scout-uniform-4

Open for debate: What’s your Scout unit’s uniform policy?

Ask 90 different Scouters for their unit’s uniform policy, and you’ll get 90 different answers.

Sure enough, that was the case a couple of weeks ago when I polled Scouting‘s Facebook fans on the subject and got 90 responses.

The Boy Scouts of America Insignia Guide says it’s your responsibility as an adult leader to “promote the wearing of the correct complete uniform on all suitable occasions.”

But what constitutes a “suitable occasion”? And what exactly is considered a “correct complete uniform”?

Here’s what you had to say on the subject:

Get your priorities straight
“Would you rather they learn how to be good men (including, I believe, that a Scout is thrifty) or how to be good dressers? Not that the two have to be mutually exclusive, but flexibility among the troops as to the required uniform should be informed by the national organization as far as is possible and then practicality should be the guide.”
- Jen S.

Encourage recycling
“Field uniform is a must all the way down to the socks; no other pants are acceptable. Old or new pants are acceptable, so we have an exchange program in the troop to help cut down the cost of uniforms.”
- Jerry C.

Do your best
“Our Patrol Leaders Council decides what the uniform is, and currently they allow jeans but encourage Scout pants/shorts. We are an inner-city troop, and some of our boys can’t afford the uniform shirt much less the pants. We help them with buy/find/earn the shirt (top priority) and do not focus on the pants so much.”
- Tim B.

Uniforms should be uniform
“I’m going to work on improving our Scout uniform requirements ’cause the uniform is an important part of the program. Try telling your football or soccer coach that you aren’t wearing the team uniform and see what their response will be.”
- Ellie L.

Put the program first
“While jeans typically shouldn’t be a part of the uniform, and are absolutely inappropriate for an Eagle Court of Honor, we have Scouts who cannot afford the regulation pants. It is far more important for the guys to learn and to be a part of a group than to expect a single unemployed parent who receives no child support to purchase said item.”
- Nancy M.

Pay your way
“Cost is a lame excuse, ’cause you hear years later, ‘Oh, we still can’t afford them!’ What about a Scout paying his own way? The uniform is a part of Scouting, and it’s not like buying a house. Mow a lawn or two and earn them!”
- Steve T.

A time and a place
“Seems to vary with ours. Big events like a parade call for full uniform except for footwear (but it has to be shoes, sneakers). Otherwise we allow jeans generally.”
- Frank D.

Show some pride
“The uniform in one of the most important parts of Scouting; it sets us apart from the group of boys on the corner. When the public sees a Scout in full uniform, they give the boy a little more respect and in some places are not afraid of the youth. Lord Baden-Powell would be rolling over in his grave if he saw a Scout in jeans and sneakers.”
- Michael O.

Free from exclusion
“I totally agree with Nancy. While you can ‘require’ pants (NYLT does for their program) there remains that portion of kids who, for whatever reason, can’t afford pants and socks. To exclude anyone like that would be a really bad idea.”
- Joel H.

Little to interpret
“Full uniform is pretty specific … not sure why there are so many units that do not use it. I cringed when I saw a picture of a Scout leader in jeans while his senior patrol leader was in full uniform presenting a wreath at a Memorial Day ceremony.”
- Ron B.

Where do you fall on the subject? Leave your thoughts as a comment here.

94 thoughts on “Open for debate: What’s your Scout unit’s uniform policy?

  1. Pingback: New York OA Trader | Shared Items From Around The Web – June 17, 2011

  2. We expect uniform from the belt up, but if you are going for your board of review, you better be in uniform pants. In the summer, we all wear a troop t-shirt.

    • In our troop,we have a uniform exchange where you can get pants and shirts. So if someone out grows their uniform they put it in the exchange. Our district also has a uniform exchange for those in financial need.
      They wear class A for all meetings, court of honor, to and from summer camp, dinner at summer camp, Some community service projects like food drive, visit our local VA hospital/nursing home. when they go camping they wear regular clothes and the troop
      hat. This method works well for us.

