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Scout neckerchiefs now approved for wear with nonuniform clothing

One uniform piece unites Scouts in all 223 countries with a Scouting program.

It’s not the button-up uniform shirt. It’s not the purple World Crest.

It’s the Scout neckerchief.

Look at pretty much any photo of a Scout or Scout leader from another country, and you’ll see those rolled-up triangles. They’re wearing Scout neckerchiefs even if they aren’t in their full, official uniform (what we in the U.S. call the field uniform).

And now, the BSA is joining them. Scout neckerchiefs, long a symbol of the movement globally, are now approved for wear by Boy Scouts of America members whether in or out of uniform.

This line on page 12 of the Guide to Awards and Insignia, 2015 edition, confirms the change: 

When engaged in Scouting activities, members may wear the neckerchief with appropriate nonuniform clothing to identify them as Scouts.

Previously, according to an earlier version of the Guide, the Scout neckerchief was “worn only with the official uniform and never with T-shirts or civilian clothing.”

Why the change?

  • Removing restrictions for neckerchief wear brings the BSA in line with other members of the World Organization of the Scout Movement.
  • The neckerchief, as recommended by Scouting founder Robert Baden-Powell, can be a tool for first aid. It can work as a sling, tourniquet or bandage.
  • Scout neckerchiefs identify Scouts as Scouts, even when they aren’t in uniform.
  • The neckerchief looks cool — just ask Bear Grylls.

What one Scouter says

Dan Kurtenbach, a Scouter from Virginia, told me by email that he’s thrilled with the move.

“The previous policy meant that you would hardly ever see a neckerchief at Scout outdoor activities, because you hardly ever see the official uniform being worn for active outdoor events,” he writes. “With this change, it seems that the Scout neckerchief can be used for what it was designed for: practical outdoor gear.

“But more importantly, it finally allows boys engaged in outdoor activities to be recognized as Scouts, not just any old youth group. It allows us to take the uniform with us wherever we go and whatever we are doing.”

Reminder

Of course, your regular field uniform and activity uniforms are still an important part of delivering the BSA program.

This option — wearing neckerchiefs with civilian clothes at a Scouting event — merely offers you a nice way to show you’re a Scout when out of uniform.

Related post

Does your unit wear a Scout neckerchief?

136 Comments on Scout neckerchiefs now approved for wear with nonuniform clothing

  1. Finally! Hurrah!

  2. I like the change.

  3. This is GREAT news! We can now participate in World Scout Scarf Day (August 1, each year), and show our solidarity with other Scouts and Scouters, worldwide, not to mention encourage discussion about Scouting!

    • You have always been able to participate with Scout Scarf Day!

  4. Ok but does that mean that it is ok to wear if you aren’t doing a scout sanctioned activity? Such as a fundraiser where you are working a food booth at an event or selling candy bars or camp cards. It is my understanding that we aren’t to wear a scout uniform or even a class b when doing those types of activities. Is wearing a neckerchief ok to wear in those situations?

    • Don’t get me wrong. I like the idea. Just want to if there are times when you are not allowed to wear it.

      • As long as the activity doesn’t violate the Scout Oath and Law, I don’t see why not. We have been trying to get the youth wearing the uniform to school for years.

        • Sorry missed the sales part. For selling stuff you need to check with your council on when it is OK to be identified as a Scout

    • If the activity for selling is authorized by your Council, you can wear it. If not, do not. The big thing is that the general public is not aware of wearing a scarf is a Scout Uniform. So, I would wear the uniform to identify to the public that you are a Scout. It’s good press.

    • Great question, Brian…the answer is, unfortunately “no”. We should wear the Scout uniform (that includes the neckerchief!) when performing clearly Scouting-related activities or engaging in Scouting events. So wearing it for World (Neckerchief) Scarf Day is a clearly Scouting-related event but wearing the neckerchief while fund-raising is still a no-no (unless your local Council has approved in writing through the Fund-Raising application your usage of the Scouting uniform).

      • Jeep Fortuna // August 22, 2015 at 4:15 pm // Reply

        Mike,

        We took our Troop to a regional Jamboree hosted in Iceland in 2005. What my Scouts learned (among other things) is what was universal among Scouting was the neckerchief itself.

        Girl Guides walked the encampment in bikinis but always wearing their neckerchiefs!

    • If you submit a unit money earning app and its approved you may be able to sell in uniform. Camp cards are typically a council fundraiser and are acceptable to the uniform wearing

  5. Nelson Block // August 21, 2015 at 12:10 pm // Reply

    Wait, you mean the uniform can be functional? Whoa, what a radical idea! Now maybe we can get the field uniform shirt to have buttons that are not sized for a clown outfit and pockets that can be buttoned with one hand and without a training video. (I know it’s too much to expect it to have shirt tails, so Scouts and Scouters would understand it’s not meant to be worn outside the pants/shorts.)

  6. Dean Whinery // August 21, 2015 at 12:12 pm // Reply

    ‘Way overdue. Now we need to get neckers back to full size; most of the “official” ones are really too small to use as a first aid bandage or arm sling. P.S. I wore just my Lone Scout necker with “civilian” clothes on International Scarf (Neckerchief) Day.

    • “most of the “official” ones are really too small to use as a first aid bandage or arm sling.”

      One reason why my Troop abandoned those and designed our own.

    • Reminds me of the “official” necker for the 2005 jamboree. Wouldn’t even fit around a moderately sized neck. Cost cutting at its best

  7. Unbecoming! I think Scouts don’t wear their Scout uniform enough as it is.
    I guess I could wear a tie to work on Friday with my golf shirt.

    • I mean just look at the picture of the one scout wearing a neckerchief with a Scooby Do tshirt.

      • What kid has a scooby do shirt on? All I see in the pics are BSA t-shirts.

      • It looks like a bear on a surfboard and it appears to have the scout logo on the surfboard. I kind of want one of those shirts now!

        • Nancy, those shirts are the WSJ Troop 307 activity shirts and you can see why they were very popular with scouts from across the world. Many of our scouts literally traded the shirts of their backs.

    • There really is not a rule to make a Scout wear a Uniform. It is not required for an Eagle Board of Review. But, I do agree wearing the uniform is nice.

    • Tanya Dunn Ellis // August 21, 2015 at 1:34 pm // Reply

      Our Cubscouts and Boyscouts wear the uniform to school for the day of round up, any ceremonies where we do a flag ceremony which is usually awards and for our independence program. There are always a few students that try to pick but we inform our scouts that they need to explain how much fun they have year long. Most actually join after talking to the scout. Communication and knowledge is the key to everything. …

    • Lynn, here’s a little more detail with the justification of wearing the neckerchief with the Scout uniform:

      In most nations, the neckerchief IS the “informal Scouting uniform” like we use tee-shirts and polo shirts. It is the cheapest way that a youth member can demonstrate their participation and support to Scouting, while at the same time show his or her loyality to a specific Scouting unit. In several nations, the neckerchief is the ONLY uniform.

      In some nations, the color combinations of the neckerchief is “registered” with their National Scouting Association, thereby negating the need for a cloth “unit number”. (While we in the BSA did not have a “national registry”, several Councils actually “cataloged” the color combination(s) used by specific Troops — and as the Council grew in size, special District and Council neckerchiefs were worn by District and Council volunteers and professional staff members. This is the reason why there are more than 55 variations of the BSA’s official cloth neckerchief).

