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Ask the Expert: Do you need to travel in uniform to be covered by BSA insurance?

expertlogo1Scouting units, volunteer Scouters and chartered organizations are covered by the BSA’s Comprehensive General Liability Insurance.

This insurance provides primary coverage for registered volunteers and excess coverage for nonregistered volunteers for claims arising out of an official Scouting activity. That includes allegations of negligent actions by third parties that result in personal injury or property damage claims.

While your automobile insurance is primary, the BSA’s Comprehensive General Liability Insurance provides secondary or excess insurance.

Speaking of driving, it’s pop quiz time! Which of the following registered Scouting volunteers is covered by BSA insurance as he or she drives a Scout unit to camp?

  • A: A Boy Scout leader, in full field uniform (unofficially known as “Class A”), driving Scouts to Philmont.
  • B: A Cub Scout leader, in T-shirt and Scout shorts (“Class B”), driving Scouts to day camp.
  • C: A Venturing leader, in T-shirt and jeans, driving Venturers to a weekend backpacking trip.
  • D: All of the above.

Find the answer and explanation below.

The answer: D, all of the above. Traveling in uniform is not a requirement for BSA insurance coverage. This speaks to a common misconception in some packs, troops, teams and crews about BSA insurance. (Read more about BSA insurance at this important link).

Consider this email I received from a Scouter named Kirk:

It seems to be a common thing to hear that Scouts must travel in field uniform for the unit to be covered by BSA insurance.

While I fully support Scouts traveling in uniform, I would like to see something in writing confirming or denying this. (I would think such a requirement would be mentioned on the tour permit.) The issue here is honesty. If it is a real requirement, then it should be published well. If it isn’t, it should be put to rest.

– Kirk

The expert’s response

I agree, Kirk. Let’s put it to rest. I spoke with Mark Dama, who leads the BSA’s Insurance and Risk Management team.

His response:

Wearing a uniform is not required to be covered by BSA insurance. The requirement is that the youth and adults be engaged in an official Scouting activity.

So there you have it. As long as you’re engaged in an official Scouting activity, you’re covered — in uniform or not.

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85 Comments on Ask the Expert: Do you need to travel in uniform to be covered by BSA insurance?

  1. Wow…’s a good thing a uniform is not required for insurance. I’ve never seen any uniform options that covered the black & white Sherpa’s hat in the picture associated with this posting. 🙂

    • But maybe they cover the rest of the Class A that he’s wearing with it. Even if you’re in uniform every stitch doesn’t have to have the BSA logo on it.

      • Maybe they only cover the parts of you that are under the official uniform 🙂 .

      • Troops choose their own headgear, so while it appears that these boys have the yellow cap, they totally COULD choose that hat as winter headgear.

  2. We know it’s not a BSA insurance requirement, but we still require our scouts and scouters to wear a uniform shirt to and from Troop events. 1 – it makes it easy to pick out your kids in a crowded store or restaurant. 2 – it breaks down their resistance to wearing the uniform at other times. 3 – it shows off the program and lets people know that the Boy Scouts are still out there doing fun and good things.

    • Bryan Wendell // July 16, 2015 at 8:25 am // Reply

      Good point, Scouter Bob. Traveling in uniform still has its advantages, and you named three big ones.

      • John Delaney // July 18, 2015 at 5:48 pm // Reply

        Bryan it is funny you posted this I just attended a Boy Scout Leader Training at Goshen Scout Camp this past week and was specifically told that a Boy Scout does NOT have to be have or wear a uniform to participate in the scouting program so continuing to suggesting that a Scout have a uniform to travel is against National Policy.

        For the record I am not for this policy and would love to receive suggestions to get the boys to have and wear them. If you don’t have a uniform then why do you want to be in the program.

        • Bryan Wendell // July 19, 2015 at 2:06 pm //

          Just to be clear… The uniform is one of the methods of Scouting but isn’t a requirement. And it especially isn’t a requirement for traveling.

        • Youth want to be a part of Scouting for the adventure, the activity of being in the outdoors and around their peers who are also interested in the same things. If you haven’t, take a look at “Follow Me Boys” and see how many youth in that Troop are wearing a Scout uniform in the first half of the movie *smiling*.

          I wear mine at Scouting activities and events. I and other adults are positive role models for those youth – that is how you get them to find and wear their uniforms. If it is important to you to wear it completely, correctly and appropriately, they will “catch the clue” and want to get and wear one also.

          “The uniform of the Scouter is the uniform of the Scout”.

