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. I’ve been a leader wearing many hats in my Pack for several years now, but managed to happily dodge wearing the official uniform until this fall when I took Wood Badge. Why? Because while considered trim by my peers, I’m self-concious about being thick in the hips (left over baby-weight I can’t seem to lose despite being a wellness champion for my workplace and a hiking club leader for my Pack). That weight is only accentuated when I tuck in and belt up. I hate it and I’m incredibly frustrated that I can’t seem to make it go away. But hey–let’s call attention to it by requiring me to wear an outfit that just isn’t cut for a woman’s body!

    I’m proud of the hard work I’ve done for our Pack. I’m proud of my son and all of the boys in our Pack–what they’ve learned, the service they’ve done, and the characteristics they have started taking on to become good men. I just wish the organization I was so proud of was proud of women like me and could afford us a little consideration.

    • Bravo Jean! You clearly stated what I could not. As the mom of 8 (7 are scouts, one too young) I have that dreaded middle, and tucked in shirts just don’t help. Even schools who have uniforms at school have more options for girls than boys. I can see myself authorizing the pack t shirt more often during my den meetings.

      And there really is a big difference between Boy Scouts and Cub scouts. Moms are definitely more welcome in cubs and hold more positions, so they are more visible. A neat and orderly appearance seems more appropriate, at least until they can make a better-fitting women’s shirt.

      • Plus the ladies shirt is to short to tuck in…..I tried. I mean it stops at the top of the hips. The male shirt is much longer and able to tuck in, but im not a male.

      • You are just in the wrong troop or council. Women are very welcome and some of the top leaders in my district. The district training chair is a woman and is arguably one of the most influential positions.

        • Maybe it’s an East coast thing, but we’ve been in 4 councils from RI to NC and it’s the same. Women just don’t normally wear shirts tucked in. That’s a fact.

    • I was informed by me peers, both male and female, that the ladies are authorized to wear the shirt untucked even under the “neat in appearance” rule. The horizontal hem and hip slits of the female leader shirt can be worn outside the switchbacks.

      I’ve also found an olive cargo skort that was more flattering for the mommy hips and short torso– and no big BSA belt needed. Another female leader in our district wears ankle length skirts and shirt untucked, and she looks neat, feminine, and official.

      If you’re a look neater untucked as a lady, go for it. As for the guys, shirt tucked is the rule.

      • Cynthia, where did you find the olive cargo skort? I have been looking for one for a while! Link please. Also if anyone has a sewing pattern for one, I am willing to go that route.

    • You know, what’s beautiful to me, Jean? Someone who will happily take care of my sons. Well maybe it will be grandsons (and daughters?) in a a few short years. If those hips are an “insignia” of that, well maybe me and my buddies just need to get a good slap in the head for anything we did to make you feel bad about that.

      • My question also. The cut on the women’s clothing does not fit properly, and yes, I have a women’s shirt that is split tailed and this gets little press as to it being “proper” untucked. Wonder why this was not addressed in the official statement?

        • Perhaps it wasn’t addressed because women are:
          an afterthought… hardly worth mentioning… not valued as volunteers…
          I know you don’t mean it this way, BSA, but it does seem this way sometimes.

    • I COMPLETELY agree on the issue of the ill-fitting Scout Shirts.

      I, too, have “ample” hips. I am also rather well-endowed on top. Because of this, I find that I have to buy a shirt that is way too big and have it altered. If it fits my bosom, the tummy area is voluminous. If I fit to my tummy, the buttons won’t close over my chest. And NOTHING fits my hips. So I purchased the shirt that fit my chest. My seamstress had to remove a full three inches from the long sleeves, and she tacked-in the tummy/waist area. And then she hacked off the bottom of the shirt, giving it more of a “jacket” look.

      I will not apologize for wearing this altered uniform. Until National gets on board and realizes that women are not two-by-fours with two round-head pushpins stuck in them, I will continue to alter the clothing to my body. I refuse to alter my body to conform to someone’s twisted idea of what it “should” look like.

      • Nor should you apologize. With a 52″ chest and 38″ waist, I run into a similar problem that you do–to fit my chest/shoulders, I have to wear an XXL shirt which balloons around my midsection and waist. Like you, I’ve learned to alter my own uniforms to take in the extra material at the waist without it looking sloppy. It seems women aren’t the only folks with uniform fitting problems in BSA.

  2. I normally wear a XXL shirt, but bought a 3XL Field Uniform (Class A) shirt and had no problem keeping my shirt tucked in. My understanding was that tucking in of the Field Uniform shirt was a rule that was established at the local unit level and enforced by the SMs and the SPL. I do agree that there needs to be something done to tailor these uniform shirts and make them more comfortable.

