Uniform Discussion

A Discussion of the new 2002 Sea Scout Uniform Regulations

Updated 09/29/2003 22:34

The Sea Scout First Class Anchor Bug

Please understand from the Git Go that this page is a page with a viewpoint.  It is the viewpoint of a Ship that is very interested in retaining what it sees as a traditional and proper Sea Scout uniform appearance.  While elsewhere on this Ship's website we endeavor to maintain neutrality, a balanced viewpoint, and try to follow the official Sea Scout line, this is one page on our website that is devoted to advocacy of our Ship's viewpoint on matters about which others may differ.  

We live in a democratic society, and are voluntarily members of the Sea Scout branch of the Venturing Division of the Boy Scouts of America.  A Scout is "loyal' to his organization, but a Scout also has a right to hold an opinion.  A Scout should also be "brave" enough to be willing to express that opinion, within proper channels, and with "courteous and kind" respect and consideration for the viewpoints of others.

That being said, SET ADVOCACY ON:

While this Ship agrees with many of the points contained in the new 2002 Sea Scout Uniform Regulations, it vigorously disagrees with some of the other points.  This Ship hopes that by facilitating a discussion of these disputed points, eventually a consensus will emerge within the Sea Scout community that will lead to a further revision of the Sea Scout Uniform Regulations that addresses the disputed matters.  The questions and answers below are offered to facilitate that discussion.  Please feel free to agree or disagree as your own conscience dictates.  If you care to participate in the discussion yourself, feel free to do by by email to skipper@ship25bsa.org. Note that unsigned emails without verifiable return email addresses will not be considered.

Uniform Discussion Q&A, or FAQ's

What is the Source of the New Uniform Regulations, and where can I read them for myself?

When do the "new" 2002 Uniform regs become effective?

Do the "new" Uniform regs apply to all ships all the time?

What's really "new" about the 2002 Uniform regs?

So what don't you like about the new 2002 Uniform regs?

The First Class Anchor "Bug" has been removed from the round white Sea Scout hat

Unit numerals and Community Strips/CSP's have been replaced by a new circular patch

Flags are now required on all uniforms

Officers are now required to wear epaulettes on their whites

The officer winter working blue uniform has been abolished

What happened to the Sea Scout Bug poll you used to have on your web site?

So what do you recommend be done about all this?

Are there any other changes or corrections to the Sea Scout Manual that ought to be made?

Why should anyone really care deeply about any of this?

  

VIEWER RESPONSE COMMENTS RECEIVED THROUGH 09/29/2003 22:34

 

What is the Source of the New Uniform Regulations, and where can I read them for myself?

The new uniform regulations for Sea Scouts are found in the new 2002 reprinting of the 10th Edition of the Sea Scout Manual, BSA #33239C, on pages 105-121.  Back.

When do the "new" 2002 Uniform regs become effective?

Page 112 of the new Manual states, "The placement of Sea Scout insignia is detailed below.  Placement is specific and is effective as of the publication date of this manual."  We therefore assume since the "new" Manual is (c) 2002 by the Boy Scouts of America and states on the back of the first page inside the cover that is is the "2002" printing, that these uniform regs became effective in 2002.  The "new" manuals were not available in the BSA Supply system until February 2003.  In any event, the "new" uniform regs appear to be effective immediately for all practical purposes. Back.

Do the "new" Uniform regs apply to all ships all the time?

The new Manual on page 107 states, "The National Sea Scout Committee adopted the uniforms in this manual as the only official Sea Scout uniform."  It further states on the same page, "The uniforms described are required for participation in national Scouting events."

We interpret this to mean that when and as we go to the next "national Scouting event" we will be required to comply with the "new" uniform regulations or be denied the ability to participate in that event.  We further interpret this to mean that to the extent we wear something that deviates from the "new" regulations at local or regional events, we are at the very least "out of uniform." Back.

What's really "new" about the 2002 Uniform regs?

Until something better comes along, we suggest you review carefully the 13 page chart of comparisons between the "old" 2000 uniform regs and the "new" 2002 uniform regs that has been prepared.  The chart is in both PDF and Microsoft Word 2000 versions.  Click here for the PDF version of the Uniform Comparison ChartClick here for the Word version of the Uniform Comparison Chart. Back.

SO WHAT DON'T WE LIKE ABOUT THE NEW UNIFORM REGULATIONS?

The First Class Anchor "Bug" has been removed from the round white Sea Scout hat 

The First Class Anchor "Bug", in case you don't know, is the insignia shown at the top of this page that has been on Sea Scout hats in one form or another since at least c. 1918. 

We are very, very disappointed to see the First Class Anchor Bugs disappear from the Sea Scout round white hats.  Our reasons are as follows: 

1. The Bugs are an honorable and distinctive Sea Scout tradition dating back at least to 1920, and possibly as early as 1918 or earlier.  You can see the bugs on the hats of Sea Scouts in the photo gallery of the national Sea Scout website back as far as "c. 1918".  Read the full History of the Bug and see the Bug's story in text and pictures.  We do not believe a tradition going back at least 85 years to virtually the founding of the Sea Scout program should be lightly abandoned.  

Two Sea Scout Eagles wearing the Bug on their hats, c. 1920

 2. The Bugs are an immediate and easy way to identify who is a Sea Scout and who is a regular member of the armed sea services (USN, USCG).  As evidence, we invite you to take the Sea Scout Vision Check.  Please note that we aren't criticizing the Sea Scout in the photo personally.  But we think the side by side comparison of the two photos unmistakably demonstrates the value of the Bug in identifying a Sea Scout at a distance, or in a crowd, or in a photograph.  Sea Scouters, especially those with command responsibility for their ship's crews out in public, can relate to the value of being able to quickly spot your own people in a crowd.

