Tuck everlasting: Scout uniform shirts should always be tucked in, BSA says

scout-uniform-4To tuck or not to tuck.

That was the question on the minds of hundreds of parents who have called the BSA headquarters over the past several months.

Their query: Does the Boy Scouts of America require uniform shirts to be tucked in? The questions are specifically referring to field uniforms (known to some by the unofficial name “Class A”) and not activity uniforms (“Class B”).

Problem is there hasn’t been an official policy in the past. The requirement was that the uniform-wearer must be “neat in appearance.” Most packs, troops, and crews interpreted that to mean tucking the shirts in, but a few didn’t.

Now we’ve got our final answer. Read the BSA’s official stance after the jump: 

Effective Oct. 1, 2013, the official stance on the Boy Scouts of America’s uniform policy is that shirts are to be worn tucked in, regardless of whether the wearer is a Cub Scout, Boy Scout, Varsity Scout, Venturer or adult Scouter. All Sea Scout uniforms are designed to be tucked in except youth dress whites and youth dress blues.

In the past, guidelines have simply stated the uniform wearer should be neat in appearance. Neatness includes tucking in the shirt. This update will appear in related resources, such as the uniform inspection sheets, as they are revised and printed.

So there you have it: Tuck those uniform shirts in. Though the official stance is new, the practice is old as the BSA itself. Any time you see a Scout wearing a uniform in an official BSA-printed publication, his shirt is tucked in. Just look through the Boy Scout Handbook, Scouting or Boys’ Life magazines, a BSA Supply catalog, or any merit badge pamphlet, and you’ll see exclusively tucked-in shirts.

Equally important is what’s not being said here. The BSA doesn’t tell you to wear the field uniform at all times. Many units that conduct a service project or take a weekend backpacking trip will leave the field uniform shirt on the hanger at home. But that’s up to you (and your Scouts) to decide.

Related posts

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

Is an older Scout who wears his uniform in public committing ‘social suicide?’ Weigh in on one Scoutmaster’s policy

What do you think?

What’s your opinion on this clarification? Does this match what your unit does already? Leave a comment below.

245 thoughts on “Tuck everlasting: Scout uniform shirts should always be tucked in, BSA says

  1. My home troop has always had the policy of “Tuck it in or take it off.” Scouts seem to understand that readily, but they do need to be reminded.

    On a related topic, I’d like to suggest that referring to the Class A as a “field uniform” can be confusing. Isn’t it logical to think you’d wear a field uniform in the field? Instead, why not call a Class A the “dress uniform” and a Class B the “activity uniform?” It’s clearer and requires little to no explanation.

    • Class A and Class B are discourged by National at all. You actually have 3 variations: Court of Honor Uniform (sash, etc), Field Uniform (leave the sash home, and maybe things like neckers), and activity – of Physical training gear as school used to call it.

  2. I’m fine with tucking in the shirt, but how about BSA making shirts available for “big and tall”? My son is tall and has a long torso. The standard shirt…even a 2xl adult, is not long enough for him to tuck it in, without hiking his pants up and looking like Ed Grimley (…let’s see how many folks remember that reference…LOL!)

    • My wife went out and got similar cloth and added “tails” to all my uniforms. Something about making clothing overseas – they jsut don’t understand sizes. Maybe it’s time to bring making BSA uniforms back to the good ole USA?

      • I second your motion that it is time all BSA uniforms and all other possible items be made in USA. I am sure there are a few companies that would jump at the chance to supply the BSA and employ some who are not working now. It will not happen overnight and will not take much effort. I am sure if the BSA puts out a public RFP (request for proposal) they will get more than a few responses.

      • See this link from BSA Supply regarding uniforms:


        I think they would tell you that if they could get uniforms and other items all made in the USA, they would, but the companies that are capable of doing that don’t exist in the U.S. anymore. It’s hard to compete with cheap labor.

