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

Ask 90 different Scouters for their unit’s uniform policy, and you’ll get 90 different answers.

Sure enough, that was the case a couple of weeks ago when I polled Scouting‘s Facebook fans on the subject and got 90 responses.

The Boy Scouts of America Insignia Guide says it’s your responsibility as an adult leader to “promote the wearing of the correct complete uniform on all suitable occasions.”

But what constitutes a “suitable occasion”? And what exactly is considered a “correct complete uniform”?

Here’s what you had to say on the subject:

Get your priorities straight
“Would you rather they learn how to be good men (including, I believe, that a Scout is thrifty) or how to be good dressers? Not that the two have to be mutually exclusive, but flexibility among the troops as to the required uniform should be informed by the national organization as far as is possible and then practicality should be the guide.”
 Jen S.

Encourage recycling
“Field uniform is a must all the way down to the socks; no other pants are acceptable. Old or new pants are acceptable, so we have an exchange program in the troop to help cut down the cost of uniforms.”
– Jerry C.

Do your best
“Our Patrol Leaders Council decides what the uniform is, and currently they allow jeans but encourage Scout pants/shorts. We are an inner-city troop, and some of our boys can’t afford the uniform shirt much less the pants. We help them with buy/find/earn the shirt (top priority) and do not focus on the pants so much.”
– Tim B.

Uniforms should be uniform
“I’m going to work on improving our Scout uniform requirements ’cause the uniform is an important part of the program. Try telling your football or soccer coach that you aren’t wearing the team uniform and see what their response will be.”
– Ellie L.

Put the program first
“While jeans typically shouldn’t be a part of the uniform, and are absolutely inappropriate for an Eagle Court of Honor, we have Scouts who cannot afford the regulation pants. It is far more important for the guys to learn and to be a part of a group than to expect a single unemployed parent who receives no child support to purchase said item.”
– Nancy M.

Pay your way
“Cost is a lame excuse, ’cause you hear years later, ‘Oh, we still can’t afford them!’ What about a Scout paying his own way? The uniform is a part of Scouting, and it’s not like buying a house. Mow a lawn or two and earn them!”
– Steve T.

A time and a place
“Seems to vary with ours. Big events like a parade call for full uniform except for footwear (but it has to be shoes, sneakers). Otherwise we allow jeans generally.”
– Frank D.

Show some pride
“The uniform in one of the most important parts of Scouting; it sets us apart from the group of boys on the corner. When the public sees a Scout in full uniform, they give the boy a little more respect and in some places are not afraid of the youth. Lord Baden-Powell would be rolling over in his grave if he saw a Scout in jeans and sneakers.”
– Michael O.

Free from exclusion
“I totally agree with Nancy. While you can ‘require’ pants (NYLT does for their program) there remains that portion of kids who, for whatever reason, can’t afford pants and socks. To exclude anyone like that would be a really bad idea.”
Joel H.

Little to interpret
“Full uniform is pretty specific … not sure why there are so many units that do not use it. I cringed when I saw a picture of a Scout leader in jeans while his senior patrol leader was in full uniform presenting a wreath at a Memorial Day ceremony.”
– Ron B.

Where do you fall on the subject? Leave your thoughts as a comment here.


  1. We expect uniform from the belt up, but if you are going for your board of review, you better be in uniform pants. In the summer, we all wear a troop t-shirt.

    • In our troop,we have a uniform exchange where you can get pants and shirts. So if someone out grows their uniform they put it in the exchange. Our district also has a uniform exchange for those in financial need.
      They wear class A for all meetings, court of honor, to and from summer camp, dinner at summer camp, Some community service projects like food drive, visit our local VA hospital/nursing home. when they go camping they wear regular clothes and the troop
      hat. This method works well for us.

    • Bottom line is why are uniforms so high? Unofficial but similar pants,and shirts for that matter, are available at Walmart for half the price.

      • This is the biggest problem with the uniform and one BSA needs to get a hold of. Its been a problem for decades. BSA has made changes because they think the uniform is not what the kids want so they make a different style. While I think that could be part of not wearing a full uniform, the bottom line is they cost to much and parents are not willing to purchase them.

        • A full uniform for a SMALL teen Boy Scout or a Webelo costs in Excess of $150. Considering all this clothing has tags indicating it is made overseas (including made in China patches), likely by cheap if not child labor, why is it so expensive and why can’t we wear “similar” cheaper brands. You can’t buy the BSA strip anymore, so you can’t use any other khaki shirt. I can buy the same exact shirt locally for myself (XXL) for $15. In my size from BSA, MINIMUM $48!
          So who is pocketing the price difference? Are uniforms a “for profit item” for BSA? IF SO, why?

    • We wear the complete uniform (we accept green pants that are near-ringers for the scout pants) for nearly everything. Scouting has to be in the public eye in order to be in the public mind. I firmly believe that lack of visibility is one of the reasons Scouting is dying.

    • I want a clear firm policy one way or the other: Neckerchief under the collar or over. Where is full uniform required and not?
      There are SO MANY mixed signals. This blog, for example just ran an article about a Troop 501 who WORE 501 JEANS as a Class A uniform, BRAGGING on it. Every photo I see has boys wearing the neckerchief UNDER the Collar, yet our boys got called out at Summer camp and made it feel embarrassed for not wearing theirs on the OUTSIDE.
      It’s time to end this stuff once and for all. Set a policy, and if we can’t meet it, we will just stay HOME, where we don’t have to please anyone but OURSELVES!