  3. The BSA goal is to train youth in responsible citizenship, character development, and personal fitness. The Uniform is one of eight methods for attaining that goal, but it (the Uniform) is not an end, in itself. Our PLC has (for many years) chosen a red t-shirt, with our distinctive troop logo right across the chest. This shirt can be seen as unique, at 300 yards (across the fields in summer camp). Each shirt is less than $5 to produce and we sell them for $5 each. Most Scouts have at least 3 to 5 shirts each and we take in dozens each year for the Scout closet. Since our unit has 130 Scouts, when we mobilize to a weekend event, we are known as the “red tide”. So we ARE “uniform” and have a uniform. It is much more important to us to listen to the desires of our PLC and develop minds and young men. Otherwise, we could hang Class A field uniforms on the wall and have them “at the meetings” and get nothing else accomplished. It is far more important to keep relevant with your customers (today’s youth) than to enforce yesterday’s memories. There is a reason our unit is a highly desired destination for the youth of our area. Our solution may not work for others, but we all need to recognize and respect what works for each unit, in the area they live. All Scouting is Local.

  4. As a Scout of the 1970′s, olive drab uniform, still my favorite, I have always thought of the uniform as the single most important identifier of a Scout. Our troop allows khakis as a uniform pant, why? This was started long before I showed up. Trying to fix it, will take time. But, If you can buy Khakis, buy green pants, they don’t have to be BSA, but at least look the part. As an Eagle Scout, Woodbadger, Merit Badge Counselor and Assistant Scoutmaster you’d better be in a Class “A” if coming to me for a merit badge or advancement. Leaders are just as guilty, I work for a uniformed service, I’d have a difficult time coming to work and telling my boss why I wasn’t in uniform.

  5. Our pack requires belt up. Personally, with a son that seems to grow an inch a week, this seems to make the most sense. Our schools require our kids to wear blue or khaki pants anyway, so most of the boys wear their blue school pants with the uniform belt, shirt, etc.

    The official scout uniform is expensive, and our boys aren’t from a prosperous area. I have just one child and could afford to but my son’s belt up pieces plus socks all at once, but it was still over $100 when I walked out of the store. Most parents in my pack can’t do that. I had to wait a few months to go buy my shirt and patches, then another month to get my belt, and they don’t even make the scout pants to fit me so that’s not an option for this leader.

    Yes, the uniform is important and we do not allow jeans for any type of ceremony, but requiring a full uniform would exclude many boys in our pack, and the little guys cannot go out and earn money for a uniform as suggested above. That may be a good suggestion for Boy Scouts, but not for Cub Scouts where parents are footing the bill.

  6. As a trainer, I’ll start with the official position. The uniform is optional, according to the National BSA, although it is strongly encouraged. A troop might set a higher standard (anywhere from just the shirt and the troop neckerchief all the way up to everything including the socks), but the unit should then be prepared to deal appropriately with families for whom the uniform is a hardship. A used uniform supply seems like an obvious answer. It also helps if the adults live up to a higher standard than we set for the boys. Our troop requires the uniform, especially at Boards of Review, and I would never participate in one unless I have a full uniform on.

  7. My feelings have always been very clear about the uniform…it is an equalizer!!! You can’t tell the “rich” from the “poor” if you are wearing the same uniform.
    For those who can’t afford a uniform there are many options. Part of my Wood Badge ticket, both courses, has been to put a stock of “experienced” uniforms together. I was amazed to see how many uniforms were out there hanging in some bodys closet as moth bait. Some parents were just thrilled to have a place to send them to gain a little more experience. (Fox and Buffalo by the way:) ) Talk to your DE. Our council has a “Uniforms for Service” program. The scouts can agree to do some service in exchange for a uniform. One last idea, e-Bay. The last time I looked there were over 10.000 uniform parts. Granted this is not the perfect plan but you can find some great deals out there.
    Whatever the policy the PLC and the troop committee should come to an agreement so there is no doubt!!! If there is no doubt then every new member knows where they stand in the very beginning,
    “Just my opinion but given with the Scouting Spirit.”