    • Anthony Stortz // September 30, 2015 at 11:03 am // Reply

      Totally agree with you Bob. For me it’s always been a safety thing. Scout uniform shirts are highly visible. I don’t require full class A, but that they at least be wearing it even unbuttoned for identification. I was once told by a police officer that the uniform protects them from predators. Even the predators know: 1) A leader is near by; 2) Scouts move around and travel in pairs, if not larger groups; 3) There is a 99.99% chance that both Scouts and Leaders are armed with some sort of a knife. I chuckled, because point #3 is one of those funny truths.

    • This is why our activity uniform is bright green. almost obnoxiously bright.

  3. Is a Tour and Activity Plan (Tour Permit) required to be covered? I know it’s a best practice, and possibly required by specific events, but is it required to be covered by insurance?

    I’ve heard it said that the Tour and Activity Plan is your proof that the activity was a Scouting event. This is to prevent someone from claiming any activity as a “Scouting event” should something happen just because scouts were involved.

    • A Tour and Activity plan is just a plan. You should have a plan when you take kids out camping. It’s not a “permit”, it’s not required for insurance, and it’s not proof of anything other than you had a plan. Someone from 4-H can download and mail in a Tour and Activity Plan.

      The requirement is what was stated: “The requirement is that the youth and adults be engaged in an official Scouting activity.”

  4. Thanks for clearing it up, but I agree with Scouter Bob above – it’s just a good idea!

    • The answer I was given at our Scout Office is no, a Tour and Activity Plan(TAP) is not required for Insurance to cover you. BUT, that if you are the responsible Adult (most often the Scoutmaster) that IF an incident were to occur and there was a question raised in a Court, you would be sitting in a much more comfortable position if you had TAP to produce.

      • There was an incident in my troop where a Scout was hurt on a camping trip. The leader who was in charge was called by A BSA lawyer, and said your answer to my first question will determine how long it will take to get all the answers I need.

        His first question was did you file a tour permit. When he was told that there was a approved tour permit on file, the lawyer said thanks, thats all I need, and had no further contact with the unit.

        Since then my troop does a tour plan for every outing.

  5. I really dislike these little white lies. If a local group wants their scouts to travel in uniform, just say so. If you don’t want a knife longer than 4 inches, say it. Don’t use the BSA as the bad guy, it just creates a trust problem. Only quote rules you have personally verified.

  6. So the myths proliferate..

    Brian: This is a good start, but it would be nice if we could lay to rest once and for all some of these “assumptions”, admittedly used for convenience sake, to explain some local desires, if not requirements.
    Can you ask your experts for the straight poop? (oopps, grey area) Here are the “ideas” I have heard and sought to clear up:

    1) Must wear Field Uni (“Class A”) when traveling to be covered by insurance. (Answered… No)
    1A) Must wear some sort of Scout uni (Camp shirt, Troop Tshirt, etc. ) to be covered (Answer: No. corollary to #1 above)
    2) Must be a registered Scouter/Scout to be covered by BSA insurance ( ? Make sure of this? I say no. Parents and siblings have secondary coverage if on a “Scouting Activity ” led by trained Scouter. True?)
    3) Must have a “Tour Plan/Permit” filed with Council to be covered (I say no. See above.)
    4) Scout Patrol , on it’s own activity , without benefit of adult chaparonage, is not covered. (I say no, BSA insurance is secondary to other if Scouts are doing allowed Scout stuff. True?)
    5) Who does one approach for claim information if there is an incident? ( I say the DE. Yes?)
    6) All BSA insurance is primary coverage for Scouting activities. Prevents CO from being sued. Prevents landowners where we camp from being sued. Prevents vendors from being sued. (? Maybe? Maybe not? Can’t prevent folks from suing.)
    7) Wouldn’t it be nice to include such info in our SMS Training (yes?)

    Brian? Ummmmmm?

    • Dan Vitous // July 16, 2015 at 9:59 am // Reply

      I’ve questioned this in my troop as well. We require each family to register at least one adult. This also means YP for each registered, not to mention a recharter nightmare for a troop of 110! For a majority of the families, it’s just an additional expense, as registered or not, they’re not going to volunteer/drive anyway. But nobody is “sure” about dropping this requirement, and insurance is given as that reason. This requirement pre-dates just about everyone in the troop, so it’s “the way we’ve always done it”.

    • Don Schmidt // July 16, 2015 at 11:39 am // Reply

      I second the call to include definitive info in SMS, and all other adult training. You can’t stop anyone from suing any and all the plaintiff deems to have deep pockets and/or could possibly be proven to have liability. BSA liability insurance is primary. That protects the chartered partners and the volunteer adults. If BSA didn’t protect chartered partners and adult partners from liability, the program would soon disappear as no organization is its right mind would accept the risk. I have a personal excess liability (umbrella) policy because my wife is a nurse and there is the possibility of her being sued in her professional capacity and our financial situation means I have an estate to protect.

