But, of course, I couldn’t tell her that. I had to pretend to be a wise and seasoned counselor. The sage who knows all. The Scouting guru. I tried to still a cry of my own.
Putting on my most soothing, know-it-all voice, I calmly said, “It’s okay. Don’t cry. But when he goes to play in the basketball tournament on Saturday morning, be sure to tell him not to wear his team uniform. Tell him it’s a dumb jersey and he should just wear his Levis and t-shirt. Make sure he knows that it doesn’t matter if everyone is dressed differently. Nobody will care.”
There was a long silence, then, “But you know what he’ll say. ‘Mom, I have to wear my basketball uniform. Everyone will be wearing them. I’ll be the only one on the team not dressed right. And I’m the team captain. I have to be in uniform or they might not let me play.’ He’ll think I’m the stupidest mom to ever walk the planet.”
“Precisely,” I said. “Then you’ll look him right in the eye and say, ‘But that’s what you told me when Brother Miller asked you to wear your Scout uniform to troop meeting.’”
“Let me know what he says.” I hung up the phone and marveled at my wisdom.
The following Sunday she caught me in the hall at church and told me that it had worked. She told me she had added some of her own arguments about how funny it would be if policemen didn’t wear uniforms. After all, their uniforms are probably uncomfortable. It makes them look different than everyone else. And those dumb football players on TV. What difference does it make what they’re wearing.
He had mumbled something to her about getting a life, then added something about airline pilots having to wear uniforms because “it sorta makes people think they know what they’re doing. And the Army dudes have to wear the same stuff so they blend in with the trees and bushes. Everyone knows that. And besides, if they didn’t wear the same uniforms, they might shoot at their own guys.”
She had just stood there and looked at him while it sunk in. He had just made his own argument about wearing his Scout uniform. After a long pause, he said, “Ohhh, I think I see what you mean. But the other guys will make fun of me if I wear my Scout uniform.”
“Not if you talk them into wearing their Scout uniform also. Tell them what you just told me.”
“Uniforming is one of the six basic Scouting methods and essential to success,” says Arlene Smith, former Council Advancement Chairperson. Although no uniform is required for joining, the Boy Scout Handbook, and the Scoutmaster Handbook all emphasize “wearing a complete uniform to all Scouting events.” The Scout uniform is constantly being referred to as a way a boy openly shows his commitment to the ideals of Scouting. The uniforming method of Scouting displays a boy’s Scouting spirit and character. A boy should be recommended to a Board of Review only after he has shown that he is willing to wear and does wear his Scout uniform.
UNIFORMS: KEY TO SUCCESSFUL SCOUTING
“. . . putting on the uniform does not make a fellow a Scout, but putting on the uniform is a sign to the world that one has taken the Scout obligations and folks expect Scout-like acts from one wearing it.” Handbook for Boys, 3rd Edition, 1927
“Like the Scout badge, the uniform is an emblem of Scouting. It might be brand new, or it might be an experienced uniform already worn by another Scout to many meetings and campouts. Old or new, wear your uniform proudly whenever you are taking part in Scout activities. By dressing alike, Scouts show they are equals. Your uniform is also a sign to yourself and to others that you are a person who can be trusted. You can be counted on to lend a hand when help is needed. Dressed as a Scout, you will want to act as a Scout.
“. . . Wear full uniform for all ceremonial and indoor activities, such as troop meetings, courts of honor, and most other indoor functions. The uniform should also be worn during special outdoor occasions, such as Scout shows, flag ceremonies, and special times at summer camp.” The Boy Scout Handbook, pp. 12-13, 11th edition, 1998