  8. We are teaching scouts to be leaders. They need to demonstrate that by obtaining and wearing the proper uniform. They may need some help and guidance from the adults but they should be able to earn a uniform one way or another. I will give cub scouts a little leeway on uniforms because the program isn’t quite the same and the boys rely on their parents and Leaders more.

  9. Many of our scouts are from families who are struggling to make ends meet, so our policy is “Wear as much of the uniform as you have.” The troop provides a hat and neckerchief and an activity t-shirt as well as a used uniform shelf .
    We know the boys well enough to know which ones have the full uniform and which ones have only parts, but they better show up for a board of review in all the parts they own.

  10. My son and I are in a small pack of maybe 23 kids and we see kids showing up to meetings and derbys in tee shirts and pants. I don’t like it and tell the boys in my den to always wear their uniform shirt if nothing else. We don’t require pants, we are belt up.

  11. We do not require the pants for the boys in our Pack, simply because Cub Scout age boys grow so quickly that it’s not worth asking the parents to buy new pants every year (or more often).

    That said, when I was in Boy Scouts, we did require the full uniform, including pants. It was not enforced for times other than Courts of Honor and uniform inspections, but there were still a large portion of the boys who wore the pants to every meeting anyway when they wore their uniform. Lots of the troop wore the Class B shirts we had made (still have one of them).

    I think that seeing a scout in uniform sends a message. Scouting is about service and personal growth and I’ve noticed in my dealings with other Troops (both when I was a scout and since then) that those troops that enforce a full uniform policy tend to have boys that act more maturely than others. This is personal experience only, and not necessarily a view of all Scouts in general.

  12. to complain about the cost is an excuse. This is a pair of pants/switchbacks that they will wear 5-6 times a month (1 meeting a week plus an outing plus another event periodically). On a per use basis the cost is negligible, even with a growing boy.

    Units that have full uniforming also tend to follow other parts of the program more closely. In a pack, as I was stepping up, the pack was part uniformed, half-effort. We went to full uniform and wear it regularly. This promoted pride in self, in unit, and in presence. Prior to that, the pack had a 60% retention rate. Afterwards, we had a 90+%. Was it all uniforming? no. But being properly uniformed for youth and adults made a tremendous impact. The one den that didn’t want to get with the program and be full uniformed had a 50% drop rate each year…and accounted for 75% of our drops each year.

    Troops are likewise. Troops which are fully uniformed and have scouts which show pride in themselves and the troop to which they below see increased retention, better turnout for outings, and generally a more sustainable program.

    • I have to politely disagree. Cost is not an excuse, it is a very real issue for many parents these days. All the boys at our pack’s school wear a required attire for school, and parents stuggle to spent $12 at WalMart for school pants that often get worn multiple times a week.

      You are fortunate that it’s not an issue for you. In our pack, however, it is a very big issue. I bought a shirt for my son that was too big for him as a Tiger (not huge, but roomy) hoping that it will last until he’s at least a Bear. Pants that he was able to wear last fall would not fit him today so the same philosophy doesn’t work for pants.

      Do uniforms help instill a sense of pride and belonging to the boys? Absolutely. And wearing blue school pants instead of the BSA pants does not change that.

  13. I’m probably going to be unpopular with this comment, but I personally don’t believe in having any form of uniform policy for our troop.

    As a scoutmaster I proudly wear the Boy Scout uniform from head to toe. I feel it is an outward symbol of my priorities and I am proud to display the patches that I’ve worked hard and live for. It’s an outward sign of an inward commitment and I can’t wait to wear it every week. I think most, if not all of us here, feel the same way. I think that’s why so many of us get almost personally offended when a scout chooses not to wear his.