      • BSA GUIDE TO AWARDS AND INSIGNIA page 13 says “The unit has a choice of wearing the neckerchief over the collar (with the collar tucked in) or under the collar.”

  2. The BSA goal is to train youth in responsible citizenship, character development, and personal fitness. The Uniform is one of eight methods for attaining that goal, but it (the Uniform) is not an end, in itself. Our PLC has (for many years) chosen a red t-shirt, with our distinctive troop logo right across the chest. This shirt can be seen as unique, at 300 yards (across the fields in summer camp). Each shirt is less than $5 to produce and we sell them for $5 each. Most Scouts have at least 3 to 5 shirts each and we take in dozens each year for the Scout closet. Since our unit has 130 Scouts, when we mobilize to a weekend event, we are known as the “red tide”. So we ARE “uniform” and have a uniform. It is much more important to us to listen to the desires of our PLC and develop minds and young men. Otherwise, we could hang Class A field uniforms on the wall and have them “at the meetings” and get nothing else accomplished. It is far more important to keep relevant with your customers (today’s youth) than to enforce yesterday’s memories. There is a reason our unit is a highly desired destination for the youth of our area. Our solution may not work for others, but we all need to recognize and respect what works for each unit, in the area they live. All Scouting is Local.

  3. As a Scout of the 1970’s, olive drab uniform, still my favorite, I have always thought of the uniform as the single most important identifier of a Scout. Our troop allows khakis as a uniform pant, why? This was started long before I showed up. Trying to fix it, will take time. But, If you can buy Khakis, buy green pants, they don’t have to be BSA, but at least look the part. As an Eagle Scout, Woodbadger, Merit Badge Counselor and Assistant Scoutmaster you’d better be in a Class “A” if coming to me for a merit badge or advancement. Leaders are just as guilty, I work for a uniformed service, I’d have a difficult time coming to work and telling my boss why I wasn’t in uniform.

    • Your boss is paying you a salary Steve. I bet money either issues you uniforms it pays you an allowance too. As volunteers, we DO NOT get paid, and neither do our boys!
      Many if not all of our boys do work. Most have to use that money for school or even to help provide for their families.
      We ALL aren’t independently wealthy with buckets of money to spare. A full BSA uniform at our Scout shop costs in EXCESS OF $150 for boys, add $50 more for leaders, and that’s the cheapest ironed plain Jane.
      We try to get our boys in a shirt and the troop buys their first neckerchief and handbook.
      Beyond that, leaders or boys, it’s whatever they have to wear.
      I’m just glad none if MY boys will ever have to ask YOU to counsel a merit badge.
      My opinion, sir.

      • I agree that the boy getting the program is the most important part, and our unit does not push pants. We do push that they wear a modest pant/short, nothing wild or bright.
        I do not own Scout pants because I have not found any that truly fit and allows me to do anything other than just stand perfectly straight. I had gastric bypass and have a weird body shape as a result, and having lower leg lymph edema and the scouts going to those stupid switchback pants with the zip off legs to me was the dumbest thing every. The lower leg does not like the zipper part. No give and it makes the leg too small to wear the pants. I can not move my leg with out it binding and limiting my range of motion severely.

        However, I belong to another Volunteer Organization, the US Coast Guard Aux., that I pay yearly dues to belong to and have to purchase all uniforms items. Working Uniforms and various levels of dress uniforms with no compensation for doing so. You also can not just show up in part of the uniform for a event/mission and expect to attend just because you couldn’t afford part of the uniform. So comparing apples to apples, all volunteer to all volunteer.

        The uniform is part of Scouting, and my son is in full uniform, and as soon as I can drop the money to get the custom made official uniform, I will have to live with Jeans or close enough green pants.

    • Everyone keeps comparing scouts with other uniformed groups as if they were the same, such as a football team, or a “uniformed service,” whatever that is. A football teams needs instant identification, or they can hardly play. Cops need fear- again, instant recognition or they can’t do their job. While recognition gets Scouts some attention, they don’t need it to “do their job.”
      Besides, the primary function of a uniform is to subvert individuality. I’d rather encourage healthy self-realization.

  4. Our pack requires belt up. Personally, with a son that seems to grow an inch a week, this seems to make the most sense. Our schools require our kids to wear blue or khaki pants anyway, so most of the boys wear their blue school pants with the uniform belt, shirt, etc.

    The official scout uniform is expensive, and our boys aren’t from a prosperous area. I have just one child and could afford to but my son’s belt up pieces plus socks all at once, but it was still over $100 when I walked out of the store. Most parents in my pack can’t do that. I had to wait a few months to go buy my shirt and patches, then another month to get my belt, and they don’t even make the scout pants to fit me so that’s not an option for this leader.

    Yes, the uniform is important and we do not allow jeans for any type of ceremony, but requiring a full uniform would exclude many boys in our pack, and the little guys cannot go out and earn money for a uniform as suggested above. That may be a good suggestion for Boy Scouts, but not for Cub Scouts where parents are footing the bill.