      We in the BSA also have special neckerchiefs — a good example of this is the Kenten cloth neckerchief — which served as both identity and recognition item for those adults and youth who have supported Scouting in our communities. Many of those neckerchiefs, unfortunately, are placed away in a drawer somewhere after being presented and that’s a true shame, for the neckerchief, since Sir Robert Baden-Powell’s introduction of the cloth, *is* a part of a Scout’s uniform

      The BSA, as explained in the blog post, is simply (finally!) conforming to the “world wide standard”. A Scout could wear a Scooby-do tee shirt, a polo shirt from his or her school, or a plain white or other color shirt with their unit’s neckerchief AND be considered to be “in uniform”. It is the NECKERCHIEF which proclaims to the world that a person is a Scout.

      Whenever I am traveling overseas, I insure on wearing a BSA neckerchief (unless I’m in Estonia or Croatia, in which I wear the neckerchiefs of those which adopted me as a member of their unit) and it, more than the uniform itself, garners the most acceptance (and free coffee *smiling*) from those who recognize it as a source of good.

      Hope this additional info helps!

      • As I’ve stated elsewhere, in the 60’s and 70’s it was common for Scouts to wear “Class B” – Scout T-shirt and neckerchief plus Scout shorts and socks. Is THAT now permitted? I’ll bring that back in my Troop in a heartbeat. It would seem funny that you could wear the scarf over civilian clothing but not what I’ve just described. Can you ask your contacts?

        • The scout activity shirt and necker are the ideal combination as pictured above. Most of us in the field have found leg and foot gear needs to vary for the activity.

          For me, the canvass scout shorts and (the now official) hiking socks to be ideal for most warm weather purposes — including summer camp. Problem is, most of our scouting transpires in no particular kind of weather and no single activity.

          I’m thinking if I can toss on one of my favorite neckerchiefs anytime I’m scouting, regardless of what needs to be worn neck-down and chin up, eventually it will rub off on the boys.

    • You know what is unbecoming? Youth leaders of the most powerful country in the free world thinking that their boys “bling out” like third-world dictators to look like “real” scouts.

    • I agree size is an issue for utilitarian purposes.

    • The entire rest of the world does this and the kids love it. THE KIDS LIVE IT. The BSA has always been way too hung up on what the Adults think of things. This is a smart move and gets us further in line with WOSM.

      • Sorry…I’ve lived in the real scout world for many years, and when given the choice, most youth would rather shed that neckerchief. They don’t even want anyone to see they are wearing scout socks. “Love it”? hardly.

        • I think that is why you see most of the pics with Scouts other than BSA wear the ‘scarf’ very loose, not binding, and potentially cooler on the neck

  8. This is a long overdue change! The picture from the WSJ in Japan really show how great this is!

  9. Gerard A. (Jerry) Scanlan // August 21, 2015 at 12:12 pm // Reply

    Great!!! It is about time! Look at all the pictures from the Jamboree also WOSMs World Scarf day posts! The best picture was of the pope greeting. 30,000 Italian scouts in St Pater’s square and his pope mobile was covered in scarfs tossed to him!

  10. VA Scoutmaster // August 21, 2015 at 12:15 pm // Reply

    Good stuff. I like the last 3 reasons (really, who doesn’t love Bear Grylls?), but I don’t love the justification that we should change something because other members of WOSM do it. It really is OK to have American norms, traditions and customs (hence the “of America” in our organization name). ‘Nuf said. I’m now going to go put on my coolest neckerchief!

    • That’s one of the downsides of sending some of our youth to these international events, they come back with “ideas” that don’t mesh with our top-down-adult-back-room way of doing things.

      Now, where’s that box of neckers?

      • VA Scoutmaster // August 22, 2015 at 11:29 am // Reply

        Ouch. Ironic response, since “top-down-adult-back-room way of doing things” seems to adequately describe how BSA arrived at this decision. Although I could be totally wrong, I’m unaware of any youth membership in the BSA clamoring to wear their neckerchief with a tee shirt. But, like I said previously, it’s still a good idea (mostly because it allows us to be more identifiable as Scouts while still wearing a comfortable “class B” uniform). Putting on my second neckerchief of the day now …

      • What we’ve had was BSA youth members
        – attending world jamborees,
        – meeting scouts from other countries at summer camp,
        – fulfilling Citizenship in the World requirement 7c.
        – reading about/blogging with/seeing images of scouts from other countries online,

        And they got it into their heads “Hey I can do that with my neckerchief!”
        Then, they or someone they respect read this line in the old insignia guide … evoking a response along the lines “That’s dumb!”

        Definite minority? Yes. Most scouts around the world don’t give a though about how anyone else uses a neckerchief … until they wind up in your living room while your son and his buddy are about to leave for the meeting and ask, “Wait! Where’s your necker.” Basically there have been enough of these incidents run up the chain (or blogged about online) that hard working (and somewhat obsessed) guys like Mike Walton realize that if the Insignia Guide is limiting Scout Spirit, it ain’t the Scout Spirit that has to change!

        Almost have a decent friendship knot with my Wood Badge necker …:)

      • Exactly, LET THE BOYS RUN THE TROOP!

  11. This is not a good idea. Other countries did this as they abandoned the uniform entirely, and made the scarf the uniform. Just a matter of time before the uniform becomes optional since its so uncool. After all, many units are “jeans” units now anyway…

    BSA seems determined to chase evolving cultural norms…to be a leaf on the wind rather than a tree.

    • ftrooper93: Thank you for your Scout service to our boys. About “abandoning” the uniform. Please realize that a lot of Scouts in many countries can’t afford a “full” uniform. They make do with a Tshirt and the Necker. That Necker/scarf means “Scout” any where in the world. Those boys (and girls!) are rightfully proud of being a Scout. They help in emergencies, help in their communities, learn to be responsible citizens no less than the Scouts (your Scouts!) here in the US of A. And they wear (I have seen the pictures) that scarf as their uniform. Their badges of rank and position may be sewn on a Tshirt (if then!) but salute them as they go by and give’m a Scout handshake…
      Do we have a uniform to wear? Great. So we are blessed in this land of plenty. Encourage it’s correct wear, but allow the Scout to show his pride with his brother Scout by wearing that Necker.

      • GrumpyEagle // August 22, 2015 at 9:17 am // Reply

        We might be a wealthy country, but for many boys and their families, a full BSA uniform – even just a shirt – is a daunting expense. For those who are trying to establish troops in poor areas, the necker-only policy is a great idea.

    • Many countries do this, and most still maintain a very nice field uniform.

      Let’s not misread some other countries’ ideals. For some, a fully uniformed youth brings back memories of isolation, radical nationalism, and totalitarianism. (There are one or two, I’m sure where even necker’s have a negative connotation, but they are the minority … and cheerful+helpful youth are slowly revising that image.)
      For those countries, the path to growth — and there has been impressive growth worldwide — is an understated field uniform: civilian dress with a conveniently placed world crest, the few and understated medals/badges, and the necker (in a square knot or slide if you’ve put it on yourself, a friendship knot if someone else put it on you).

      The “cultural” norm that I think BSA wrongly chased was the De La Renta style. It is designed for showing off awards instead of getting down to the business of scouting. We adults have promoted over the years this sub-culture of “blinging out”. Now, who does that imitate? Well (aside from tyrants) I can think of one group: rap stars.

      I contend that what we’re seeing from our boys in their unwillingness to “fully uniform” is not a backlash against decency or fear of being uncool. But a respect of the people in this country whom they see working really hard and getting things done. Those people — from servant, to general, to commander in chief — uniform modestly … and they want to imitate that.

      They have seen how youth from other countries operate, and have asked to take up their custom. As far as I can tell, this is a youth-driven application of the uniform method.

    • My troop was a jeans troop in the late 70’s/early 80’s.

      Check out the world scouting web site. They have pictures of scouts helping out after an earthquake. Their neckerchiefs easily identify them as scouts working together to help those in need.