    I want the scouts in our troop to feel the same way I do. Instead of making it an obligation or a policy and getting after them I instead focus on the experiences they are having in the troop. When they work hard for a badge, they want to show it. When they are proud of their rank they want to show it and see where others are to compare. When they feel a part of a patrol that they created and run and have a real club of their own they want to share symbols and outward signs that they are a part of something exclusive and that they have their specific role. Camp and jamboree temporary patches are prizes and memories to be carried with them.

    I’d rather spend my time and energy to help a young man capture the spirit and adventure of scouting and let the uniform take care of itself, rather than spend the time trying to convince or pressure them into something they don’t yet understand.

  14. Uniforms are expense, particularly if you have twins in the same unit. The current scout switchbacks don’t really work for my sons or my husband. I wish there was some flexibility with pants. I also wish that the cost of the shirts were lower. I bought one style shirt for sons and the polyester caused “pilling” within a few washings. It was ridiculous. E-bay isn’t always an option either. Scout closets usually have very small sizes.

    • How about getting your twins out there raking and mowing lawns, shoveling snow, collecting cans, selling popcorn, babysitting, doing odd jobs.
      Scouting is not expensive. You need to look at it as value for your dollar.
      A Scout is Thrifty.. he pays his own way. Don’t make excuses.. get them off their butts and have them work for it.
      I have two sons in my Troop.. they both pay their way annually.. Oh and paid their way to Jambo last year at $3000 a Scout.
      Excuses that its too expensive are no excuse… show me a Scout that learns the value of a dollar and I will show you a Scout that will go far in life.
      OR– keep making excuses and get nowhere.
      There is one uniform as described in the Uniform insignia guide. We wear it.

      • If that’s the attitude you have with your sons, it doesn’t seem as though they’re going to make it as far as you think. While it is important for a Scout to learn work skills, nobody should like that to a Scout or their parents. Scouting is inclusive, not exclusive. If they don’t have a uniform, find constructive ways to help them realize that, like your boys, they can work for it. None of this “get them off their butts” business. Just because a boy doesn’t have a uniform, doesn’t mean he won’t get anywhere in life, unless you insist on treating them as losers because they don’t make enough money.

  15. As a Commissioner I tell leaders the Scouts should vote on the uniform. Deciding what part of the uniform the Unit will wear. Understanding the Uniform Shirt is the most important part of the uniform. I also tell the leaders that do what the families can afford.

    • Where did you read that the shirt is the most important part of the uniform? It is the only part that is optional. Look at the field uniform and the activity uniform. What is the difference? the shirt. The official uniform consists of the scout shirt, scout pants, belt and socks. No vote is required!

    • Being a Commissioner also, I am interested where it says “…the boys should vote on the uniform. Deciding on what part of the uniform the unit will wear.” With the exeption of hats and neckerchiefs, I am unaware of where Cubs or Boy Scouts can choose if what parts to wear.
      This is not Venturing we are talking about here.
      Uniforming is one of the Methods of scouting and not an optional one. None of the methods are optional last time I checked.

  16. September thru mid May our Troop requires the Field Uniform for meetings and Full Field Uniform (with sash) for SM Conference and Boards of Review. We have a distinctive Activity Uniform T shirt and allow that for specific activities and for Summer meetings (due to the warmth in our meeting place and the Summer meetings are usually outside in 90 degree heat to work on skills). We are not a stickler for BSA pants since our families cannot keep growing boys in expensive pants. We do require green or khaki pants for Field Uniform (no Jeans). Kmart and other stores have the correct color pants for $10-$15 depending on sales so that isn’t a real hardship on anyone.

    • We have a similar policy in our troop, which was founded just six years ago. The founding Scouts at that time chose a modified belt-up policy. Scouts must wear the “Class A” uniform shirt, belt and bolo tie (the boys’ choice), but they can wear green pants or green shorts of their own choosing/purchase. The boys chose not to adopt a uniform hat. For courts of honor, we keep to that standard, but we stipulate no tennis shoes (hiking boots or better are required) and boys should wear sashes (if they have them). During summer, we have Class B tee shirts that are worn at all events, except for boards of review, which require full Class A. When in the field, we dress in a manner appropriate to what we are doing. If it is 20 degrees out, the uniform will be covered by three layers of clothing, anyway, but when we are at summer camp, we wear Class Bs and dress up for dinner, etc. We find this to be an adaptable, practical and flexible approach that sets a good balance for the boys and the families.