 3. Without the Bugs, Sea Scouts may be accused of being "Navy or Coast Guard wannabes".  When our armed forces are on the brink of international conflict, and in this age of heightened respect for the military and the armed sea services, we think our organization should be very careful that Sea Scouts don't appear to be seen by the public as "impostors", or attempting to trade on for our own youth program purposes the renewed public respect for men and women who are actually serving in combat.  We're all for having the Sea Scout uniform appear to be generally similar to Navy or Coast Guard uniforms, but there must still be a readily identifiable difference.  I remember once when my teen age civilian son went out in public wearing a set of Army surplus fatigues that still had the military markings on them.  A passer-by found out my son was not in fact in the military, and he gave my son a severe dressing down (and rightly so) for appearing to pretend to be something he wasn't.  We would hate to see the removal of the bugs lead the public to actually form an unfavorable opinion of Sea Scouts and the Sea Scouting program.

Given the above reasons for keeping the Bugs, the only stated reason we have received to date for anyone even considering removing the Bugs in the first place had to do with official organizational concerns over photos showing Sea Scouts with their hats on crooked, and hence the Bugs being off center.  Assuming this is in fact the reason the Bugs have been removed, we would respectfully suggest that the solution properly lies in having Sea Scouts wear their hats correctly, not in doing away with the Bugs.  In colloquial terms, the baby has been thrown out with the bath water.

We in Ship 25 believe in the value of being team players, and in being positive in spirit, not negative.  Towards that end, since we also have been given to understand that the new uniform regs are only required for national Sea Scout events, we will continue to wear our Bugs proudly on our hats until and unless we go to a national event and/or the regulations are changed back again to reinstate the Bugs for national events as well.  We will also make a renewed effort to keep our hats centered.  We hope other Sea Scout units will join in this effort.  It is our hope that if enough photos begin to circulate of Sea Scout hats with bugs properly centered, the authorities will be more inclined to reinstate the Bugs when the matter is reviewed.  As part of this effort, you can count on SSS YORKSHIRE to call attention to any photos we put up on our web site showing the Bugs correctly worn.  We invite you to do likewise.

As a helpful hint to new Sea Scouts sewing Bugs on their hats to begin with, remind them that there is a front and a back to the Sea Scout round white hat, aka "Dixie Cup".  There is a very visible seam in the vertical portion of the broadband (brim) of the hat.  That seam is worn to the back of the head.  If follows, then, that the Bug is properly sewn on the opposite side of the broadband so that when the hat is worn with the seam at the back of the head, the Bug will be on the front of the hat, centered vertically above the nose.

A subset of the Bugs/no Bugs issue concerns the trim or lack thereof of the hat itself when being worn.  Sea Scout manuals as far back as I have in my own collection talk in terms of the Sea Scout hat being worn as follows: ".. the hat [should be worn] over the right eye; "down by the bow with a list to starboard," as the Sea Scouts say ...."  The Sea Scout Manual, 6th Edition, 2nd printing, May 1941, p 50.  

1941 May - The Sea Scout Manual, 5th Edition, p. 50, explaining what and where the Bug is, and how the hat is to be worn.

That phrase is repeated in Manual edition after Manual edition.  The 2002 regs change that to having the hat worn "square", i.e. no list, and "one inch above the eyebrow".  With the same national events exception noted above, we in Ship 25 will continue to wear our hats "down by the bow with a list to starboard" because that's what Sea Scouts have been doing since Noah sounded three blasts and backed away from the pier.  We don't favor wearing them on the back of the head, or other bizarre usages, but we will make every effort to have our Bugs centered, and our hats "down by the bow with a list to starboard."  It is our opinion that whoever started the "down by the bow, with a list to starboard" tradition for Sea Scouts was looking to give the hat a "jaunty angle", and also to further and easily differentiate Sea Scouts from the regular armed sea services.  Our youth like the "jaunty angle", and keeping the youth favorably disposed to wearing the uniform at all is a plus.   Back. 

What happened to the Sea Scout Bug poll you used to have on your web site?

From 21 February  to 2315 hours on 26 February 2003 we did have a "Sea Scout Bug" poll on our site's main page.  The poll was set up initially in an attempt to solicit honest opinion from the Sea Scout community on whether or not they shared our belief that the First Class Anchor Bug should be retained on the Sea Scout white hat.  When the poll was initially set up, it was believed to be coded so as to prevent "vote stacking" by allowing only one vote per computer per day.  After 141 votes had been tallied over five days, someone forthrightly notified us that he had discovered a fairly simple way to defeat the vote stacking prevention mechanism and then demonstrated it to us by casting 6 votes in two minutes flat.  This discovery made it apparent that many of the 141 votes, even less his 6, could easily be bogus on either side of the issue.  Since the results at that point were now of unverifiable credibility, the poll was immediately withdrawn.  We saved every one of the poll comments up to that point, however, in the belief that the comments from the poll at least represented the viewpoints of voters who had taken the extra time to record their views over and beyond the mere act of voting, and were therefore worthy of presentation here.  These are all of the comments that were recorded in the order posted:    

