seen in his uniform!

      Since then I’ve had several “moments of truth” discussions with my boys, and advise them, if confronted by peers about their uniform, to mention all of the incredibly NOT-geeky things they do: rock climbing, canoeing, rifle and shotgun shooting, backpacking … the list goes on and on, and most of those things are NOT lame, and NOT what your run-of-the-mill teenager is spending his time at.

      Being a Scout is something to be proud of, a foundational experience that should build our boys into better men of tomorrow. If they feel they’ve been given permission to be ashamed of that association, what is that telling them about all of the values and character traits that we’ve worked so hard to try and instill in them?

      I say, be proud to be in uniform, or have a long hard think about why you want to be a Scout in the first place.

  11. While I don’t think the SM should be saying it is “social suicide” to the boys, in some areas he could very well be correct. My son is a Wolf. Last year, he went to a suburban school and his teachers and principle were very supportive of the Scouting program (the school’s PTA is our Charter Org.) He wore his uniform to school many times and seemed to be quite comfortable. This year he transferred to a magnet school that is mostly populated with inner-city students. He wore his uniform once, and came home terribly upset. He was told he was “a weirdo” for wearing a scout uniform. It is a fact of life that in some communities a uniform is not looked on with respect, but rather something to not trust or even to fear. I’d rather let my son choose not to wear a uniform to school than have him choose not to be a Scout because he was forced to wear a uniform in an environment where it makes him an outcast.

  12. I saw this first on fb and must say this is. Really stupid. I guess Leaders shouldn’t wear uniforms?????????

  13. I am 19 and an assistant scoutmaster I have absolutely no issues wearing my scout uniform in public, to and from events or even when there will be friends of mine at an event. I take great pride in being an Eagle Scout and will gladly represent the BSA

  14. It’s very obvious this SM has no clue how much respect the Scout uniform brings. To say a scout uniform in public is “social suicide” is cruel to say least. My son is an Eagle Scout and his Dad is an ASM and they are also in the Troops Venture Crew. Both uniforms are proudly worn where every they go. I’m thinking this guy was either a bully or was bullied in his youth.

    • It astounds me how much people fail to understand that Scouting will be viewed differently depending upon your locality, and other contexts. I don’t think anyone is suggesting they don’t wear uniform to their meetings, or on trips. Unless I misread something, but I think it is wrong to suggest this SM isn’t doing his best for these boys by advising them there could be some ostracism if they wear their uniform in certain places. Just because I was in a community where I could be both proud, and wear my uniform as often as I wanted, doesn’t mean that every community will be like minded. What’s more, as Adult Leaders we are often reminded that there are some contexts where we should be wary to wear our uniforms, for example in a situation that may seem to favor a political party or candidate, or a particular business or whatever. Let’s be careful here and not turn this into some kind of witch hunt.

  15. Regardless of what’s on the outside of one’s uniform, it’s what’s inside that counts. The kind of person a boy is (hopefully) doesn’t change whether he is in or out of uniform. If he’s a cool kid with cool friends doing cool things, that doesn’t change. The best defense against the impression of being uncool is just to be yourself regardless of the situation.

    Remember, uniforming is one of Scouting’s methods – a method with a purpose. The bottom line is: Are we instilling the values? We, as adults, don’t have the authority to just do away with the methods of Scouting, or we don’t have Scouting any more!

  16. As the SM should remember from his Scoutmaster Specific Trainung, Uniforming is one of the methods of Scouting. Nuff said.

  17. Perhaps Scouts would wear their uniforms if uniforms were more “restrained” in their design. BSA Marketing has long known from surveys that kids don’t like the current uniforms. The time for a change is long overdue. Perhaps a troop-identity T-shirt, troop ballcap, and clean jeans could be a uniform for those shy, awkward teen-age years spent in front of their friends and parents. Then, teens could make a quick switcheroo for meetings simply by donning a sash, with troop position, OA, and other such patches on the back.

    • Good, so follow the example of the Girl Scouts? Did I miss something? Are they successful? More successfull after “toning down” their uniform?
      No, the answer is, if your Scouts are proud of what that uniform represents, they’ll wear it. If the boys in your Troop are embarrassed to be associated with your program, you, not the shirt, are the problem. Yes I changed terminology intentionally. I have Boy Scouts, Venturers and Sea Scouts I’ve worked with over the last 20 years that are fine with going out in uniform, marching in parades, and even brining friends to meetings. My troop has a yearly influx of 2-4 new to scouting newScouts because my firsties bring in their friends. If your Troop isn’t, look at your program. If your boys are embarrassed to be Scouts, look at your program. I’m also guessing your program isn’t Scout Run.
      Tshirts and sashes is for Campfire….

