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Wearing the Scout uniform as a Halloween costume

Halloween is here again, and the search for costumes inevitably leads you to the staples of the season: witch, ghost, zombie, or vampire. But each season, some people consider dressing themselves as Cub Scouts or Boy Scouts. And apparently it’s enough of a problem that at least one Scout Shop has chosen to address the issue head-on.

At the excellent (and massive) Scout Shop located in the National Scouting Museum, there’s a sign at the entrance that reads: “Scout uniforms WILL NOT be sold as Halloween costumes.”

So we want to know your take. Should Scout uniforms be purchased for use as Halloween costumes? Let us know in the comments area below.

80 thoughts on “Wearing the Scout uniform as a Halloween costume

  1. Have to agree with the Scout Shop; unless someone thinks of a Scout as a superhero, they wouldn’t buy one as a costume to praise BSA – if they hold it so reverently, they’d already be a Scout.
    So if they’re out to mock Scouting, then it’s just as well they didn’t have an easy opportunity to buy a uniform.

  2. If they are used as Halloween costumes, what is to stop child predators from using them? I am in favor or having to show proof of ID to buy scout uniforms.

  3. I can’t remember ever seeing anyone dressed like a Scout for Halloween, and can’t imagine why anyone would except to turn it into a mockery. Besides, at the price of scout uniforms, who can afford it just for Halloween?
    My question is how are they going to enforce their rule?

  4. My daughter and her girlfriend has dressed in my uniforms during HS and college, but they were Venture Crew members and later my daughter, a Philmont Ranger. I had thought about it, but I wear a uniform at least once a week even as a emeritus scouter (my kids are all in their 20′s) and think it would be demeaning of the uniform for an adult scouter to do it.

  5. The uniform guide says in effect that the uniform may be worn at any time, anywhere, except the following, unless authorized by BSA: Fundraising events for non-BSA support; Distinctly political endeavors; Professional stage appearances; Participation in demonstrations; or at bars/taverns/pubs.
    As an adult leader I have worn my uniform to answer the door for trick-or-treaters and have received a very positive response.
    I don’t have issue with Scouts or Scouters wearing the uniform for halloween or harvest-fests provided that they are doing it as a positive display of Scouting.
    I do have issue with non-Scouts and Scouters wearing the uniform at all. I have purchased uniforming from second hand stores to keep it away from such use, and pass on the uniforms to those who really need them.

  6. Just as a side note, Cub Scout uniform shirts are quite the trendy piece of clothing among teen Japanese girls (at least here in the Tokyo area). Several of my friends have seen girls wearing the shirts, which they seem to pick up in thrift stores, used patches and all.

  7. Seems to me wearing the uniform for Haloween is similar to a Professional stage appearance. I remember an older teenage neighbor when I was a kid going as a pregant girl scout, and another doing a zombie boy scout costume, both really confused me as a child, i knew it seemed wrong, but I was too young to know why.

  8. I do not think Scout uniforms should be sold as Halloween costumes. Our kids work hard to be Scouts and invest a lot of time in Scouting, so that kind of commitment demands a certian amount of respect. Now, I would not have a problem with a CURRENT Scout wearing their uniform on Halloween, especially if the family could not afford a costume. I also would not have a problem with somebody buying a VINTAGE Scout uniform on E-bay and wearing that as a costume.

  9. I have a mixed view on this. On one hand it seems weird for an adult to dress-up as a Scout if they are not one. For kids, I think it is ok, as long as they act like a Scout. Also, publicity is publicity, and the more exposure people have to Scouting the better! I would not sell them as costumes, but kids tend to dress up as what they look up to. Police, firefighters and doctors all require extensive training, as do Scout leaders. So, wearing your uniform on Halloween, I think is ok, but buying one just for that seems wrong, unless they donate it to support their local Scouting unit.

  10. Do kids who dress up as a police officer, a doctor, a firefighter, a construction worker, or a cowboy for Halloween do so to “mock” those roles or is it because they are iconic, simple and recognizable outfits. You don’t have to explain what you are. Being a Scout is a simple and effective “costume”. Sure there will be people who wear it to be ironic, to mock Scouting, or be crude…but you can see that with any potential costume idea.
    And how is a non-Scout dressing up as a Scout for Halloween any less respectful than a registered member doing it? If anything, I see a real Scout doign this more disrectful than an outsider who is just pretending to be a Scout for Halloween (as a Scout should know better than to use their uniform as a novelty). And how is a Scout dressing as a Scout even a costume? That would be like me going as myself for Halloween. Halloween is a chance to be something your not – so a Scout going as a Scout isn’t really a costume.
    I don’t see what the big deal is. Scouting is much more than a uniform. We shouldn’t get focused on putting the symbols of Scouting up on a pedestal, and make it sacrelegious to touch them. We should stay focused on the principles and aims of Scouting and put the icons before the things they represent. Loosen up and have fun…that’s what Scoutings about.

