Uniform Comment

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 directive.

Yours in Scouting,
Steve Bobrowicz
1st Bancroft (ON) Scouts