  5. As a trainer, I’ll start with the official position. The uniform is optional, according to the National BSA, although it is strongly encouraged. A troop might set a higher standard (anywhere from just the shirt and the troop neckerchief all the way up to everything including the socks), but the unit should then be prepared to deal appropriately with families for whom the uniform is a hardship. A used uniform supply seems like an obvious answer. It also helps if the adults live up to a higher standard than we set for the boys. Our troop requires the uniform, especially at Boards of Review, and I would never participate in one unless I have a full uniform on.

  6. My feelings have always been very clear about the uniform…it is an equalizer!!! You can’t tell the “rich” from the “poor” if you are wearing the same uniform.
    For those who can’t afford a uniform there are many options. Part of my Wood Badge ticket, both courses, has been to put a stock of “experienced” uniforms together. I was amazed to see how many uniforms were out there hanging in some bodys closet as moth bait. Some parents were just thrilled to have a place to send them to gain a little more experience. (Fox and Buffalo by the way:) ) Talk to your DE. Our council has a “Uniforms for Service” program. The scouts can agree to do some service in exchange for a uniform. One last idea, e-Bay. The last time I looked there were over 10.000 uniform parts. Granted this is not the perfect plan but you can find some great deals out there.
    Whatever the policy the PLC and the troop committee should come to an agreement so there is no doubt!!! If there is no doubt then every new member knows where they stand in the very beginning,
    “Just my opinion but given with the Scouting Spirit.”

  7. We are teaching scouts to be leaders. They need to demonstrate that by obtaining and wearing the proper uniform. They may need some help and guidance from the adults but they should be able to earn a uniform one way or another. I will give cub scouts a little leeway on uniforms because the program isn’t quite the same and the boys rely on their parents and Leaders more.

  8. Many of our scouts are from families who are struggling to make ends meet, so our policy is “Wear as much of the uniform as you have.” The troop provides a hat and neckerchief and an activity t-shirt as well as a used uniform shelf .
    We know the boys well enough to know which ones have the full uniform and which ones have only parts, but they better show up for a board of review in all the parts they own.

  9. My son and I are in a small pack of maybe 23 kids and we see kids showing up to meetings and derbys in tee shirts and pants. I don’t like it and tell the boys in my den to always wear their uniform shirt if nothing else. We don’t require pants, we are belt up.

  10. We do not require the pants for the boys in our Pack, simply because Cub Scout age boys grow so quickly that it’s not worth asking the parents to buy new pants every year (or more often).

    That said, when I was in Boy Scouts, we did require the full uniform, including pants. It was not enforced for times other than Courts of Honor and uniform inspections, but there were still a large portion of the boys who wore the pants to every meeting anyway when they wore their uniform. Lots of the troop wore the Class B shirts we had made (still have one of them).

    I think that seeing a scout in uniform sends a message. Scouting is about service and personal growth and I’ve noticed in my dealings with other Troops (both when I was a scout and since then) that those troops that enforce a full uniform policy tend to have boys that act more maturely than others. This is personal experience only, and not necessarily a view of all Scouts in general.

  11. to complain about the cost is an excuse. This is a pair of pants/switchbacks that they will wear 5-6 times a month (1 meeting a week plus an outing plus another event periodically). On a per use basis the cost is negligible, even with a growing boy.

    Units that have full uniforming also tend to follow other parts of the program more closely. In a pack, as I was stepping up, the pack was part uniformed, half-effort. We went to full uniform and wear it regularly. This promoted pride in self, in unit, and in presence. Prior to that, the pack had a 60% retention rate. Afterwards, we had a 90+%. Was it all uniforming? no. But being properly uniformed for youth and adults made a tremendous impact. The one den that didn’t want to get with the program and be full uniformed had a 50% drop rate each year…and accounted for 75% of our drops each year.

    Troops are likewise. Troops which are fully uniformed and have scouts which show pride in themselves and the troop to which they below see increased retention, better turnout for outings, and generally a more sustainable program.

    • I have to politely disagree. Cost is not an excuse, it is a very real issue for many parents these days. All the boys at our pack’s school wear a required attire for school, and parents stuggle to spent $12 at WalMart for school pants that often get worn multiple times a week.

      You are fortunate that it’s not an issue for you. In our pack, however, it is a very big issue. I bought a shirt for my son that was too big for him as a Tiger (not huge, but roomy) hoping that it will last until he’s at least a Bear. Pants that he was able to wear last fall would not fit him today so the same philosophy doesn’t work for pants.

      Do uniforms help instill a sense of pride and belonging to the boys? Absolutely. And wearing blue school pants instead of the BSA pants does not change that.

  12. I’m probably going to be unpopular with this comment, but I personally don’t believe in having any form of uniform policy for our troop.

    As a scoutmaster I proudly wear the Boy Scout uniform from head to toe. I feel it is an outward symbol of my priorities and I am proud to display the patches that I’ve worked hard and live for. It’s an outward sign of an inward commitment and I can’t wait to wear it every week. I think most, if not all of us here, feel the same way. I think that’s why so many of us get almost personally offended when a scout chooses not to wear his.