      • I started a practice of meeting all of my Troops Arrowmen for dinner at the local In-N-Out Burger before we carpool to our Chapter meeting every month. There we are, in uniform (my Scouts are proud to wear full, complete uniform right down to their service stars) wearing our Saahes, at the busiest fast food place in town. They see friends. They see girls. Their primary concern is eating a double double (or 4×4 for the foot ball guys) without staining their sash….
        It’s their program, they’re proud of it.

  18. At our first camp of the year last October my van broke down at the Provincial Park just as I was going to drive a number of our Scouts home (about an hour’s drive away).

    I called for automobile association assistance. We arranged for other transportation for the rest of the boys and my son and I sat and waited for the tow truck.

    When it arrived, they diagnosed the problem (hole burnt right through distributor cap), towed my van to the closest town (about 10 kms away), called an auto parts store enroute to arrange for replacement parts, and, after I had paid for the parts, the tow guys installed them in my van and got me and my son back on the road.

    Total cost of rescue, parts & installation: $57.
    Value of being in full Scout uniform: Priceless!

  19. I have worn one uniform or another for the past 40 years. From Cub Scouts to Webelos to Boy Scouts to the Civil Air Patrol to the US Army to a corporate uniform and then to “rinse and repeat” with my children. It represents service to my community, service to my country and service to my fellow man.

    In all those years, I’ve learned that ridicule/bullying is usually a direct result of jealousy or ignorance more than anything else. We get to do things they don’t. They don’t like it so they put it down. The ones that I came across in High School never really did anything with their lives and are still where they were in High School. Here’s the result of my “social suicide”… I’ve been to five continents, worked at the White House, made high altitude parachute jumps, climbed mountains, raced cars, met more famous people than you can shake a stick at, rescued people, mentored others, lived, loved, learned and raised a family. As a youth leader, some of my proudest moments were watching “my kids” in those programs earn scholarships, become war heroes, raise families, and continue their service to their community. If that is social suicide, I’ll take another helping…please.

    The SM who does not understand how strong a uniform is as a tool is a SM who needs to step down and spend some time learning what it takes to lead (hint: from the front). And yes, the SM should be in full, correct, uniform. The uniform (not the t-shirts) and what it represents are part of the very soul and core values of scouting. It is those core values and what they represent that has helped make so many scouts successful later in life. It is those core values that lead to the right path in life. It is those core values that help us overcome the challenges in life. Disrespect to that uniform is an insult to the BSA, generations of scouts, and themselves.

    Respectfully, might I suggest that the SM research the reasons behind why scouting was started in the first place?

  20. I want to know why this man is a Scoutmaster when he’s not proud of the organization. Seems to me that the Chartering Organization should be looking for someone else to do the job.

  21. Where are the days when “social suicide” was boys wearing long hair, or earrings? Nowadays, the more outragious the garb, the more acceptable it is. Our society is so gunhoe to be “accepting” of everything, but tradtion…
    My son is just starting out in Scouts…he obtained his Bobcat & Tiger badge this school year and will be going into Wolf in the fall…and I’m his Den Leader. Not only will he be wearing his uniform to all Scouting activities, but because we don’t go home before our meetings, he also wears his uniform to school on meeting days. Though he’s still young, we’ll be teaching, just like some have said here, we’ll be teaching him that if he’s embarrassed by the uniform, he shouldn’t be in Scouts.

  22. I keep seeing this argument for “relaxing” the uniform requirements. I know to many adult leaders who don’t enforce the uniform requirements simply because they don’t practice what the preach. We need to lead be example! It is NOT the time for the BSA to lower the bar.

  23. Ive been in Scouting for a few decades now. And one of the main purposes is for the scouts to understand that we may have different backgrounds, origins or faith but in essence we are all scouts bonded by the oath and the law AND SHOULD LIVE PROUD OF IT!! And one of the elements that bind us is our uniform. It took me 7 years to make my boys from the Dragon patrol to understand why we wear our uniform the right way, clean, with the right patches in their right position. Finally this year I believe they ate beginning to understand and to show their pride to be a scout. If older boys dont feel that way, maybe their leaders miss the session on why we proudly wear a uniform during their initial training. Because down here in Guaitiao District us trainers really make a point out of adults understanding it!!