  1. Save the Bugs! They're cute, they're fun to have around the house, and they don't eat much.
  2. In the battle to "Save the Bugs!" I have not yet begun to fight, Sir!
  3. Bugs? Sure thing. Every Sea Scout should have one (on his or her cover)
  4. I also add: keep the working winter blues for adults, keep the unit numerals on the sleeve, and use adult collar insignia on white shirts instead of employing epaulets.
  5. Even Rachel Carson would say, "Exterminate them."
  6. What is the big Deal? Get over it already. Why not put all this effort into the program for the youth!!!!
  7. Maintain the bugs. We use USN facilities a great deal, and the USN there want to keep them. Make it clear that blue Cracker Jacks and winter officers blues remain official. Drop the silly epaulettes, black tab and the clutch pin insignia. If that combination is desired by BSA, then make embroidered soft boards but no metal insignia with uncomfortable and possibly injurious clutch pins.
  8. How else can someone recognize a Sea Scout when they're wearing a pea coat? It was good enough for me 35 years ago, it is still a good deal!!!
  9. Personally, it is just one more thing to have to sew on. It also makes it more difficult to "clean" the covers. I think we could focus on better things than these little "bugs".
  10. I don't mind the bugs, Why get rid of something that has been there for so long? "If you want my gun[esignia] you'll have to pry it from my cold, lifeless fingers..."-Ernest Hemmingway (sorta)
Back.

Unit numerals and Community Strips/CSP's have been replaced by a new circular patch.

As an adult leader, I want to be able to spot my people in a crowd of Sea Scouts, and if they aren’t mine, I want to know whose they are.  With unit numerals I can tell instantly.  Now I’ll have to look at a small patch crowded with other information, so I’ll have to run up to the youth with a magnifying glass to figure out who they are. At least back to 1929, and probably earlier, Sea Scout uniforms have ALWAYS had unit numerals.  They also quickly separate the Sea Scout from regular Navy/Coast Guard in a crowd. 

Furthermore, the community strips and the unit numerals, like the Bugs themselves, go back to the early, if not the earliest, days of our organization and, since they still serve a very useful purpose even today, they are a tradition worthy of preservation.  The following illustration is from the 5th Edition of The Seascout Manual, (c) 1929.  Note the first two lines on page 356 and the illustrations on page 357 clearly showing the community strips and unit numerals.

1929 The Sea Scout Manual, 5th Ed., pp 356-357, showing unit numerals and community strips.

Community strips and unit numerals have continued to be shown up until the present day.  Here is a view of the Sea Explorer Manual, 7th Edition, August 1961 printing, pp. 108-109.

1961 Sea Explorer Manual, 7th Edition, pp 108-109, showing community strips and unit numerals.

Back.  

 

Flags are now required on all uniforms.

Until now, the U.S. flag has never been a required part of the Sea Scout uniform.  Neither the Navy nor the Coast Guard wear flags on their uniforms, yet no one questions their patriotism.  No one here at home is going to mistake a U.S. Sea Scout in proper uniform as a foreign Sea Scout.  No where else on the Sea Scout uniform is color other than black or white required.  We would have no objection, however, to wearing the U.S. flag if we were to be sent overseas to some sort of international Scouting event.  In such a case, wearing the U.S. flag while outside the United States would be entirely appropriate.

I don’t need to put a flag on my uniform to show I’m proud of my country, and I resent being forced to do so.  It reminds me of the loyalty oaths in the McCarthy era, which most Sea Scouts and leaders today probably don’t even remember.  The Navy and the Coast Guard don’t have flags on their shoulders, and they’ve gone through two world wars, and numerous smaller ones, without flags.  The very similarity of our Sea Scout uniforms to the US Navy ones show unmistakably we’re American.  No one will ever confuse an American Sea Scout in crackerjacks with a Sea Scout from some other country, flag patch or no flag patch.  In my mind, having the US flag on our Sea Scout uniforms serves only to make us look more like the land Scouts and Cub Scouts who have gaudy patches over every square inch of their uniforms.  To me, Sea Scout uniforms have always gloried in the “less is more” philosophy.  I just can’t see breaking away from that.  Back.   

Officers are now required to wear epaulettes on their whites.

This is a FARCE!  The new Manual even admits that no such thing exists.  I called the US Navy uniform support and sure enough, the Navy doesn’t make any such shirt with tabs to holster these non-existent black sleeves.  To suggest, as the new regs do, using a low quality cotton “pilot shirt” as a substitute is demeaning.  The fabric won’t match our white Navy  CNT (certified Navy twill) trousers that most of us use.  I’ll bet you big money people are going to have to go out and hand-craft these monstrosities on their own, and the results will be laughable.  This whole debacle could have been so easily avoided by simply using the metal adult leader collar marks on the lapels of the readily available Navy CNT short-sleeved shirts just as national is having us do with the khakis.  It would have been so simple.  We already have the collar marks for the khakis.  No fuss, no muss, no extra cost. Back.   

The officer winter working blue uniform has been abolished.

This was a very sensible uniform that looked dignified.  The Navy still uses it, so why shouldn’t we, at least as an option?  Khakis look too informal or “work-a-day” for many occasions, and yet the expense of buying the double breasted service dress blue coat to look more formal is phenomenal and probably prohibitive.  Besides, Ship’s Stores doesn’t carry a size big enough for a fat man like me. :-)  Back.

So what do you recommend be done about all this?

