Those of us who grew up in Scouting all have vivid memories of special moments. One of my most memorable times was when my Scout leader, Dr. John Richardson, explained to me, a young teenager who was prone toward sloppiness in my uniform, “There’s only one way a uniform looks good: when it’s perfect.” Those words still resonate with me today, and I share them with my son’s patrol all the time. For me, they inspired pride in a symbol of the Scouting movement I enjoy so much. Other Scouts, too, responded similarly to Dr. Richardson’s admonition.
Today, when I see Scouts wearing just part of a uniform, perhaps missing proper pants or leaving a shirt untucked, I first have to remember that many boys are not always detail-oriented in their appearance (I wasn’t). But when I see a pattern of it across most members of a pack or troop, it’s usually because the unit doesn’t require a full uniform
, and that leaves me wondering what message its leaders are sending to the boys.
You would never expect to join soccer and wear just part of the uniform. That would be not taking the program seriously. That would be letting your team down. The very same is true for Scouting. Those who are told that they just need a Scout shirt, or that wearing a uniform is optional are likely to take their commitment to Scouting, and its values, much more casually.
Should we treat the impact that Scouting can have in a young man’s life casually? If not, then why would we do so with the uniform?
As with sports, uniforms in Scouting can be expensive, but unlike sports, a Scouting uniform can be worn until it’s outgrown or simply worn out. Also, many troops “recycle” outgrown uniforms of older Scouts or those from boys who have left the program. This simple process can greatly reduce the cost of uniforms for new or growing boys.
In my next blog installment we’ll talk about why we wear a uniform in Scouting and what impact it has on the boy and the program.
John A. Hovanesian, M.D.
Unit Key 3 Leaders: Since recruitment season is upon us, please be sure to check that your
information is both correct and current. For any questions you may have, contact Kim Whitaker, Council Registrar, at
or 714-546-8558 ext. 158.