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Thread: The Great Uniform Debate......

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    The Great Uniform Debate......

    In his excellent reply to Tomahawk's question, Peter says:

    "When I wear my uniform (as I do proudly, without hiding it) I am the recipient of laughter, jokes, admiration, curiosity, mockery, reverence, pride and of course misconception. There lies the problem."


    In my experience, this has always been the case and changes in uniform have made no difference to this attitude, neither are they ever likely so to do.

    Equally, Scouting is a uniformed movement and there are many, myself included, who would probably give up altogether if the uniform was scrapped and we became no different from any other youth club!

    If we go back to the early sixties for a moment to the era of bush shirts, shorts, knee socks, tabbed garters and 'lemon squeezer' hats, we find that Scouts were "the recipient(s) of laughter, jokes, admiration, curiosity, mockery, reverence, pride and of course misconception." Sound familiar?
    The advantage of that uniform, however, is that, on the whole, it was practical for day to day Scouting. However, in an attempt to drag Scouting and its image, kicking and screaming into the late 20th century, we had 'The Big Change'.

    Out went the hats and shorts, the socks and garters the Scout Stave etc and in came long sleeved shirts, berets, ties for leaders and ventures and the dreaded mushroom trousers. Oh, how I hated those trousers! They were not the most robust material in the world, they creased like the very devil and the colour was an absolute disaster - they showed every spot of every substance that ever came into contact with them and they seemed to have an almost magical ability to soak stains deep into their very being. The result was that if you took them to camp, by day 3, even unworn but just hung on a hanger fron a line under your tent ridge, they turned into something more suited to the Rubbish Bin than to an upcoming Church Parade! As soon as I became an ASL, I rebelled and, entitled so do do by accident of birth and ancestry, I abandoned the wretched trousers in favour of my kilt for all formal Scouting occasions! I did, however, like the beret - that was the best bit of that uniform. Anyway, in spite of the wholesale changes, Scouts were still "the recipient(s) of laughter, jokes, admiration, curiosity, mockery, reverence, pride and of course misconception." and so we had the change to the present uniform.

    The trousers are better - although things fall out of the pockets - and the return of the necker for leaders is welcome indeed. This time it is the shirt which seems to cause contoversy among its wearers. Personally I miss the second pocket and, as age (and my wheelchair) take their toll, I find it far too 'tailored' - we are not all shaped like a letter 'I' - but, after reading other threads, I'm glad I am not a female trying to wear it. The YP look less formal and, basically, scruffier than before and the Beaver tops look more like street-wear than uniform but still Scouts are "the recipient(s) of laughter, jokes, admiration, curiosity, mockery, reverence, pride and of course misconception."

    So what is the answer?

    I think that we should stop trying to apologise for our uniform and design something that is striking and practical as well. We choose to be Scouts and that includes wearing a uniform with all that that implies so why not have the uniform that would work for us - and to pot with the laughers, the jokers, the mockers and their ilk? They will always be there but we are Scouts, we are proud to be Scouts and we can rise above "laughter, jokes, .... mockery .... and of course misconception."

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    GSL & AESL shiftypete's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dramatist View Post
    I think that we should stop trying to apologise for our uniform and design something that is striking and practical as well.
    Personally I think that is what we have got currently, the trousers are eminently practical to the point kids actually wear them to do activities in! The shirt and necker are distinctive, people see them and instantly know we are Scouts.

    I also think there is nothing wrong with altering the uniform periodically, I am fairly certain that if I had been made to wear shorts with long socks and garters in Scouts I would not have stuck it out as I hated wearing these things in Cubs. The hat would have been a definite no no for me as I hate wearing hats at the best of times.

    Peter Andrews AESL of Headingley Pirates ESU, Group Scout Leader & Webmaster of Falkoner Scout Group
    www.falkonerscouts.org.uk

    Previous Scouting Roles
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    Please note all views expressed are my own and not those of any organisation I'm associated with

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    Escouts Team MikeJ's Avatar
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    At least it is uniform (as in all the same for each section), one of the gripes I've heard a few times about Guide uniform is that there are so many different versions of it.
    Mike Jury
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    Quote Originally Posted by shiftypete View Post
    Personally I think that is what we have got currently.........
    Basically Pete, I tend to agree with you although I would like a 'less -tailored' shirt option - and I would love to have my beret with its gold badge back. Unlike you, I am an invetetrate hat wearer which probably stems from my going bald at the early age of 21. I was as bald as I am now by the age of 24. I wear either a 'Scouts' baseball cap or a 'group' baseball cap as a matter of course - but I'd love to replace them with my old beret! Generally, however, I think you are right!

