Uniform Comment

I have been involved with scouting since I was Cub, I am currently the Akela with the 12th New Westminster Cub Pack (Fraser Valley Region, British Columbia).

To wear the uniform is an honour: When I was a Cub and as a new Scout I did not understand that, and that led to some discomfort in wearing it. Over time, I came to feel honoured to wear the uniform. Wearing a neat, clean uniform, bedecked with badges earned respect from those I respected.

Every time I put on the uniform, I am reminded that I have made a promise. Wearing the uniform tells others that I have made a promise and that they should expect me to conduct myself in light of that promise. It will be assumed the as a Scout I have a belief in God, adhere to spiritual practices and accept the attendant duties and responsibilities; That I believe in Duty to others through service and respect of law; and That I have a duty to improve and take care of my self.

Many organisations use symbols that are worn to either remind them their promises or to show others what they are apart of - Crucifix, Star of David.

The uniform is a responsibility: When you wear the uniform of a member of the Scouting movement you represent the scouting movement, whether you are a first year Beaver or a National Commissioner. Your actions good or bad will either polish or tarnish how the world perceives a Scout.

The uniform communicates: As a leader, I encounter many youth, from different groups and sections. Their uniforms tell me a lot about who they are, what they might be able to do and how much experience they have. When travelling, and I have the responsibility to care for the group, the uniform lets me sort my youth from others, be they standing, even when they are standing with their back turned to me. The uniform allows the youth find each other and their leaders.

The uniform vis--vis retention of membership: Most of the problems associated with wearing the uniform stem from either not understanding what Scouting represents and tries to achieve and pressure from peers who do not respect what Scouting is about. Even as an adult, when somebody discovers that I am a Cub leader they sometimes put their hands up by their ears and go DYB DYB DYB. They look silly and I just think - DO YOUR BEST, and try to do my best. When my son (who is now a Cub) goes off to play soccer or softball or is off to school to take a test I'll call to him DYB, DYB, DYB, encouraging him to remember to do his best. Its not about winning or losing its about doing your best, learning and growing (whether you are 9 or 42).

It seems today that honour, integrity and responsibility are held in contempt by a vociferous minority. And thus those who stand for these noble principles are ridiculed and teased. Hiding and going underground will not help. It is by providing good role models and building their confidence that Scouts will overcome these challenges.

Sam Elsworth, National Commissioner has said: "Let's ensure that all our adult volunteers understand that it's Scouting's programs, values and activities , not the clothes they are wearing, that are vital to our youth members and the fulfilment of our Mission." The uniform, reflects the program that Scouts are participating in, the values they hold, the activities they do and their many accomplishments. What applied when Lord Baden Powell created scouting, I strongly believe applies today, the uniform is integral to Scouting.

Yours In Scouting,

Gary Arbeider,
Akela, Group #12 Cubs
New Westminster, BC