    I want the scouts in our troop to feel the same way I do. Instead of making it an obligation or a policy and getting after them I instead focus on the experiences they are having in the troop. When they work hard for a badge, they want to show it. When they are proud of their rank they want to show it and see where others are to compare. When they feel a part of a patrol that they created and run and have a real club of their own they want to share symbols and outward signs that they are a part of something exclusive and that they have their specific role. Camp and jamboree temporary patches are prizes and memories to be carried with them.

    I’d rather spend my time and energy to help a young man capture the spirit and adventure of scouting and let the uniform take care of itself, rather than spend the time trying to convince or pressure them into something they don’t yet understand.

  13. Uniforms are expense, particularly if you have twins in the same unit. The current scout switchbacks don’t really work for my sons or my husband. I wish there was some flexibility with pants. I also wish that the cost of the shirts were lower. I bought one style shirt for sons and the polyester caused “pilling” within a few washings. It was ridiculous. E-bay isn’t always an option either. Scout closets usually have very small sizes.

    • How about getting your twins out there raking and mowing lawns, shoveling snow, collecting cans, selling popcorn, babysitting, doing odd jobs.
      Scouting is not expensive. You need to look at it as value for your dollar.
      A Scout is Thrifty.. he pays his own way. Don’t make excuses.. get them off their butts and have them work for it.
      I have two sons in my Troop.. they both pay their way annually.. Oh and paid their way to Jambo last year at $3000 a Scout.
      Excuses that its too expensive are no excuse… show me a Scout that learns the value of a dollar and I will show you a Scout that will go far in life.
      OR– keep making excuses and get nowhere.
      There is one uniform as described in the Uniform insignia guide. We wear it.

      • If that’s the attitude you have with your sons, it doesn’t seem as though they’re going to make it as far as you think. While it is important for a Scout to learn work skills, nobody should like that to a Scout or their parents. Scouting is inclusive, not exclusive. If they don’t have a uniform, find constructive ways to help them realize that, like your boys, they can work for it. None of this “get them off their butts” business. Just because a boy doesn’t have a uniform, doesn’t mean he won’t get anywhere in life, unless you insist on treating them as losers because they don’t make enough money.

      • My son is six and cannot do most of these things by himself. It is difficult for my husband, who works and is finishing his PhD, and myself, who has other
        (younger) children to watch, to go with him. To be honest, the cost of the uniform and attitudes lite yours make me unsure if cub scouts is right for him.

  14. As a Commissioner I tell leaders the Scouts should vote on the uniform. Deciding what part of the uniform the Unit will wear. Understanding the Uniform Shirt is the most important part of the uniform. I also tell the leaders that do what the families can afford.

    • Where did you read that the shirt is the most important part of the uniform? It is the only part that is optional. Look at the field uniform and the activity uniform. What is the difference? the shirt. The official uniform consists of the scout shirt, scout pants, belt and socks. No vote is required!

    • Being a Commissioner also, I am interested where it says “…the boys should vote on the uniform. Deciding on what part of the uniform the unit will wear.” With the exeption of hats and neckerchiefs, I am unaware of where Cubs or Boy Scouts can choose if what parts to wear.
      This is not Venturing we are talking about here.
      Uniforming is one of the Methods of scouting and not an optional one. None of the methods are optional last time I checked.

  15. September thru mid May our Troop requires the Field Uniform for meetings and Full Field Uniform (with sash) for SM Conference and Boards of Review. We have a distinctive Activity Uniform T shirt and allow that for specific activities and for Summer meetings (due to the warmth in our meeting place and the Summer meetings are usually outside in 90 degree heat to work on skills). We are not a stickler for BSA pants since our families cannot keep growing boys in expensive pants. We do require green or khaki pants for Field Uniform (no Jeans). Kmart and other stores have the correct color pants for $10-$15 depending on sales so that isn’t a real hardship on anyone.

    • We have a similar policy in our troop, which was founded just six years ago. The founding Scouts at that time chose a modified belt-up policy. Scouts must wear the “Class A” uniform shirt, belt and bolo tie (the boys’ choice), but they can wear green pants or green shorts of their own choosing/purchase. The boys chose not to adopt a uniform hat. For courts of honor, we keep to that standard, but we stipulate no tennis shoes (hiking boots or better are required) and boys should wear sashes (if they have them). During summer, we have Class B tee shirts that are worn at all events, except for boards of review, which require full Class A. When in the field, we dress in a manner appropriate to what we are doing. If it is 20 degrees out, the uniform will be covered by three layers of clothing, anyway, but when we are at summer camp, we wear Class Bs and dress up for dinner, etc. We find this to be an adaptable, practical and flexible approach that sets a good balance for the boys and the families.

  16. eBay, eBay, eBay! If the uniform, new off the rack, is too expensive, eBay, thrift stores and garage sales are an excellent option. There are, right now, lots of Cub Scout uniforms on eBay for less than $10. Looking right now on eBay, they have a Cub Scout shirt for $2.99, Switchbacks for $9.99, neckerchiefs for $3.00, and so on.

    I had a Tiger Cub last fall that got shirt and pants at a garage sale for $4.50. And it already had the correct CSP sewn on.

