I'm one of those "dozen Scouters" who wrote to Sam Elsworth after his
directive was published in the January Leader Magazine; I guess the
four pages I sent exceeded their space alloted :)
I'm of the mind that this is the beginning of the end of Scouting as
we know it (watch out BPSAC - here we come!). The jist of my letter
to "Uncle Sam" contained essentially the same arguments that have
been raised in the past: that the uniform is an essential part of
Scouting, that a uniform reduces class and income barriers in the
troop, and that other youth organizations, such as minor hockey, do
not see a reduction in membership because of their uniforms.
However, I have a few 'new' ideas about the uniform as well, that I
think are worth offering. Apparently the complaints about the
uniform have come primarily from the older sections. I blame this
entirely on the fact that all sections are now wearing the same
uniform. When I was going up from Cubs to Scouts, your shirt changed
from grey to green; the Scout uniform was something that you had
EARNED, and everyone knew, just by looking at you, that you were a
Scout. Visual identity is important!
Second, in order to keep the uniform 'fashionable', Scouts Canada is
constantly faced with a uniform that is going OUT of style. Case in
point: how many teenagers wear cargo pants and Tilley hats any
more? The problem is that the uniform is not treated as a uniform -
it is simply a set of clothes. Removed from the context of a
uniformed organization, the Scout uniform looks pretty stupid; it is
our responsibility to take that suit of clothes and put it back into
a uniform context so that the youth understand why we wear it.
Without the uniform, Scouts lose their connection to their
communities and to other Troops. To paraphrase BP, it represents the
Bond of Brotherhood that unites Scouts around the world. Without it,
Scouting becomes just another youth group. Uncle Sam is concerned
about one thing and one thing only: numbers. How do we get more kids
to join Scouts? Well, I say that Scouting was founded based on
certain fundamentals; we CANNOT move away from those fundamentals in
order to attract new members. If that means that Scouts Canada
eveloves into a smaller organization, so be it.
Finally, for those of you who believe in the Scouts Canada Conspiracy
Theory, I noticed a couple of things about the article in the latest
Leader. First, the letter supporting the elimination of the uniform
was twice the length of the letter opposing Uncle Sam's directive.
Second, the directive was supported by a 1/3 page colour photo of a
group of Scouts who are not wearing uniforms.
Anyway, thanks for reading all the way through my tirade. I
encourage everyone to write a letter to Uncle Sam opposing his
Yours in Scouting,
1st Bancroft (ON) Scouts