      The BSA policy change should create new opportunities to promote scouting to get more involved with the program! Not every outdoor activity needs the field uniform but the neckerchief is so easily identifiable. It is just a shame about how this article used some hoaky reasons why this is good and not just the practice ones!

  12. FABULOUS!!! This is a brilliant idea.

    • A lot of American boys can’t afford a full uniform either. the cost of a uniform is a weeks groceriesf for some families. Even more if there are multiple boys. This change lets every boy feel he belongs.

  13. Now BSA needs to make sure that there are neckerchiefs that fit an adult, and not make him look like he’s wearing a HANDkerchief.

    • Nahila Nakne // August 21, 2015 at 6:09 pm // Reply

      BSA is slowly getting out of the Boy Scout neckerchiefs. My son’s troop is now looking at a 3rd party vendor for neckerchiefs b/c we can no longer get them from supply

  14. And now, all your Unit needs is a Scarf. Good bye Scout Shop visits for Uniforms! Scouting just got cheaper. Really all you need now is a sash and a red vest to put all the patches on….;)

    • I was going to say the same comment, Adam, but you’re way ahead of me!! Those who complain and moan about the Scout uniform being “so expensive” and “we cannot afford all of the Scout this and Scout that” can now shut their pie holes, because all a kid need to play in THIS game is a neckerchief (which, in all honesty, should be AWARDED or PRESENTED to him or her when they become a member of the unit!) and a slide (which they can make themselves; rubber bands or twist ties can work in a pinch!).

      Total outlay? $3

      • $3 sounds reasonable for a small piece of cloth. However, the BSA charges $8.99 for an “official” one from their store. I suspect that’s why so many troops get custom neckerchiefs made: for the same price, you can have a distinctive, embroidered necker made.

        • Expect the price to go down, Dave, as the popularly of neckerchief increases. Don’t forget that there are “Moms” and “Grannies” out there who would be tickled pink to crank out custom neckerchiefs for the local Troop as long as the Troop pays for the material.

          One of the competing Troops in my home town had a Mom to make gold neckerchiefs with a small black border; as they participated in various activities, one of the dad’s created small silk screens illustrating the event they were participating in and Scouts would silk-screen the image to their neckerchiefs, making it more than just something they drape around their necks.

          I agree with you…$9 is three times too much for a bit of silk-screened cloth. I wonder if you’re talking about the ones with the First Class emblem sewn onto the corner, in which case $9 is about right for such an item…Scouts dole out that much for a patch in some locations.

      • Steve Baker // August 22, 2015 at 7:22 am // Reply

        Scouts/Scouters could even use the square (joining knot) at the bottom in the
        European style. There is a Troop in my district that does that.

        • That’s the Friendship knot.

      • I’m not reading anything into this article about this neckerchief policy being an option to not wearing the scout uniform…just another way to wear your neckerchief when not in uniform. Am i missing something, because we’ve gone slightly off-topic it seems.

        • You are correct. It does not make the neckerchief a substitute for the full uniform or an alternative to the full uniform. It recognizes (as does the Boy Scout Handbook) that the full uniform is not appropriate clothing for many Scout activities. At such times, you can add the necker to whatever you are wearing in order to identify yourself as a Scout.

      • Don’t need slides, rubber bands or twist ties. The Friendship knot or square knot will work just as well.

  15. Really, that’s why we are the Boy Scouts of America, not of the world.
    There is becoming more changes that are reflecting following someone else’s traditions and views. What’s next..
    SMH..

    • Here’s a for-instance. For as long as I’ve been a scout, the field uniform was not worn during Klondike derbies. Why? Because it would have to be under so many layers which need to be shed or re-added to be practical. So, to effectively manage hypothermia there’s no way that what a youth has on at any point in time will be uniform with the rest of the patrol.

      If, however, we award boys for wearing the necker at such events. We actually increase uniforming at one of our more popular scouting events in northern climes.

      Come spring, the “field uniform” is still back in the tent at the ready for parades.

      I bet you can think of other activities where encouraging this “at lest your necker” would increase application of the uniforming as a method in rugged outdoor activities.

      When the field uniform becomes less ceremonial (fewer insignia, smaller insignia, modest design, durable cloth), we’ll find it to be the popular outer-garment that it once was among scouts in the 50s.

    • When I was a Scout in the 1960’s it was common to wear a neckerchief with a Scouting T-Shirt (e.g., the summer camp’s T-Shirt), Scout shorts and Scout knee socks. This was known then as the “Class B” uniforming, and is what you would see around camp all day until evening flag and dinner, when the full dress uniform was worn. “Class C” was that without the neckerchief, and was only worn when you were engaged in an activity where something around the neck was a safety hazard.

  16. Cool. Now can we make a couple of other changes with respect to the necker? Can we reverse the Oscar De La Renta modification that allowed neckers to be worn UNDER the collar and return to only over the collar? A great way to look at the history is for you guys at National HQ to walk over to the paintings at the National Scout Museum. Look at all of Norman Rockwell’s paintings, and you will see the necker over the collar. Then look at the paintings post-Oscar De La Renta by Joseph Csatari and you will see them under the collar. SECONDLY: can we ditch the Oscar De La Renta disco-inspired kerchief sized neckerchief and return to a full sized neckerchief? It is silly to try and wear our little hankerchefs that the BSA sells as neckwear like the rest of the world when they are too small and you can not tie a friendship knot in them.

    • Nahila Nakne // August 21, 2015 at 6:18 pm // Reply

      Actually the option to wear the necker under an open collar, or no collar at all, cam about in 1972 with disastrous “Improved Scouting Program.”

      I still wear mine the correct way, as James E. West would say. 😉

      • Yesterday's Scout // August 21, 2015 at 6:37 pm // Reply

        I remember those shirts with no collar. A terrible idea.

  17. Speaking of neckers, it would be great if scoutstuff.org or our local (and national) scout shops could carry the Messengers of Peace neckers. They are very sharp looking!

  18. How about also allowing the used of fx the friendship knot? According to the insignia guide, slide is still required.

    • No, Hanne, the slide is NOT required, but it makes it look nice when worn. In the past, Scouts would make their OWN slides or get one from their Troop to wear with their Troop’s neckerchief slide…I have a small set of slides going back to my youth days in a box.

      • I just meant “a slide required” (see “How to wear your neckerchief” in the insignia guide) – I know we can make our own, this is still a common cub scout activity 🙂

        But can we go no slide at all and use the friendship knot? As I read the insignia guide, the answer to that is no.

        • The Task Force’s advisor said in answering someone else’ similar question that you should always wear a slide/woggle/keeper with a neckerchief. If you lost it, it is okay to tie in in a knot but that should NOT be the default — it is a neckerchief, not a scarf. Neckerchiefs — in Scouting anyway — have a slide or holder which keeps the two ends of the neckerchief together at the neckline.

        • Common Cub Scout activity? Maybe, but it’s common for Boy Scouts too. Don’t disparage it!.
          My troop just used 3d modeling to design custom patrol slides and had them 3d printed at Shapeways. They painted them at a meeting and they are vey cool. They got tons of questions from other units at summer camp and are very proud of them. I know it’s not woodcarved like in the old days , but it still required creativity and resourcefulness. Oh and did I saw they look really cool? This’ll give them another chance to show them off.

    • To amplify: the standard issue slide is not required for any division of scouting. One of the first favors you could do for your boy, is help him make his own, and rig it with a small thick rubber band in the back or “pull-tight” leather cords to decrease slippage.

