Boys' Historic Uniforms: The 1970s


Figure 1.--British Cubs in the 1970s still wore the same traditional uniform of peaked cap, green sweater, grey short pants, and grey kneesocks.

Organizational Developments

Scouts

The World Scouts in 1971 held the 13th World Jamboree at Asagiri Heights near Fujinomiya City, Japan. It was attended by 7,947 American Scouts for a total of 24,000 Scouts from 87 countries. World Scouts in 1975 held the 14th World Jamboree, Lillehammer, Norway. It was attended by 2,500 American Scouts for a total of 17,000 Scouts from 91 countries. The World Scouts planned the 15th World Jamboree in Iran for 1979. This proved to be a rather akward choice of venue. The Islamic fundamentalist revolution unseated the Shah and the resulting disorder forced the cancelation of the Jamboree.

The BSA in 1970 held the first National Explorer Olympics at Colorado State Univ. The Cubs in 1971 dropped "to be square" from the Cub Scout promise and adds "to help other people", apparently "to be square" was a bit to square for the 1970s Cubs. The BSA began the Save Our American Resources (SOAR) program in 1971. The BSA opened the Maine National High Adventure Area in 1971. The Exploring magazine was published in 1971. The BSA awarded the Silver Buffalo to President Richard Nixon in 1971. The BSA in 1971 authorized girls to register as full fledged Explorer Scouts. The BSA adopted the first Cub Scout Woodbadge course in 1971. The BSA in 1971 presented the first Silver World awards for international service. TheBSA in the 1972 Scout Handbook removed the outdoor skill requirements for 1st Class. The BSA in 1972 introduced an "improved" Scouting program. The BSA in 1972 introduced Operation Reach against drug abuse. The BSA in 1973 in an effort to address the difficulties Scouts faced in attending distant jamborees, decided to hold the 8th National Jamboree at two different sites on each coast. It was held at Farragut State Park, ID and Moraine State Park, PA. The attendance totaled 64,000. The BSA in 1973 introduced an updated Cub Scout program. The BSA in 1973 established a Washington, D.C. bureau to represent National office. The National Eagle Scout Association was formed in 1973. The BSA in 1974 started the weekend Wood Badge courses. The first woman was elected the national Explorer president in 1974. The BSA in 1976 helds the first Cub Scout Trainer Wood Badge course in Alabama. The BSA in 1976 allows women to attend Wood Badge and to become Cubmasters. The BSA resumed single site jamborees in 1977 and held the 9th National Jamboree, Moraine at State Park, PA. The attendance totaled 28,600, a substantial decline from previous years. The BSA in 1978 made local Council camps available for family camping. The BSA in 1978 announced the revised God and Country program. The BSA removed age restrictions for severely handicapped Scouts in 1978. The BSA in 1978 reinstated outdoor skill for 1st Class rank. The Official Boy Scout Handbook publised in 1979 reflected the return of outdoor emphasis to Scouting. The BSA in 1979 moved the National Headquarters moved to Irving, Texas. The BSA in 1979 approved the Cub Scout Trainers Wood Badge.


Figure 2.--These Czech children in the 1970s are participating in a Pioneer cremony at their school..

Pioneer developments

Large numbers of children in Asia and Europe participated in the Government-controlled Pioneer movement during the 1970s. In most of these countries participation in the Pioneers comtinued to be required in realistic terms. In most these countries Scouting had been baned. Scouting was permitted in Czechlovakia, but as part of the Soviet crackdown after the 1968 intervention, Scouting was banned in 1970.

Uniforms Trends

America

Unlike Scouts and Cubs in most countries, American boys since the 1940s had mostly worn long pants. (Previously they had primarily worn knickers.) Scouts wore shorts at camp and for jamborees, but mostly they wore long pants for Scout activities and events. Cubs wore longs even more commonly than the Scouts. I'm not sure why this was. You would think that the younger boys would be more likely to wear short pants. It was probably because it was primarily the Scouts that went to camps where the short pants uniform was worn. Also only Scouts could attend the national jamborees again where the short pants uniform was worn.


Figure 3.--This ad was part of an effort by the American Boy Scout Association to incourage both Cubs and Scouts to wear the short pants uniform during the summer. The effort had some success as American boys were beginning to more commonly wear short pants.

The American Boy Scout Association (BSA) which had for years pushed the short pants uniform for summer wear began to have some successvin the 1970s, primarily because short pants had become to be popular with more American boys as comfortable summer casual and play wear. The BSA stressed that the short pants uniform was "cool"--both becauseof comfort and because it looked smart. An ad in a 1972 Scout magazine extoled the benefits of the Cub short pants summer uniform:

Cool cub? The secret is--a short sleeved collarless shirt for only $3.82! And shorts for only $4.45! Real cool comfort in the hot summer months! Shade your eyes from sun glare and keep cool with cap $1.50. Show and tell your buddies you are right on--wear neckerchief $0.65 with a metal slide $0.25 or a braided slide $0.25. And to look real neat web belt $0.78, garters with gold tabs $1.15 a pair, and Stretch socks also $1.10 a pair! How to be Cool Cub in the hot summer months? Easy! Wear a complete Cub Scout summer uniform!

American Cubs and shorts did begin to more commonly wear the short pants unifom during the 1970s. This was probably not because of the BSA romotional effort. Rather American boys were beginning to more commonly wear short pants for casual and play wear during the summer. As a result, it was only natural that they would also wear Scout and Cub shorts.

While Amerucan boys were wearing casual and play shirts more commonly, they dud not wear dressy looking kneesocks. Scout kneesocks, usually described by the BSA as "streetch socks" were the only kneesocks worn by American boys, except for a declining number of younger boys that might still be dressed up in short pants and kneesocks to be worn with a blazer for best. While kneesocks were perceived by most American boys as "girls socks", a new style of white athletic socks, often with colored bands became popular. They were called tube socks and associated with bith soccer and basketball uniforms.

England

The English Scout association in 1969 introduced a new long pants uniform. The change was conceived as part of a new modern approach to Scouting to make the movement more appealing to boys. Traditional elements in the movement criticised the new approaches. Interestingly, in America where Cubs and Scouts mostly wore long pants, the Scout association was trying to incorage boys to wear the short pants uniform. But for better or worse, the English Scouts, even during the summer, began their first decade in long pants.





Christopher Wagner






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Created: November 15, 1998
Last updated: November 7, 2000