    As a Cubmaster of an inner city Pack, I know all too well about parents not being able to afford the uniform. However, oftentimes I have to take it with a little bit of skepticism, as these are sometimes the same families who also brag they have have a Wii, Nintendo DS, XBox, etc., that makes their “it’s too expensive” argument often fall on deaf ears. We of course should never criticize or scrutinize how a family spends their money, but you have to sometimes look with a skeptical eye when they claim they can’t afford something their son will wear well over a hundred times in their Scouting career.

  17. I have seen a lot of great comments here. But the “Belt Up” comment is the one that fits my troop. We have kids from families with various financial abilities. We do mandate Class A Shirts, Neckerchief and Slide at meetings. When we have activities that could ruin uniform shirts we go to Class B Troop Shirts or even painting clothes such as when we stained the Klondike Sleds. Our general meeting standard is Class A Shirts with your Class B underneath. We do not have a pants rule for meeting unless it will involve a pecial events or guest speaker. Our reminder to scouts is no sweat pants or gym shorts with a Class A Shirt. As a leader, I generally dress in full uniform hat to boots for meetings, (unless I come straight from work then it is dress clothes). At times the leaders who come straight from work are in their clothes they wore to work that day. As leaders we have to put guiding the troop ahead of being in full uniform. No leaders – No scouting. (But never for events with the public).

    I use the guidance of the local arena that has Scouts present flags before their events. They mandate NO blue jeans and NO tennis shoes when scouting groups present flags. Arena staff will ask scouts to be removed from the flag presentation patrols that do not meet that requirement. We try to use the same standard for Court of Honor, Board of Reviews and Special Events the troops holds or is part of where we have exposure to the general public. Boys who do not have scout pants and boots are permitted to wear dress or khaki pants and dress shoes. We are sensitive to the fact that these are growing boys so the pants and shoes they are wearing today will be too small in a few months. When we do Board of Review Prep we check for belts.

    In the end it is about what the scout learns and that young boys are working to become young men that will make positive contributions to society from the lessons they learn through scouting. But the discipline of wearing the proper clothing at the proper time is part of the overall lesson of how your gain respect.

  18. I am really tired of those who have the position that the uniform is not important. They keep saying “BSA says it is not required”, so they don’t require it. Besides uniforming being one of the methods of scouting, these people are misusing this policy for their own selfish ways.
    The reason for this policy way for purely financial reasons. It goes back to the begining of the movement, when a uniform was a big investment for a family (it still is). It was intended not to deprive a boy of scouting because he could not afford a uniform. But that was considered a temporary situation, the scout was expected to start to save for his uniform, and get one as soon as he could. A scout is thrifty, uniforms can be reunsed (uniform banks), purchased at thrift stores, bought on eBay.
    Units that have both Field and Activity uniforms (Class A & B) can make things a lot easier (on both the scout and the clothing).
    Those who say we can’t afford it, are coping out. While for some this may be real, for most who say this will not blink and eye and buy sports uniforms, latest electronics games, and in fashion clothes/shoes.
    I have seen inner-city youth in full uniform. Kids from single parent homes, on welfare, just strugling to get by. It is possible, you just have to look at all possibilities and just do it.
    It is where your priorities are.
    Nothing grinds me the most as seeing scouts in public (Parade, Flag Ceremony, etc) and seeing them in a sloppy uniform shirt, with flowered board shorts, looking like a “Rag Bag”, and knowing that they are from a very well off family (those shorts alone cost more than a complete uniform, as does the shoes he is wearing). And yet these parents are some of those who cry “the uniform is not required”.
    It is were your priorities are (or not).

      • You say you are a Scoutmaster, yet you don’t seam to want to follow ALL of the methods of scouting. In order to deliver the promise to these boys, it must be a total package, not pick and choose. Much like taking the “outing out of scouting”.
        You set the example by wearing the uniform, thats half the battle. More often that boys are not wearing the uniform is a symptom of other problems in the unit and/or with the boy.
        When I say that poor uniforming at a public function (like a flag ceremony) grinds me the most, I refer to the lack of respect that shows towards towards the our country’s flag and all it stands for, not to mention the poor example representing the Boy Scouts, themselves, and by extension their troop leaders.
        BSA is a uniformed organization, it is part of who we are and how the program is delivered to the boys. While you seem to get it for yourself, try making it a part of your program so that the boys might benifit too.
        SM Faststart and Specific Training as well as Wood Badge can explain all of this in detail.

        • What grinds me the most is when a parent selfishly refuses to bring their son to an activity, function or camp out because they (the parent) “weren’t feeling up to it” that night. When the boy receives a hand held video game system for Christmas but it’s my extra sleeping bag and gear keeping him warm through the night at the Klondike. What grinds me the most is watching a boy in your troop make wrong friends, wrong choices and struggle to help him keep his life from falling apart. What grinds me the most is when a troop of boys really want to get out and try Kayaking and they can’t get enough leaders or parents to get proper training and commit to it because they aren’t interested or available. Stressing about how a 13 year old tucks in his shirt or what color his pants are doesn’t even make it onto the priority list.
          I agree with you completely that the lack of respect for the uniform is a symptom of some other much larger problem. Problems vary greatly among troops and boys. That’s why I don’t worry about the uniform itself. I’d choose to focus my time and energy on the problem. Our troop doesn’t have a uniform policy. That doesn’t mean we don’t wear uniforms. The boys who have grown to respect and be proud of their achievements and have caught the scouting spirit wear theirs proudly, the ones who haven’t gotten to that point yet typically don’t. But I’m not going to write a policy and stress about enforcing it. Teaching and showing them show to be properly uniformed, teaching what that means and giving them a program they can be proud of in my experience takes care of the rest.