  19. IL Scoutmaster // August 21, 2015 at 12:50 pm // Reply

    About time! We attended an International Jamboree a few years ago and while Uniform was worn for opening and closing ceremonies, what identified everyone as a scout the rest of the time was their neckerchief (or two) over a Tshirt.

  20. Rather than scarves, there are other ways to create a unit identity. My former troop created its own logo, which it put on ball caps, T-shirts, and sweatshirts — clothing that is casual but feels comfortable on campouts and other outdoor activities. Anyone who went to NOAC saw another side to uniforms. There, Scouts wore everything from red capes to green fezzes, Indian headdresses, and top hats.

  21. Outstanding!!!!

  22. Robert Bardsley // August 21, 2015 at 12:56 pm // Reply

    Personally I only ever wear a neckerchief to special events such as an Eagle COH or a Wood Badge beading ceremony. Otherwise I follow my unit’s policy which is we don’t have an official unit neckerchief. Boys and leaders in the past decided not to go with it especially since they were too small for anything first aid related plus boys have a tendency to lose the neckerchief and slide at some point in their career.

  23. I’m not thrilled about BSA’s de-emphasis on Scouts wearing the uniform (see the uniforms less and less in marketing, publicity, etc.). It should be a source of pride for the Scouts as well as the adults. But it’s not a hill I’m going to die on.

    However, if the excuse is that the neckerchief is worn for practical reasons then can we start making practical neckerchiefs? Something large enough and sturdy enough to really be used as a sling, etc.?

    • Larger neckerchiefs are now, and have been, available at scoutstuff.org

    • “””can we start making practical neckerchiefs? Something large enough and sturdy enough to really be used as a sling, etc.?”””
      The answer is “Yes”. Many Troops make their own.

  24. Baden and Powell // August 21, 2015 at 1:29 pm // Reply

    Honestly, BSA is about 100 years late to this party…

    At a point in time where more and more troops are voting down troop neckers someone at National finally realizes this might be a good idea?

    And at the same time the uniform police prohibition against unique shoulder tabs continues. My guess is these guys don’t get out in the field very much…

    • We DO get out to the field, Baden….a lot. The volunteers who are part of the Insignia and Uniforming Task Force ARE VOLUNTEERS, not professionals, many of us with “real roles” in our local Councils and within units in those Councils.

      The reason why we saw a lot of units “voting down” neckerchiefs is rather simple: they do NOT see the adults involved in their units wearing a neckerchief. As I’ve stated over and over (and will be doing so in my fall unit visits), “the uniform of the Scouter is the uniform of the Scout”.

      So when adults start wearing neckerchiefs (with or without the field uniform), their Scouts will fish out from the bottom of their drawers or convince Mom or Dad that they need one and wear it also.

      Now, about the shoulder loops — the shoulder loops were designed not for “individual units to wear” (that’s the role of the neckerchief, unit numbers and den/patrol emblems), but for PROGRAM IDENTIFICATION. We have four programs in the BSA — Cub Scouting, Boy Scouting, Varsity Scouting and Venturing (I am lobbying for shoulder loops for Sea Scouting but it’s not going very far…*sour face*). We have two catagories of adult leadership — those who work at the Council and District (local) levels (the most important, hence they wear the silver shoulder loops!) and those who support them at the Area, Regional and National levels (the lesser of the importance, which is why they wear gold shoulder loops).

      There really is NO REASON to wear any other color shoulder loops. Okay. I can think of only one which would be a valid justification — black shoulder loops for those units in mourning, and then only for a very short period of time.

      Give me a valid justification, Baden, and I’ll help promote it among my peers on the Task Force. Or send a note to program.content@scouting.org and please justify it that way.

      We have a uniform with set items for a reason….and that reason is to provide a “uniform” manner of wearing and displaying Scouting insignia and items in a consistant and yes, I’m going to type it — uniform — manner.

      • Baden and Powell // August 21, 2015 at 3:45 pm // Reply

        Well Mike, if you DO get out in the field… a lot… it should come as absolutely no surprise to your or anyone on the task force that despite what the uniform guide states there are hundreds of unique shoulder tabs being worn from coast to coast. That is reality and it clearly indicates there is strong demand for this element of uniqueness regardless of how the task force may feel about it.

        Obviously there are many reasons why these shoulder tabs are being created and “unofficially” sanctioned in many councils. First and foremost they are fun and I hope we all agree there can never be too much fun in scouting! Secondly, every one I have ever seen represents something unique and specific. Many are time limited so they are a way of advertising, team building, staff identification, celebration, etc.

        I served on staff at Jamboree and our event created a unique set of shoulder tabs. When the CSE came by he commented on how much he liked them and even asked for a set for himself. Purple is spreading like wild fire as the shoulder tab of choice for Arrowmen and I don’t think you, I, or anyone else is ever going to get that genie back in the bottle and I can’t think of ANY REASON why we should!

        While the uniform is uniform in certain basic structural elements, literally every uniform is just a little bit different because of the creativity and individuality of each wearer and how they choose to put all the different insignia pieces together.

        Having a different shoulder tab really isn’t that much different from wearing a different temporary patch on the shirt pocket. If anything justifying shoulder tabs to signify program is a very weak argument because shoulder tabs are redundant to POR patches and the unique uniform each program division already wears.

        Forward thinking would suggest it is time to retire program specific shoulder tabs and welcome a future where unique shoulder tabs are allowed and encouraged to signify unique events and activities.

        • Hello Baden and Powell: I am a scoutmaster on the line and I have never seen unique shoulder tabs, so maybe this is endemic to your area. I’ve seen scouts come back from international jamborees and wear the old canadian shoulder tabs. I’ve seen troops make their own in what is almost the correct color in order to save money. But I’ve not seen purple, and I’ve not seen anyone else go out of their way to make some other distinct shoulder tab… so please don’t pick on Mike.

        • Baden, there are some people who have made “custom shoulder loops” for their unit or themselves. Those are NOT ALLOWED to be worn with the official uniform field shirts. The purpose of the shoulder loops are to ID the program in which the wearer is a part of — or the level of service they provide as a volunteer or professional member.

          When you “make your own” for whatever reason — which sounds and sometimes looks cool — you are really duplicating elements already found on the uniform in some manner. Distinctive unit shoulder loops — you have the neckerchief and/or the unit numbers. Distinctive leadership shoulder loops — you have the badge of office/responsibility and the cloth pocket patch for training courses. Distinctive loops representing your personal stance — that’s why we have the right pocket — so you may show your personal stance or participation or support to something…as long as it is consistant with the BSA’s values (the “3” and “12”).

          So there really isn’t any reason for “special local shoulder loops.” I see them and ask “who said you can wear these” and in almost every instance, it’s someone with the unit, or themselves — and when I explain that the uniform is not a personal billboard but instead Scouting’s official billboard – and there are some policy out there which explains WHY you should not wear those loops — the loops come off (at least for a little bit).

          Nobody can force you to be in compliance with the BSA’s small uniform policies, Baden. The BSA can only ask you to be in compliance and then it’s up to you.

      • Baden and Powell // August 21, 2015 at 4:16 pm // Reply

        Dave B,

        Don’t shoot the messenger for telling it like it is… I certainly didn’t create the first set of unique shoulder tabs being worn out there. For whatever reason they aren’t being worn or you have failed to notice them in your neck of the woods doesn’t diminish the fact they are very much alive and well in many, many other areas.

        I have to agree with you, I have not seen shoulder tabs created to represent a district or a council… but both could be another possible application worth considering!

