I was the only guy in my high school (grades 10-12) who was an active Boy Scout. When I was in the tenth grade my scoutmaster told the members of our troop that we should wear our Boy Scout uniforms to school on February 8 for the Boy Scouts of America anniversary. Yeah, right, okay, I’ll get right on that.
I did it. I wore my uniform to school. I was already the smallest guy in school who got picked on regularly by some other guys. I was already the shy quiet dork. Wearing the Boy Scout uniform to school could not make things much worse. Could it?
Well, it did not make things any worse. Almost no one teased me about it. In fact, a few girls even talked to me about the colorful patches on my shirt. All in all, it was not a bad day. I guess no one cared if I wore my uniform, but to tell the truth, even though I was proud to be a Boy Scout, I never wanted to wear my shirt to school again.
Turn the clock forward several years. I was now the scoutmaster of my hometown troop. Scout Anniversary Day was coming up. Should I ask the Boy Scouts to wear their uniforms to school? I thought about it. I brought it up to the troop, but I did not tell them they should wear their uniforms to school. I could not ask them to do something I did not want to do when I was a youth (even though I did do it).
The biggest factor in my decision was not my feelings on the subject but the reaction of the boys. They flat out refused. They did not want their classmates to know they were a Boy Scout. They were having fun in Scouting, but they did not want to advertise they were a Scout. The boys’ attitude surprised me. I could only hope that it would change over the years and that at some point the boys would not be ashamed to tell their peers that they were a Boy Scout.
Many years have come and gone since then, and many boys have joined and moved on. I still do not ask the boys to wear their Scout uniforms to school, even though the boys today seem to be a lot more comfortable about Scouting then the boys were in the early 1980’s. I have even heard about a few boys over the years who wore their troop tee shirt to school.
On a final note, I stated earlier that I never wanted to wear a Scouting uniform to school again. As an adult leader I have wore my uniform to school many times. Wearing it in public is not a big deal anymore.