        Remember, the BSA Supply Division used to do all their own patches (insignia, council strips, badges, etc.) in-house at their location in Charlotte (I know–I used to work for the company that supplied them with all their embroidery machines). Now, they farm it all out to other suppliers because it’s less expensive.

        I don’t want this to turn into a discussion on Made in the USA, versus not, but the BSA is not immune to a lack of clothing manufacturers in the U.S.–it’s affecting every manufacturer. Heck, most Levi’s aren’t even made in the U.S. anymore!

      • I don’t think it’s as much an issue of where the uniforms are made as it is one of how the items are designed. They simply aren’t designed to fit all male bodies (like the fellows with long torsos, above), or any female bodies.

    • My son and I are both very tall in the waist with long arms and have no problem keeping our shirts tucked in. Even when bending over.

    • Pants are made to be worn on the waist regardless of the decade. I find it hard to believe that your son’s physiology is so outside the norm that even a shirt made for giants is too small for him if he’s wearing his pants where they’re supposed to be worn.

      • Thanks for this, Steve. The made-to-measure shirt form is for men’s shirts only, though. If I had one made based on my “cross-chest” and “bottom sweep” measurements and no waist measurement (as the form is set up), the shirt’s waist would turn out to be enormously blousy — as if I were wearing a balloon — and the extra yardage of fabric would not tuck into my pants without wadding and bunching in a most unsightly fashion.

        Even after decades of female membership, the BSA hasn’t caught on yet that women have full breasts, small waists, and full hips. We may have been made from Adam’s rib, but we have differently-shaped body parts that don’t fit neatly into his clothing.

  3. About time!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I’ve always had the “tuck it in or take it off” attitude and for most Scouts once reminded that way will comply but occasionally Im not so lucky@

  4. I personally think it is a good move……especially since “uniforming” is Item 7 on the “Methods of Scouting” and should be a core practice of every Team, Troop, Crew and Pack. Even prior to this decision, our troop had this internal policy.

  5. We female leaders with a few (or many) extra pounds do not appreciate being included in this. In the business world, men wear suits with tucked in shirts. Women may also, but we may also choose to wear a flowing blouse to look and feel more confident and comfortable. Shame it’s not the same here.

    • That is a big issue with many of the women on our committee. They wish that BSA would design a dress uniform more tailored for the female body. If they want the support of the mom’s, then they do need to be a bit more accommodating. Even the U.S. military has different dress uniforms for men and women.

      • C’mon ladies. We need to Cowgirl up! I am an Assistant Scoutmaster, Merit Badge Counselor, and one of the trips I lead every year is our 50-mile bike trip for the Cycling Merit Badge (yes, I ride). I wear the tan shirt, tucked in, with the belt. I’m packing a few extra pounds but I’m working on that to “keep myself physically strong”. We do not need an exemption because we are female. The Scout Oath and Law applies equally to all of us and we all need to set an example. Do I look “pretty”? no, and that’s not the point. When I put that uniform on I stand tall (all 5’4″ of me) and I wear it proudly. If you’re unhappy with the way you look, what is preventing you from changing it? We tell the boys, “Yes, you can,” well, yes, we can!

        • Women don’t need to look like frumpy men in order to be welcome I to the BSA. Professional attire in the civilian world differs in cut, fabric, style between men and women. In the military, women’s uniforms are very similar but shaped differently. They even make female ACU’s (combat fatigues) that are-guess what?-shaped differently from the men’s. Their equivalent of the BSA’s “class A” when I was in the Army was tailored and untucked. No one thought less of us females from wearing a female version of the uniform. I’ll say it again, women in the BSA don’t need to dress like frumpy men in order to feel like they are accepted.

    • I totally agree, the female uniform shirts have a square hem and are shorter in length than a male shirt of the same size. I first bought a female shirt and found when I tuck it in (because I do think tucked looks better than not) and have to raise my hand for anything (salute the flag, scout sign to get attention, etc) my shirt is pulled almost completely out of my pants. The female shirts have a square hem, which gives it a neat appearance if you do wear it out. So, do you want generously sized moms who support scouts wearing it tucked and sloppy or out and neat? I agree, mens shirts should be tucked.