    • I haven’t noticed non-standard tabs at council or area events.
      I have seen pictures of victory ribbons used as epaulets in recent protests … not a fan.
      But for other less oppositional purposes, I admit I’ve been tempted …

      • Several of our local councils actually give various color loops to boys at NYLT, to identify the various patrols. When NYLT does a good job of creating unity, then the boys come back proud of their color and continue to wear it. Last week I introduced one of my Scouts to his Eagle BoR and he had on teal blue ones (and a matching necker).
        And there are still quite a few troops around here that prefer the old red.

  25. Domenick Corigliano // August 21, 2015 at 1:29 pm // Reply

    Our troop would wear our neckerchiefs over our white t-shirts at summer camp back in the 1970’s. We looked great.

  26. I always thought the UK Scout Association looked sharp with this policy. Additionally, they take a lot of pride in their neckers. I do hope that this means we will see some larger, better quality neckers available.

    • Bert, they take a lot of pride in their neckerchiefs because their neckerchiefs are REGISTERED by color and design with their National Office.

      The black and white neckerchief I (and other former members of my Explorer Post in Kentucky) wore is also REGISTERED to our unit. They were purchased from the Scout headquarters in England back in 1979 and no other Scouting unit except for Baden-Powell’s grandson’s Troop — could order them for wear. We had to send documentation concerning our unit’s existence and its status as a BSA registered unit. We got back with our neckerchief order a certificate from the Scout Association which states that our color combination — black (representing the robes and covers of a university graduate) and 2cm white border (representing the white diploma of a university graduate) — is registered with the Association and would only be authorized for purchase by members of BSA Explorer Post 379 (Scouting Service), Eastern Kentucky University, Richmond Kentucky USA.

      (The Explorer Post folded with many other Exploring units when the BSA discontinued Exploring as a national “uniformed” program; those at the time chose not to “convert” to Venturing when that program was officially available.)

      Several of us proudly wore our neckerchiefs to a Scouting encampment attended by Baden-Powell’s grandson, who told us of his wearing the very same color combination neckerchief as a member of his Troop.

      One of my two neckerchiefs is framed with other items unique to that Explorer Post. The other is draped over a uniform shirt and I wear it during some formal events in which I know youth and/or adults from England would be present.

  27. Summit Scouter // August 21, 2015 at 1:39 pm // Reply

    The neckerchiefs are too small? Perhaps I’m missing the sarcasm but more likely, I’m guessing that they have been sold in different sizes. My normal, red neckerchief I’ve had for four or five years is huge. I just measured it and it is fifty inches by twenty five inches. The complaint I hear from the boys is that the neckerchiefs are too big. They hang down below the waist. No one is really complaining too much and my return comment is that you might need it that big to make a sling or ankle support or whatever. I have about twelve neckerchiefs from various BSA activities and about five international neckerchiefs. The USA ones are the largest apart from one from India that is the same size. I must note that my old Cub Scout leader neckerchief is smaller. I checked on scoutstuff and they are currently listed as “new larger size”. I suppose the older neckerchiefs were smaller but not anymore. Perhaps the Centennial uniforms changed that?

    • Summit: Those who complain about the size of the neckerchief have a valid concern. There are two sizes — if you purchased one of the older neckerchiefs, yes, it is much smaller in size than the current (newer) ones being sold at our Scout Shops(tm) by several inches.

      My personal guess is that the size increase came about at the turn of the century and before the first version of the “Centennial” uniform was introduced. My thinking is that larger neckerchiefs were introduced in 1997 or 1998.

      It is hard for the BSA to trash out literally boxes and boxes of the older neckerchiefs. As I wrote earlier, I have been able to catalog 55 color combinations, and I know that I don’t have them all (at one time I collected them all, but the binder in which they were stored in got water damaged, and I lost a lot of them to mold). I guess I’ll have to start that back up again somehow, but I don’t see the BSA tossing out truckloads of smaller-sized neckerchiefs simply because “they are smaller than what kids want to wear today”.

      I am constantly reminded of the old Cub Scout promotional poster which proclaimed “it’s not the size of the cape which is important…”

      (I have to find another one of those posters and place in my office cube…*smiling*)

  28. Alexander Lauber // August 21, 2015 at 1:48 pm // Reply

    I always wear a neckerchief when I go to the field, Scout activity or not. Hunting, camping, hiking it’s probably the most versatile and important piece of equipment I carry. And it’s universally recognized, people look at that and know the standards you live by. And for me it’s a reminder of the standards I hold myself to.

  29. Our crew has been wearing our neckers this way. We had custom ones designed here: http://www.justneckers.com/index.html

    The quality and price were great.

  30. Gary Wilson // August 21, 2015 at 3:28 pm // Reply

    Nothing new here.

    In the 1960’s, for lunch wear in the dining halls at Onteora Scout Reservation, the 4800 Scouts attending each summer wore their troop neckerchiefs with their T-shirt’s, uniform shorts, and knee socks. As the camp staff wore the dark green Explorer shirts which had a collar ( the khaki BSA Summer shirts back then didn’t), they were exempt from wearing a neckerchief at lunch.

    For dinner, everyone wore full uniform and neckerchiefs.

  31. Good lord people, in 2019 we are inviting the rest of the world here. We need to roll some of our fellow scouts logical rules into bsa use. I just can’t believe that some of you skipped world scout scarf day because of the uniforming rules or that you will argue to do otherwise because you always used to. Especially since do many ignore them to wear eagle mentor pins or other inappropriate uses.

    • Haha. Just like politics where certain laws/policies/constitutional amendments are quoted and enforced and other touted as illegal and unenforced

  32. Thats Me, in the middle!!

  33. If only all of the energy and effort expended on bluster and outrage at “National” and “eroding standards” and “bending to trends” could be directed toward serving and setting positive examples for our youth, imagine the impact our organization could have. Pull the rod out of your back, have some fun, encourage your youth.

  34. Anita Luttrell Troop429 Concord,CA // August 21, 2015 at 10:34 pm // Reply

    on Another note…what are your thoughts on Female Leader-Me- as Scoutmaster wearing a properly colored skirt to accompany my Uniform shirt. In Cub Scouts there are Skirts for female leaders but not for Boy Scouts. As a Sea Scout our Formal Dress whites were skirts.

    • There used to BE official skirts in the appropriate color for female Boy Scout leaders. What happened?

    • IMHO, you are answerable to your charter organization rep and your committee chair. You’re serving our boys, so do that well and you’ll go a long way.

      Outside of your troop, you will get a diversity of opinions. Some say swapping out a uniform element is out of uniform. Others, will find the concession on grounds of practicality quite reasonable.

    • Um…Anita…there are dark khaki/olive skirts made by the BSA for wear…you don’t have to go out and “buy a properly colored skirt”.

      “Female leaders may wear the tan and olive uniform, identical to the one worn by men. Uniform options for women also include culottes or a skirt, and a scarf is available as a neckwear option. Female leaders who wear culottes or a skirt may opt to wear hose instead of the uniform socks.”

      You cannot mix and match the female Cub Scout skirt with the “universal” shirt, for instance. I could not find a direct link to the female “universal” skirts on ScoutStuff.org, but you can call them and they can assist you with getting an official skirt in the BSA olive color.

  35. I have been admiring all the different neckerchiefs from around the world for some time wondering when/why we couldn’t do that as well! Now, I am a uniform guy…have worn one my entire adult life as a law enforcement officer, scout, scouter, etc. Even now, as a major crimes investigator for a State Prosecutor, we are expected, AND DO, where a professional attire that is the “uniform” of our office…no exceptions! But, I have the same feelings about school dress codes…Do we really care what they have on, or do we really want them there to learn? I believe the uniform sets us apart and makes us stand out in a positive manner…however, do we want them in the program where we can change their lives, or are we going to get caught up in what they have on? I certainly encourage the uniform, and the older the scouts gets and the higher in rank, the more it is expected (and if they can’t afford it, then somehow the uniform fairy shows up and they get one!) Bottom line is, while I certainly believe in staying true to our traditions, I believe a tree must be able to bend or it will surely break!