It is our fervent hope that in due course the national Sea Scout Committee will undertake appropriate action to

  1.  return the Bugs to the white hats, 

  2. to allow unit numerals and community strips/CSP's at least as an option, 

  3. to make the wearing of flags on uniforms optional, unless going outside the United States,

  4. to allow officers to wear the one-two-three-four star collar marks currently used for khakis to also be worn on on the collars of short sleeved white shirts in place of the epaulettes, and

  5. allow the continued use by officers of winter working blue uniforms as an option.

  6. We would also like to see some direction that the new required nameplates be standardized to use last name only, as anything else invites lack of uniformity.

Back.

Are there any other changes or corrections to the Sea Scout Manual that ought to be made?

Every document is presumably a "work in progress", and so it is with the Sea Scout Manual.  We would make the following recommendations to be implemented in the next printing of the Manual:

  1. If the requirement set out in the "new" uniform regs is to remain in force that the youth working blue shirts "be lightly starched and pressed with a regular military press" (page 109), then a careful description of the "regular military press" should be provided in the manual.  When I took my uniform shirt to my local laundry, recently, they assured me they knew what a "regular military press" was.  The shirt came back flat as a board.  :-) .  If I could have whipped out my Sea Scout Manual and shown them a photo or a description, I could have avoided the problem up front, or at least gotten my money back afterwards.  Perhaps national should also set up a "starch and press fund" for youth who lack the funds to have commercial laundries do their uniforms from now on. We may be cleaning the bilges, but golly, we'll look spiffy! 

  2. On the lower half of page 358 of the B version Sea Scout Manual, same page plus 1 in the C version, there is a diagram labeled “Crew Leaders Reporting”.  In the legend for that drawing, (C) is labeled as Asst. Crew Leader and (A) is labeled as Crew Leader. I think it should be the other way around.  The drawing is correct.  I think the legend labels are wrong.

Back.

Why should anyone really care deeply about any of this?

The heritage of an organization is very much a part of the very essence of that organization.  Tradition is, however, only valuable to the extent it serves a useful purpose now and into the future.  We believe the traditions of the Bug on the white hat, and the unit numerals and community strips/CSP's, serve to remind us of Sea Scouting's great and historic past and inspire us to strive to continue to improve upon Sea Scouting now and in the future.  Also, or even more important, these items preserve a necessary distinction between civilian Sea Scouts and actual members of the armed sea services, namely the Navy and the Coast Guard.  We as Sea Scouts have no right to appear to impersonate members of the armed forces.  The armed forces, the general public, and Sea Scouts themselves have the right to see that important distinction preserved.  Back.

SET ADVOCACY OFF:

To the above statements I am proud to sign my name, not only as an individual or as a skipper, but on behalf of the entire ship's company of SSS YORKSHIRE, Sea Scout Ship 25, York, PA.

/s/ George Hay Kain, III

skipper@ship25bsa.org 

Opposing viewpoints are welcome, as are suggestions for additions or corrections.  Remember, however, that unsigned email without a verifiable return email address will not be considered.

VIEWER RESPONSE COMMENTS:

Sea Scout First Class Anchor Logo, the basis of the Bug

NOTE:  We welcome and will endeavor to display all comments received, pro and con, in due fairness.  Comments must be signed, and include a verifiable return email address.  This page displays all comments received through 09/29/2003 22:34 .  We will update as frequently as the situation warrants, and my time permits.  To enable readers to easily view the most recent comments, the most recent comments will be displayed at the head of the list.  If you wish to bookmark this area, use http://ship25bsa.org/discussion.html/#comments .  It's also a good idea to hit the "refresh" button on your browser to make sure you are looking at the most recent version of this page.

Send viewer comments to skipper@ship25bsa.org .  

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[ waiting for your comment - let's hear from you! ]

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Thursday, March 20, 2003 7:18 AM

Point of order.  The second para says: The Navy did comment on the “Bug”.

Then the third para says: The Navy suggested that if we wanted the uniform to look sharper, we would remove the bug.

I do not understand how the Navy can not say anything then say something.  Also if you really took time to consult the Navy why were the individual ships not consulted.

As retired Navy I agree with keeping the bug.

Our differences are not petty.  The whole problem is the communication with each ship could have been worked much harder prior to publishing the new requirements.  That communication problem is what has stirred everything up.

Wes Gleason      GleasonAW@NAVAIR.NAVY.MIL
Ship 1942  Back to start of viewer comments
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3/4/2003 10:42 p.m.

I’m not long term involved with Sea Scouts (well, some say, we will see) but dealing with the Chesapeake Flotilla for Scout Fleet 2002, and living the amount of time I spent in one event, I have great respect for the leaders that give a significant part of their life for their Ships.

That said, can we get the people that really count, the Scouts to argue the issues and come back to the adults with their ideas and wishes?  In this internet age, I am sure there is a platform that desires, wishes and concerns of Scouts across the country, if not across the world can be expressed, vented and worked into something that works for all. I think what works for the Scouts, works for the program.

Let me know if I can help.

Brian Johnson  Brian.Johnson@neg.pge.com
Ship 361, Columbia, Md (not the brother of Bruce Johnson of Ship 361)
Back to start of viewer comments
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3/2/2003 1:02 p.m.

Sir:

It is my pleasure to assist you in any way that I can in regards to this matter.  If that means using quotes from my letter, then by all means, go right ahead.  Thank you for your concern, but there is no apology needed.  Thanks for listening to what a former scout has to say.