    • I don’t know about ALL, but some of the female shirts do not come with tails! They are made with split side seams which indicates untucked. When you try to wear them tucked, you’ll spend half your day tucking it back in. And these are the khaki shirts – not yellow.

      • I noticed the side splits also, and that indicates “untucked” to me as well. The fit of the ladies apparel is simply poor… S/M/L simply don’t work for uniforms (shirts and pants) in the same way they do for t-shirts.

    • Lisa, how are female leaders with a few extra pounds any different from all the male leaders out there also carrying a lot of extra body fat? Scouting isn’t the business world, and everyone is wearing the same uniform, regardless of oversized hips or belt-overlapping beer bellies. The sword of equality cuts both ways–if you want to be treated equally, you have to accept the bad aspects along with the good.

      • So your logic is that women conforming to the existing outfit is “equality”? By that logic they should put urinals in the women’s bathrooms. Because the bathrooms provided should be exactly the same, right?

        Women have hips and breasts which men don’t have. It would be nice if the uniform for women acknowledged and accommodated this simple physiological fact.

        • Exactly, Jean. This isn’t about fat or fit, this is about curvy or straight. Women are not built like men, yet the BSA is trying to uniform us as though we are. The BSA official uniform simply does not fit most women, no matter the numbers on the scale. Uniform shirts for other organizations have anatomically appropriate seaming or darts to accommodate the female physique. Why doesn’t the BSA offer the same?

  6. Bryan, with the exception of a local service project, our troop ALWAYS travels in the field uniform (Class A) and when we roll into a rest stop or a McDonalds or any stop along the way to our destination, let me tell you, it looks really cool! It draws attention and the boys conduct themselves exceptionally well, opening doors for others and allowing people to go ahead of us in the line (there are 40 of us and perhaps only 3 or 4 of them). People will approach us, shake our hands, and tell us of theirs or their son’s experiences in scouting. I encourage all troops to do this if they are not already doing it. I always enjoy these moments, they are amazing!

  7. It Seems That National Supply Should Make The Ladies Shirts Longer Then. I Wear The Uniform Nearly Everyday And It Always Comes Untucked If I Move At All. The Way They’re Tailored Now It Appears They Were Made To Be Worn Untucked.

  8. Sorry Lisa, The uniform should be tucked in for Men, Women and Boys. The only time we should be different is sleeping quarters and bathrooms. Clearly the uniform is not for comfort. Lord knows i look better in street clothes, but we are choosing to be a part of Boy Scouts and should not ask for exceptions. Just Saying…

  9. I totally agree with Rich and Janet, there is No option. and we travel the same way. when we are out and about the uniform stands out and is free advertising for Boy Scouts that we are still around and Proud of it. It also seems to make the boys act and speak in a better way than when they blend in.

  10. It makes sense to me on another point. Which is, the boys and leaders represent Scouting to the public. In our uniforms, we should respect it as we would have the public respect it. If it is not neat in appearance then we are just a rabble but if we keep it neat then we are professional looking. That appearance says a lot about who we are as Scouts. Of course, when working on a public service project then the rules change as we don’t want to destroy our uniforms that’s why the difference between field uniform, and t-shirts and relaxed wear.

  11. Then let’s make a ladies shirt that fits. I am thin and tall. I am swallowed up by a ladies small and and too um..endowed for a youth xl. My boys tell me a look like a big tan puffy marshmallow. :0)
    Can’t we get a ladies cut that is a little tailored?

    • Find a local tailor to take in the additional material for a better fit, learn how to do this yourself (as I did), or contact Supply Group and order a Made-to-Measure uniform shirt. Different people are built differently, and its unreasonable to expect that Supply Group should provide every conceivable size “off the rack”.

  12. Untucked as an accommodation for women – I am remembering my own mother who was pregnant with twins when I was a Cubbie and she was my Den Leader – is reasonable. It would certainly be courteous of BSA to consider their needs.