    As for the should tabs, I have seen them with medical symbols for Jamboree staff, they even produced them especially for the 2010 Jamboree and were sold by National. Just got back last week from NOAC, the 100th anniversary of the National Order of the Arrow Conference in Michigan, and saw at least 4 variations of the NOAC symbols used to make loops for the event. Even saw a set of hairy loops from a lodge that their flaps featured the Jack Links Beef Jerky “Sasquach”!!!

    When in my official positions as SM and Lodge Adviser, I where “program appropriate” loops…but at special events, such as the Jamboree and NOAC, I wore the special loops for the events.

    I have been in scouting for 40 years (since I was 11) and hope to make it another 40…I don’t have all the answers, but there is one that I know for sure…without future generations continuing to join…it will just be a bunch of us old guys sitting around the fire who already have learned what the program was intended to teach and not being able to share what we know with a current generation who needs it more than any generation before.

    I certainly hope that I haven’t offended anyone…That’s just the view from the cheap seats!

    Peace and good Scouting to all!

    Bill

  36. Priority of a scout leader is to keep his unit safe. For that reason I would recommend all official neck wear be reserved for formal use only. We all have but only one neck to accidently strangle while doing vigorous activity with a tie around our throat.
    I also hesitate traveling in strange towns with neckerchiefs that might be considered opposing “gang colors”.
    But that’s just me. I’m also am not a fan of scout trailers all festooned in Scouting logo. Like I said, safety-of-the-unit is paramount in my book.

    • The good thing about a necker secured with just a knot: before starting whatever activity would be unsafe to wear it, you can untie it and fold it in your “safest” pocket. You know, the one that isn’t festooned with rival gang colors! 😉 Then once done, suit up again.

      Safety first and paranoia last.

  37. When my son attended the World Jambo in England 2007 he wore his Stetson hat (official) and Venture uniform. Got lots of looks. It want long before the Crew figured out the rest of the kids were always in tshirts and neckers. They wore their neckers tied in a loose friendship knot and melded into the sea of scouts that week. He came back and tried to get the troop to change to that way of uniforming and was not successful. I’m glad we’re moving toward being an honest partner of WOSM.

  38. If BSA wants to be more like other World Scouts then it should be COED too!

  39. 1. BSA has been offering large neckerchiefs for the last four or five years, measuring 49.5 inches on the diagonal, 35 inches on the other two sides. Plenty large enough. If your troop is still issuing de la Renta hanky-size neckers to adults, time to have a chat with your Quartermaster.

    2. If we want to grow Scouting, we need to be _seen and recognized_ by the public when we are doing Scouting: performing service and having adventures.

    – Promote the full uniform, but remember what you are promoting: Special clothing that, as the Boy Scout Handbook says at page 33, is really only suitable for “troop meetings, ceremonies such as courts of honor, and most other indoor troop functions.” Scouts in full uniform will rarely be seen by the public.

    – This policy change is not about the times when Scouts should be in full uniform. It is about the times when Scouts are out on the trail in a national park, or doing a road cleanup, or filling sandbags when a flood is coming, or holding a first aid meet, or cycling on a local trail.

    – If Scouts are out doing what they should be doing, they are going to be in casual clothes that are right for their activities; and quite often they are going to be dirty and sweaty and unkempt. They are supposed to be. They don’t get that way because they start wearing neckers instead of full uniforms.

    – Unit t-shirts or caps are great, but aren’t readable at a distance, and not at all when they are under a jacket or hooded sweatshirt. Neckerchiefs can be worn on top of whatever else a Scout is wearing, and have a distinctive shape recognizable at a distance. Besides, every group, organization, and business has t-shirts and caps. Only one group wears neckerchiefs.

    So even if you don’t care for the idea, it is a way to show America and your community that Scouting is alive and well and that Scouts are out there everywhere, engaged in adventures and serving their communities. Please hold your nose, throw on your necker, and get out there with your Scouts.

    • Dan,

      Very well said!

  40. Baden and Powell // August 23, 2015 at 10:17 pm // Reply

    I finally had an opportunity this weekend to read the entire section on “The Neckerchief” on page 12 of the provided link. If the intent is to promote wearing of scouting neckerchiefs by youth and adult members at a variety of scouting activities when a traditional uniform might not be worn it would seem this effort falls a little bit short in that the revised section, taken in full context of how it has been revised, only addresses Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts with a primary emphasis on Boy Scouts.

    No mention at all is made to either the Varsity, Venturing, or Sea Scout programs and what these scouts or scouters can or should wear for a necker in non-uniform situations nor are adult scouters who are not or no longer associated with a specific unit adequately addressed in terms of what they can or should wear in terms of a necker in similar non-uniform situations.

    Cub Scout leaders in my area ask why they have to bear the expense of paying for a new necker and slide four years in a row? A Cub Scout necker certainly isn’t worn out after a year’s use so BSA is not being very thrifty with the current requirement for a new necker for each Cub Scout rank. Aren’t we long overdue for Cub Scout Packs being able to design their own pack necker just like a Boy Scout Troop?

    • Baden and Powell,

      I would say that if the activity promotes scouting when a uniform would not be appropriate, wear the neckerchief for Varsity, Venturing and Sea Scouting activities. That is what I would tell my groups to do. No one should be telling them to remove the neckerchief especially when the goal is to promote scouting!

      This is a good change and one that should not be overthought. If it makes sense to you at the time, event or activity, then go for it.

    • B&P can’t speak for Varsity and Sea Scouts. So I’m leaving that to others.

      The national Venturing uniform does not involve a necker. But. crews are encouraged to make up their own uniform specifications. This rule certainly allows them to wear neckerchiefs if they so choose. I don’t know if any crew has incorporated a necker into their uniform design, but if you have, this would be a great time to hear from you!

      There’s nothing stopping a pack from creating its own neckerchief. It might not be compliant with the insignia guide, but so what?

      But, in our family, we always hand down our old cub neckerchiefs, so they get many year’s use. In fact I would encourage packs to start a “hand-down” tradition. Consider including the names of previous owners in indelible ink on the border of the scarf.

    • Baden!!

      I am glad you read the entire explanation in the Insignia Guide. One of my peers wrote it and me and some other folks read it before its inclusion. Here’s some additional context:

      – the neckerchief is primarily a Boy Scouting “thing”. Remember the purpose of Cub Scouting in part is to prepare the young man for all of the adventures and great times as a Boy Scout; therefore as a preparatory item, the usage of a standard set of neckerchiefs (a different color for each year of Cub Scouting; earlier neckerchiefs were one singular color combination — blue and gold (the Wolf “colors”) and the Cub Scout wore it until he became a WEBELOS Cub Scout ) and slide is a “training thing”, if you will.

      – Varsity Scouts *may wear* a Team neckerchief (my Varsity Team wore an orange and white neckerchief — the colors of our chartered partner organization (the colors of the Army Signal Corps, to where the Signal Center in Georgia was our partner organization) and as “Q” wrote earlier, there’s nothing out there which prevents our Venturing Crews from either finding a neckerchief and attaching a Venturing patch to it; or making their own unique neckerchief. I do believe however (and I’ll defer to the BSA’s Sea Scouting uniforming folks) that there’s a Sea Scouting neckerchief out there and those adults may wear it with non-uniforming items.

      One of the many discussions those associated with the task force have went back and forth on is what you commented on in part: what do those of us who are NOT part of a unit (and are NOT Wood Badge holders or do not feel comfy wearing the Wood Badge neckerchief without the beads in non-formal manners) wear as far as a neckerchief is concerned? What is recommended in these cases?