      BSA medical is secondary to any insurance the person has. If the person has NO medical insurance, BSA is primary.

      Primary, as it applies to ALL insurance, means, in this case. that BSA insurance pays first. Secondary, again as it applies to ALL insurance, means, in this case, that BSA insurance pays after your personal insurance has met its limits.

  7. Dean Whinery // July 16, 2015 at 9:07 am // Reply

    In my 60+ years of Scouting, it was simply the unit’s policy that uniforms be worn while traveling (with the stipulation: if you don’t have a uniform, don’t wear it). We found that Scouts traveling in uniform received greater respect en route, and sometimes unsolicited “extras”, like discounts, second desserts and behind the scenes tours. I don’t think the insurance question ever came up.

    • vwabbitman // July 18, 2015 at 11:39 am // Reply

      I noticed the same thing in Boy Scouts. We got a lot of cool stuff and preferential treatment when we were in uniform.We always required everyone involved in a scouting event to wear at least a class a shirt, registered scout or not. Doing that helped us find each other pretty easy. One time we had one young kid 8ish that was traveling with us because he wanted to be with his brother that was a scout. He knew we all had the same shirt on and when he got separated from us he found the first BSA shirt he found, which happened to be me.

      • That’s what unit T’s are for. An unregistered Scouter should not be wearing a uniform shirt. I totally understand the intent, but I believe there are other issues that could arise…

  8. Great information as usual. I never considered if wearing a uniform had anything to do with being covered by insurance and although we always travel to and from outings in our Class A’s it’s good to know that everyone is covered on official scout outings like our annual family campout to Zion National Park.

    BTW, wearing the uniform (as stated nicely by Scouter Bob above) has many advantages.

    Another (unexpected benefit) that tickled me last year was that while traveling to our annual family campout, we stopped and grabbed lunch at Cracker Barrel in St. George, UT. We were, of course, in our Class A uniforms. Our entire meal (for all 10 of us at the table) was paid for by a guest who saw us in uniform and wanted to make an anonymous contribution by paying for our meal. It’s a story I like to tell from time to time when talking about the importance of the uniform and the statement it makes to the people we meet in public.

  9. Ron Peterson // July 16, 2015 at 9:15 am // Reply

    Please refrain from perpetuating the “Class A” uniform label. We are not the military. “Field uniform” and “activity uniform” are the correct terms.

    • It was referred to as Class A back when I was a scout in the late 70s/80s.

      Why does the “new BSA” crowd feel the need to change everything about scouting?

      RIP BSA.

      • Joe, there’s a LOT of things we did back in the 60s, 70s and 80s which to be honest, doesn’t apply today. The “Classes” of the uniform thing is one of them. Take a look at to see where that “class stuff” came from and why the BSA discourages using those terms today.

        This isn’t the “new BSA”, Joe…it’s the same old BSA with a fresher look at much of what we do today as opposed to things back 30 to 50 years ago.

        • campboy // May 16, 2016 at 3:21 pm //

          Well, maybe BSA should stop issuing a license to “” who specialize in troop t shirts. Can’t have it both ways. The terms will always be around because the newer terms are confusing. “Field” uniform sounds like something you’d be wearing to get dirty in the field. Maybe we should have gone with “dress” and “casual” as the alternative terms.

      • In the seventies and eighties, there was no need to differentiate uniform types as only the field uniform was used, very few if any units had unit-specific shirts.

        Clase is a military term used by Army veterans to differentiate between the official bsa uniform and unit-specific shirts. It never was Absa time, and bsa has been actively discouraging its used for many many years.

        I too was asked out in the 70’s, and 80’s and never heard the term class a used except an episode of MASH when they were referring to their dress uniforms.

        Under the Congressional charter granted to bsa, we are not allowed to appear to be a military type organization, that includes using military terminology to describe our uniforms.

        • Gary Wilson // May 16, 2016 at 1:28 pm //

          I agree.

          I collect BSA literature and have pretty much a full set. I can’t find the term “Class A Uniform” in any official handbook at any level in any year. “Class A” uniform is simply an old US Army slang term. BTW, it isn’t used in USN, USAF, or USMC where the term “Service Dress” is typically used.

          There was only one BSA uniform to begin with. BSA originally called it the “Official Uniform”.

          BSA added an optional “Dress Uniform” of Blue blazer, necktie, white shirt, and grey slacks for Explorers and adults in the 1950’s. Adults still can buy and wear that.

          Wearing BSA T Shirts with the official shorts and knee socks developed at the Jamborees in the 1960’s, since kids would start to smell after ten days in the same shirt. But never had an official name. We also allowed that combination at our Scout Camp for lunch, but with the neckerchief.

          “Class B” is just the name of T Shirt manufacturer.

