Your boys can tell whether you have a testimony of Scouting and whether you are committed to your calling. They can hear it in your words, see it in your behaviors, observe it in your actions, and sense it in your attitude.
Before I gained a testimony of Scouting (Mac’s Message #1), I was embarrassed to wear a Scout uniform. In fact, I never owned one, even though I’d been a ward Young Men president twice. I thought people would think I was being childish when they saw me in a Boy Scout uniform. I was afraid of being laughed at or ridiculed.
But now I wear my Scout uniform proudly because I know why the uniform is important and what it represents. “The uniform makes the Boy Scout troop visible as a force for good and creates a positive youth image in the community. Boy Scouting is an action program, and wearing the uniform is an action that shows each Boy Scout’s commitment to the aims and purposes of Scouting. The uniform gives the Boy Scout identity in a world brotherhood of youth who believe in the same ideals” (“The Aims and Methods of Boy Scouting,” National Eagle Scout Association website). The Scout uniform is a symbol of youths and adults who exemplify honor, do their best, and model strong moral character.
Perhaps more important, the wearing of the Scout uniform properly and proudly prepares your young men to wear a future uniform properly and proudly for the rest of their lives. There is a uniform for men in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It is instantly recognizable throughout the world. Our young male missionaries have a distinctive look. That look identifies them as men of high morals and values. It identifies them as men of God and believers in Jesus Christ. It sets them apart as faithful priesthood leaders. For most missionaries, when they put on the missionary uniform, it reminds them of who they are—and because of that reminder, correct behaviors usually follow.
Interestingly, in the Church, you typically can tell the active, faithful brethren from the less-active, less-faithful brethren. It can be seen in their appearance. The truly faithful brethren wear the uniform of a priesthood leader. Likewise, you can tell which boys and leaders are dedicated to Scouting by whether they wear their Scout uniform. Sadly, at summer camps and BSA council events I often can easily identify some LDS units from the non-LDS units. The non-LDS units almost always are properly attired in full Scout uniforms. Sometimes the LDS units merely look like a bunch of boys on an outing who could be from any organization. Their lack of uniform gives me no sense of who they are or what they represent.
I earnestly encourage you to teach your boys the importance of wearing their Scout uniform. Teach them what it represents. Teach them how it prepares them to wear the future uniform of a missionary and priesthood leader. Teach them to wear it properly and proudly. Hold uniform inspections so the boys will know how to inspect their own appearance in the future. I believe it will be much easier to get your boys to tuck in their uniform shirt and take off their hat indoors when they realize it is the proper way to dress and act in the mission field and in the work-world. Your boys will wear their Scout uniform proudly when they see their uniform as a symbol of their identity as young men who do their best to live the values of the Scout Oath and Law.
As a Scoutmaster I wanted people to instantly recognize my young men as men of honor, duty, service, and sacrifice. I hoped that somehow people would know when they saw my uniformed boys that they were striving to be trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent. For that reason I required the boys to wear their official “Class A uniform” to weekly meetings, community events, merit badge jamborees, and when traveling to or from overnight campouts or summer camps. We wore our “Class B field uniform” for service projects, hikes, bike rides, campouts, and summer camps. No matter what the activity, we always wore our uniforms. Without our uniforms, we weren’t Scouts.
I plead with you as a Scouting leader to acquire and wear your Scout uniform. Wear it properly. Wear it proudly. Set a positive example for your boys. Show your commitment to Scouting and your desire to magnify your calling as an Aaronic Priesthood leader by honorably wearing the Scout uniform and the uniform of the priesthood. Remember, your young men are listening to your words, watching your behaviors, observing your actions, and sensing your attitude. They can easily tell whether you have a testimony of and are committed to your Young Men and Scouting callings.
Take a Moment to Reflect
- Do you wear your Scout uniform properly and proudly?
- Do you encourage and require your boys to wear a Scout uniform?
- Have you taught your boys why the uniform is important and what it represents?
- Do you hold uniform inspections so your boys know how to dress properly?
- Do you and your boys wear a uniform at every Scouting activity?
Turn Your Reflection Into Action
- What will you start doing, stop doing, or do better as a result of your reflection?
“Scouting uses the uniform both as the great equalizer between youth from families of modest means and those who are well off. The uniform, apart from erasing any class distinctions, also fosters the spirit of belonging into a single society in which all members are equal to one another and responsible to one another. It gives the Scouts a sense of pride of belonging to a worldwide movement” (“Uniforms,” Baden-Powell Service Association website).
-Mac McIntire is a dedicated Scouter who has blessed many lives through his service and acute understanding of the Scouting program. He currently lives in Las Vegas, Nevada. The views and opinions expressed in this message are solely those of the author.