  11. It’s interesting that this is an issue when scouts continually dress up as American Indians throughout many of their “ceremonies” and yet very few in the scouting world question how insulting and mocking that can be towards real American Indians.

  12. How is a non Scout wearing a Scout uniform any different from a non Native (say a Scout) wearing Native regalia?
    The “we do it to honor you” line doesn’t make it right, does it?

  13. About the American Indian costumes you refer to… if you actually cared about the American Indians like most of us who ‘dress up as American Indians’ then you would know that it is REGALIA and not a COSTUME at all. Many Native Americans support the use of Native American themed ceremonies because we do not mock them or make fun of them. We use them as symbols, we have four principles (not ‘characters’ as some call them). They all have Lenni Lenape names and scripts are all memorized. There is nothing demeaning in the scripts, we look up to Native Americans. Peaceful people who loved the outdoors and nature and treated it with respect as we strive to do.
    I do think people dressing up as scouts for halloween is offensive because a Boy Scout etc. is something most of society mocks. It’s almost to the point where having to wear the uniform in public is embarrassing. Most everyone knows the police, firefighters, etc are public servants and potential heroes when they save lives. Boy Scouts are the same, but not everyone thinks so. In addition, we are talking about ‘dressing up as’ or ‘dressing up like’ not ‘becoming a’. People don’t wear real uniforms for halloween for most professions, if they do its a rare event. So why should our real uniform be displayed publicly in a situation where it could potentially be mocked?

  14. “we look up to Native Americans. Peaceful people who loved the outdoors and nature and treated it with respect as we strive to do.”
    I guess this shows what you know about Native Americans, first of there were hundreds of different tribes and we were all different. Some tribes were peaceful, but some were proud warriors, content at peace but exceptional at war.
    Where do the giant eagle feather war-bonnets you all seem to like to wear come from – not the Lenni Lenape, those are Lakota, and we are not known for our “peacefullness” .
    Glad to see scouts has taught you so much about out culture.

    • The vast majority of the Order of the Arrow lodges do their research carefully, including consulting the local tribes and they respectfully utilize the regalia of that local tribe and not the tribes from the 50′s “Spaghetti Cowboy” movies.

      If a lodge is not doing this, they are doing a disservice to themselves which is a reflection on the rest of us and is definitely not in keeping with the tenets of the Order.

  15. If someone wants to dress up as a scout for Halloween, you can’t stop them. They will find a way whether the actual uniform is available or not. Is it mockery, sure but it’s not meant to belittle the scouts. I don’t think that people take Halloween costumes seriously anyway. They shouldn’t. I mean it is all just in fun.
    In fact when I was in fifth grade, at the suggestion of my mother, I wore my cousin’s little league uniform and went as a baseball player. He in turn wore my junior scout uniform, a wig and carried a box of girl scout cookies for effect. He was hilarious and we got loads of candy.

  16. I am creating a replica cub scout uniform for an adult to be used for adult leader training purposes as well as for halloween to hand out not only treats but recruitment cards as well. As a district trainer and cubmaster, I see no foul here, as everyone involved with the program expects suprises from me. Using this media is exactly what should be expected, if used correctly!

    • I have the same thing (a replica Cub uniform) as an adult leader (Cubmaster) I wear it for my Pack Halloween Party every year… I try to be a “Big Scout” which is the point… right?

      I HAVE noticed in movies and out and about… Cub Scout uniforms used by “nicely figured” teen/ young women as fashion accessories… but never as a Halloween costume by non Scout/Scouter. (I have more of a problem with the use of the uniform to try to be “sexy” than I see the issue of mocking… ) I mean we do skits and things that “mock” many things… but NEVER …EVER is a sexual reference OK…

  17. A former cubmaster let his son wear his uniform shirt, stuffed with a pillow underneath so he could be a “fat cubmaster”. Even let him wear his Woodbadge neckerchief & woggle.