          BSA started to refer to the “Official Uniform” as the “Field Uniform” after BSA added the “Activities Uniform” in the 1990 Handbook. But that was described as a specific collared polo shirt (red for Boy Scouts) with the official Scout shorts and socks.

          So getting up to page 26 in the 2016 edition of the current Handbook, we now have “the official Boy Scout uniform (sometimes called “the field uniform”)” and advice that you sometimes might “pull on a T-shirt with Scout pants or shorts, or wear other clothing that is appropriate for the events of the day. This sometimes called an “activity uniform”.”

          So “Class A” and “Class B” have not and are not BSA terms. Folks should tell their Scouts to either wear “the uniform” or “troop t-shirts” to the appropriate event.

          And as for whether the official uniform is useful for hikes and camp-outs, we wore ours all the time in the 1960’s, as did Scouts in the 1910’s with their high neck choker collars. Didn’t seem to be much of a problem to us, but perhaps we were tougher.


    • Don Schmidt // July 16, 2015 at 1:35 pm // Reply

      Perhaps you could ask the BSA to design a “field uniform” that acually made sense in the field.

      • They have … the Field that the BSA uniform is talking about is the parade field not the military version of “field”. The Activity uniform is what you wear to get dirty.

  10. As a long-time Scout (Eagle), Scout Leader, and Leader-Trainer at the council level, I have never heard the organization mislead us on this issue. This is information commonly known amongst TRAINED leaders. All of us know of many myths that prevail amongst leaders who do not care to commit to train for their positions. There are things you hear that are singular scoutmaster prerogatives, that have nothing to do with established BSA Policy, like ‘no fixed blade knives’, shooting as event for a troop only at someone’s property, the extent to which someone gets to retain and earned award, being required to tie knots at an Eagle board of review as part of somebody’s assessment of the candidates worthiness, having to defend one’s religious preference at a board of review, and so forth. There is a sharp difference between good, well-reasoned (or not) ‘practices’ and the policies of the organization we choose to continue to be involved in.

    This is why I have stayed involved… somebody needs to watch uninformed or outwardly rogue leaders whose motivations are known only to themselves…

    BTW… there is no policy our world that ‘prevents lawsuits’, in Scouting or otherwise. Adhering to practices that make good sense and policy above that will go a long way to defend any lawsuits that may arise.

    • Unfortunately, the source of many/most of the myths and rumors is BSA training and roundtables. I’ve heard every insurance myth at one of those events, multiple times in multiple councils, and all of the other ones as well.

      Ironically, no squirtguns or wheelbarrows are the rules that nobody believes, and they’re the ones that are real!

  11. Our Venture Crew just returned from FSB a couple of weeks ago and we had required all of them to be in uniform shirts when traveling (only a little grumbling). When I asked my daughter about whether the uniform gave them any advantages, she said they got waved through the metal detector lines at the airport a lot quicker than the rest of the passengers, probably because it was obvious they were a group (and trustworthy) and it got them out of the way of the general traveling public lined up for pat-downs and X-raying.

  12. Our Pack and Troop have received praise and nice comments from people while traveling in uniform. People, in spite of all of the politics, know that Scouting tries to have their young people on their best behavior when out and about, unlike some kids. People ask where we are from, what we are out and about doing, and if we are working on merit badges in our travels. Our camp is not far from the best ice cream place in the world, Young’s Jersey Dairy, and they love to see us. Scouters LOVE ice cream!

  13. I had a t-shirt vendor I was working with insist that our group needed to travel in a BSA uniform or officially licensed t-shirt to be covered by insurance. I told her “no, that’s a myth” but she insisted. The myth was so firmly imbedded in her brain there was no changing it.

    • Vendor. Her goal is to sell t-shirts, so that myth is imbedded in her brain because it is a sales tool.

  14. Does anyone else see a conflict here:
    “This insurance provides primary coverage for registered volunteers and excess coverage for nonregistered volunteers for claims arising out of an official Scouting activity. That includes allegations of negligent actions by third parties that result in personal injury or property damage claims.

    While your automobile insurance is primary, the BSA’s Comprehensive General Liability Insurance provides secondary or excess insurance.

    You state that BSA is Primary and then state that the auto insurance is primary.

    I’m confused.

    • Don Schmidt // July 16, 2015 at 1:33 pm // Reply

      Since most/all states require automobile liability insurance to license a vehicle, BSA assumes secondary coverage. All the information I have seen regarding liability coverage by BSA states that, in the case of vehicles, BSA is secondary. What’s the issue?

    • Blair Counts // May 16, 2016 at 3:32 pm // Reply

      The gentleman’s reply contained two examples. While traveling, BSA insurance is primary, your car insurance is secondary in the case of injury. For medical purposes, your insurance is primary, BSA is secondary.