  3. Both my wife and I are part of the Troop leadership. The women’s shirts are not cut or designed to be tucked in. The men’s shirts are cut differently on the bottom. How does this play out? If my shirt is untucked, it looks stupid. If the women’s shirt is untucked, it is straight cut and supposed to be that way.

    • And most men’s polo-style shirts are cut such that they can be worn untucked as well (square hems, notched side seams). That doesn’t seem to stop hundreds of thousands of men working in business casual offices from tucking in their polos. The cut of a shirt doesn’t have to dictate how its worn.

      • Yes it does. The length of the women’s shirt, if properly sized, does not allow for or design for it to be tucked in. Polos can be long enough to be tucked in.

        • you both have missed the point that the BSA has made it a rule for EVERYONE to tuck in their shirts.

  4. This is the absolute funniest thing I have read in a long time.

    Thanks for the chuckle….

    So lady’s……We don’t need the boys talking about Scout Jimmy’s hot mom on the outing. Frumpy is ok with me.

      • I agree with you – I have had surgery which caused nerve damage and it absolutely hurts to wear tucked in shirts, belts and waist bands. However, I have noticed that a tucked in shirt acts sort of like a sweat band and keeps the upper body sweat from dripping downward. It is the most uncomfortable thing I wear – but the cohesive uniform looks nice in a group.

        • It’s not “required”, but under that same line of thought neither are patrols, living the ideals of Scouting, having an outdoor program, advancement, associating with adults, focusing on personal growth or developing leaders.

        • How many adult led troop method units who hold weekly merit badge classes during unit meetings……..

          Scouting is a million different things to different folks……..I only wish that something as trivial as an untucked shirt were the extent of the BSA’s problems

        • Bob – The BSA has had guidelines for class B (t shirts, etc.) and class A uniform. My understanding in reading the guide lines was class a shirt was to be tucked in (we use this a training and Wood Bad when class is required, such as American flag ceremonies). Apparently this was misunderstood (aka I can’t read) or ignored (aka born free / it’s not applicable to me). Belonging to the BSA is a honor and privilege, not a right. If you choose not to follow the rules, you may also choose decline the honor of belonging to the Boy Scouts of America.

        • Please show me a document on Scouting.org that says the uniform is required.
          Not on this page


          Not on this page either


          Not here either


          The term class a and b are not official BSA terms. There are two uniforms The Field Uniform which is commonly called class A
          The Activity uniform which is commonly called Class B

          If your gonna be uniform police you should at least know the official language. Please take the time to educate yourself before you spout off.

          Brandon neither of those are official BSA websites and should not be used for reference.

          I understand there are events such as the Jamboree and woodbadge where a Field uniform is required. But not on the unit level.

          In my search I found the link that says the shirt is to be tucked in…


  5. Way to go all you who called national about this one. I train my adult leaders “Don’t go asking for a rule. Someone will make up one for you!”

    It saddens me to think of that patrol of boys coming through town after a night out in the woods, fully uniformed, untucked, but otherwise neatly ironed with proper insignia (hand sewn by each scout himself), who will now have its patrol leader approached by some high-minded scouter …

    HMS: I say, son, have those boys tuck their shirts in!
    PL: But, respectfully, sir, the insignia guide in my pocket makes no mention of this.
    HMS: It will, boy. I called National and made sure of it. Now straighten yourselves up.
    PL: But sir, my boys have worked hard ironing their shirts and shorts to look sharp today. Tucking these high tech fabrics makes them all wrinkle something fierce.
    HMS: What gives you the right to define ‘neat’? You act like you boys are leaders of this movement. How dare you? If you are one percent off, you’d might as well not be uniformed at all.
    PL: Well sir, out of kindness we’ll tuck in. … [commands scouts, who obey ... Tenderfoots grudgingly] … But, sir, if I may?
    HMS: Yes, scout.
    PL: I see ten of your fifteen knots are upside down. My APL and QM have sewing kits and would be happy to correct those for your before we go on parade.
    HMS: Never mind that, son. NObody ever second-guesses a fella with five rows of knots.

      • Wow, I never got so many votes on one of my posts! Thanks everyone! Keep ‘em coming. How many more do I need before I can apply for a knot? ;)

        • I can see it now for your truth spewing anti speak.

          A blood red knot on a black back ground for you.

          The Anti scout spirit knot.

    • Well there you go, only 3 rows of knots should be worn. (that’s the official “recommendation”). That should go much faster.

