Sunday, 13 April 2008

Uniform Stories and Their Purpose

Some Stories about Wearing the Uniform

Story #1:
We were searching for a youth hostel in Lyon, France. We were dressed in class A uniforms. We were confused and must have looked it. A woman approached us and said her son was a Scout and asked if we needed help. I told her the address we were looking for. She tried explaining it to me, but the directions were complicated. She finally smiled and said "Follow me". She literally took me by the hand, and rode with us on the subway, transferred once to another train, and put us on the correct bus, telling the bus driver where we were to get off, and drawing me a walking map of how to get to the hostel from the bus stop. She really went out of her way to help us. We all thanked her as she disappeared into a crowd. I call her the "Unknown Mom" who helped a Scoutmaster and his Scouts (lost in a "mental fog") find their way. Without the uniforms, she probably would have never approached us.

Story #2:
While on a two week trip in Mexico, we were riding on a train when a large group of Mexican Scouts boarded. They were in full uniform, we were not in uniform at the time. They brushed past us. We were saving our uniform for the jet ride home (We'd already worn them a few days earlier). We went into the next car and put on our Scout shirts. One Mexican Scout saw us and soon we had 40 Mexican Scouts swarming all around us wanting to trade patches and talk with us. Instant friends within seconds.

Story #3:
We were attending a Bruce Springstein concert "Born in the USA", in a park in Paris, France. We were in full class A uniforms hoping Bruce might spot us in the crowd (we were only 30' from right center stage) and also because we were born in the USA and wanted everyone to know it. Some chemically altered concert attendee decided it would be cute to rip the American flag off the shirt of one of our Scouts. When he realized he was surrounded by American Scouts and Scouters, he sheepishly grinned, apologized, and quietly retreated into the crowd.

Story #4:
In Rome, Italy we had stopped one evening for pizza on our way to the Trevi fountain. I thought it would be fun to see the Trevi Fountain lit up at night (we had seen it in daylight the previous day). We were in class A uniforms. This was just days after an American TWA jetliner had been hijacked from the airport in Athens, Greece in 1985. Fringe groups were coming out of the woodwork with anti-American demonstrations. As we ate our pizza some American college students saw our Scout shirts and came over to converse with us. We talked of the recent crisis and about some anti-American sentiment that was surfacing. The students said they were leaving Rome after dinner because they were afraid. I asked them why. They said one of the reasons was the anti-American rally taking place that night at the plaza surrounding Trevi Fountain. My Scouts turned and looked at me questioningly. I decided it would be a better idea to skip Trevi Fountain that night and stay at the hotel writing post cards and watching American re-runs on TV (dubbed in Italian).

Wearing the uniform overseas can be a positive or negative experience, depending on the circumstances. I have always had overwhelmingly positive experiences, with just a few potentially bad ones.

We always wear class A's on airline flights.

-- Thanks to Cliff Golden, Scoutmaster Troop 33; DeKalb, Illinois

Uniforms are not always the most comfortable or cool thing to wear but let me remind you of something. Would you as athlete show up to a game without your uniform if you wanted to play, of course not. So why do you choose to show up to the meeting without one

Yours in Scouting Service
Mark W
Junior Assistant Scoutmaster
Troop 1616

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