  15. I have always explained to the scouts the uniform is mandatory for easy recognition. If we are in an accident, the police officer can easily see we are with troop 123 from council abc and our name. They can call the council and pull our permit and get any medical information quickly. This is a lot simpler than us showing up at the doctors having to figure out what were allergic to and what medications we are on.

    • Except there’s no such thing as a “permit”, and the Tour Plan does not include medical information nor does the council keep personal medical information. Plus most cops are not going to know a council’s phone number from their shoulder patch, and few councils staff the phones on weekends.

      Be honest with your scouts. Don’t make things up.

      And please, before your next trip, collect all the relevant personal medical information and make sure that two leaders on the trip have copies. A medical emergency is not the time to be playing “go fish” with the person’s medical history. You want to know exactly what every kid is allergic to in your unit. Be Prepared!

    • In our troop the driver of each vehicle is given the health forms and permission slips for each scout that is riding with him. This way if one vehicle is in an accident and we are not in a caravan because traffic separated us, all that information is readily accessible in a binder labeled health forms and permission slips.

  16. Jay VanKirk // July 16, 2015 at 12:42 pm // Reply

    After hearing it so often these past fifteen or so years, I am really weary of hearing Scouts and Scouts whining, “Do we HAVE to wear the uniform??”

    …Seriously? Insurance is not the issue – Dedication, pride and community spirit are.

    As the final one of the eight methods of Scouting, “The uniform makes the Boy Scout troop visible as a force for good and creates a positive youth image in the community.” Why would ANY Scout or Scouter not understand and support this? It boggles my mind. I feel proud of our organization and wear the uniform for EVERY activity (except when we might allow a business to trade on the good name of Scouting).

  17. josef rosenfeld // July 16, 2015 at 2:52 pm // Reply

    I also have my scouts/scouters travel in uniform – it is good marketing/pr; and also, it changes their mind set when they are in uniform as well.

  18. I find this an interesting myth. I’m a Committee Chair for an overseas Troop affiliated to the Department of Defense. We DO NOT Do convoys or insist on uniforms to travel as a force protection issue. Why put a target on your back? There is no impact on insurance. Field uniforms VS class A’s debate. Can’t deny the military affiliation, and why would we? I agree as a ‘field uniform’ I laugh. Class Bs – our Troop Teeshirts are recommended strongly for activities where we need identification as up a mountain. Class As for Ceremonies & Flag raising /retreat, Boards, and Dinner at Summer Camp ( which I personally think is illogical after 6 days my eldest’s son’s uniform is more sauce than patches), and regular Troop meetings during the school year. I agree identification is a great thing, and I’m proud of the uniform, and our boys in them. I’m also crazy proud of our class Bs, we are a unit. I also get the nervousness of those not familiar with Scouts or foreigners who see it a paramilitary youth organization when they see a uniform, especially those festooned with ribbons, but we change minds with actions and deeds

    • Nahila Nakne // July 17, 2015 at 12:13 am // Reply


      Solution to the uniform at summer camp is the Brownsea Washing machine. Have scout with uniform on go into shower. Apply soap and scrub. rinse. repeat as needed. Remove uniform and move on to body.

      Only time I didn’t use that method was when working on staff and had access to a washing machine.

      • That image is fantastic. Our only problem, like many of our Summer Camps, are clothes that never dry out, even in the drying room at Kandersteg Switzerland.

      • Bobby Sammons // July 29, 2015 at 3:00 pm // Reply

        You can actually get the guys to take a shower?

    • Jen, I served as a Scoutmaster and Explorer Advisor in two separate military communities and I strongly disagree with you about the “target on your back” comment. My Troop was constantly out in the German countryside and in towns and cities IN FIELD UNIFORM and was greeted as the Scouts and Scouters we are. We were treated to meals and tours in German or English (many of my Scouts paid attention to German classes in school and could interpret for those who did not speak the host-nation’s language). I do agree with you that our Scouts truly changed hearts and minds with actions and deeds moreso than talk. In Europe, it was also a positive example of the friendship and connectivity between the people living in the “American ghetto” and the people of Germany.

      Yes, we did pay attention and was situationally aware as far as force protection is concerned; our military police battalion was informed anytime we did any activity outside the “ghetto” and it was not uncommon to have German Polizi and American military police officers to show up at our campsite to “just check in” and have some coffee. If you plan things out, do the coordination necessary, you can do the same things in field uniform as opposed to activity uniform.

      My Scouts and Scouters (and Explorers) were proud to not only be a part of the BSA, but also a part of Americana while living in Europe. When the adults take the point and wear their uniforms, it serves as a reminder that we are a uniformed organization.

