By Boy Scouts of America
Apr 23, 2015

“A full Scout Uniform is the only way to go”

Our Scout Shop Manager, Ali Mohammad found this great blog  article about the full uniform in the Monthly blog on behalfof the Orange County Council Commissioner

1981 uniformThose of us who grew up in Scouting all have vivid memories of special moments. One of my most memorable times was when my Scout leader, Dr. John Richardson, explained to me, a young teenager who was prone toward sloppiness in my uniform, “There’s only one way a uniform looks good: when it’s perfect.” Those words still resonate with me today, and I share them with my son’s patrol all the time. For me, they inspired pride in a symbol of the Scouting movement I enjoy so much. Other Scouts, too, responded similarly to Dr. Richardson’s admonition.

Today, when I see Scouts wearing just part of a uniform, perhaps missing proper pants or leaving a shirt untucked, I first have to remember that many boys are not always detail-oriented in their appearance (I wasn’t). But when I see a pattern of it across most members of a pack or troop, it’s usually because the unit doesn’t require a full uniform, and that leaves me wondering what message its leaders are sending to the boys.

Scout-Uniform-InspectionYou would never expect to join soccer and wear just part of the uniform. That would be not taking the program seriously. That would be letting your team down. The very same is true for Scouting. Those who are told that they just need a Scout shirt, or that wearing a uniform is optional are likely to take their commitment to Scouting, and its values, much more casually.

Should we treat the impact that Scouting can have in a young man’s life casually? If not, then why would we do so with the uniform?

As with sports, uniforms in Scouting can be expensive, but unlike sports, a Scouting uniform can be worn until it’s outgrown or simply worn out. Also, many troops “recycle” outgrown uniforms of older Scouts or those from boys who have left the program. This simple process can greatly reduce the cost of uniforms for new or growing boys.

John A. Hovanesian, M.D.
Author: John A. Hovanesian, M.D. | Orange County Council Commissioner


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2 thoughts on ““A full Scout Uniform is the only way to go”

  1. AvatarRaquel

    I have come to understand the importance of a uniform. I see the wisdom in it. Having said that, I am a parent that struggled during the years my boys were young and paying $30 for a pair of pants that they would outgrow in 2 months time, was not cost effective. There are times that recycling the uniform has worked. There are times that there were none available to recycle or those available did not fit the boy needing a uniform.

    I keep wondering why required clothing for fast growing boys has to be so expensive. I’ll admit it, why does it have to cost so much for an adult to purchase a uniform? But at least they aren’t growing at an alarming rate. Uniforms can be just as uniform without being costly to struggling families. This is the reason that partial uniforms are allowed by units. I’d rather have a boy coming than not coming due to the lack of finances for a uniform. If they are all dressed in a scout shirt with regalia and a nice pair of levis, they all look the same and it does not appear out of line. Those who chose the uniform, chose what constituted the uniform. It does not have to be something that is cost prohibitive, except that is what they chose.

    Let’s drop the cost and get them all uniformed more easily.

    And, by the way, cost is an issue I have with sports in a “free” public education system, as well. Consequently, my boys did not play many sports. However, the Lord has said that scouts is where he wants these boys, and therefore, I want them in scouts. Therefore, we do keep trying to get everyone in uniform. But once again.

    Let’s drop the cost and get them all uniformed more easily.

  2. AvatarSteve Faber

    This topic seems to be an easy one coming from authors who have a vested interest in the public purchasing BSA uniforms. Raquel’s comments are similar to ones that I’ve heard from others, and I hope that others can contribute to this conversation in positive ways like she has.

    I coached youth soccer for 11 years and never turned away a player for not having the city issued “blue shorts”, but I did encourage players to tuck in their jerseys, because it just looks better. Of course had to mandate socks (not necessarily the city socks) that covered shin guards, for safety reasons. Similar to how I carry out scouting as a scoutmaster, I kept the reversible blue/red jerseys that my kids grew out of to have backups in case a player showed up for the game and forgot their uniform. The responsibility remained with the player and the parents to obtain the proper uniform and help remind the player to wear their uniform to games.

    I wanted to respond to this post after reading the recent blog post on “BSA Softball Day” I had to ask myself the question, what constitutes “in uniform”? Is “Full uniform the ONLY way to go?”

    I’m just trying to call out “ideal” vs. “reality”, and how scouters (boys and adults) are typically always in different stages of “conversion” to attaining and wearing an “ideal” uniform.

    Although we have a “uniform bank” in our unit, we primarily have only cub and scout shirts (and not enough to outfit everyone who might need one), and a couple of scout pants that they boys simply won’t wear. Many have borrowed from the bank on condition of making it their goal to obtain their own.

    Uniforming takes money, time and patience. It’s taken me the better part of 25 years to attain an “ideal” uniform, most of which consists of shirts, pants and socks that my father wore when he was COR in my home unit growing up.


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