Respectfully,
Natalie Withers
-----Original Message-----
From:             George Hay Kain, III [mailto:ghkain@blazenet.net]
Sent:              Sunday, March 02, 2003 10:56 AM
To:                  natalie.withers@usma.edu
Subject:         I owe you an appology

 Dear Cadet Withers:

I owe you a sincere apology.  The message below was intended for you, and you alone,  It was most assuredly not intended to be distributed to the discussion list.  I made the foolish mistake of starting to craft a message to you using the "reply" feature of my browser based on your message that had come in from the list.  After I had gotten my message drafted, but before I had a chance to amend the TO line in the message to remove the LIST as addressee and substitute your individual email address, apparently my hand must have bumped something on the keyboard to cause the message to be sent prematurely with the result that the message went to everyone instead of you alone. As soon as I saw it had been sent, I attempt to recall the message, but I was too late.  It is not my desire to drag you unwillingly into controversy, or to use your views in any way without your prior consent.

I have learned from this that the VERY first thing I must do in replying to a post off-list is to make certain the LIST address is deleted the address BEFORE I start to craft a message.

I have done you a wrong, albeit unintentionally.  If you feel however, that no harm has been done, I will feel relieved.  If instead you wish me to somehow make an explanatory post to the LIST, or take some other corrective action, I will certainly do so.  

George Hay Kain, III
Skipper, SSS YORKSHIRE - Sea Scout Ship 25, York, PA
mailto:skipper@ship25bsa.org

-----Original Message-----

From:          General worldwide Sea Scouting discussion list [mailto:SEASCOUT-NET@LISTSERV.SEASCOUT.ORG]  On Behalf Of George Hay Kain, III
Sent:          Sunday, March 02, 2003 10:27 AM
To:  SEASCOUT-NET@LISTSERV.SEASCOUT.ORG

Subject:      May I Quote You?

I have already posted to the LIST repeatedly on this subject, with essentially the same views as yours.  While occasional posts are productive, I didn't want to bore list readers with my "same old stuff over and over again."  That is why I so sincerely applaud new voices appearing on the list.  It is VITALLY important that we get more posts on the subject from youth, or recent youth members, on this subject.  "They" will be much more inclined to make changes to "fix" these regs if they can say they are "doing it for the youth".  They most assuredly won't do it for mossback old geezers like me.

I spent 7 years as an officer in the Navy via the NROTC program at Dartmouth College. I had a tour on the gunline off Viet Nam.  I salute you, Ma'am, for continuing the Scouting tradition of service to our country.  May the great Skipper of All Sea Scouts protect you, and your classmates, in the troubled international times ahead and bring you back safely into port when your mission is done.

/s/ Skipper
George Hay Kain, III
      Skipper, SSS YORKSHIRE - Sea Scout Ship 25, York, PA
 
3/1/2003 7:21 p.m.

Sir or Ma’am:

My name is Natalie Withers and I am a cadet at the United States Military Academy, West Point.  At least part of the reason I am here is because of my participation in Sea Scouting.  That shouldn’t come as any surprise, though.  There are 151 members in  the class of 2006 that are Eagle Scouts or that hold the Girl Scout Gold award.  Since the Army values membership in scouting highly, I had help with admission here as a Sea Scout and so did more than half of those admitted with me.  In my class total of 1,197 cadets, 575 were active in scouting.  I’m sure all the other branches of the military value scouting membership just as much as the Army does.

Although my present situation keeps me from participating with my ship, I try to keep up on what they are doing and what is going on in Sea Scouting.  I was really saddened to see that somebody decided to take the bugs off the hats and the ship numbers off the uniforms.  This was something that tied me and my Sea Scout buddies to the rest of scouting and to our ship.  It is what kept us from looking like Navy seamen and it built our camaraderie as shipmates.  It is what Sea Scouts did to set them apart from the military and to make them look like Sea Scouts, instead of a military organization.

I have seen the new handbook and I was saddened even more to see how far the blue uniform was talked down.  I can’t believe that they would pick what they call a national uniform based on less than a dozen events a year that probably don’t have more than ten percent of all Sea Scouts participate.  Ten percent is probably a high number at that.  Our ship wears blues, but we wear them right and we look like scouts.  Before I left home, I had both a skirt and slacks to wear with my white blouse and blue coat.  We always looked sharp and always stood tall.  The values and tasks that I learned as a Sea Scout helped me when I came here and I came here with pride in what I looked like and pride in what my uniform stood for.  I was a scout and proud of it.  Now I am a cadet and equally proud of that.

I hope that whoever has made this decision will change it.  It sure isn’t any good for Sea Scouting.  We are not the military, despite the fact that we wear altered Navy uniforms, and we should identify with fellow scouts instead of the military.  Please put the scouting look back and forget the military items.  Having scout patches is what makes a Sea Scout unique.  Those that want the military look will have their chance to wear it soon enough; in the meantime they can still be scouts.

Respectfully,

Natalie Withers
CDT Natalie Withers
USMA, ‘06
natalie.withers@usma.edu
(845)515-2643
GO ARMY CREW! Back to start of viewer comments
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3/1/2003 5:58 p.m.

You flatter me George. I can’t believe that experienced Scouters haven’t thought along the same lines. But as one of your other correspondents pointed out, it seems that the folks in Texas don’t realize that up here [in New England] summer dress is fine...in the summer.

Ned Blake, CC  blakehaven@ATTBI.COM
Ship 495, SSS MARATHON
Hopkinton, Massachusetts

----- Original Message ----- 

3/1/2003 4:04 p.m.

 Dear Ned:

 May I add your quote below, as well?