      • Mike, seriously things have changed, and I’m in no way disrespecting our host nation. Just as military are NOT allowed go to lunch off post wearing uniforms common sense must prevail. We are in a country where a gun man opened fire on US service personal at Frankfurt Airport, and we are 20 minutes drive from there. It was opportunist and not a particularly well thought out crime, but still high impact crowded places are the best targets for those type of incidents. People see the American flag and not the Scout symbol. Yes I’ve had great experiences here, in the country side is very different from high target areas such as airports. I guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree over that one. I just answered a question on our Troop site tonight asking about the percentage of Eagle projects we do in the local community as opposed to base, I estimated 80% is off post.

  19. We require full Class “B” for travel, including Troop T-shirt, BSA shorts and BSA belt. BSA T-322 Beaumont, CA

  20. The timing of this is impeccable. I am doing research on this very topic and using the LACK of such a requirement in literature, along with indirect evidence (e.g. uniforms aren’t required for things like Board of Review) as a way to disprove it. Just today I’d reached out to my local council to see if they have anything in writing about this matter. This is part of a more general Scouting U course on how to dispel myths like this.

    While Mr. Dama’s response is authoritative, it doesn’t explain WHY the myth isn’t true. Are aren’t any explanations to back it up. Unless the response makes its way into a publication (or multiple) that can be easily cited, this myth will probably live on.

    • I squash this myth whenever I hear it. We require all of our scouts to travel in full field uniforms. But then again we require full uniform at all times unless the SPL indicates otherwise.
      BUT I am confused by the need to have this in any publication stating it’s NOT needed. I mean if the BSA started putting into writing all of the things that we DON’T have to do……. I don’t even know how to finish that thought.
      If someone is looking for a definitive answer then look for the BSA publication that tells you what you are supposed to do NOT what you are supposed to NOT do………

    • The reason it’s not true is because insurance is governed by a thing called an “insurance contract.”

  21. I refer to my previous post and Mr. Dama’s response to Bryan’s blog.
    The wearing of the BSA uni is not a requirement to be “covered” by the BSA/Council insurance. Wearing the uni, in whatever variable type (camp tshirt, necker only, “class A, B, C” etc.) is a good thing by itself, in whatever venue so worn, it has other purposes and benefits , as evidenced by the vignettes related above.

    “”The requirement is that the youth and adults be engaged in an official Scouting activity.””

    This begs the question, what is an “official Scouting activity”? Some things might be obvious: Summer camp at the Council camp, Cub Den visiting the museum, overnight on an historic ship, weeklong hike on the AT with your Troop (all adult leaders appropriately trained, natch).
    But how about the rogue Patrol who goes paintballing? Or the archery outing in the ASM’s back yard? Or the kid who is unfortunately injured while helping at his neighbor Cub friend’s big brother’s Eagle project? Can BSA say sorry, not an “official” Scout outing? Or is it a “judgement call” sort of thing?

    I would still like to see some led discussion about the importance of following the BSA guidelines (“AND HERE THEY ARE…”) in the SMS training, and not wait for this discussion to have to show up in an email blog.

    If it is important enough to Scouters to have to improvise myths about it, it should be important enough for Irving to make it clear…

    • From my training slides addressing this:

      An “official Scouting activity”, James, is one which:

      – is a routine or special event of your unit
      – is planned and coordinated as a part of your unit’s annual or monthly program in advance
      – lends itself to the promotion of the Scouting values or ideals
      – can involve all members, specific members (a Den, Patrol or Squad for instance) or a mixture of BSA and non-BSA members (for instance, a joint BSA – GSUSA camp or hike; a community fair in which the unit is participating within; a national observance in which the unit is taking part in, etc.), adult and/or youth

      The unit and in particular the unit’s leader makes the decision as to whether an activity is an “official Scouting activity”. It does not take the local Council nor the National Center’s okay in writing or verbally to make the event an “official” one.

      The Guide to Safe Scouting outlines those events and activities which are NOT considered “official Scouting activities”…they are explained in the “unauthorized activity” section of that guide.

  22. I am Committee Chair to both a Pack and a Troop. When we travel We want the boys in dress uniform shirts at least,not because of insurance,a possible treat, or even showing pride of scouts. We do it because their collective behavior is so much better and they have pride in themselves.

    • Bryan Wendell // July 18, 2015 at 11:22 am // Reply

      Great point!

  23. No you don’t have to be in uniform. But there is no reason why you shouldn’t be and lots of reasons why you should.

  24. Maybe you’ve already done this, but I’d love to see an article on BSA knife policy. So many people are totally misinformed on what they think is prohibited.

    • Bryan Wendell // July 18, 2015 at 12:41 pm // Reply

      Concealed within this April Fools post from a while back is an important message: There’s no maximum knife blade length set by the BSA.