  17. eBay, eBay, eBay! If the uniform, new off the rack, is too expensive, eBay, thrift stores and garage sales are an excellent option. There are, right now, lots of Cub Scout uniforms on eBay for less than $10. Looking right now on eBay, they have a Cub Scout shirt for $2.99, Switchbacks for $9.99, neckerchiefs for $3.00, and so on.

    I had a Tiger Cub last fall that got shirt and pants at a garage sale for $4.50. And it already had the correct CSP sewn on.

    As a Cubmaster of an inner city Pack, I know all too well about parents not being able to afford the uniform. However, oftentimes I have to take it with a little bit of skepticism, as these are sometimes the same families who also brag they have have a Wii, Nintendo DS, XBox, etc., that makes their “it’s too expensive” argument often fall on deaf ears. We of course should never criticize or scrutinize how a family spends their money, but you have to sometimes look with a skeptical eye when they claim they can’t afford something their son will wear well over a hundred times in their Scouting career.

  18. I have seen a lot of great comments here. But the “Belt Up” comment is the one that fits my troop. We have kids from families with various financial abilities. We do mandate Class A Shirts, Neckerchief and Slide at meetings. When we have activities that could ruin uniform shirts we go to Class B Troop Shirts or even painting clothes such as when we stained the Klondike Sleds. Our general meeting standard is Class A Shirts with your Class B underneath. We do not have a pants rule for meeting unless it will involve a pecial events or guest speaker. Our reminder to scouts is no sweat pants or gym shorts with a Class A Shirt. As a leader, I generally dress in full uniform hat to boots for meetings, (unless I come straight from work then it is dress clothes). At times the leaders who come straight from work are in their clothes they wore to work that day. As leaders we have to put guiding the troop ahead of being in full uniform. No leaders – No scouting. (But never for events with the public).

    I use the guidance of the local arena that has Scouts present flags before their events. They mandate NO blue jeans and NO tennis shoes when scouting groups present flags. Arena staff will ask scouts to be removed from the flag presentation patrols that do not meet that requirement. We try to use the same standard for Court of Honor, Board of Reviews and Special Events the troops holds or is part of where we have exposure to the general public. Boys who do not have scout pants and boots are permitted to wear dress or khaki pants and dress shoes. We are sensitive to the fact that these are growing boys so the pants and shoes they are wearing today will be too small in a few months. When we do Board of Review Prep we check for belts.

    In the end it is about what the scout learns and that young boys are working to become young men that will make positive contributions to society from the lessons they learn through scouting. But the discipline of wearing the proper clothing at the proper time is part of the overall lesson of how your gain respect.

  19. I am really tired of those who have the position that the uniform is not important. They keep saying “BSA says it is not required”, so they don’t require it. Besides uniforming being one of the methods of scouting, these people are misusing this policy for their own selfish ways.
    The reason for this policy way for purely financial reasons. It goes back to the begining of the movement, when a uniform was a big investment for a family (it still is). It was intended not to deprive a boy of scouting because he could not afford a uniform. But that was considered a temporary situation, the scout was expected to start to save for his uniform, and get one as soon as he could. A scout is thrifty, uniforms can be reunsed (uniform banks), purchased at thrift stores, bought on eBay.
    Units that have both Field and Activity uniforms (Class A & B) can make things a lot easier (on both the scout and the clothing).
    Those who say we can’t afford it, are coping out. While for some this may be real, for most who say this will not blink and eye and buy sports uniforms, latest electronics games, and in fashion clothes/shoes.
    I have seen inner-city youth in full uniform. Kids from single parent homes, on welfare, just strugling to get by. It is possible, you just have to look at all possibilities and just do it.
    It is where your priorities are.
    Nothing grinds me the most as seeing scouts in public (Parade, Flag Ceremony, etc) and seeing them in a sloppy uniform shirt, with flowered board shorts, looking like a “Rag Bag”, and knowing that they are from a very well off family (those shorts alone cost more than a complete uniform, as does the shoes he is wearing). And yet these parents are some of those who cry “the uniform is not required”.
    It is were your priorities are (or not).

