Kilts, the knee-length Scottish garment traditionally worn on formal occasions, is gaining popularity for everyday wear. But what about wearing a kilt with a Scout uniform?
Over the past few months, several pro-kilt Scouters have asked that very question.
For example, here’s Marcus B. from the Cascade Pacific Council:
What is the BSA policy on wearing the MacLaren Kilt with the BSA uniform? It is my understanding the MacLaren Clan has authorized it to wear with the uniform. But is the policy from the BSA? Is this a subjective part of the rules, or unit discretion? I am also on staff for Wood Badge this year and wanted to wear it for that as well.
For the answer, I asked the expert: BSA’s Awards and Recognition Committee, of which Larry Cunningham is the chairman. This committee controls the BSA Guide to Awards and Insignia. They respond:
There is not a reference to pants worn with the field uniform in the current Guide to Awards and Insignia.
The Boy Scout Uniform Inspection Sheet (No. 34283) specifies:
“Pants/Shorts: Official pants or official uniform pants or shorts; no cuffs. (Units have no option to change.)”
The Adult Leader Inspection Sheet (No. 34048) specifies:
“Pants/Shorts. Units have no option to change. Male Cub Scout and Boy Scout leaders wear the official pants or the official uniform shorts or pants with no cuffs. Female Cub Scout leaders wear the pants or the official navy blue shorts, skirt or pants with the yellow blouse, or the official pants or official uniform shorts or pants with the official shirt or blouse.”
The Venturing program does not address the issue as to an official uniform. Venturers have been suggested to wear the dark green shirt and gray pants/shorts. But the uniform of each Crew was at the discretion of the members.
Frankly, wearing the kilt is similar to wearing blue jeans. Blue jeans are not the official uniform, but I would venture that a large majority of our youth wear them to meetings.
Personal note: As long as youth are active in a unit, don’t become the uniform police. They can learn skills and have fun in official shorts/pants or blue jeans.
The inspection sheets, specifically the line that “units have no option to change,” seem to indicate that Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts and their leaders should wear the official pants, not a kilt. But those inspection sheets are more guides than the kind of outright rules you’d find in the Guide to Awards and Insignia.
Venturers, it seems, are definitely in the clear to kilt it up.
Regardless of what program you’re in, I’d heed the last line of the committee’s response very carefully.
My inelegant rephrasing: While uniforms are one important thing, they’re far from the most important thing.
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Photo from 2012 Summit Shakedown by W. Garth Dowling/BSA