  24. if this scoutmaster thinks the uniform is something to hide or be embarassed by, then he needs to hang up his hat and let a real scouter take over.

    If the uniform embarasses you, then you need to get out of scouting.

    I wear my uniform to scouting events, and will wear it beofre and after those events.

    In gracery stores, hardware stores and even department stores, I have been stopped and thanked and have shaken hands with total strangers who were also scouts or scouters at one time. They thank me for my service to scouting and we might talk for 10 or 15 minutes about our escapdes in scouting.

    Matter of fact, the only reason I can think of for not wearing my uniform in public is because I am in a hurry and do not have time to talk to a bunch of scouts, scouters, and formet scouts that I might run into along the way.

    • “if this scoutmaster thinks the uniform is something to hide or be embarassed by, then he needs to hang up his hat and let a real scouter take over. ”

      As an Eagle Scout, I agree 100%!

  25. Our troop wears the full and complete scout uniform all the time, to every activity, whether outside in the public or not. There is never a question as to whether the uniform is worn or not, as it always is. Remember wearing the uniform is one of the methods of scouting. Our scouts have no problem with that and we are a large troop. Of course if any do have a problem, well thy can always go and find another troop more suitable to their liking, but they never seem to!

  26. The scout uniform is a symbol of pride for the scouts, the unit and the program. The scouts are one of the few organizations that continue to swim against the current of apathy. Please demonstrate your commitment to the organization by encouraging the wearing of the uniform whenever possible.

  27. If the Scout is proud of being a Scout the he’ll be proud of his uniform.

    My son’s SM told me story many years ago. The troop had a camping display at a local community event. Two older Scouts were left at the exhibit and being “cool” guys they took off their uniform shirts. So now all we had were two teens sitting in front of a tent. The SM came back and made the boys get dressed. Soon they were thronged with teen aged girls “Oh, I didn’t know that you were a Scout! That’s so cool. You get to do all that cool stuff like mountain climbing!” Then other guys came over to see why are the girls were there. At least for a day, Scouting was cool again.

    Sadly, the current perception is that being trustworthy, loyal and brave is not a good thing and that to be cool you need to be dishonest, cowardly and thugish.

  28. I went through similar experiences in scouts as a kid. Some boys didn’t like being being seen in their uniforms. I wore mine and was proud of it. Everybody is highschool knew I was in scouts since I wore my red wool jacket and red wool crusher hat all of the time, patches and all. I found that many of the girls liked us scouts in uniforms. There were several girls that would give us scouts big hugs when we worn our uniforms. Do you think that had any impact of the scouts? Lets just say, we didn’t have much problem with the boys wearing them in public after they saw the girls giving hugs.
    I felt that if you couldn’t handle a little ridicule by someone, there isn’t much filling the uniform to begin with. My troop was awesome and we had no reason to be ashamed to begin with. This leader is a putz and should think about getting out of scouts. People like him drag the program down. If you don’t love it, then leave it.
    I like my new style uniform out of all of the previous ones. The canvas pants are awesome and feel great. Even Royal Rangers have redone their uniforms and offered the tactical utility pants. I actually like both uniforms and have worn both through out the years. Actually Royal Rangers is more stringent than the BSA’s guidelines. Either way there is the question. Does the uniform make the man, or does the man make the uniform?
    I would like to see good men in either of them and each man wearing them proudly. My son is sitting next to me and he said that he is proud to wear his uniform. He then added that all of the scouts in his school should wear their uniform to school one day out of the month. I think that is a great idea!

  29. Political, gender orientation or faith will have difficulties separating the new scouting views from personal views from the public perception. And that is just a tragedy.I was a boy scout and had no trouble with wearing my uniform. My cousin prepared for becoming an Eagle Scout, made straight A’s and never hid the fact. He remained popular in school, so the idea of social suicide back when I was younger doesn’t hold water.

    But that was 40 years ago when everyone could be a scout. Times have changed. Because scouting has taken on political baggage that has no place in scouting, I can see where the idea of public displays can become social suicide. A scout who is accepting of all people based on character not

  30. I recently moved away from my troop to hit up college, and im looking for excuses to wear my uniform (especially since I recently had my Eagle Court of Honor). Almost every other day I wear my old class bs, and im frequently wearing my pants at least. I am proud to tell people that I was a boy scout, and because of that I have found that people are more receptive of that fact.

