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Scouts refusing to wear uniform to meetings

Hello, we have about 3 scouts in our Troop that refuse to wear their “class A” uniform or even a Scout T-shirt to the weekly meetings. These kids are also the most disrespectful of the 20. Looking for ideas on what we, as leaders, can do.

Uniforms are not required in Scouting. They are just one of the methods of Scouting. There is no policy or requirement that a Scout wear a uniform to any event or meeting. You cannot refused a Scoutmaster Conference, Board of Review or rank advancement because a Scout is not in uniform.

You could talk with them. You could talk with their parents. It seems like this, as you say, isn’t the only issue.

What more are you thinking that could be done?

You could have a surprise uniform inspection each month with a prize going to the winning patrol.

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I understand your point, but I also respectfully disagree. Although we can not refuse advancement due to only not having their uniform, if the Troop decides to ask Scouts to wear their uniforms to meetings, events, and traveling a Scout is suppose to be Obedient and Respectful which are in the Scout Law. Parents have agreed that their youth would wear a uniform, as they have paid for and provided that uniform for their kid. So it’s the kid who is not respecting the rules, which is not a part of the Scout Law.

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I like the surprise inspection and the reward. You’re correct, it is not only the uniform, there are other issues and actually, I’m at a loss. We don’t want to give up on these kids, but they are hard to reach. We have sat down and talked to parents as well as the kids. The boys are so good and being convincing and then they leave the room, it all returns to the same problems. We want it to be a positive experience for everyone and it brings the spirit of the whole troop down when these few misbehave.

A Scout is Friendly, Courteous, and Kind. If a Scout is being disrespectful, then the Scout is not being Friendly, Courteous, or Kind. I would recommend that the Scoutmaster have a discussion with the Scouts, initially. This is related to Scout spirit. Maybe during this discussion, the Scoutmaster can find out why they do not want to wear their uniforms.

Are these Scouts in youth positions of responsibility? Part of the responsibilities for youth in positions of responsibilities is to:

  • set a good example
  • wear the Scout uniform correctly
  • live by the Scout Oath and Law
  • show and develop Scout spirit

It is kind of tricky, because units can set reasonable expectations, but the BSA Guide to Advancement also says:

4.2.3.1 Active Participation
…Units are free to establish additional expectations on uniforming, supplies for outings, payment of dues, parental involvement, etc., but these and any other standards extraneous to a level of activity shall not be considered in evaluating this requirement [active participation].

8.0.0.4 Wearing the Uniform—or Neat in Appearance
…Regardless of unit, district, or council expectations or rules, boards of review shall not reject candidates solely for reasons related to uniforming or attire, as long as they are dressed to the above description. Candidates shall not be required to purchase uniforming or clothing to participate in a board of review.

Having uniform inspections with a reward is a good idea - especially if done by patrol. This way, their not wearing the uniform impacts other Scouts in their patrol, and those other Scouts can try to influence them to wear their uniform.

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Just make sure that adult leadership is watching the forms of “influence” that may be exerted. Some scouts can get really tetchy when confronted with a competition they can’t possibly win because their cohorts aren’t playing along. I could see that turning sour with the wrong mixture of personalities.

@ElizabethTanner, you might also reach out to your unit commish to see if he or she has any advice on how things like this have been handled in other units. If nothing else, that gets it on the district’s radar in case things go badly quickly when trying to address the uniforming issue. That way, they will have some background to hang things on when you bring a more frothy problem to their attention.

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Start with the talk. If you don’t know the underlying reasons for the behavior you won’t be able to resolve it; anything you try to do will just be a temporary band-aid. You also have to be prepared to accept that the best outcome for everyone is having a Scout leave the unit.

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I think the first place to start off with is the SPL. Not every problem requires adult involvement. Perhaps the SM/ASM needs to have a private discussion with the SPL and ASPL’s to deal with this. The BSA is supposed to be b boy led. Sometimes scouts will listen to the peers rather than adults. While not required, I do feel the uniform dress code creates a sense of cohesion and I would remind the SPL that such conduct reflects on his leadership if he’s doing nothing (which I don’t know if this is the case).

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Is the issue uniforms, or being disrespectful? These are two different issues.
If the scouts are disrespectful about everything, then not wearing the uniform is only a symptom of the real issue. Do they even want to do scouts? Is it something their parents are making them do? If so, you should talk with the parents about finding a different activity for their child to participate in since scouting isn’t for them.
But if it is really just about the uniform… Scouts are not required to wear the uniform. Is the troop being manipulative and overbearing by mandating things that are not required by BSA?

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Elizabeth, Our Troop Advancement Chair does not refuse to give them a BOR. She simply asks them to reschedule and come back when they are properly dressed. She also informs them that if they need any items we have a virtual closet and if they can’t find what they need we are happy to provide them with what they need. She explains to them she is preparing them for a job interview. We have discussed this with our council Advancement Chair and he agrees this follows the Guide To Advancement Guidelines. I would agree the Scoutmaster needs to talk to them about their behavior.
YIS,
Samantha

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That is refusing to give them a BOR.