      • Brian,
        Are you ever going to reply on the New Venturing Uniform blog?
        Sorry to hijack this thread, but getting a reply is like pulling teeth it seems!

        • Bryan Wendell // July 19, 2015 at 2:05 pm //

          Nothing to report on the uniform at this time. Rest assured I’ll blog about it once there is.

    • Bryan did that on April first of this year. Search the blog for sword. You should find it.

  25. The only time we bother to wear Class A’s, (and yes, I am always going to insist on calling them that), while traveling is those rare occasions when we fly. The last time we did that we had 3 different scouts bring knives through the metal detectors, (despite being told repeatedly to leave them behind), and didn’t have any problems with the TSA.

    Otherwise we don’t even bother bringing the Class A’s unless we are doing something official, (like a flag lowering at Mt Rushmore, (which we now can’t do any longer because too many other Troops screwed it up), or we are doing an indoor service project where we want to be identified as Scouts.

    Otherwise there is no reason to wear a Class A while driving for 10 hours cross country. Yay, we are sitting in a car with a Scout Uniform, Neckerchief, and Scout pants, and in a car like mine with no AC. That does wonders for making the Scout appreciate Scouting. I am very proud of Scouting and being a Scoutmaster, but I have ZERO desire to wear my Class A’s while driving cross country. If the Jr Leaders ever decided that we were going to do that then I would, but they would never decide that on their own. That comes from adults. Our Troop is Youth Run so I don’t have to worry about that ever happening.

    When our Troop does our Trips we just do a Trip T-shirt and all the Scouts wear that. Otherwise they wear a Troop T-shirt and something comfortable, (jeans, shorts, etc). A couple years ago we were driving cross country and met a Troop in full uniform at a rest area and when that SM found out we were boy scouts he couldn’t believe we weren’t in uniform. He insisted we weren’t covered by insurance while traveling, (and yes, he had a Trained patch on), and wouldn’t believe me when I told him it was a myth.


    • Ted A Scout is obedient. BSA says not to call the field uniform by a military uniform designation. Why would you blatently disobey a National policy? You may not agree with this but you should still set an example to your scouts.

      • Oh gosh, this is the least of the National policies I violate, and unfortunately not the most idiotic of them.

        My Scouts call them Class A’s, the SM who had the job before me for 45 years calls them Class A’s, and I’d say just about every other leader in the Troop calls them Class A’s.

        If I ever referred to a “Field Uniform” everyone in the Troop would assume I was talking a t-shirt, because that would make sense.

        No, I, and pretty much everyone in my unit, will keep calling them Class A’s. Not the least of which is because we really ARE a paramilitary group, and no amount of hand wringing and wailing is going to change that.

        And as for setting the example for the Scouts, I DO set the example. The rule in my unit is that any Scout can question any rule, and if we, (both adults and Jr Leaders), can’t come up with a good justification for the rule, then that rule goes away. (It’s happened before). And in my mind there is no reason for the calling the shirts something other than Class A’s than simple PC speak.

  26. Many years ago when I was a Den Chief in Chicago, Wrigley Field had “Cubs Day at CUBS Park”. Any Cub Scout who showed up in uniform with a paying Adult was admitted to the game free of charge. Most Cub Packs would sign up and bring the whole pack that day. Our cub pack had Flourecent Orange kerchiefs for public scouting events like Scout-O-Rama. The Cubmaster at the time was my Dad, and he noticed 2 orange kerchiefs clear across the stadium. he wanted to know where the 3rd one was. (The rule of 3). He pointed to 2 of us Den chiefs and an adult, and asked us to fetch them back for an explanation. It turned out that 2 of our boys traded for the standard yellow, and these were boys from another pack. They came with their Cubmaster, and the situation was explained to him that they were our “public marker” for our kids, and we could not in good concience let the boys keep them. They were invited to the next pinewood derby race to compete. One of them took second place over-all, so goodwill to all was upheld.

  27. We like to travel in uniform for a couple or reasons: 1) It affects the boys behavior – they’re in character as Scouts and 2) They’re easier to spot in a crowd especially when we stop for a meal. Its also easier for outsiders to find a leader if there is a problem, and 3) a well behaved bunch of youth on an outing in uniform helps market the program and makes a positive community impression. We get folks all the time stopping to thank us as volunteer leaders or to recall their youth as a Scout.

    • I recently saw a group of “local” scouts, in full uniform shopping at a Super Market on a Thursday night. When I asked if they were going to do any “Dutch Oven cooking” they saw that I was a leader from another town and we started exchanging good things that can be cooked in a Dutch oven. It doesn’t hurt to be visable.

      • Bryan Wendell // July 19, 2015 at 2:05 pm // Reply

        Very true! Cool story.