      • You say you are a Scoutmaster, yet you don’t seam to want to follow ALL of the methods of scouting. In order to deliver the promise to these boys, it must be a total package, not pick and choose. Much like taking the “outing out of scouting”.
        You set the example by wearing the uniform, thats half the battle. More often that boys are not wearing the uniform is a symptom of other problems in the unit and/or with the boy.
        When I say that poor uniforming at a public function (like a flag ceremony) grinds me the most, I refer to the lack of respect that shows towards towards the our country’s flag and all it stands for, not to mention the poor example representing the Boy Scouts, themselves, and by extension their troop leaders.
        BSA is a uniformed organization, it is part of who we are and how the program is delivered to the boys. While you seem to get it for yourself, try making it a part of your program so that the boys might benifit too.
        SM Faststart and Specific Training as well as Wood Badge can explain all of this in detail.

        • What grinds me the most is when a parent selfishly refuses to bring their son to an activity, function or camp out because they (the parent) “weren’t feeling up to it” that night. When the boy receives a hand held video game system for Christmas but it’s my extra sleeping bag and gear keeping him warm through the night at the Klondike. What grinds me the most is watching a boy in your troop make wrong friends, wrong choices and struggle to help him keep his life from falling apart. What grinds me the most is when a troop of boys really want to get out and try Kayaking and they can’t get enough leaders or parents to get proper training and commit to it because they aren’t interested or available. Stressing about how a 13 year old tucks in his shirt or what color his pants are doesn’t even make it onto the priority list.
          I agree with you completely that the lack of respect for the uniform is a symptom of some other much larger problem. Problems vary greatly among troops and boys. That’s why I don’t worry about the uniform itself. I’d choose to focus my time and energy on the problem. Our troop doesn’t have a uniform policy. That doesn’t mean we don’t wear uniforms. The boys who have grown to respect and be proud of their achievements and have caught the scouting spirit wear theirs proudly, the ones who haven’t gotten to that point yet typically don’t. But I’m not going to write a policy and stress about enforcing it. Teaching and showing them show to be properly uniformed, teaching what that means and giving them a program they can be proud of in my experience takes care of the rest.

    • The uniform is not an investment for the “Family”.. it is an investment for the Scout. What ever happened to a Scout earning their way? My oldest son just out grew his shirt.. he is getting his stuff ready to staff at Summer camp and so he went and bought himself a new Scout shirt.
      He has money in his Scout account from working (selling popcorn, mowing lawns etc). That is how it should work.
      Stop with this “Burden to the Family” business. Are we not teaching these young men to be self reliant? Think a review of Scouting’s aims in order here. What is the Promise of Scouting? Adventure, character, self reliance etc…
      Sorry for the rant…

  20. As an Eagle Scout (with 8 palms) and as a recent leader I have to say the problem with uniforms is not that scouts do not have enough money for the uniform but that the uniform is for one incredibly stupid looking and outdated. I know that tradition is great and all but the goal of the scouting movement is to raise boys into responsible men I hate to say it but the boy scout uniform needs to be modernized and I don’t mean more velcro which made the shirt look even worse. I personally do use an older uniform from the seventies because it is better looking than the current uniform. When it comes to enforcing uniform policy I do not scold anyone for wearing their uniforms with their shirts untucked or opened except when we are doing something special. My favorite thing to hear is about the uniform i first heard from buddy of mine who also works at summer camp tell scouts that Baden Powell designed the uniform to be tucked in. However that is both factually wrong as the original uniform was designed not to be tucked in and the fact that it has been years since the his uniforms were used. I

