I'm lucky enough to teach training courses for Scoutmasters with some frequency. When I started doing this, I tried to explain the value of uniform to an often fairly skeptical audience, and it didn't go too well. I tried to persuade them, but they didn't really hear what I was saying.
As my teaching skill improved, I tried a new approach. I now ask each member of the class to identify one benefit of wearing uniform. As a group, they usually come up with a compelling list of reasons. I then ask them if these reasons are enough for them to re-commit to wearing and promoting uniforms. I think this approach strikes more of a chord than trying to persuade them of my own beliefs.
At the risk of breaking my self-discovery method, here's the sort of list that groups of Scoutmasters come up with for uniform (in no particular order):
The author in the
Royal Military Academy, 1995.
- Boys behave better and are more focused when in uniform.
- Uniform promotes unity and brotherhood.
- Scout uniform is a parallel to the 'missionary uniform' young men will be expected to wear later in life.
- Uniforms offer a way to proudly display awards the young men have earned.
- Optional uniform items (such as neckerchiefs and hats) allow individual patrols to create their own identity, which reinforces the patrol method.
- Wearing a uniform can help young men take pride and care in their appearance.
- Frequent wearing of the uniform develops a respect and appreciation for the Scouting program, which increases activity and retention.
As a final word, let me quote from the current edition of the Boy Scout Handbook, which includes perhaps the best summary of the benefits of uniform that I have seen:
"Your uniform is a symbol of the BSA. It tells others that you are a Scout and represents Scouting's history of service to the nation and the world. Wearing uniforms allows Scouts to show that they are equals and that they share values and beliefs. Your uniform is also a sign that you are a person who can be trusted and that you will lend a hand whenever help is needed. Dressed as a Scout, you will want to act as a Scout." ~ Boy Scout Handbook