    • We can all sit around here making up as many scenarios as we want. Some make sense (pregnant ladies) some are dumb (boys coming out of the woods with neatly ironed shirts). If your hypothetical scouts are magical enough to get into and out of the woods with shirts still ironed, then, yes, they can tuck in the shirts. If a lady is pregnant I think we all know that no one is going to honest-to-God approach her and ask he to tuck her shirt in.
      We are people with brains (mostly) and the absent-minded ones on both ends of the spectrum will be kept in line by the group; your hypothetical scouts by uniform-minded people on one end, and on the other end a guy giving a pregnant lady grief would be set straight.
      The simple fact of the matter is that tucked is the near-universal standard already, but apparently enough lazy squeaky wheels have been e-mailing National and Scouting Mag looking for a divine concession to go untucked that National had to give a definitive answer. That’s not National’s fault.


    • WRONG! Class A is a military term. Since the seventies, when some were trying to depict Boy Scouts as a paramilitary organization, the officials over Scouting got away from militilary terms and wearing military camoflage. The terms were defined to give a clear meaning, while letting the military have their own terminology. Oddly, the redesign of the uniform brought a distinct look from the USMC, it appears.

    • Eloy is a man of wisdom, I agree with everything, except when he mentions Class A uniform. The BSA isn’t a military organization and Class A refers to military uniforms. I would like the BSA to bring back the neckerchief, but that is my idea.

  7. As a general rule, good. People getting over zealous on it bad. There are times uniforms are required (on trips while traveling ) but may be neater out. Ie spills etc. on pants also female leaders who may be pregnant, the need to wear under layers for warmth etc. Anytime I have instructed a scout on the correct way to do something they comply willingly as much as possible. They want to do it right. Do you toss or embarrass a good person because of the way the look? Uniforms don’t fit every body the same. What is inside the uniform is what counts.

  8. I am a SPL in my troop for two years and halfway through my Eagle Scout Project. I have always required that if any boys from my unit are wearing the class A it must be buttoned and tucked in neatly. At first they disapproved of my attention to detail ,but they have gotten used to it.

    • Good job, Elias! That is the purpose of an SPL: to get his boys looking uniform to the troop’s standards. We want your PLC to work the inspection sheets and think through things like this.

      But, would you ever go to a female scouter and try to correct her if her uniform was untucked for any of the reasons mentioned above?

      And if you were at cracker barrel with an SPL from another troop who interpreted the insignia guide differently, how would you handle it?

      Is it okay to you that a bunch of folks in Louisville have chipped away at your authority? What if they had decided in the opposite direction? How would you have felt?

  9. “…If your unit is conducting a service project or taking a weekend backpacking trip, leave the field uniform shirt on the hanger at home.”

    Why, Bryan?

    Service projects are often the most visible activities Scouts are involved in, and they’re often in public. Being in public, they make great “Kodak moments.” But it’s hardly a plug for Scouting when Scouts aren’t in uniform.

    Uniforms used to be made rugged enough for hikes and campouts. Isn’t that, in fact, why we have dual-purpose pants now? You know–the zip-the-legs-off kind? In fact, I just pulled out my own “Handbook for Boys” (Fifth Edition) and turned to page 51. There it is: “The Scout uniform…makes you want to go HIKING and CAMPING… It is made of rugged, tough material, that is SUITED FOR OUTDOOR USE.” (So much for the claim of “never”!) Need more? Let’s turn to page 52 in the same handbook: “When to Wear the Uniform. 1. In all formal Scouting activities such as Patrol, Troop or Tribe meetings, HIKES, CAMPS, demonstrations, etc.” (CAPITALIZING mine)

    I leave this in your good hands —


  10. I didn’t hear one mom asking to look hot. What we are asking is for a shirt that fits.
    If you don’t like us moms in scouting feel free to talk to national about it.

    • I need a Wisconsin Scouter to send me some cheese for all this WHINE. Wear the uniform as best you can. Others shouldn’t care what animal critter your bum resembles. Instead you should exude enough pride and self-esteem that you wear it proudly AND correctly. Complaining about it gives young minds doubts about your integrity and support of the ENTIRE program. You are defeating the exact program that you claim to hold so dear.

      • Because I have lodged a complaint that my very ill-fitting shirt looks awful, that makes the kids doubt my integrity? it makes them doubt my support despite my running the popcorn program for years, being their honest treasurer, and leading them on nearly 50 miles of hikes in the past year alone? I ask for a shirt that fits a female frame and I’m suddenly defeating years of work to build young men of courage and character….

        I think this says far more about what YOU think of women in scouting than what the kids think.