    Since there aren’t any marked occasions to wear the uniform, I am so far wearing it on scouting birthday and scouting Sabbath, and ill probably wear my Vigil sash on he OA’s birthday.

  31. I love it when I see a Scout troop in their full uniforms. I always make it a point to compliment them on being in Scouts and tell them that I was a Scout too. When they (the leaders or the Scouts) ask me what was the highest rank that I achieved, I tell them that I am an Eagle Scout. For me, it’s a great conversation starter with the adult leaders and a good opportunity to keep in touch with what today’s Scouts are doing compared to what I was doing 30+ years ago in Scouting.

  32. It is sad, conversations like this are mute points now. An organization that America had looked up to, and even many non-scouts would fight to defend from attack from the gay and lesbian lobby, chose to commit suicide for a couple of extra bucks. The BSA went from the men we all depended on uphold traditional values, to the street corner whore in one day. The gay and lesbian activist, don’t even look at you as equal. They view you as a conquered people. They used to look upon you in fear because you, unlike them, had not been compromised by baser instincts. They have now drug you down to their level. The BSA is now one of them.

    • What’s truly sad is that backwards thinking such as yours still exists. The BSA leadership has spoken. The major churches have spoken. Both support, by a good margin, inclusive policies. The ones who are truly committing social suicide are those who decry positive change.

      • The argument your making can go to the extent that female scout leaders shouldn’t be allowed, but that’s a dumb argument, and the number of child molesters in the US who target boys are more likely to have a wife then to be gay, so again bad argument. Now don’t get me wrong, I am a straight 15 year old, and gay guys for the most part creep me out, but I also believe that God said a man who judges another will be judged by God in heaven, so who are you to discriminate? I also believe that morals are set by individuals not a community/organization, so to be morally straight and sexually straight are two different things. I think to solve everyone’s wants, it should be up to the troop.

  33. I am a Life Scout and am currently a sophomore in high school, and when it goes to uniforms in public, I see no reason to be ashamed, and I tell my troop the same thing. However, I do not go out of my way wearing it to school, but everyone who knows me, knows I’m a scout. I don’t see how socially it can be suicide, I also don’t see wearing out side of scout functions as an appropriate time to wear it. So I think there is a time and place to wear it, and if its not a scout related function, then its neither the time nor the place.

  34. Our scouts generally don’t wear their uniform outside of scout functions. We march in most of the parades and always wear our uniforms. Not afraid to be seen in public, in fact most of our scouts our proud to be seen in public, a few aren’t. Scout master has no right to make a rule as such. Though the PLC can make that rule as long as it falls within the rules of the BSA. Remember boy run troop. Scoutmasters guide, encourage and make sure the scouts follow the rules of scouting. The scouts run the troop.

  35. My situation was just the opposite and even more disturbing. Our scoutmaster, an ex Vietnam vet with an attitude, had the policy that you HAD to wear your full uniform TO SCHOOL on the days that you had a troop meeting! If you were reported not being in uniform on Wednesday, you would lose privileges (camp outs, leadership positions, merit badge opportunities etc…). I was an active and avid scout, the top fund raiser for the troop and was heading to be a third generation Eagle Scout. Upon entering high school, it was simply too much socially to wear my full class A, including those horrible red berets! My father and I appealed to him and to the council, but were told there was no way to change the troop’s requirements. The only option was to quit the troop that I had been a part of for five years and join another troop where I knew absolutely no one. I would also then have to restart my time of service and attendance in order to qualify for advancement to Eagle. Disenchanted and angry, I quit scout as a Life Scout (with all the required Eagle merit badges earned). There are days that I regret not transferring troops and finishing up, but I still seethe whenever I think of that pathetic man, who in a position of power and authority, exercised his ruthless will and misguide notions of what a “true scout” should be.

    • The Scoutmaster cannot enforce that type of policy. The charter rep, district, or council should let him know that. My son’s troop proudly wears their uniforms in public, and have worn them to school.

  36. In these days of declining memberships, I still find huge public support for the Boy Scouts. Please, all who read this comment, have a unit meeting in full Class A uniform with flags and all, in a public setting like a city park on a ‘clear day’ when lots of people are around. The general attitude from people of all ages is that ‘our Flag is still there!’ Visibility is essential to developing public attitudes…and for marketing of our programs to encourage Tiger Cubs to start the Scouting Trail. Let the public see what you do, and not just outside supermarkets for popcorn sales or for Christmas tree recycling. The Show and Tell will help our cause more than you realize. I wear my Class A uniform from meetings and into stores and I have had many favorable comments and never any negative ones. Yes, I have the new-style square-cut tan shirt, neat and clean, and I do wear it as a field jacket..outside. To one critic who is 30 years old and adamant about tucked in, I reply: yes, young man, at age 30 I had a 33 inch waist and weighted 160 lbs. At age 79, I am not as slim or pretty nor as light…now at 205 lbs. and 39 in. waist, some from age and some from medical conditions. Your challenge, young man, is to reach age 79. Not everyone gets to do that! I am one of our oldest Commissioners. Thank you for reading.