    • I support the idea that Scouts should be dressed in uniforms for formal occasions even if the design of the current shirt is absolutely hideous. Not only is the design terrible for an organization that encourages activity, I see scouts walking around with so many patches sewn to their shirts they look like NASCAR drivers. It’s almost as if we’re trying to subsidize the patch industry. Despite it’s shortcomings, I do believe that scouts should wear the uniform at a court of honor, parade or formal function. We don’t require our Scouts to buy the pants but we do ask that they wear the shirt and neckerchief for those occasions and ask that they be tucked in. We also try to discourage jeans but we don’t mandate it. We’re not going to ask boys to leave a meeting because they show up wearing jeans. I see a lot of people on here advocating if not demanding that the full uniform should be required. Well unless I missed an update, that’s not BSA policy and it’s not our job to assign BSA policy. What I’d really like to see is the BSA move to some really nice new gear for outdoor activities. It would be fantastic to see the BSA partner up with Nike, Reebok or Under Armor to develop some cutting edge stuff for the boys to wear when they’re out in the woods running around. The stuff would look great, tit would be functional and they might even wear it to school. When was the last time you saw a scout wearing their uniform outside of a scout meeting or event.. I never have.

  21. My son has sensory integration issues and getting him to wear any season or occasion appropriate clothes is an issue. Every Fall it is a struggle as we retire the shorts and move into very loose fitting track pants for school. Jeans and kakhis are never an option, as well as any long sleeved shirt or winter-weight coat. Our troop requires shirt, neckerchief, belt, and socks. In addition, jeans and kakhis, or official shorts, are required for Scoutmaster conferences, driving to/from events, and courts of honor. I have struggled for 5 years during our Cub Scout years to get him to just wear the Cub shirt with success for only minutes at a time. As Den Leader and Cubmaster all these years, I’ve led by example, wearing my achievements and showing pride in the program. He talks about all the great things we’ve done in Scouting, but the uniform issue is holding him back in Boy Scouts.

  22. For our pack: belt up, hat is optional. For pants we ask they try to get the right color and suggest trying to match the style for full dress occasions, but do not require full BSA. Neckerchief and slide are a one-time buy-in, traded in at bridging unless the parent wants to keep the old one and buy fresh each year.

  23. Our troop does not make the boys wear scout pants but are required to wear the shirts for meetings and any Council outings. The only acceptable pants are khaki style pants or shorts. No basketball shorts or wind pants.

  24. From September through May, we require a Class A shirt. The main rule about pants is “no athletic shorts.” Any decent khakis or jeans are OK, but we expect the shirt to be tucked in and the pants to be at a proper elevation (anyone who can’t seem to keep his pants up is given a length of rope, and a suggestion that a square knot would be appropriate.)

    We also don’t require neckerchiefs or hats. Honestly, most boys don’t want to wear them, and they are an unnecessary expense.

    Summer is Class B. Similar to another post, we are large troop, and we create a “red tide” as we swarm through a camp.

  25. We used to be a “belt up” Troop, and I guess our Parent’s Guide says we still are. However, as more of our members are elected to OA and attend NYLT (both require complete uniforms), the number of of our members who own complete uniforms has increased. Then a subtle hint to our SPL had him actually wearing the complete uniform to meetings! He then encouraged all members of the PLC to do the same, which in turn was followed by all members wearing complete uniforms. Amazing. Scout Run is a Wonderful Thing! (We still have an occasional lapse in the sock department — white socks do not really blend in with a Boy Scout uniform.) A quick comment during the Scoutmaster Minute about how great the Troop looks rewards them for their efforts.