  11. I say “BRAVO”, as a leader, program director and long time scout and scooter, it has always bothered me to see boys and adults wearing the uniform untouched. I ask folks to “please” tuck it in. And at camp I am insistent on this point for retreat and dinner. I also believe that ladies shirts are cut so they are not to be tucked, and one must know the difference.

  12. Women’s fashion has ALWAYS been different than men’s. Just look back at old magazines of civilian and military attire – women’s blouses were worn “untucked” and they looked neat and official – they are blouses after all. Men’s shirts look neater tucked in and tradition bears this out as well.

    A man whose shirt is worn untucked tends to look like anything from super-casual to a complete slob – definitely not the look of an organized troop. I tuck my shirt in because it shows pride in my appearance, that I care about my Troop’s appearance, and that I cheerfully obey the guidelines for uniforming as well.

    A Scout is “obedient” means that we cheerfully abide by the rules of society and the rules of organizations to which we belong. There are plenty of other opportunities to be expressive individuals without quibbling over uniforms which were obviously intended to be… uniform in appearance.

  13. Bryan,

    Can someone please, NOW, tell National Supply of this requirement? The new Field Uniform Shirts they sell all are square cut on the bottom (implying, of course, UNtucked) AND are too short to actually maintained tucked in for more than 5 minutes unless you are supine and not moving.

    Quite frankly I really agree with TUCKED, notwithstanding some of the snide comments preceding about asking National for clarification. Although I do have sympathy for the ladies that commented about physique issues…

  14. I will start but emphasizing that I know the Boy Scouts are not a military organization, however if you will look at the evolution of uniforms in the military you will notice that many of uniforms from many years ago were untucked and that though there are dress uniforms that are tucked (the Navy crackerjacks being the noticeable exception) the working uniforms these days are worn untucked. And let’s face it, the boys are chunkier these days and quite frankly would look better with a shirt tailored to be worn untucked…

    The basic Boy Scout uniform has changed with (and reflected) the times. Perhaps it should change again.

    • “Chunkier” boys would not look better with untucked shirts, they would look better with an hour of physical activity 4 times a week.

      • Again with the military analogies: You go to war with the army you have…. In other words you can deal with the world as it is or you can make believe it is the way you want it to be.

  15. Well ladies, as a female scouter that has been part of BSA for over ten years, I have to state I support the “tuck in” rule. I am not thin; I have the baby weight and wide hips, but I totally agree with all the comments about uniformity and setting the good example. This organization is the “Boy Scouts of America”, an organization primarily for young men. (Venturing being the exception) I have never purchased a woman’s shirt; I have always worn a male shirt. Especially because of my fluffier appearance, I prefer the longer and less fitted cut of the men’s shirt. Wearing a male shirt makes it easy to tuck in. Be a good example for the boys, and help take away the stereotypes that women need exceptions made. Women in the military and law enforcement tuck their shirts in, and so can we!

    • In several discussions, you’ll note that a lot of military uniforms do not have women tucking. It’s not as if we want the bar of achievement lowered just for us–that’s making exceptions.

      I’d like a shirt that fits and has the seaming that makes me recognizable as a female from 10 paces. I’m not just-one-of-the-guys and shouldn’t have to dress like one to participate. I’m glad you’ve found a shirt that works for your physique, but it doesn’t work for everyone. (You’ll also note that it’s not only women who have commented with problems with the sizing of the uniform shirts. Getting a uniform to look neat on every person is not a simple task.)

  16. You NEVER embarass someone over the uniform, but you can uphold standards. Many units’ youth do not have the money to buy a complete uniform, but imagine the pride they develop, as the unit works together to earn money for a complete uniform, and the feeling of accomplishment, when they EARN the full uniform!

  17. This summer at Tomahawk Scout Reservation our Venturing female members were told, “Tuck it in or take it off.” This seems very inappropriate to me for male leadership to say to our young women. This rule clearly needs revisiting. And I also look much neater with a longer sillouette – untucked. I also went back to look at my old Army dress uniforms, and the women’s blouses are all untucked.

    • I agree – I heard that over the summer at resident camp as well – in the store full of people – I was shocked to hear such a thing, thought it was uncalled for since there were lots of people in the store; I just don’t get why we don’t help the scouts focus on taking care of their own uniform, and at the very least be nice when correcting other scouts/scouters.
      it was hot, humid, miserable day, everyone had just put in a long hard day of working on various projects, why would that need to be yelled across the store?

    • especially since they didn’t really want the young ladies to take it off. It’s ineffective leadership to present an option that isn’t an option they can take.

