When encouraging proper uniforming becomes unkind

A while back, one of the BSA’s official Facebook pages posted a wonderful photo of a Cub Scout flag ceremony. (Not the one above — a different photo.)

It was one of those perfect Scouting moments: Charming and inspiring and genuine. Scouts were having fun as parents and adult leaders looked on with pride.

Unfortunately, a handful of commenters noticed some of the Scouts weren’t in full uniform. Rather than remarking on the impressive display of patriotism, this vocal minority offered a scathing criticism about uniforms.

The story got worse from here. A parent from the pack contacted the BSA, saying her Cub Scouts had seen the comments and were devastated. The mom, who had originally sent in the photo with pride, asked that it be taken down. And so it was.

Proper uniforming is a worthy pursuit — one we have discussed again and again on this very blog — but sometimes the way people react to improper uniforming leads them away from the Scout Law. Maybe we need to have a discussion about uniforming and kindness.

The uniform is one part of Scouting …

Wearing the uniform is very important. It’s one of seven methods of Cub Scouting and eight methods of Boy Scouting.

It builds unity among Scouts, lets them show off awards they’ve earned and helps others notice the presence of Scouting in their community.

Earlier this month I blogged about the importance of the uniform. I’m a believer in the power of the blue, tan or green shirt.

… but it’s not the only part of Scouting

There’s a difference between encouraging proper uniforming within your pack, troop or crew — something we can all support — and belittling or embarrassing fellow Scouts and Scouters who aren’t perfectly attired. That moves from striving to uphold standards to being unkind.

The Facebook post of the Cub Scout flag ceremony photo serves as a nice reminder that your online comments don’t live in a vacuum: There’s a real person — sometimes a child — on the other end of your words.

A Scout learns to be a part of a den or patrol. He grows as a person as he advances through the program. He learns from positive adult role models. He practices leadership skills. He serves his community. He has life-changing experiences he can’t get anywhere else.

And if he does all that with his shirt untucked or a patch misplaced? Maybe that’s not the end of the world. Maybe that Scout is learning bigger lessons — ones that will last a lifetime.

Let’s all aspire to a higher standard when discussing uniforms — a standard straight from the Scout law. Points four, five and six tell us to be friendly, courteous and kind.

Uniforming and the Scout Law

Can you point out uniform concerns and follow the Scout Law? If so, how?

I’d love to read your comments on the subject below.