    • The uniform is not an investment for the “Family”.. it is an investment for the Scout. What ever happened to a Scout earning their way? My oldest son just out grew his shirt.. he is getting his stuff ready to staff at Summer camp and so he went and bought himself a new Scout shirt.
      He has money in his Scout account from working (selling popcorn, mowing lawns etc). That is how it should work.
      Stop with this “Burden to the Family” business. Are we not teaching these young men to be self reliant? Think a review of Scouting’s aims in order here. What is the Promise of Scouting? Adventure, character, self reliance etc…
      Sorry for the rant…

  19. As an Eagle Scout (with 8 palms) and as a recent leader I have to say the problem with uniforms is not that scouts do not have enough money for the uniform but that the uniform is for one incredibly stupid looking and outdated. I know that tradition is great and all but the goal of the scouting movement is to raise boys into responsible men I hate to say it but the boy scout uniform needs to be modernized and I don’t mean more velcro which made the shirt look even worse. I personally do use an older uniform from the seventies because it is better looking than the current uniform. When it comes to enforcing uniform policy I do not scold anyone for wearing their uniforms with their shirts untucked or opened except when we are doing something special. My favorite thing to hear is about the uniform i first heard from buddy of mine who also works at summer camp tell scouts that Baden Powell designed the uniform to be tucked in. However that is both factually wrong as the original uniform was designed not to be tucked in and the fact that it has been years since the his uniforms were used. I

    • I support the idea that Scouts should be dressed in uniforms for formal occasions even if the design of the current shirt is absolutely hideous. Not only is the design terrible for an organization that encourages activity, I see scouts walking around with so many patches sewn to their shirts they look like NASCAR drivers. It’s almost as if we’re trying to subsidize the patch industry. Despite it’s shortcomings, I do believe that scouts should wear the uniform at a court of honor, parade or formal function. We don’t require our Scouts to buy the pants but we do ask that they wear the shirt and neckerchief for those occasions and ask that they be tucked in. We also try to discourage jeans but we don’t mandate it. We’re not going to ask boys to leave a meeting because they show up wearing jeans. I see a lot of people on here advocating if not demanding that the full uniform should be required. Well unless I missed an update, that’s not BSA policy and it’s not our job to assign BSA policy. What I’d really like to see is the BSA move to some really nice new gear for outdoor activities. It would be fantastic to see the BSA partner up with Nike, Reebok or Under Armor to develop some cutting edge stuff for the boys to wear when they’re out in the woods running around. The stuff would look great, tit would be functional and they might even wear it to school. When was the last time you saw a scout wearing their uniform outside of a scout meeting or event.. I never have.

  20. My son has sensory integration issues and getting him to wear any season or occasion appropriate clothes is an issue. Every Fall it is a struggle as we retire the shorts and move into very loose fitting track pants for school. Jeans and kakhis are never an option, as well as any long sleeved shirt or winter-weight coat. Our troop requires shirt, neckerchief, belt, and socks. In addition, jeans and kakhis, or official shorts, are required for Scoutmaster conferences, driving to/from events, and courts of honor. I have struggled for 5 years during our Cub Scout years to get him to just wear the Cub shirt with success for only minutes at a time. As Den Leader and Cubmaster all these years, I’ve led by example, wearing my achievements and showing pride in the program. He talks about all the great things we’ve done in Scouting, but the uniform issue is holding him back in Boy Scouts.

  21. For our pack: belt up, hat is optional. For pants we ask they try to get the right color and suggest trying to match the style for full dress occasions, but do not require full BSA. Neckerchief and slide are a one-time buy-in, traded in at bridging unless the parent wants to keep the old one and buy fresh each year.

  22. Our troop does not make the boys wear scout pants but are required to wear the shirts for meetings and any Council outings. The only acceptable pants are khaki style pants or shorts. No basketball shorts or wind pants.

  23. From September through May, we require a Class A shirt. The main rule about pants is “no athletic shorts.” Any decent khakis or jeans are OK, but we expect the shirt to be tucked in and the pants to be at a proper elevation (anyone who can’t seem to keep his pants up is given a length of rope, and a suggestion that a square knot would be appropriate.)

    We also don’t require neckerchiefs or hats. Honestly, most boys don’t want to wear them, and they are an unnecessary expense.

    Summer is Class B. Similar to another post, we are large troop, and we create a “red tide” as we swarm through a camp.

  24. We used to be a “belt up” Troop, and I guess our Parent’s Guide says we still are. However, as more of our members are elected to OA and attend NYLT (both require complete uniforms), the number of of our members who own complete uniforms has increased. Then a subtle hint to our SPL had him actually wearing the complete uniform to meetings! He then encouraged all members of the PLC to do the same, which in turn was followed by all members wearing complete uniforms. Amazing. Scout Run is a Wonderful Thing! (We still have an occasional lapse in the sock department — white socks do not really blend in with a Boy Scout uniform.) A quick comment during the Scoutmaster Minute about how great the Troop looks rewards them for their efforts.