      (tho I’d have probably taken it off. I started wearing tshirts under the uniform while attending Wood Badge.)

  18. I am a female Scouter. My uniform shirt is always tucked in. I wear a man’s shirt. It fits me better and looks way better. It stays tucked in no matter what I am doing. I am no shrimp either. The idea is to set the example. You cannot set a uniform example if you don’t’ wear it correctly. BSA made a big mistake making those short shirts. They look silly and then you have this discussion, tuck or not? Tuck. However, you can be a Scout without a uniform. It actually is not required. It is an important method of Scouting but technically not required.

    • Ron C., with respect, you need to apologize for that comment. It is troll-like and completely uncalled-for, as well as insulting. After all, a Scout (and we all consider ourselves Scouts) is Courteous and Kind. You, sir, have demonstrated neither of those traits.

  19. I saw a scout the other night who physically could not tuck in his shirt. He had grown and the shirt came right up to his belt line. Yes he needs a new shirt. Do we send him home because he can’t tuck in his shirt? Do we send him home because his family hasn’t had the time or money to get him a new shirt? I would rather see the boy in Scouting wearing a too small shirt and not tucked in than make him leave.

    Some of the rules the organization is placing on members is getting difficult to comprehend how they’ll be enforced and the overall goal (I understand and agree with the neatness principal).

    • I would also rather see the scouts at the meetings participating; maybe a uniform closet/hanger? or help them figure out how to buy the uniform thru budgeting? I know i have not spent $30 on a shirt for myself in over $20 years – I just don’t have the finances to spend that much on one piece of clothing.

  20. I think the ladies who’d like some princess seaming and darts should hold a fashion show to show folks what we are talking about. (That’s what our DNR conservation officers had to do to get decent uniforms to fit them–and they wear guns!) Mock up two or three uniforms with the proper women’s design and show folks how a woman can look “neat.” We could have before and after photos.

  21. As a scoutmaster, I have had to hear my share of complaints about the uniform. So hear are the reasons I use to promote the proper wearing of a uniform.

    1. On the right sleeve is the American flag, when you dress sloppily you disrespect itand those that fought and died to protect it.

    2. We teach life skills. A young man who doesn’t know how to dress properly wil have a harder time trying to find a job than a man who is neat and clean in appearance.

    3. Wearing a uniform properly allows a scout to take pride in himself and in the Boy Scouts.

    People look at our organization with a weary eye these days, let us hold our heads high with pride and prove we are the real thing!

    • As a troop committee member and Eagle Coach I take Scouting seriously. I have been involved for many, many years in Scouting. Thank you for your approach to this matter. What a great way to teach the way to wear a uniform. We are becoming too lax in the expectations of our youth. Give them honor and desire to be better and raise the bar. Our youth of today are so capable of being better than we think. Just look at the good that comes from Scouting and being a part of something that has high standards and a desire to build others.

  22. If the uniform is required like on a sports team.

    Then why is it not included in the price to join like a sports team?????

  23. My son has a medical issue and leaving his shirt untucked made him feel better. Anyway, what harm is being done and why add more rules to an outdated organization? The scouting program needs to be brought into the 21st century. The majority of the curriculum is outdated, does not hold the interest of most boys, and frankly does not entice them to continue past age 9 or 10. Not tucking in your uniform does not equal disrespecting the flag, America, or your own self worth. It’s just an untucked shirt and nothing more.

    • If the organization is, in your opinion, outdated and doesn’t hold your interest, and membership is still voluntary, why would you torment yourself by joining?

  24. Parents, Will you stop being such WEENIES and teach your boys about RESPECT and HONOR. Gird Up Their Loins. Direct them to put on The Whole Armor of God. Irvine, Texas won’t and our governmental leaders definitely can not. Of course you parents could demand that BSA approve a Field Uniform – Class A – made to be worn on the outside. Why not. Leaders, parents and charter organizations around the country are doing everything they can to dilute the Spirit of Scouting that Lord Baden Powell envisioned. January 1, 2014. A day the walls started to fall.

    • Really, I get a thumbs down because I have a problem with someone calling parents with a differing view a “weenie”. Nice.

  25. God forbid that Scouts would be so busily active as to disturb their tucked in shirts. Best keep them continually on parade to avoid creases and the risk of untucking.

    • Maybe Murphy’s rules of combat can be altered slightly
      “No combat-ready unit ever passed inspection.
      No inspection-ready unit has ever passed combat.”
      can be altered to
      “No scout having an adventure has ever passed inspection.
      No scout ready for inspection has ever been having an adventure.”

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