      There are some partial answers to this question: there is a red and gold Commissioner neckerchief which can be worn by Commissioners at all levels. There is also a slide which matches that neckerchief. It’s been out there for about five years or so now but it’s a slow seller…maybe now it will be sold more.

      There is also an Eagle Scout neckerchief in two varieties, so that Eagle Scouts may wear it.

      My suggestions were one, to allow each of our local Councils to create and sell a neckerchief to Scouters in their Council; this along with the Council’s CSP, would identify all volunteers and professional members not a part of a specific unit (we used to do this several decades back); and two, for the Supply Group to create a red/white/blue bordered Scouters’ neckerchief in olive green with the BSA’s oval patch (the gold and red patch worn on the left pocket of the jac-shirt) centered on the point. It would be worn by all non-unit Scouters, both professional and volunteer, with or without the official field uniform. It works with the khaki-tan current uniform, the older de la Rente uniforms, and the Venturing green uniforms. That’s *my* suggestion, however.

      I responded instead “let’s give those out there in the field a chance to recommend some things”.

      I encourage those who have better ideas than my lame ones listed above to please send them to program.content@scouting.org and ask for it to be forwarded to the Insignia and Uniforming Task Force. You brought up a very valid point — not every unit has a neckerchief and until we get everyone to Wood Badge, not every Scouter “belongs to a unit.”

      • Baden and Powell // August 24, 2015 at 4:41 pm // Reply

        Thanks Mike,

        IMHO, the third paragraph from the end… “Local councils may prescribe the specific official neckerchief to be worn by Boy Scouts and Scouters on a council or district basis.”… could easily be modified/revised a bit to address all of these concerns, in part by being more inclusive of other program divisions instead of limiting to just Boy Scouts.

        For each council, and possibly even each district, to have the ability to create it’s own necker would certainly address the non-unit scouters as well as youth in any unit that has voted no on neckers or units like varsity or venturing who may not have a unit necker.

    • davethewaveusmc // August 25, 2015 at 11:40 am // Reply

      Baden,
      Our Pack presents our Scouts with their new rank neckerchief at the end of the school year. We keep the old neckerchief and present it the next year, thus recycling the neckerchiefs. This has worked well over the last few years.

  41. It seems like this site (and BSA in general) goes out of its way to only show pictures of scouts NOT wearing the neckerchief that they should celebrate the decision to wear the neckerchief in a t-shirt–

    • Not sure what you mean. Many troops do not use a necker as part of their field uniform. So, yes they’ll be plenty of scouts without them.
      The issue is for the scouts who want to wear them mor often, giving as much latitude as possible.

  42. Terrible idea. It called a uniform for a reason. Items of the uniform also have purpose. this is like when a military man wears his badges without uniform, or his shirt without the rest of the uniform. Who would wear just the neckerchief by it’s self… it serves no purpose (wear it to display your a scout, it’s called a class B).

    • “[I]t serves no purpose . . .” Except when the troop or pack activity shirt (“Class B”) is covered up by a jacket or sweatshirt, or the print and logos are too small to be read from 30 feet away, or 100 feet away, or 100 yards away. The new policy clearly states the purpose for members electing to wear a neckerchief at activities when the uniform is not being worn: “to identify them as Scouts.” The neckerchief is superior to a troop or pack activity shirt for identification purposes because (a) it can be worn on top of jackets, sweatshirts, etc. that cover up the activity shirt, and it can be worn when the Scout is shirtless, (b) it is instantly identifiable from a distance, and (c) it is unique to Scouting, unlike t-shirts and hats.

    • FYI the BSA has never been and never will be a military organization.

  43. Over here in Austria, the neckerchief is *the* most important part of the uniform. It is worn by all troops, during all scouting activities (except for some games where it would be dangerous).

    It is worn with and without the full uniform. The uniform is never worn without it.

    In Austria, a scout gets his first neckerchief as part of the ceremony when he takes his Scout Promise. While preparing for the promise, scouts make their own woggle, and then turn it in, so their leader can put the neckerchief around their necks when they take the promise.

    In my troop, there’s a tradition that says you have to keep the neckerchief on during the first night after the ceremony. People say it makes dreams come true.

    I still have that very same woggle I made as a child over a quarter of a century ago. I wear it to every scouting activity I go to.

    If you are a scout without a neckerchief, you’re missing out.

  44. Steve Pesante // August 28, 2015 at 1:21 am // Reply

    Yet another inexplicable change to America’s Scouting traditions . . .

    • Let’s talk about America’s Scouting traditions. What is “inexplicable” is that BSA ever tolerated policies and practices to discourage the great tradition of neckerchief wear by American Scouts at Scout outdoor activities. Get your hands on a copy of the Boy Scout Handbook, Seventh Edition (the 1960s – my era). In every picture, in every setting (especially outdoors), for every activity, Scouts in uniform are wearing their neckerchiefs.

      But in the early 1970s the BSA abandoned the rugged, outdoor-ready uniform with its ever-present and ready-for-action traditional neckerchief. In its place they adopted the frou-frou Oscar de la Renta design suitable only for parlor Scouting. They started loading that uniform up with more and more larger and larger badges, patches, pins, loops, and danglies — guaranteeing that Scouts would seldom wear the uniform for outdoor activities. The neckerchief was reduced to silk hankie size, rendering it impractical for just about every traditional neckerchief use. The new design stuck the necker under the collar instead of over the collar where it belongs. The neckerchief was made optional in Boy Scouting. It was never even a part of the recommended uniform in the Venturing program that began in 1998. Only Cub Scouting has actually preserved the tradition of neckerchief wear in any meaningful way.

      Fortunately, it finally dawned on someone at BSA that the tradition of wearing the neckerchief — the iconic symbol of Scouting — was nearly dead in the United States. Four or five years ago, BSA began selling large traditional-size neckerchiefs again. Glitzy, award-laden uniform shirts are still impractical for outdoor activities. But at least now, with this policy change, we can once again proudly take our neckerchiefs with us on our Scouting adventures, and proudly show our communities who we are when we are out doing service projects.

      What this policy change does is _restore_ the tradition of American Scouts wearing neckerchiefs when they are out being Scouts. And that is a great thing.

    • “Inexplicable” is being used quite subjectively.
      The explanations are out there, we just may not like them!
      😛

      What I’ve observed:

      For the longest time, neckerchiefs and BSA uniforms were inseparable from scouts.
      Then the evolution in style that Dan describes happened. Fashion is fickle.
      Printed t-shirts came … and all manner of folks, including scouts, learned to uniform on the cheap.
      Somebody figured “We’ll be jiggered if we’re gonna sell more dainty kerchiefs than shirts and pants.”
      That attitude got codified in the insignia guide. (Which, by the way, no scout who knows how to have fun in the outdoors would ever read.) Those of us who like minutiae relayed that to the boys, and they were okay with shirt+pants+necker, shirt+pants, or activity shirt (depending on conditions and your troop’s agreement).

      Big compromise. For a few decades everyone breathed a sigh of relief … and asked to go hiking and camping.

      That’s a fairly straightforward explanation. And most of us would accept it. Except for one small thing …

      Some American scouts travel, trade neckerchiefs, and don’t wait ’til their uniform is on to wear ’em.
      Other American scouts host internationals who see them on the way out the door to a meeting or activity, and ask “Where’s your neckerchief?”

      Suddenly lines like “Our troop abandoned them.” or “We can’t wear them in our class B.” are inadequate.