  13. I have a question about the terms tat are used for uniforms. I have heard that BSA was moving away from the military type terms for uniforms…Class A and B and Field uniform. Last I heard the BSA wanted them called “Official BSA Uniform and Activity Uniform”. Is that accurate?

    • The BSA has never used the terms Class A or Class B. The official names are “BSA Field Uniform” and the ‘BSA Activity Uniform”.

  14. Sadly, I can foresee a loss of some female volunteers. I’m very petite and just recently have able to find uniform pants that I feel comfortable tucking my uniform shirt into. Most uniform pants do not fit women well. The newer ones that actually come in sizes instead of S M and L are much better but not everyone can go out and spend $40-50 on new pants. I had been told on several occasions that for women tucking was optional.

    • If anyone (female or not) is so touchy that they would quit over being asked to tuck their shirt in (which they should not have to be asked in the first place) then they probably don’t belong in a hierarchical organization in the first place.

      • Moody
        When I first started volunteering as a leader 10 years ago, I had just had a baby – and there was no way I was going to tuck my shirt in. If someone had asked me to do that I would have been mortified! The way women look (or perceive they look) in the clothes they wear is extremely personal and the flipped nature of your comment is hurtful. I can safely say that a lot of packs in this country could not survive without female volunteers – I know ours wouldn’t.

        • I just posted about this. It seems the die hard “tuck in or tuck out” group is males who are involved more in Boy Scouts than Cub scouts, and they may have forgotten just who wears most of the adult uniforms in a pack.

      • If an organization can’t even address the physical needs of their people, how are they really being accepting of differences?

        A Scout is friendly, courteous, and kind. Considering the feelings of those around you should be part of those characteristics.

  15. I wore a military uniform before an adult scouter’s uniform and the female alterations were much more comfortable, and yes’m they included an untucked tailored shirt. Skills or fat, short or tall, I have never seen a female who looked professional in her uniform. Even with the newest updates, the uniform on females looks like they are borrowing their husband’s (too big) or their son’s (too small). I asked my local scout shop about tucking female uniforms and was told about the former “neat appearance” rule. After wearing it tucked for the past 12 years, the past few months I have worn it untucked and have felt much more confident in my uniform, happy to wear it and focus on my den and our activities instead of keeping it tucked in. Now that has to change.

    I can understand that the uniforms have to be made considering all body types, and it’s obvious that many men don’t fit into their uniforms well nor do they look professional in them either. But the uniform developers really need to take a cue for the military and not try to make the female leaders look like frumpy boys. That might be ok in a troop with less female leaders, but in a Cub Scout pack with lots of moms, it’s obvious the BSA uniform developers don’t concern themselves with female body types.

    • “That might be ok in a troop with less [sic] female leaders…”
      I agree with nearly everything you said, except this. Why would it be better for a lone female leader in a Boy Scout troop to look like she’s trying to wear men’s clothing? Doesn’t she look even more out of place as the only one dressed ridiculously than she would if there were a large contingent of women in the ill-fitting men’s clothes? I’ve been there. Being the only one looking like I’m playing dress-up in someone else’s clothes does not lend one confidence in an already male-dominated sphere. No matter how many or how few women are dressed in men’s clothes with a “ladies’” label sewn into them, it’s an image that is not good marketing for the BSA.

      • Sorry, you misunderstood. I don’t think a lone female should try to look like a generic scouter in boy’s clothing. She should look professional and neat in appearance, to include wearing a shirt that buttons on the left, is cut for a female, and fits properly. Imagine if we forced men to wear women’s blouses with minimal alterations; they wouldn’t like it just as we don’t like this.

        Now on a different note, today’s boys don’t appreciate short shorts and knee socks. My boys would rather swelter in pants in the hot sun than wear the current shorts. I think switchbacks are long enough and ok, but another thread talks about older boys committing “social suicide” by wearing their uniform in public–it’s all about those short shorts, at least according to my 6 Scout sons and everyone in their units. Now THERE’s a uniform piece with lots of room for improvement.