  28. Our son got bit by a dog while selling popcorn in uniform, all we got was the runaround.

  29. ….and at a personal level, scouts in uniform tend to act more “scoutly” than those in camo shorts and tanktops. It’s a physical reminder when they look around at each other about the responsibility they have to reflect the ideals in everything they do.

  30. I love all the guys traveling in uniform when flying or on other public transportation. Typically you attract all kinds of friendly responses from former scouts, scouts from other countries, folks who are scouting supporters, etc.

    It helps kids realize that Scouting is a “Big Deal” thing that lots of people care about.

  31. This is a good thing to know. I think it is good practice to travel in uniform. It helps them to be mindful to follow the Scout Oath and Law while traveling. It is also a great advertising for the Scouts. However, do you have to fill out a tour permit for every trip in order the trip to be considered a scouting activity? I would think if you did not. BSA could contest if the trip was scout related or not if you don’t fill a tour permit out every time.

    • I’ve had the insurance argument a few times with Professionals when it comes to Tour Plans, and the end result is always “if your Troop Committee approves the event, and it’s published at your unit level, it’s an official event and covered by insurance”. They always hem and haw and try hard to pressure you in to doing the tour plan, but when you start getting in to specifics they acknowledge you don’t really have to have it for insurance.

      I’ve filed a couple insurance claims for ER visits, none of which had Tour Plans, and no one ever asked me if we had one. At no point in any of the insurance paperwork did the question about TP’s even come up.

      I haven’t done a Tour Plan ever, and didn’t bother with Tour Permit’s after a couple years. It’s not a bad tool if you are a new leader, but once you have some idea what you are doing they are a needless hassle that adds nothing to the safety of the Scouts. The people “reviewing” them, (since they aren’t approved any more), certainly don’t know more about this stuff than I do.

      P.S. And by the way, we don’t travel in uniform either unless there is a specific need for the uniforms. We don’t bring them on 98% of the campouts.

      • In our troop, we had a Scout get seriously hurt on an outing. The person who is in charge of the truth at the time was our committee chair, currently is a committee member.

        The parents of the Scout were trying to sue bsa, the council, the chartered organization, and the truth.

        When the lawyer for the bsa called the committee chair, he said depending on your answer to the first question that will tell me how long we need to spend on the phone with each other. His first question was did you have an approved tour permit?

        When are committee chair told him that he did violate or permit, and it was approved, the lawyer thank him for his time and said I won’t need to talk to you again and ended the call.

        The lawsuit was quickly dismissed afterwards.

        While I agree it may not be necessary for every trip, you should file one just to cya.

  32. Traveling in uniform may not be required, but unless you’re traveling outside the US, why wouldn’t you wear the uniform? It makes it easy to find your kids in a large gas station / convenience store to round them up after a bathroom / snack / gas stop. They seem to behave a little better when others see them in uniform. You get a lot of positive comments from total strangers. It is a great, living recruiting poster for Scouting. And wearing the uniform is one of the pillars of the BSA program.

    Sometimes traveling in only class B is the way to go, but 98% of the time we travel in class A. A scout is Proud to wear the uniform.

    • >A scout is Proud to wear the uniform.

      I’d disagree with that. Our Troop really is youth run, and the youth make the decisions on when and where to wear the uniform, and the answer, (other than regular meetings), is almost always NOT. Only on rare occasions when we were doing something on a trip that required the uniform did the youth decide to wear it. They decide where we are going, how we are going to get there, and what we will wear at each point in the trip.

      All the points you listed were ADULT points, not things that the youth worry about. Seriously, give the Scouts a choice and you’ll find that the do NOT want to wear the uniform.

  33. I hate to correct Bryan, but, officially it is the Field Uniform or the Activity Uniform.

  34. Brian, Thanks for clarifying this insurance question! My concern, as our Council’s Public Relations Vice President, is that the many advantages of wearing the Boy Scout uniform while traveling to and from Scout events are included in the comments, but not in your original article. Some leaders, in a hurry, will read your post and not the comments, and decide their units will not wear uniforms while traveling. Would you please consider amending your post (or write a new article) to include the benefits of wearing a uniform while traveling? The BSA needs all the positive Public Relations it can get. Thanks for your help!

  35. Sue Barker // May 16, 2016 at 3:31 pm // Reply

    I didn’t read every post but was wondering about flying. We travel in our BSA t-shirts when driving. We maybe taking a very long flight and was wondering if we are OK to wear our BSA t-shirts

  36. We started a troop in S.E. Asia, and have been asked by the local US consulate to NOT fly in uniform, as they feel it draws unnecessary attention (& possible retaliation). We make sure that our troops (Scouts & scouters) bring their class A’s with them to events, but can travel however they like.

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