  26. What’s “our troop’s” uniform policy? Well, it’s the same as the BSA’s. We’re Scouts and we wear the uniform of Scouts. Everywhere and on all occasions. We sometimes take our uniform shirts off and have on just our tee-shirts, for some short-duration games or service projects or such, but when we’re done, we put our shirts back on. The troop (meaning: the Scouts) did decide on the two options OK’d by the BSA, and so we all wear standard BSA-issue caps, and we all wear neckerchiefs designed by the Scouts and made by the parents (the troop dues paid for the material). We have a pool of experienced uniform parts for any Scout who needs a particular item, except socks, which we all buy new, but that’s about it. Not a particularly big deal, either: Our Scouts look like the Scouts they are, and no one’s ever had an issue with this! We do have one little “wrinkle” that may be worth mentioning: Since it’s understood that “full uniform” is what’s expected, if a Scout is running late from, say, his Little League or AYSO or Pop Warner game, and he shows up in his full baseball or soccer or football uniform, he’s considered totally “legal” by his fellow Scouts– and this is something the Scouts considered and agreed upon, all amongst themselves! Ahh, democracy in action’s a wonderful thing!

  27. If there’s one thing in uniforming I personally miss more than any other, I’ll confess that it’s the yoke-collar short-sleeved uniform shirt! These make neckerchiefs easy to wear and lookin’ good! By golly, we sure looked like SCOUTS in that era! Second most-missed item: The overseas or Garrison cap, that folded flat and was appropriate to wear looped over your belt on the right side. Looked sharp, conveniently stowed when indoors — what more could you ask for!

  28. The cost of official BSA gear has skyrocketed in recent years. Everything is so expensive. My youngest just joined Scouts, as a Webelo, and it cost me around $60 for a shirt and all the patches he needed. That is just CRAZY.
    There are boys that cannot afford uniforms. We do our best to get them shirts (we are SLOWLY building a Scout Closet). We wore a particular kerchief but BSA discontinued the colors so now we are in limbo as we have boys with and those without. So to survive the summer, we have a no kerchief policy during the summer.

    I would LOVE to have the boys in the complete uniform from the socks up to the kerchief, but this is not a reality in todays economic times. We do the best we can, and ask the parents to do the same. I provide links to Wal-Mart and other shopping places for specific low cost shorts and pants that will suffice as replacements for official BSA pants and shorts.

    Its the best we can do.

  29. I would like to put in a comment as a parent in the “too expensive” camp. I have two boys in Scouts, and a daughter with her eye on a Venture Crew or Sea Scout Ship next year when she will be old enough. Used shirts are easy to come by, though the old style (which stain and are hard to get entirely wrinkle-free) and belts and socks. Their troop does not require hats or neckerchiefs. Pants are another story entirely, with both growing VERY quickly still, given the expense. I agree that often the only one in uniform closets are smaller sizes. Also? Ebay requires PayPal, which requires either a credit card or a bank account. Not everyone has those (or feels comfortable opening them up to that sort of access). And we do NOT spend all our money on designer clothes/video games/electronics. Our one income goes towards staples, and thrift stores are our friends. So please, do not be insulting towards everyone that says they can’t afford it – some could, if that were a priority, but you can’t force it to be, but some of us truly can’t.

  30. There are compelling arguments on both sides of the fence here. The analogy to sports teams is a good one – there’s no way my son’s baseball coach would let him play without the complete jersey, cap, pants and socks! Why should Scouting be any different? But a new uniform is quite expensive (over $100 with all the trimmings); so cost considerations aren’t a “lame excuse.” When I was a boy, I remember my mom telling me that she couldn’t even afford the patches (troop number and such), so I felt lucky just to have the shirt. “Mowing lawns” to earn it may work in a comfortable suburban neighborhood, but what about those inner city kids? I’m all for the complete uniform, but compassion and understanding call for a bit of flexibility. Now I know that uniform sales are a source of much needed revenue for the BSA, but I wish they would find a way to make it more affordable. And maybe the kids who *really* can’t afford it are the ones who need Scouting the most. Should we make them feel like outcasts by insisting on a complete uniform when they cannot realistically attain one?

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