      Some of those boys ask us old softies for a good reason why, and we may have one that sounds like, “Um … brand recognition … mumble mumble … boy led … mumble mumble.” We hardly believe what we’re saying!

      The old softies who maintain insignia guides saw some scout spirit in the boys asking “Why” and said, “Why not?”

      Now you all might not be satisfied with this narrative, you may think this is the wrong way to go about making decisions. Some may wish we cared more about the uniform than we do about who is in it, and some may wish we hadn’t spent so much time policing uniforms back in the day … but don’t call it inexplicable. 🙄

      P.S. – Almost got that friendship knot tied with my eyes closed. Just a little more practice …

      • I recall hearing, but do not know first hand, that in scouting in Europe there are WOSM organizations that have “outlanders” who participate, but who do not believe in God. So the scouts wear neckerchiefs and the outlanders do not wear neckerchiefs. When the international scouts visited the USA, they were dismayed there were so many non-believers in our organization.

  45. Fresh off staffing Weekend 1 for our council Wood Badge course, an attendee told me about the change in neckerchief policy which had been posted the day before. Of course it was in the break immediately after I recited the following WB tradition:

    “The neckerchief and woggle: Held in place by a leather woggle, the Wood Badge neckerchief — tan with a patch of MacLaren tartan — may be worn by course graduates. Wood Badge beads, neckerchief, and woggle may be worn only with the official filed uniform of the BSA.”

    Does this policy also go to Wood Badge, and will the course materials be updated appropriately?

    • Good question, as I’ve been practicing my friendship knot with my wood badge scarf!
      I suspect the policy was written to comply with the insignia guide, and it may eventually be corrected. The point of WB is to model these sorts of things.

      But we can expect a lag as to when this trickles down into every publication.

    • FWIW, I did wear my WB neckerchief on its own at a troop campout this weekend.
      I had to start setting the example with something, and that was the most suitable.

  46. In the UK each troop has its own necker design and is the most worn part of the uniform, as if the kids are on a hike, day trip, theme park, travelling etc they just wear what ever is comfy, but they will generally wear there necker. They generally only wear there shirts for flag and they usually chuck em off soon after to get on with activity. They are worn by each section including the leaders and make it feel like one troop. Its also handy when the kids are in a big group of other scouts as you can see which ones are yours 🙂

  47. When I was on JLTC staff in 1997 we wore our staff neckerchiefs with our staff t-shirts.

  48. Lots of really good questions here. Not it is time to add a new wrinkle. I am not a fan of the regular neckerchief. I prefer the longer neckerchief such as what an Eagle Scout wears. Can a Troop design its own neckerchief with the longer “tails?” Does a scout have to wear a slide? Can a scout tie just friendship knot at the end and it be in compliance?

    • New wrinkle? No way, just some more folds!
      The answers to your questions, IMHO, are Yes, No, and Maybe.

      Troops can and do design their own neckerchiefs.
      We are American scouts, so we should wear a slide of our own making. But a decent square knot will do in a pinch.
      A scout may tie a friendship knot, but that is traditionally for a kneckerchief that they are giving to another scout.

  49. Tom Eppinger // June 20, 2016 at 7:00 pm // Reply

    Wake up. Let’s get the Boy Scouts of AMERICA uniform made in AMERICA!!!

  50. I have to admit to being ambivalent initially on the idea, but it has been growing on me. I think the idea of aligning with the WOSM isn’t a bad thing, and I also recognize, at least in my area, that getting every boy to wear the same tshirt requires a lot more effort than worth, and in some ways is detrimental to the attitude I want to have in Scouting. Not that I don’t care for uniforms – I completely understand and get the value (as a veteran I definitely appreciate uniforms), but the necker really becomes a way to support that idea in a better way. It’s a lot easier to make a necker a requirement as it doesn’t need the kind of care a shirt does. For outdoor and public activities, it is a good way to demonstrate Scouting – particularly on service projects. I also like the idea of unit personalization.
    I don’t think it is something our boys will latch onto by themselves, but will as we demonstrate.

  51. In my yoooth, the Troop designed it’s own neckerchief. 36 inches on the side, bright red with a 4″ custom patch in the corner that proclaimed “Always On The GO!” They were used for first aid practice, hiking, camping, signal flags, “steal the bacon” games…
    Mine is folded up nice in a plastic bag, except for when I take it out to show the present day Scouts in the Troop. It has holes in it, It is frayed on the edges. The patch is wrinkled, a lot.
    Starting in December, I promote a small contest that I hold at the February CoH. I give prizes (Baskin -Robbins coupons for free milkshakes! Just ask’em for them!) for the creation of hand made woggles. Sometimes I get really neat creations, sometimes rolls of duct tape. If it looks like I might get a good selection, I ask an “independent” judge to attend (art teacher, pro wood carver) . During the CoH, I am allowed to do a show and tell about neckers and woggles. I read from an old Scout book about the “USES” of the necker: Bandage, dust mask, horse bridle, crowd control (tie a lot together, use the Scout Staff)….
    I compare the BIG Troop necker of my day with the little necker the Troop used til last year ( a bigger, “stock” necker is now given out). . Photos show the red necker did reach down past the Scout’s belt. He grew into it.
    In y collection, I have neckers and woggles “earned” (OA, Troop, Camporees, Wood Badge, Jamborees, Eagle…) and “collected” (Smokey Bear, Jamborees, Cub Scouts, “Troop One, Wilmington Delaware”) . Some Scouts OOO and AAAH at them , some ignore them. If I had attended a Jamboree, I would have been tempted to trade for my necker ( I guess I could have got another one), but the one I have in that plastic bag is important to me. I hope it will be important to my Scoutson.

  52. I’m not a fan of neckerchiefs. They either hang down and get into your dishwater or food that you’re serving, etc., or they’re short enough to not be functional for anything. Additionally, during the summer, they just make me hotter and I don’t need to sweat more around my neck.

    The shirt is the main uniform item, not the neckerchief.

  53. I am surprised that an piece of American history has been forgotten. The neckerchief, as well as, the campaign hat was “American.” It was introduced by Fredrick Burnham, an American army scout who taught “woodcraft” and navigation skills to Baden-Powell while scouting for the British in Rhodesia. They became friends and worked together on the boy scouting movement. The neckerchief was a quintessential part of the American outdoorsman’s outfit that it was quickly adopted the world over as a useful part of a boy scout’s “kit.”
    But the American roots of the neckerchief goes back even farther. During the Revolutionary War period, the neckerchief often replaced the neck stock and was worn by many people in the field. Later, Teddy Roosevelt wore a neckerchief during his outdoor exploits.
    My point is this: The neckerchief is an American contribution to scouting. It is extremely useful when used as a real outdoor garment. And, it ties us to a rich heritage of American outdoorsmen, who understood and appreciated the usefulness and utility of a simple piece of cloth designed to help them “be prepared.”

  54. I have a crew who staffed an International scouting event this summer. They received neckers with friendship knots from scouts around the globe and are VERY proud of being a member of a World-wide movement of this magnitude. They are fantastic ambassadors of peace through Scouting and find the neckers a great way of starting a conversation to promote world scouting. While I think this epitomizes what these Scouts should be putting forth to other Scouts and the public. After reading all the jabber on the subject … Simple question is, I am I really supposed to throw cold water on these Venturers enthusiasm for the program and enforce NO Neckerchiefs with Venturing Uniform.

    They spent this evening at an Eagle Recognition dinner promoting International Scouting and the 2019 Jamboree. Yes, with uniform and neckers that helped engage the Boy Scouts in discussion. Three of them are officers in the council VOA … Do I really need to tell these youth that as VOA members, it is more important to have no necker and model proper uniform than it is to promote the International program?

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