Uniform Rebuttal Letter

From: having1 [hussey0003@home.com]
Sent: February 3, 2001 1:16 AM
To: webmaster@scoutscan.com
Subject: Scouts Canada Uniform Review

Dear Fellow Scouters,
It is with great passion that I am moved to accept your invitation to respond to Mr. Elsworth's open letter to Scouts Canada Commissioners, regarding the uniform and its changing role within our organization.
I am an Assistant Leader with First Applewood Wolf Cub Pack in Mississauga, Ontario. While I am relatively new to Scouting as an adult; I am in my second year as a leader, I have quickly become aware of many of the proud traditions of the organization that date back almost 100 years.
The reason I am somewhat conversant on these issues is that our Akela, Philip Berry, a Queen's Scout as a youth, has utilized his vast knowledge of the organization, to make First Applewood a Pack that is a guardian of the traditions of Scouting. Through my Woodbadge Part 1 training, I had the pleasure of meeting many members of other groups in the Central Escarpment Region, including the trainers who in many cases where still leaders in their own sections. Through that interaction, I was struck by the fact that our Pack seemed somewhat unique in its incorporation of many of the traditional elements that had been the standard in my days as a youth member.
Other groups seemed to focus primarily on program, a worthy pursuit, in a more casual atmosphere than our own. Don't misinterpret my comments here, I am sure the youth in these groups are well served in the pursuit of "learning and having fun", but I believe that Scouting can offer so much more!
We hear a lot about "Respect" in Scouting. I think it is the cornerstone of the ideals of Scouting. In my very subjective opinion, I believe a lack of respect is at the heart of many of the social ills in our North American society. And I believe respect is the most valuable legacy that Scouting can instil in a young person. 
The uniform is one of the visual symbols of Scouting that is instantly recognizable to most people. Youth members who proudly wear the uniform consistently draw smiles and praise from adult passers-by on Apple Day. I say adult passers-by because admittedly, other youth are sometimes less complimentary. We all know however that it is the badge of honour among most youth to snicker at anything out of the ordinary. These responses are nothing more than the product of young minds that, with the proper input, will evolve more intellectual appreciations and responses as they mature.
Inspection of the uniform is still a fundamental component of our weekly meetings at First Applewood. It is one of the opportunities to provide our youth with a valuable life lesson. Most youth are unaware that the way a person wears their uniform impacts the way they are perceived. We teach that leaders and youth who wear their uniform "with pride", project a confident attitude that demands respect. As we all know, the opposite is also true.
Who would suggest the uniformed RCMP officer, or the guard at Buckingham Palace are anything but proud symbols of not just the organizations, but the countries for which they serve?
If uniforms are a barrier to entry, then by extension, all other groups that require standardized uniforms would also be suffering. Clearly this is not true. Children still dream to be firemen, police officers and pilots. No, uniforms are not the problem. The Ipsos- Reid people are experts in their field and I think they would agree, the true issue is that the style of the current uniform may be the barrier to entry that was identified. 
The solution is not to relegate the uniform to a secondary level of importance, worn inconsistently throughout the organization. What is required is an evolution that restores its lustre, not a retreat in a "knee-jerk" response to declining enrolment.
The fourteen year old Venturer you refer to in your letter was only partly right. Scouting is about "learning and having fun." She misses the point however, that we can still evolve our organization to meet the needs of our changing times through the programs we offer internally. Just look at how the star and badge requirements have changed.
What she needs to be shown is that we teach respect by protecting the principles and traditions on which the Scouting movement has been built for almost a century.
I believe it is time for Leaders to lead on this issue.
What would Lord Baden-Powell say, or is his place in our history dated too?
Fred Hussey
First Applewood Wolf Cub Pack