The Place for Uniforms in a Modern World

Scouts Canada New Uniforms

Scouts Canada New Uniforms

Girl Guides and Scouts have been wearing uniforms for over 100 years now.
From the first uniform designs to today’s, we have made a lot of progress.  If we were to pull a picture of the uniforms even 50 years ago and compared them to our modern uniforms, we would be hard pressed to envision our Members wearing the uniforms of yesteryear while doing today’s activities!

Both Guiding and Scouting have done uniform revamps in recent years, transforming the uniform into a more functional, easier to care for garment that makes sense for what our Members are doing.

Sure, the new uniforms are not only much easier to care for but the styling and fabrics chosen really reflect what we both want to do as organizations. We serve our communities, get outside and do stuff – especially a lot of the high adventure team building challenges one simply cannot experience anywhere else!

With that being said, a uniform exists to help bring us together, to unite our image, and certainly help the public recognize us when we are out in the community.  Although it was said that the clothes make a person, I would tend to disagree. You can tell one of our Members based on the way they act, the way they don’t miss an
opportunity to help someone in need, the way they tend to do the little good turn without any thought of reward.

Ultimately it is not the uniform that defines us, it is our actions. The uniform is a symbolic tool, a very powerful one, but the individual defines what the uniform stands for, not the other way around.

Guest blog by Scouts Canada

What do you think? How important is a uniform? Doesn’t it say ‘everything’ about who we are?

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10 Responses to The Place for Uniforms in a Modern World

  1. I feel that yes, uniforms don’t necessarily define us as people, but it does make us stand out as an organization. When we, Guides and Scouts, wear our uniforms in public we stand out, we are identified as part of a bigger organization. It shows people that we are out there, that we are in the community, that we just don’t show up to sell cookies, or popcorn. I also see the pride that our Girls have when wearing their uniforms in public. Do clothes make the person? Not usually, but try telling that to a Guide or Scout proudly wearing her uniform.

  2. SP says:

    When I first saw this on Twitter my reaction was “No, I’m not a fan of uniforms.” But then I read it and I have to say that the one place where I do like uniforms is out in the public when we’re doing service activities.

    I find it very hard to get my Pathfinders to wear their uniforms during meetings – either they don’t like them or they’ve come from another activity and didn’t have time to go home to change. I’ve never made my girls wear their uniforms, although if they want to they’re welcome. I’ve been called lazy by parents because I don’t make the girls wear uniforms to meetings. I’m not being lazy – I’m just trying to make the girls happy. It in no way lessens their experience at a meeting if they’re not wearing uniforms. And when we are out in the community or another group is visiting ours for a meeting, I ask them to wear them and the girls are much more receptive then.

    That said, I wear my uniform every single meeting – I’m a younger leader so it’s a quick way to distinguish me from the girls.

    So, I guess uniforms are still relevant! I just think they need to be flexible and not a strict rule when it comes to “in-house” activities.

  3. Laura says:

    I agree that uniforms become recognizable to the community at large. I believe that the current uniforms continue to allow girls to get down and dirty and plant trees as well as dress up with their badge scarves and serve tea to the seniors. Special attention needs to be put into evaluating with the community at large to determine if “to them…our uniform continues to show a current, vibrant organization.” If the people looking in recognize our uniforms and associate us with the great outcomes that come from participating in such an organization, that is awesome!

  4. I have to agree with SP.
    When I’m with Sparks, Brownies and Guides, I prefer the girls wear their uniforms (or at the very least shirt, tie & sash with the pants they wore to school that day).

    But with Pathfinders and Rangers, I’m pretty casual when it comes to regular meetings. I don’t require the girls to wear their uniforms unless we have a special guest coming in. With them, I just wear my GGC hoodie for meetings.
    Special occasions/ceremonies I insist the girls wear full dress uniform, and outings (depending on the place) I like for the girls to wear full uniform, or for museums and casual outings, any GGC t-shirt with tie works, and makes them feel much more comfortable.

    I love the uniforms, I find it easier to identify (and do head count) the girls in public, and the public loves to see the girls all dressed up and volunteering, or just out for a walk.

  5. Tania says:

    I feel uniforms are a part of life, there are many jobs that require uniforms or specific types of clothes to be worn so I don’t think its too much to ask GG or Scouts to wear uniforms.

    At our local Canada Day parade I was greatly saddened by the lack of uniforms the Scouts were wearing, it was as if they could wear whatever they wanted. Their uniform shows people who they are.

  6. Guider says:

    When I was a (young) Pathfinder leader I asked the young women in my group to wear their uniforms (with optional jeans) to meetings unless we were doing something messy.

    Why? It made us visible to the other people using the facility where we met, it increased the girls’ pride in belonging, they became less embarrassed about belonging, when we went out in public they knew how to wear their uniform (and could find it), and the parents were willing to invest in the uniform pieces since they were worn every week.

    The main reason I began to have them wear uniforms were parents who asked why they should spend so much money on a uniform that was only worn a few times a year.

    I told the girls that if I was wearing my uniform (coming right from work), they could too. And that it showed that we were proud to be members of guiding (that generated some healthy discussion about self esteem!). Some complained that girls in others groups didn’t wear their uniforms, and I asked them if they wanted to join those groups – and there was always a resounding NO.

    Once the girls got over their embarassment (which was the main reason they didn’t want to wear their dorky uniform) the feeling of pride in the group increased.

    We had 22 girls in our group and they attended every week. We often had 100% attendance at camps and activities – even with busy urban girls who had many other choices. When we went out in public the girls wore their uniforms with pride – and without a fuss. Many of those young women are still involved in Guiding as adults.

    Every unit is different, but if girls have a uniform, why not wear it?

  7. Sheila says:

    I know that the uniforms help our girls feel that they are special and that they belong to a group. Schools try and teach this idea from kindergarten on; that the a group provides acceptance, friendship and common goals. My girls are excited to have that visual representation of the group.

  8. srdiane says:

    It was some European Scouts that really got me thinking about WHEN we require our members to wear the uniform. They were Ranger age and did also admit to changing opinions as they got older but one of their bigest things was “when other people may see us” and that included when out on a hike, yet not necessarly at a meeting. Guiding (and in my experience Scouting) often has the oposite view, wearing our uniforms to meetings but not when out in the community unless we’re selling cookies or popcorn. Wonder why the public often associates those activities with what we do?

    OK weather plays a part in what is visible during our outdoor activities, and I’ve done them in everything from the wet coast to the frozen north but why shouldn’t the uniform shirt (or similar) be visible when the outer coat comes off such as warm-up huts when skiing.

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  10. My Gumnut Guides and Junior Guides (5-12) love their uniforms, and new members are often eager for our trips to the city so they can buy their own ones. We have a standard uniform that has different colours for Junior Guides, Guides, and Leaders, so it makes our girls easy to identify at a glance. The girls have said that they love the uniforms because they’re very stylish and make them feel like part of a team. We have almost thirty girls in my unit.

    The older Guide group (12-17) rarely wear their uniforms as it isn’t ‘cool’ and they worry about what people will think if they see them. They rarely wear them on formal occasions for the same reason. There are only seven girls that show up for meetings regularly in that Unit.

    All three Leaders and two Junior Leaders of the younger group wear their uniforms.

    Neither of the Leaders of the older Unit wear theirs.

    I think uniforms say a lot about us as Guides, as neatly and practically dressed girls will look better and feel prouder than girls wearing casual clothing, as well as sending a better image to the general public.

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