  18. Wow, sexual predators might buy a Scout uniform? Really?
    shaking head in amazement and an added eyeroll
    Get a grip! If you go down that rabbit hole then you should require an ID , letter of reference, verification of employment and a letter from your employer for nurse’s uniforms, priest’s frocks, police and security uniforms, lab coats, etc. — Check on Ebay- you had better outlaw folks from selling uniforms and patches there, too.
    Oh, and you’d better not take your kid to your relative’s house (as +80% of molestation is performed by a relative of the victim.
    If someone wants to buy a uniform (we are talking about over $100 by the time you add in patches) through the Scout Shop, go for it. Scouting gets the $$ and maybe a little face time among people that may (or may not) agree with the program.
    What is the old quote? Print what you want but spell my name right?
    Lighten up, folks, be glad that someone still thinks that Scouting is an icon.
    (I am curious why this blog has links to “Halloween Costumes” that lead to a commercial site – my troop page is not allowed to do that?)

  19. I see no problem with it. You can pick up scout uniforms second hand easily. This morning on our local radio call-in swap/trade program, someone was selling a shirt and pants set. I can see scout shops requiring ID to buy rank patches, etc., but other than that, clothes are clothes. You can get store bought clothes that look similar enough to pass as a scout uniform to non-scouting people. I think it’s way too PC and futile to try to restrict who buys scout shirts and pants.

  20. dressing up as a scout for halloween, i dunno. its a touchy subject. there are really two ways to look at this, one where the person dressing up is admiring scouting and showing scouting in a positive light; the other is that this person is wearing the uniform as a mockery and a joke.
    however, i find an exception in my own rational stated above. wearing an older vintage uniform that is not the current uniform, or even close to the current uniform style I think is okay as halloween costume. There are a great number of people out there who have old uniforms in their attics or closets that their fathers, uncles, grandfathers etc wore as children. With the economy being such as it is, and many people pinching pennies everywhere they can, a great number of costumes this year, especially in the area where i live, will come to children as second hand items.
    So with all that said, I guess you can say I am a bit on the fence on this issue. Being a scouter for over 10 years as a female adult, I dont think I would ever wear my uniform to anywhere except a scouting event or function within the guidelines as laid out by BSA national policy.

  21. Under no circumstances should the uniform be used for entertainment or for a costume. The badges on it must be earned. It should worn and treated with respect by those authorized to wear it.

  22. Well, I have to admit I wore a Scout uniform as a Halloween costume one year when I was about 23. I coupled it w/ a glow-in-the-dark hockey mask and fake “bloody” machete. While I was not a registered member of the BSA at that time, the uniform, however, was mine. The patches and badges earned by me during my tenure as a youth member and adult leader. I wore it to a private Halloween party where there were less than a dozen or so attendees. I actually got several compliments when I told them it was my actual uniform.
    Now, in regards to others wearing it who are not, nor ever were members of the BSA, I do have an issue, especially if it’s being worn by women who are trying to sex it up. But I don’t have a problem w/ current/former BSA members doing so, especially if money is tight.

  23. I hope the shop that turns people away is doing so in a relational way and not just being watch dogs about it. It sounds like a good opportunity to tell people about what the uniform stands for. If I do see a kid or adult in a uniform that isn’t in scouting. I hope I have the opportunity to tell them how much the program has meant to my son and I. Perhaps the kind words will cause them to think more deeply about their choice.

  24. I don’t think that Boy Scout uniforms should be used as costumes, because if you put the uniform, you are expected to act like a boy scout, and be what a scout is, in the Scout Law…even if the person was a scout, it might not be appropriate, but that isn’t for me to say
    Maybe it would be okay if someone wore it as a costume IF it was altered with fake blood and other things to follow some theme or meaning, which doesn’t represent boy scouts…and if it didn’t have the badges or things on the uniform that means something or that needed to be earned….then it would probably be okay(under circumstances).

  25. I used to be a girl scout and I fully intend on using my old sash for my costume this year. I don’t understand at all how it’s a “mockery” and quite frankly people need to calm down.

  26. OK, from a different point of view, someone comes in, buys the uniform for a costume, goes and wears it, whether for good or bad, that’s publicity BSA couldn’t pay for or get the kids to do.

    Each extra uniform sold is profit in the programs pocket, eventually (I know, I’m really just dreaming) reducing the actual cost of said uniforms for those of us who do buy them.

    When the producers brought “stripes” to the army the army accepted it with a few changes and saw an increase in enrollment. Bill Murray wore a red jac-shirt adorned with extra patches it shouldn’t have as he tried to go AWOL and suddenly my jacket was something people were impressed by (even without the extra patches).

    As it is an adult could go in and purchase a uniform for a kid to wear as a costume and few scout shops would know. And how many units actually hand out membership cards to the kids anymore? What will stop someone who really wants one from finding one at a garage sale, at a thrift shop. Whether their plan is pride or prejudice, they can acquire one of the thousands discarded yearly.

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