  25. What’s “our troop’s” uniform policy? Well, it’s the same as the BSA’s. We’re Scouts and we wear the uniform of Scouts. Everywhere and on all occasions. We sometimes take our uniform shirts off and have on just our tee-shirts, for some short-duration games or service projects or such, but when we’re done, we put our shirts back on. The troop (meaning: the Scouts) did decide on the two options OK’d by the BSA, and so we all wear standard BSA-issue caps, and we all wear neckerchiefs designed by the Scouts and made by the parents (the troop dues paid for the material). We have a pool of experienced uniform parts for any Scout who needs a particular item, except socks, which we all buy new, but that’s about it. Not a particularly big deal, either: Our Scouts look like the Scouts they are, and no one’s ever had an issue with this! We do have one little “wrinkle” that may be worth mentioning: Since it’s understood that “full uniform” is what’s expected, if a Scout is running late from, say, his Little League or AYSO or Pop Warner game, and he shows up in his full baseball or soccer or football uniform, he’s considered totally “legal” by his fellow Scouts– and this is something the Scouts considered and agreed upon, all amongst themselves! Ahh, democracy in action’s a wonderful thing!

  26. If there’s one thing in uniforming I personally miss more than any other, I’ll confess that it’s the yoke-collar short-sleeved uniform shirt! These make neckerchiefs easy to wear and lookin’ good! By golly, we sure looked like SCOUTS in that era! Second most-missed item: The overseas or Garrison cap, that folded flat and was appropriate to wear looped over your belt on the right side. Looked sharp, conveniently stowed when indoors — what more could you ask for!

  27. The cost of official BSA gear has skyrocketed in recent years. Everything is so expensive. My youngest just joined Scouts, as a Webelo, and it cost me around $60 for a shirt and all the patches he needed. That is just CRAZY.
    There are boys that cannot afford uniforms. We do our best to get them shirts (we are SLOWLY building a Scout Closet). We wore a particular kerchief but BSA discontinued the colors so now we are in limbo as we have boys with and those without. So to survive the summer, we have a no kerchief policy during the summer.

    I would LOVE to have the boys in the complete uniform from the socks up to the kerchief, but this is not a reality in todays economic times. We do the best we can, and ask the parents to do the same. I provide links to Wal-Mart and other shopping places for specific low cost shorts and pants that will suffice as replacements for official BSA pants and shorts.

    Its the best we can do.

  28. I would like to put in a comment as a parent in the “too expensive” camp. I have two boys in Scouts, and a daughter with her eye on a Venture Crew or Sea Scout Ship next year when she will be old enough. Used shirts are easy to come by, though the old style (which stain and are hard to get entirely wrinkle-free) and belts and socks. Their troop does not require hats or neckerchiefs. Pants are another story entirely, with both growing VERY quickly still, given the expense. I agree that often the only one in uniform closets are smaller sizes. Also? Ebay requires PayPal, which requires either a credit card or a bank account. Not everyone has those (or feels comfortable opening them up to that sort of access). And we do NOT spend all our money on designer clothes/video games/electronics. Our one income goes towards staples, and thrift stores are our friends. So please, do not be insulting towards everyone that says they can’t afford it – some could, if that were a priority, but you can’t force it to be, but some of us truly can’t.

  29. There are compelling arguments on both sides of the fence here. The analogy to sports teams is a good one – there’s no way my son’s baseball coach would let him play without the complete jersey, cap, pants and socks! Why should Scouting be any different? But a new uniform is quite expensive (over $100 with all the trimmings); so cost considerations aren’t a “lame excuse.” When I was a boy, I remember my mom telling me that she couldn’t even afford the patches (troop number and such), so I felt lucky just to have the shirt. “Mowing lawns” to earn it may work in a comfortable suburban neighborhood, but what about those inner city kids? I’m all for the complete uniform, but compassion and understanding call for a bit of flexibility. Now I know that uniform sales are a source of much needed revenue for the BSA, but I wish they would find a way to make it more affordable. And maybe the kids who *really* can’t afford it are the ones who need Scouting the most. Should we make them feel like outcasts by insisting on a complete uniform when they cannot realistically attain one?

  30. For all those Cub Scout Parents who can’t afford pants for their kid.
    Check out Scoutstuff, they have the standard blue uniform pants in a number of sizes for $5!!
    If I had a boy in cubs, I would buy a couple of these in different sizes so he won’t grow out of them.
    After he crosses over, donate them to a local uniform bank.
    Not so long ago, the older Boy Scout uniform as well as the Venturing Uniform were similarly discounted.
    I myself picked up a new Venturing shirt (old style) for $4.98.
    My youngest Son’s uniform cost me $12 total. Ebay and thrift shop, plus a few items donated by friends.
    Oppertunities like this are out there if you look for them. To many say “I don’t have time” and then use the cost excuse to not buy the uniform. Make time, and check out local uniform banks, thrift shops, eBay, ask neighbors who’s kid is not in scouts anymore for their uniform.
    There are a lot of options. Just do it!
    If innercity boys from single parent homes can raise money to buy uniforms, Johny in the Suburbs can.
    Where there is a will, there is a way. It is were your priorities are.