[You] point out precisely why this IS important NOW.  If a good ship like  yours was actually forced to choose between going to a national event and  staying home just because they couldn’t afford the “new” national uniform, then that says very eloquently why this new set of regs is WRONG.  Also,  even in between national events, which are, admittedly, few and far between,  your ship, and mine, ARE technically “out of uniform” even now.

 /s/ Skipper
 George Hay Kain, III
 Skipper, SSS YORKSHIRE - Sea Scout Ship 25, York, PA
 mailto:skipper@ship25bsa.org

  -----Original Message-----

3/1/2003 9:52 a.m.

I enjoyed your web site. While I still see some of this as a tempest in a  teapot, many people made valid points. I’m presuming at the moment that we  (Ship 495) may adopt the new National Standards at least on paper. If and  when we consider going to a “National” event we will look to see how many  scouts are interested and how many scouts are willing to go out and put  together the National Sea Scout Uniform. If there is no interest at that time to buy new uniforms, then we’ll just stay home.

Ned Blake, CC  blakehaven@ATTBI.COM
Ship 495, SSS MARATHON
Hopkinton, Massachusetts Back to start of viewer comments
 
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2/28/2003 8:05 p.m.

Dear Sea Scouters:

I have to agree with Capt. Kerber, Ship 24, Greater NY Council. What my scouts and I do is based on what’s best for them. If we agree with the folks in Texas, great. If not...cest la vie!

After all, we are a long way from Texas and Sea Scouting gets scant attention from those folks anyway. When they do take notice they often seem to delight in getting in the way of our enjoyment...after all, which one of you Sea Scouters asked National to eliminate the rutter from the SeaBadge requirement?

Now I know I sound like a crank, and I’ll admit this subject (National, not uniforms) makes me cranky. Maybe it’s my New England Temperament of not liking anyone to tell me what to believe or how to think. Or, for that matter, how to dress. I like having the freedom to use a CG style uniform vs. the USN style uniform. Not every division or unit in the armed services dresses alike. Not every scout troop or pack dresses alike either. If Ship “A” wants to wear a bug and Ship “B” doesn’t. Fine! Let each follow its own dictates and use the uniform regs as a guideline, not a hard and fast rule.

“Don’t Tread On Me!”

Ned Blake, CC  blakehaven@ATTBI.COM
Ship 495, SSS MARATHON
Hopkinton, Massachusetts
 
P.S.
 
3/1/2003 12:19 a.m.
 

George,

I do not object to being quoted at all. In fact I have one more comment:

“Last year for the Seabadge (excuse me, Sea Badge) Course I felt compelled to go out and purchase a blue Navy work shirt and then purchase and sew on the insignia per the scout manual. I wore the shirt for one weekend and for one meeting to show the scouts my new threads. Now I’m being told to mothball the whole thing and start over again. By the time I complete my new uniform I anticipate being told to switch to cut-off shorts and an eye patch. I think I’ll stick to what we’re currently using for a while longer.”

If that doesn’t get me pegged as a dour Yankee, I don’t know what will.  See you on the docks at the next NE Sailing Regatta, where ever it may be!

Ned

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2/27/2003 4:23 p.m.

George,

Feel free to copy and paste at your will. I have visited your site and appreciate your bringing the changes to light. The first time I laid my eyes on the new uniform standards was last night when I received my new copies of the Sea Scout Manual. Although some of my questions were answered by Jim Elroy, I still feel strongly about the Unit Number, and the fact that a “custom” patch can not be uniform. I think that a unit number is important to show that we are a group of ships, and not all the same. I also feel that everyone being required to have two uniforms is not right; we need to keep cost down for our Youth and Adult volunteers. Last year’s Sea Scout Cup is a good example of this. In order for me to escort my youth (if they decided to go which they didn’t) I would have to go out and buy a complete new uniform (we use Blues here in most of Washington). That is a lot to ask of someone who already volunteers most of his spare time to this program, and a lot of personal support ensuring that my program is successful. (I often joke that I work to support my sea scout habit). I understand how this can affect the choices of the national sea scout committee finding a standard uniform that is acceptable to all (this discussion will forever be ongoing whites vs. blues), but the issues raised most recently are just for the sake of change, in my opinion, and change for the sake of change is not a good thing. I have started to Rally the Cause here in the Northwest, and Mr. Swanson's comments reflect that. I think we need a real National Committee - with technology today you can include more in the discussion and never need to have them all in the same room. It strikes me as odd that the Navy was asked their opinion but the membership never was. I know that the people who made the decision are volunteers and truly thought they were improving upon what we already had; they just needed to ask if it needed improvement.

Thanks for your insight.

Jeremy Makin jmakinis@ATTBI.COM
Skipper
Sea Scout Ship 6
The Kelcema
Edmonds Washington
www.kelcema.org
 
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2/27/2003 2:54 p.m.

Fellow Sea Scouters,

The bug MUST be on the Dixie cup hat. We cannot under BSA National Charter duplicate military uniforms. We must also wear unit numbers and a CSP. The duplication issue is why we remove the middle piping from the dress blue uniform.

It is up to the ships committee and skipper to ensure uniform standards are met by ALL members (youth and adult). It is their faces the public sees.

Respectfully,
John Marden ship1797@YAHOO.COM
Skipper Ship 1797, Boston, MA
SSS Sea Monkey
 
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27 February 2003 1:43 p.m.

I’ll be brief.  I joined this service after learning about changes to the sea scout uniform standard.  I disagree with several of the changes.