        • Agreed. It’s hard enough to be confident in your teen years without having to dress like an überdweeb. Do you remember the original switchbacks when they first came out with them? The crotch hung nearly to the knees because they made the rise disproportionately long. My son could pull his waistband up around his chest (level with his nipples) without the fabric straining at the crotch. Whoever is designing the uniform doesn’t seem to have a clue, fashion-wise or fit-wise.

  16. Funny, I’m 6’6 and I’m a big guy. Amazing the shirts I own (and I have about 10 of them spanning every type) stay tucked in. Guess what I wear them hiking, camping, meetings, Jambo, and much much more cause they are the Field Uniform, designed to be worn…in the field. Only glitch I have is the velcro thing that keeps the flap down on the back of the new shirts comes undone. But a little needle and thread….whalla fixed.

    Ladies (and Fellas to be fair) with the extra few pounds: I have this strange idea… work toward the values of the Scout Oath and loose some lbs and become physically strong. Oops… did I say something unpopular in modern America? Probably, but truth be told most of you aren’t pregnant, disabled, etc.

    Watch out world here comes the Internet thumbs down to this post, but later today will be the same folks with thumbs up at the drive-thru or the soda machine wondering why we have an obesity problem and health issues in America today.

    Pregnant females… sure un-tuck when it can’t be tucked in no more… go for it. Or have your units make an “expectant Scout Leader” activity T-shirt for you. Your “activity” for 40 weeks is being pregnant.

    • I don’t think condescending comments are that helpful to this conversation.

      The topic is that ladies uniform shirts are ill-fitting for overweight as well as thin women. I don’t think your suggestion of ‘loose some lbs’ will help the shirts fit any better on the thin women. The overall fit of the women’s clothing line is just awful, and the men’s clothing isn’t that much better.

      While it is a good and Scout-ly idea to stay physically fit, it won’t change the bad styling of the uniforms. In my opinion, if BSA Supply doesn’t change the design of the uniforms, the solution is to tailor the uniforms so they fit you well.

      • Add to this the horrible new design of the Venturing uniform for females. My daughter just joined a Crew. I bought her the shirt; it was obviously not designed in any way for our female venturers.

        • My 2 girls and I all agree there. My bigger problem is the women’s pants for Venturing. There is nothing good to be said about them other than they dry fast. The fabric is so thin that you can see every pantyline and any cellulite right through it. The sizing is horrible. Having seen them on several other adult leaders, I decided to buy mine 2 sizes bigger than the size chart suggested. Thank goodness I did, the backside is way tighter than the size chart says it should be. Of course, the waist is way big now, so I just belt it down. I have worn men’s pants that fit better.

    • “A Scout is…friendly…courteous…kind…”

      Way to uphold those values.

      Congratulations on being the perfect specimen of the human form. You may wear a special knot for that. The rest of us, down here in Realville, who have real bodies (AND BOOBS, as long as we’re being Politically Incorrect) that don’t conform to National’s obscure and nonsensical “fashion” parameters, will continue to try to figure out how to adapt the uniforms to our diversely sized, non-cookie-cutter, and NON-MALE bodies.

  17. Excuse the interruption from outside the US, but it strikes me that a lot less of the BSAs time should be spent discussing shirt tails, and a lot more in fighting for full inclusiveness in the association. Every young person should have the opportunity to benefit from scouting, regardless of race, color, creed or sexuality.
    When you’ve addressed that, then you can worry about the shirts.

    • When European Scouting associations stop being fractured along religious lines, THEN you can interrupt us. Germany: 150 Scouting associations! Poland: 12 Russia: 12. France: 80! One for each denomination or ethnic group. Inclusiveness indeed! Buzz off. The most inclusive Scouting in Europe is the American Trans-Atlantic Council.