  37. This is my mom’s acount I am a football player and a star scout and I wear mine out and I don’t get made fun of it I say they should be worn out in public more offten

  38. I feel lucky that my Scouts don’t have to worry about being put down or harrassed for their uniforms but I know of a Scout Troop in a rough town in NJ where they actually don’t wear the Class A uniforms. The reason is that they would actually have to face violence including serious injury or death for not looking ‘tough’ enough. The Troop came up with wearing the BSA uniform pants and a plain black T-shirt as their uniform. This is also an economically challenged area so purchasing the pants was a challenge for these boys as well.

  39. In 2013 I retired from the US Army after a 34 year career as a physician and surgeon. I am an Eagle Scout as are our two sons, and my wife and I have been adult Scout leaders for over 20 years (someone has to teach Medicine Merit Badge!). I always wore my Army uniform daily when I went to work, and on weekends when we had a Scouting event, I almost always wore my Scout uniform as there was not enough time after morning rounds to change before attending the Scout event. Political suicide? Not at all. The patients loved it, the patients’ families loved it, and the nursing staff and fellow physicians thought it was great. Sure, I took a little friendly teasing, but I think patients and staff felt more confidence in their surgeon knowing he was an Eagle Scout and a Scout leader serving youth in the community. Don’t be ashamed of the uniform you wear, whether it is one for work, for service in the military or for working with youth. It shows you are proud of your organization and the people who belong to it. If a leader cannot be proud of their position and efforts, it is time to find a new leader.

  40. I grew up in Jersey City (NJ) and proudly wore my uniform (Troop 527) until I was 14 (when I moved away). Would I have continuedto wear my uniform to and from meetings? Absolutely! But, by then I had been taking Taekwondo for 5 years so, anyone who thought my uniform made me an ‘easy’ mark were in for a surprise! It could be that the Scoutmaster simply doesn’t want to ‘invite’ confrontations that may start because the scout was wearing the uniform. And that is not a bad thing. But, as someone who used to be bullied a lot (because I was skinny), the Scouts taught me to believe in myself and I felt I owed it to them to ‘clear-up’ any misconceptions held by those who would harass those who wore the uniform!

  41. What if the scout isn’t proud of scouting based upon policies it has that discriminate against different classes of individuals but still finds value in participation?

    I’d say that a uniform could mask an individuals character. Especially since BSA has gotten a lot of bad reputation lately around sensitive topic that people feel very passionate about.

    For instance I am a leader of a Gender and Sexuality Advocacy group at my highschool. How could I justify affiliating proudly with a group that in so many instances as has discriminatated against them, and even myself. Yes I still see value in scouting, but I can not possibly identify myself with an organization that discriminates in that way.

    This idea is based upon conformity and an image on how you would like the world to be, but honestly all it does is exclude. Scouting should embrace differences not hide them under a trademarked piece of clothing that is expensive and unessecary for activities. It seems ridiculous to separate yourself from your peers not in scouts, or wear an emblem that doesn’t nessecarily represent your beliefs because of some inaccurate outdated policies. Especially since the policies are look upon as inhumane by people of more socially liberal ideals such as myself.

  42. I can’t count the times I’ve heard people say, “You’re such a Boy Scout”, and “Stop being such a Boy Scout.” People say these things as insults in our society. But when did it become an insult? Who decided it was an insult? Why do a few outspoken people feel it is their right to discourage an organization that has perfected its model over the years to develope our youths into some of the greatest men (and women) this world has ever seen? I don’t know the answer to these questions, but I do know who can change this culture of using Scouting as an insult. Scouts in uniform.

  43. My response to folks who says things like “You’re such a Boy Scout!” has always been “Thank you!”. It really seems to deflate them to have it taken as a compliment. It also gives me a chance to ask them what they see as being so wrong with “Scout-like” behavior.

