From The National Commissioner

From The Leader, April 2001

Thank you to the dozen Scouters who provided feedback on my message that appeared in January's column.

The direction regarding wearing our uniform was carefully thought out after discussing the issue in depth with National Youth Commitlee and Forum 2000 participants. The policy was both determined and dictated by feedback from thousands of youth who were recently surveyed on the issue of our uniform.

If you think these recent survey results are new, they are not. Surveys dating back as far as 1992 indicate that youth members (particularly in the Scout, Venturer and Rover sections) feel the uniform is impractical for outdoor use and some other Scouting activities. Anecdotal evidence over the past 30 years supports this data.

Scouts Canada is not changing or eliminating the uniform. I want to re-emphasize that point. I also want to re-emphasize that youth members agree that the uniform has a place in Scouting (particularly for important ceremonies), but it should be up to them to deterinine the correct time and place to wear it.

Scouting is a youth organization - it belongs to young people. We must listen to and respect their wishes on this issue. Our most important role as adults in Scouting is to ensure that youth enjoy and benefit from fun, adventurous, engaging and educational programs.

The uniform plays a very limited role in our program, and in the fulfilment of Scouting's Mission. It's the program that educates and benefits members, not the clothes youth are wearing.

As Baden-Powell said in Aids to Scoutmastership: "I have often said, 'I don't care a fig whether a Scout wears a uniform or not so long as his heart is in his work and he carries out the Scout law.'"

I wish you continued Good Scouting.

Sam Elsworth
National Commissioner