      • The difference is that European scouting associations don’t claim a monopoly on scouting like the BSA does in the United States. Even in Baden-Powell’s native Great Britain, the Scout Association doesn’t threaten legal action against other organizations calling themselves “scouts”.

    • Thanks for your input, but every young person already has the opportunity to benefit from scouting in the USA, regardless of race, color, creed, sexuality or religion.

    • You deal with your issues and we will deal with ours.
      Unless you have something to contibute to the topic at hand, stop being a “Troll” and go away.

  18. I have a question about the last statement made in the article. I have always been told you must always travel in your official BSA uniform in case you are involved in an accident. If you are not in your official uniform you may not be covered under BSA insurance. Is this correct?

  19. I wish that BSA would offer a women’s uniform shirt that is tailored and intended to be worn untucked. I know that there are some women’s military shirts are designed that way. (USMC example: http://img0.etsystatic.com/017/0/5943447/il_570xN.471330430_25l1.jpg)

    Some women are extremely uncomfortable and/or self-conscious wearing tucked shirts – some due to the fact that very little women’s clothing is designed to be tucked so they aren’t used to it, and others due to carrying excess “mommy” weight around the middle. I know women who refuse to step up and be a uniformed leader because of that self-consciousness about the uniform… or if they do, they simply keep the shirt pressed and neat but wear it untucked.

    • Thank you, coppercarla, for providing a link to a photo of an actual women’s-fit top. Men, please have a look at the photo and take note of its princess seaming and bust darts. This is not about being overweight. It is about having breasts, a waist, and hips. Think hourglass, not 2-by-4.

      Women, maybe it’s time we boycotted BSA’s ScoutShops and began buying our shirts from the Army. Anyone have a link to an online supply store that sells the shirt that coppercarla linked to?

  20. “UNIFORM”
    Noun: the distinctive clothing worn by members of the same organization
    Adjective: not changing in form or character; remaining the same in all cases and at all times

  21. Why would you use the official blog of Scouting Magazine to tell us that we shouldn’t wear our field uniform while hiking or performing community service? Your opinion only.
    Half of the impetus behind the Centennial redesign was to make a more activity-friendly uniform with tech fabrics and utility pockets, and the official activity uniform (khaki shorts and red polo described here http://boyslife.org/wayback/#issue=z2YEAAAAMBAJ&pg=54) was retired long ago.

  22. I personally have been toying with the idea of tailoring my shirt to the female version of USMC. I sew so it would not be an issue for me to do so, but not everyone sews.

    I hate tucking in anything. Yes, I am very large but my skills are there. Learned a lot in BSA in the past 31 years. I can have plan B, C and so on ready if plan A fails.

    • I took mine to a seamstress in town who tailored the shirt to fit my body. I’m a size 18-ish, very curvy, and my uniform shirt fits me MUCH better than it did when I had to purchase it off-the-rack, two sizes too big so that it fit my chestal area

  23. This is a blow to scouts with sensory processing disorder. I work with scouts on the autism spectrum many of whom have sensory issues. It may sound strange but their clothes can be so uncomfortable as to distract them from anything else that is happening. Untucked shirts, ripped out labels and inside-out socks are common but it’s all worth it if it allows the child to concentrate on the program.

  24. Whenever traveling, our scouts wear their Class A with Class B under tucked in. We require it for all meetings. I don’t like to tuck in my shirt, but will when I have to. I bought a larger size men shirt and took it up on the side. Being short, I have no problem with it staying in.

  25. Sounds great, but have one question. What about youth with special needs that have a touch sensory issue? I understand the tucked in shirt, but how do we help those scouts? Anybody who understands touch sensory knows what this will do to those scouts. How do we accommodate them and adhere to this policy?

    • Geez….make an exception.

      Accommodate them by letting have the stupid shirt untucked.

      It is just a shirt tail right???

    • Seriously. Alterations. Find a parent in the unit, or a friend of the unit, who will work with the boy and make the alterations necessary to accommodate his needs while adhering to the spirit of the uniform. If National won’t work with us, we’ll fix it ourselves.

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