    I know I’m commenting about three years out of date, but I think the notion of not wearing a uniform because you (or worse, because one of the adult leaders) are concerned about the social perception simply plays into a continued false social perception. If we find value in Scouting, then we should be proud to display our affiliation with Scouting. I’ve had some difficult conversations with people (e.g. “How can you support such a discriminatory organization?!”), but at the same time, it allows me to be the face of Scouting, and respond to those questions, as opposed to allowing them to go unanswered, or posed in a manner that allows the person asking the question to simply use it as a rhetorical flourish. The ability to change perception of people who might not know much about Scouting, except what they hear in the media, is just one of the values of being in uniform. I would argue that, rather than allowing a uniform to “make one’s character”, one should rather show the character that is behind the uniform. Show people that it is not only “okay” for Scout (or Scouter) to have passionate beliefs that might not line up with the official Scouting line, but that it is important to have a diversity of beliefs, and I’m not just talking faiths here. We are a chain of ethical people, whose duty, as I see it, is to help instill ethics in our peers and those Scouts for whom we are responsible, even if in the end those ethics don’t necessarily align perfectly. I’d rather know that my Scouts are people of strong moral character who know what they believe in and are willing to fight for it, than have them agree with me.

    If we are not willing to stand up and say “Yes, I’m a Scout(er), and I’m proud of my involvement,” why would we ask anyone else to become involved? For that matter, why would we be involved in the first place? Compromising one’s ethics to be involved with an organization is the antithesis of what Scouting (and the uniform) represents.

    I’ve worn my uniform at the office when I had to go directly to a meeting after work. I’ve worn it to the store after a meeting when I had to run errands. Yes, I’ve gotten some weird looks and comments. My favorite so far has been:

    Another Customer: “Aren’t you just a little too *old* to be a Boy Scout?”
    Me: “No, ma’am, I’m *really* too old to be a Boy Scout. I’m a Scout *leader*.”
    Customer: “O-o-h. OK. I guess that makes sense. Were you a Scout as a boy?”

    This led to a five minute discussion as first I then she got our groceries rung up. I hope she left with a more positive view of Scouting, and I know I felt like I at least made the effort to leave a good impression.

  44. As a 17 year old scout I can add that I see no issue wearing the uniform in public, like on the way to a meeting stop or in a parade, and if your friends make fun of you for being a scout, you need new friends.

  45. I am a boy scout, ever since I became a scout I have loved wearing it showing it off to my fellow scouts. When it comes to the town parades or church services I don’t even go. I sit on the side of the road or on the other side of the church and cringe when the few brave scouts pass. Me and all of my friends are in scouting, many people support it in my town. I just can’t bring myself to wear my uniform in public.

  46. People are missing the Point here. The point is, and I have the same issue in my Troop-where I noticed older-High school age boys removing Uniform shirts before leaving meetings and not putting them on until they arrived. My Son is a Eagle, and was on of Sm I was concerned bit the fact of he matter is-It IS social suicide in some areas and for many boys in many situations. The Facts are that Scouting just isnt “cool” today….i mean We know its a good program and the bys obviously like it or wouldnt stay unless its one of those situations where scouts are being MADE to stay in scouting. Youd be surprised at the parents that are simply rushing me to try and “get their boys through to Eagle.”=For all the perceived advantages in jobs and college and military-which are true enough but not what they used to be. And this is the Irony my son tells me -its considered geeky and very “dorky” to be in scouting -but its much “cooler” to be a Eagle Scout. Bottom line is I always tell the scouts to never be embarrassed of who they are. I think telling them to wear it and put up with the bullying and embarrassment is a sure fire way to run them off completely. Membership has been slowly declining in the past few years -and the last policy change on the orientation issue we all went through didnt help. But boys are under enough pressure today for a lot of reasons . Ill not put more on them by giving them grief for wearing the shirt. Many adults-most often more than scouts are obsessed with the uniform ….the trinkets and ribbons and pins…..when I get the most out of the experiences as do many scouts yet I still have parents and leaders obsessed with it ..and worse, the ones obsessed with getting their child to Eagle as fast as possible at break- neck speed. I get the uniform identity value ect ect so on so forth ad nauseum in Uniforms-but these young mens futures are what matters most to me . If they dont want to wear it outside of Scouting Ill not make them -in fact you cant even if for some self centered reason you wanted to. And an older Scout telling them not to because its social suicide…..My advice to him would be not to pressure them not to wear it and he was free to give his advice on it if ASKED-As and adult Leader Im concerned bout how they ACT both at Scouting..not what they look like .

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