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This is another issue where I get a annoyed with the BSA and inconsistency in policies. When you look at the “Guide to Awards and Insignia” here what it says about the uniform:

OFFICIAL POLICY
The Boy Scouts of America has always been a uniformed body. Its uniforms help to create
a sense of belonging. They symbolize character development, leadership, citizenship training,
and personal fitness. Wearing a uniform gives youth and adult members a sense of identification
and commitment.

Blockquote

Here’s another:

8.0.0.4 Wearing the Uniform—or Neat in Appearance
It is preferred a Scout be in full field uniform for any
board of review. As much of the uniform as the Scout
owns should be worn, and it should be as correct as
possible, with the badges worn properly. It may be the
uniform as typically worn by the Scout’s troop, crew, or
ship. If wearing all or part of the uniform is impractical
for whatever reason, the candidate should be clean
and neat in appearance and dressed appropriately,
according to the Scout’s means, for the milestone marked
by the occasion. Regardless of unit, district, or council
expectations or rules, boards of review shall not reject
candidates solely for reasons related to uniforming or
attire, as long as they are dressed to the above
description. Candidates shall not be required to
purchase uniforming or clothing to participate in a
board of review.

While not a specific requirement of dress, the language of this “official policy” is clear. The wearing of the uniform is a major component of the BSA program. Why dedicate a significant amount of time on the proper wearing of a Scout’s uniform for it to be only an “optional” dress?

When a Scout is choosing not to wear the uniform, they are not supporting the program as intended. If a child can’t afford a uniform, then the Troop needs to step in and help that child have proper dress.

I accept the fact that it’s not mandatory, but I think they should be encourage in a respectful way to wear the uniform.

Here’s a link to the Guide:

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That’s exactly right. If you send them away and won’t do it, that’s refusing. You really can’t make a semantic argument around it.

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Uniforming with our current class of scouts has improved greatly after the mere suggestion of the SPL announcing that there will be inspections. The SPL+ASPL perform the inspections. Use the standard inspection sheet. Be positive. And rely on teamwork. (Patrol with the highest average score wins.)

As to the scouts in particular, conference with them regularly. Make sure there is nothing in they way of them wearing their uniform. Their home-life could be a disaster, so you may need to give them some space to hang their uniforms, which they would change into before meetings start.

Regarding the broader issue of disrespect. You must make clear that a scout is courteous, if they are not courteous, they are not scouts. Scouts who are not courteous do not complete their boards of review. The board will suspend their review, put in writing the behavior that they would like to see over the ensuing weeks, and give a date when the board will reconvene to determine if in fact courteous behavior was demonstrated. It’s really that simple.

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Has anyone asked why they do not want to wear their uniforms? Maybe their uniforms are old, or too small. Maybe they are the kids who do not like Scouting, and are acting out.
If you figure out the why, you can probably deal with the issue easier.

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Do you have a used uniform bank? (you should) Pull the proper shirt and have the SPL convince the Scout to put it on. If s/he won’t, it’s time for a SM conference to see what’s wrong.

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This has been alluded but I think you are focusing on a symptom and not a problem. I will try to keep this friendly, but have to say that uniforms are NOT the problem you should be concerned about here.

You have described your troop as 20 disrespectful kids. Now honesty is important, and this may be an honest assessment if your situation. If so, there are some things I would suggest starting with a language change. And describe them as 20 young adults learning respect. I avoid calling my scouts kids. They are scouts, young adults, or youth. They are NEVER kids. Language definitely matters.

My experience is that you often get what you expect from people. A cardinal rule in my troop is respect. Respect yourself and others. I treat my scouts scouts with the same respect I expect them to treat me and everyone else with. When they get off the right path, I gently correct them and say they are scouts.

Moving beyond this, I would be inclined to try and find more of the root problem. Which would involve speaking with each of them not allowing the opportunity for them to converse between. Listen as much to what they don’t say as what they do say.

In the meantime stop justifying your violation of the rules and leave the uniform alone.That is a problem likely to correct itself if you address the real issues.

By the way, lose “Class A” now and forever. There is no “Class A” uniform in scouting. We are not a military organization and the use is so far off as to be a mockery. We have an activity uniform (typically t-shirts) and field uniform.

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With all due respect to the other replies, for both the scouts and the leaders, you need discipline within the unit. I would first review the troop policy. There should be counseling in the form of Scoutmasters conference with the youth, be specific about the unacceptable behavior and expectations. Behavior and discipline problems can tie to advancement scout spirit. There is nothing wrong with a Committee Chair/Scoutmaster/Parent conference to address these problems. Another resource for problems and conflict resolution may be your DE. If these kinds of problems continue they will affect the other in the troop and you will loose good scouts because of bad. In the end, you may have to simply ask them to find another unit more to their needs.

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