My opinion:
1) Bugs belong on white hats.
2) U.S. Flags do not belong on dress blues.
3) Sea Scout leaders should not wear shoulder boards - ever.
4) Sea Scouts uniforms, like all scout uniforms, should display unit numbers on the left sleeve.

To explain -

Eliminating bugs because kids can’t seem to wear their hats straight seems like poor logic.  White hats do have a front and back.  As a young sea scout I never had trouble wearing my hat straight.  Perhaps rather than lowering standards to accommodate slobish dress, we should enforce standard to encourage neatness and professionalism.

U.S. flags added to the right sleeve give the uniform an overdone appearance and are not necessary.

My title is “mate” and I am a scout leader - not an officer in any branch of any service.  I do not need to adorn myself with fancy decorations as is typical of a south or central American military officer.  This program is not about my own self aggrandizement, it is a youth program.  Adult leader uniforms should be professional looking, but subdued.

Sea Scouts are SCOUTS - and scouts wear unit number on their uniforms.  We need to be scouts, not sea cadets.  Ship specific patches are not available from BSA supply or elsewhere that I know of.  We do not have a special ship’s patch because the cost and logistics of obtaining them has been a major problem.

What is most disturbing about all of these changes is that no one consulted anyone in my council or within the Nor’West area.  Did our opinion not count?

Yours in Scouting,
Lee Swanson Lee Swanson  LSwan8@AOL.COM 
SSS Propeller
Seattle WA 
 
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26 February 2002 1800

I was quite surprised at a recent post to the national Sea Scout discussion list suggesting that Bugs on hats have not been a prevalent part of the Sea Scout uniform.  I researched old Sea Scout and Sea Explorer Manuals to try to find out when they first became “official”, since the Bugs do show up in all the “official” BSA publications I have at least as far back as the attached 1933 April Boys’ Life image and a 1936 printing of the 1929 5th Edition of The Seascout Manual.  Here’s Boys’ Life in 1933:

 Boys' Life - April 1933 showing Sea Scout with Bug on hat

The Bugs are also clearly shown in this 1941 Official BSA Uniform Catalog image: 

1941 Official BSA Catalog showing Sea Scouts with Bugs on hats

My May 1939 printing of The Sea Scout Manual, 6th Edition, says on page 50, “The complete Uniform consists of a jumper, trousers, a Bob Evans hat with an embroidered Sea Scout Emblem on the foreband and a blue neckerchief bearing a stenciled Sea Scout emblem.”  Veteran Sea Scouts know, of course, that Admiral Robley D.  "Bob" Evans introduced the current “Dixie cup” hat to the U.S. Navy, replacing the former wheel hat, and that these “new” “Dixie cup” hats were first called Bob Evans hats for many years.

Just to politely also ‘bug” people on the issue of hat trim, the same page 50 of my 1939 Manual also clearly states, “The Uniform should always be worn carefully brushed, the hat over the right eye; “down by the bow with a list to starboard,” as the Sea Scouts say; nothing bulging should be carried in the pocket and the neckerchief neatly tied.”  Our Sea Scout uniform regs continued the practice and never called for Sea Scout hats being worn “square” one inch over the eye until the new 2002 regs.

The Seascout Manual, 5th Edition, 13th reprint, © 1936, on page 354 more briefly says, “The uniform of the Sea Scouts is as follows:  Undress, white sailor uniform consisting of jumper, trouser, white hat, white undershirt, blue neckerchief, black socks, and black shoes; or blue sailor uniform consisting of the same parts.”  While it doesn’t specify the “Bug” on the cover, the bug is clearly shown on the accompanying photos on the facing page 355.

Seascout Manual, 5th Ed., 13th reprint, 1936, pp 354-355.

The 1936 manual is the earliest I have at the moment.  Can anyone out there find earlier official references to the Bug on the hat?  If so, I’d welcome scans and citations.  Whether official or not, the bugs clearly show up in the national Sea Scout website photo gallery as early as the c. 1920 photo of “two Sea Scout Eagles” at http://www.seascout.org/about/history/photos/1920-2Eagles.jpg and an earlier photo attributed in good faith to “c. 1918” at http://www.seascout.org/about/history/photos/1918-Unidentified.jpg 

I think this is valid and factually documented historical information that should be shared with others who may not really be aware of the long history behind this matter.

For the life of me, I can’t see why we need “new” uniforms all the time when the ones in the 1936 photo are perfectly serviceable even today, just moving the patches from the right to left sleeve to match Navy practice that changed their patches from the right to the left sleeve about the time of WW II.
 
/s/ George Hay Kain, III
Skipper, SSS YORKSHIRE - Sea Scout Ship 25, York, PA 
 
If you read your old manuals, you'll remember that SSS stands for Scouting, Seamanship, and Service, with a little fourth "s" thrown in for social.
 
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2/25/2003 

As a veteran with 37 years in Naval uniform, I have to ask, “Why are we asking for advice from the Navy on the idiosyncratic areas of our distinctive uniform?” Of course, aspects of our uniform seem strange to those who wear similar, but different, uniforms.  Different and strange are synonyms. After wearing the Sea Scout cover for four years, when I went into the Navy the Dixie cups all seemed plain and characterless for years.

Ask for help in maintaining those areas where we are alike. Why ask for unnecessary advice where we are different? That is inviting trouble. It seems the bug placement problem is easily remedied with a ruler and something that makes a right triangle.

YISS,
 
Roger Crossland Limpet6@aol.com
former Commodore person
Sea Scout Squadron
CT Yankee Council, BSA
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Date:         Mon, 24 Feb 2003 10:59:23 -0600
Subject:      Re: First Class Anchor Bugs on Sea Scout Covers

Commodore Homburg always does a superb job.

