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What Can Make The Uncool Cool?

January 4, 2017

Question: How do you get a group of 12 year old boys to dress up in a silly looking uniform?

I love the Boy Scouts of America organization. I joined when I was eleven years old. I earned an Eagle Scout Rank. I became involved in leadership. I’m a scouting nerd.

I admit it. I get excited not just about the opportunity to spend time in the great outdoors, (and here in Utah, the outdoors is truly exceptional.) No, I actually enjoy the badges, the rank advancements, the ceremonies and the pagentry of it.

Not everyone does. I get that.

When I was about 14, my 16 year old brother and I decided to go to the arcade. (Yes, I’m old enough that it was a thing to go to the arcade.) Anyway, I decided I wanted to wear my scout uniform. My brother begged me not to wear it. I insisted. I’m not sure why he didn’t just go off and leave me since he had the driver’s license. It was as bad (for him) as he feared. It’s been years, but I remember at least one kid making some crack about my uniform. I didn’t care. I still don’t.

But, my brother did. And now that I’m a scout leader, it’s a challenge to get the boys to wear their uniforms. My own sons are some of the ones most resistant to wearing the uniform. Since these are teenage boys, or nearly teenage, I opted for food. . .specifically food with sugar.

I tried a three-tiered approach. First, any boy that wears any part of a uniform gets a salt water taffy. I don’t even make it a big deal. I just start throwing (softly) candy at boys and leaders. The second approach is to get a little peer pressure involved. We have two patrols. Whichever patrol has the most boys in uniform earns another taffy for every member of the patrol, even the ones not in uniform. The hope was that the boys would encourage the members of their patrol to wear the uniform as well.

But, the third tier is where I saw the most success. I have a full uniform. (Of course, I do. Most nerds do.) I have the shirt, the pants, belt, socks, neckerchief, hat. I even have special scouting “necklaces.” Although, of course, we don’t call them that.

Any boy who wears a more complete uniform than me, gets the largest candy bar that WalMart sells.

And it worked. . .sort of. I could see which boys were trying to get the candy bar. Eventually, I handed out about six or eight of them. Some were to my own sons. As a scouting-nerd, it was heartening to see the boys start to wear the uniform. I was happy to hand over the chocolate.

You know what happened next, right?

Yep, as soon as they got the reward, they went right back to wearing shorts and t-shirts.

Oh well, at least I know they actually have the uniforms even if they don’t wear them.

Question: How do you get a group of 12 year old boys to dress up in a silly looking uniform?
Answer: Chocolate

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. 

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or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2016 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved 

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