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    Tim
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    I started in Cubs in 1966, the uniform then was Cap, jersey, shorts.long socks and garters. Went all the way through to Ventures and left. Got back into Scouting in 98 as SL of a Group my eldest was in Cubs at. This was in Bucks, the uniform was jersey and combats for meetings and school trousers for parades. We then moved to Hants in 2000 and got sons into local Group imagine their dismay when the uniform was the same as I wore in 1966 minus the hat, but with school shoes, not allowed to change into trainers after grand Howl, my wife was delighted bearing in mind the price of shoes. It took a lot of perswading to get the elder one to go to Cubs, to his credit he went and is now a 17 1/2 year old explorer. Guess what i did when I took over as Arkela, it involved long trousers and bring a pair of trainers.
    Tim Lloyd.ASL
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    Senior Member neilr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dramatist View Post
    and I would love to have my beret with its gold badge back. Unlike you, I am an invetetrate hat wearer which probably stems from my going bald at the early age of 21. I was as bald as I am now by the age of 24. I wear either a 'Scouts' baseball cap or a 'group' baseball cap as a matter of course - but I'd love to replace them with my old beret! Generally, however, I think you are right!
    I agree, I didn't last long in the Scouts the first time round but thought the beret was great, wouldn't have minded the old style hat either. I wear a hat most times I go out (see photo avatar), even with a full head of hair, but baseball caps don't suit me. Bring back the beret
    Neil Rowland
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    Who is quick to read the noises of the night?
    Let him follow with the others:
    For the young men's feet are turning to the camps of proved desire and known delight!

    Rudyard Kipling

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    Quote Originally Posted by neilr View Post
    I agree, I didn't last long in the Scouts the first time round but thought the beret was great, wouldn't have minded the old style hat either. I wear a hat most times I go out (see photo avatar), even with a full head of hair, but baseball caps don't suit me. Bring back the beret
    I don't know whether I suit a baseball cap or not, I just know that at this time of year, for the 'follically-challenged' the beret was a darn sight warmer! (and I wear a hat every time I go out!)
    Last edited by Dramatist; 28-11-2008 at 12:01 PM. Reason: Add bracket section at end.

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    ASM (British Boy Scouts) tdjno's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dramatist View Post

    If we go back to the early sixties for a moment to the era of bush shirts, shorts, knee socks, tabbed garters and 'lemon squeezer' hats, we find that Scouts were "the recipient(s) of laughter, jokes, admiration, curiosity, mockery, reverence, pride and of course misconception." Sound familiar?

    Out went the hats and shorts, the socks and garters the Scout Stave etc
    We still wear the tradition uniform, including the scouters. When people see us, they say they are glad to see a scout group that still wear shorts and other such positive comments.

    When BP designed the uniform, it was not meant to be fashion but extremely practical. The uniform perhaps looked stranger to people then, than it does now! It was also about character building

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    Assistant Beaver Leader Keith's Avatar
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    Im happy with the uniform as it is. I recently had to buy myself a new uniform as it had shrunk and faded over the years and for some strange reason the lower down pocket with the poppers on now also has a unneccessary bit of velcro on (in addition to the poppers).

    If I designed a new uniform id bring back some sort of hat, although not something with a huge rim. I like the idea of having a more casual uniform for weekly wear and a more formal uniform for parades.
    Keith "Hawkeye"
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    ASM (British Boy Scouts) tdjno's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by timtheswim View Post
    Guess what i did when I took over as Arkela, it involved long trousers and bring a pair of trainers.
    100 years of tradition out the window in one swoop?

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    Tim
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    No, just trying to be practical and also change something that was affecting recruitment and retention.

    The uniform part of the tradition had changed for most of the movement years before.
    Tim Lloyd.ASL
    Ist Barton Sea Scouts.
    Remember we do it for the kids.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tdjno View Post
    We still wear the tradition uniform, including the scouters. When people see us, they say they are glad to see a scout group that still wear shorts and other such positive comments.

    When BP designed the uniform, it was not meant to be fashion but extremely practical. The uniform perhaps looked stranger to people then, than it does now! It was also about character building
    .....And, do you know, I would happily have the whole lot back tomorrow, shorts, hat, stave and all if I could! Perhaps I am secretly a 'closet' B-P Scout!

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    Assistant Beaver Leader Keith's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dramatist View Post
    .....And, do you know, I would happily have the whole lot back tomorrow, shorts, hat, stave and all if I could! Perhaps I am secretly a 'closet' B-P Scout!
    Nothing wrong with liking the traditional uniform, Dramatist!
    Keith "Hawkeye"
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    Quote Originally Posted by Keith View Post
    Nothing wrong with liking the traditional uniform, Dramatist!
    Ah, perhaps that's why! (my colour added to quote.)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Keith View Post
    I like the idea of having a more casual uniform for weekly wear and a more formal uniform for parades.
    I think it would be great if leaders had a choice for weekly wear of something more functional and comfortable whilst still continuing to wear "smart" for formal occasions. Uniform will (and indeed must) change with the times whereas some traditions quite rightly will change very little, if at all. For me PD sums it up perfectly how I feel about uniform:

    "My own view is that the uniform should be worn by anyone who wants to wear it but less disdain displayed to those who are more casual."

    IMHO a Scouter is not defined by the uniform he/she wears but by the way they strive to uphold the Promise and Law in their life. I rather have a Scouter in casual uniform, Scouting in the true spirit of our movement above a Scouter who stands on tradition to the exclusion or intolerance of those forming their own traditions of the future (if that makes sense?).

    You can just imagine in 10-15 years time, people will remember these discussions re uniform and wonder what all the fuss was about just like girls in Scouting!
    Ruth

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