We have no argument with the new uniform  regulations as long as the Sea Scouts in the frozen North can continue to wear their navy Crackerjacks and our adult officers can continue to wear their navy blue working uniforms!  :-)

The sole reason we ever wear whites and khakis is to attend National Council events in the summer!  :-)

We sure like making the idea of making our decades old summer sailing uniform of blue shorts and white tee shirt with ball cap an official version!

Gee, our high temperature has not reached the thirties since December! We have been iceboating on 24"-36" of ice for weeks! White is not exactly appropriate attire in our area. We can't even get the heat high enough in our indoor meeting places to make white work!

Remember, not every Sea Scout lives in a temperate clime!  :-)

Yours In Sea Scouts;
Bill Sills whs@IDCNET.COM
 
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Date:         Mon, 24 Feb 2003 10:27:04 EST
From:         Jess Buhite BuhiteSr@AOL.COM
Subject:      Re: First Class Anchor Bugs on Sea Scout Covers

George,

Interesting commentary. However, I can assure you that our ship,  will not be removing those "bugs" from the enlisted cover. There is considerable "flexibility" built into both the Venturing and Sea Scouting program to allow for "customization" of a ship's uniform to satisfy everyone. I would have to take any suggestion of uniform change to be merely "advisory" in nature.

Jess Buhite BuhiteSr@aol.com
Skipper
SSS Osprey
Ship 66
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Date:         Mon, 24 Feb 2003 21:54:10 -0800
From:         Jeremy Makin jmakinis@ATTBI.COM
Subject:      Re: First Class Anchor Bugs on Sea Scout Covers

I agree with a most of the statements made on the new Uniform standards, however I feel that there are [a] few things that just don't make sense. The first glaring issue is one of the Hat "Bug".  It is my understanding the Sea Scout uniform has to be different enough so as not to confuse it with a real Navy uniform. This is the reason we remove the strip from the Dress Blues Jumpers and add the "Bug" to the back flap in order to cover the white stars right? So why would we further muddy the waters by removing the "Bug" from the Cover? I am all for keeping things simpler and that these uniforms truly do look better with the less is more approach. Too much stuff on a uniform detracts from the Significance of the parts on whole. But we need to continue to honor our obligation to keep the uniform looking different enough from the Navy's uniform and the "bug" on the cover does this. I don't believe in doing things just for the sake of tradition; if this was our mode of operation we would all still be cooking over open fires in caves, but some traditions need to be continued because they just make sense.

The other item in the new standard that strikes me as odd is the removal of the Ship Numeral. What is the thinking behind this? I see the [new regs call for the] addition of the Custom Emblem.  If we are truly looking at a national uniform standard then having language that states "approximately 2 1/2 inches in diameter" is not definite enough. On this patch we are supposed to include unit name, number, city of registry, and a design the ship chooses. The standard specifically mentions the exclusion of Navy or U.S. government seals and insignia; again we don't want to confuse ourselves with those agencies. What is wrong with the current unit numerals, that look uniform? Numbers that [now] are exactly the same shape and size - how is changing to a "custom" insignia in place of this going to make us more Uniform?

I guess my biggest question is how these changes came to be, the reasoning behind them, and how more people can be included in the process so that the "National" uniform standard has input form all of our "National" participants. My guess is that most of the changes were only for the sake of change. I echo Mr. Sills remarks about the northern climates that don't make sense to have both white and blue uniforms, just as in the southern areas blues are not comfortable in the summer months. What do Sea Scouts in other countries do? I don't know that there is a happy medium other than those that don't want to participate in national events just do their own thing, [but] this approach does not do any of us any good. We need to be united and uniform if we want to present our program to the public with a singular look. My vote would be for blues, again back to the tradition argument; it is what we have been using for 90+ years.  It is just as available as whites if not more so. Blues are easier to keep clean and pass on. Any uniform standard should be easily accessible and affordable:  if not, there is no point in adopting a standard that people can't get or afford. But this is neither the time or place to solve this problem or issue, only for open discussion.

Jeremy Makin jmakinis@ATTBI.COM
Skipper
Sea Scout Ship 6
The Kelcema
Edmonds Washington
www.kelcema.org
 
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Date:         Mon, 24 Feb 2003 16:22:01 EST
From:         Roger Crossland Limpet6@AOL.COM
Subject:      Re: First Class Anchor Bugs on Sea Scout Covers

Well, I haven't seen the new regs but it sounds like the bug on the cover is gone and we are wearing flags on our uniforms.  Can't imagine taking the bugs off the hats. We'll look like Sea Cadets. The hat is the first thing people recognize at a distance. My favorite Sea Scout picture of all times is of a Norman Rockwell Sea Scout with his cover crushed at the sides and rakishly down at the bow and listing slightly to starboard.

As for flags on the uniform...why? The Boy Scouts wear them because their uniforms are so characterless that no one could tell their national origin. No one can mistake the Sea Scout uniform or the American naval uniform for the uniform of any other country but America. With nautical uniforming "less is more." We don't wear as many gewgaws as the Boy Scouts in the same way as the Navy doesn't wear as many gewgaws as the Army. I revere the flag and am a veteran of two wars, but see no purpose for it on the Sea Scout uniform.

Are the neckerchiefs black now?

YISS,

Roger Crossland Limpet6@aol.com
former Commodore person
Sea Scout Squadron
CT Yankee Council, BSA
 
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