  31. While I don’t disagree that there are options out there for lower cost, experienced uniforms, please keep in mind that not all parents have access to things like ebay and even Scoutstuff. The school our pack is based in is largely ELL, and we have many parents who don’t even speak English. My point is that every situation is different. Yes, I agree that the uniform is important and for my family it was a priority and I made sure my son has his units’ required belt up and I even added the socks. But it was still difficult for us. My husband and I each work 2 jobs and he is a full time college student, so I know about financial strain. I just don’t feel it’s fair to say the expense of the uniform is a lame excuse when right now hard times are a reality for many of us, especially for Cub Scouts where earning anything for themselves isn’t a real option.

  32. Cost is an issue, but as the saying goes, “you put your money where your heart is”. Our family is very active – Dad, Mom, 3 1/2 sons. All wear the full uniform – it is a matter of pride among our boys. Our 4 year old is to the point he won’t go to a Scouting event with us unless he wears his brother’s old uniform. With our full schedule, we probably wear the uniform 3 – 5 times a week. Our sons used to balk at always wearing it, but now, lead the charge with other youth to wear it with pride and wear it correctly. I’ve seen Scouts of all ages act differently in uniform than when not. it is also important for leaders to set the example. If you show up for an event in jeans, guess what your Scouts will think is OK. We have a small Troop, but in our recent week at summer camp, other Troop and camp staff made very favorable comments daily about our small group always showing up to meals and programs in uniform. Funny to me that other Scoutmaster complain that their Scouts won’t wear the full uniform while he wears jeans with his shirt hanging out. There are many ways to help offset costs for uniforms – uniform closet, fundraisers, eBay, etc. If there is a desire, there is a way.

  33. The value of a uniform isn’t felt the same way across the country. While I wish that all the boy’s in our pack could have a uniform, unfortunately they can not due to cost. Yes, they could earn the money IF they lived in the subburrbs but we are in a very rural area. Parents in this area do struggle to make ends meet (and I am sure this isn’t the only area). I would rather a boy get the wonderful life lessons afforded by the scout program than worry about the uniform. Our policy is if you can than please do buy the uniform, but if you can not afford a uniform then buy a piece when you can (with a belt up priority and a “class B” t-shirt as the first step). I think the SMM view of, if they don’t get a uniform then they shouldn’t be in the scout program lacks the value of the TRUE program as a whole. If the uniform makes the scout a scout then we haven’t lived up to our own values as scouters, hopefully as the scout progresses he will have learned the values that we as scouters should instill into the boys and he will make all atempts to get a uniform. Not all scouts have the priviledge of having parrents that support them in there quest to be a scout and I will not fault the scout for there parents ability nor will I deny the scout his right to be a scout based on his uniform. I am shocked at the responses that if they don’t have a uniform they shouldn’t be a scout, it is our duty to help instill the values for the scout to want to get a uniform and the boys may not have those values when they first enter the program, it may take a few years for some boys to learn those values Remember this isn’t a “County Club”, but a scouting program for our youth..

    • The policy that states a uniform is not required is made just for the reason(s) you are listing.
      No boy should be turned away due to not being able to afford a uniform. Agreed.
      However, it (the Uniform issue) does not end there. You just don’t say, “since you can not afford to buy a uniform, you don’t have to wear one, ever.” You, the leader, the Scout and his parent(s), make it a goal to get uniformed. You don’t quit. If everyone involved will make this a goal to have the scout uniformed the first year, it can be done where ever you live, what ever your means.
      People keep fixating on the scout shop, and say not all have internet access, or know about uniform banks. As a Leader, make them aware, help them with on-line access. Those leaders who take the easy wayout and just say “Johnny can’t afford it” and write Johnny off, you are cheating the boy of a well rounded program. Step up and do your best to help that boy, don’t cop out and take the easy way out. As for the parents, the bottom line is it is were their priorities are. Yes, there are the dead beat ones who use scouting as a baby sitting service, but don’t give up.
      I had a young man who came from a broken home, raised by a single parent, and on state assistance.
      He raised the money to get his uniform, and I (as his leader) helped by looking for deals to get him uniformed. We got him uniformed head to toe for under $20 (pants included). And this was a big kid who wore a 4X shirt. I have seen this done over and over again, with kids from the same family, innner city kids, rural kids, etc.
      As for those who say it’s not important. You are cheating the kids of a well rounded, complete program.
      The experience of wearing that uniform can be just the thing that kid needs. Who are you to deny him that. Use ALL the methods of scouting. It’s not for you to pick and choose which methods to use.
      Please stop trying to find reasons not to wear the uniform.
      Find reasons to get uniformed. Yes, Scouting is not “a Country Club”, it IS a Uniformed Orginization for our youth. And you are one of the adult leaders who should help instill that in our boys. Right from the start it should be a goal. A goal to be met as soon as possible.
      Again, it is where your priorities are (and his parents).

        • Maybe, calling a specific type of parent Dead Beats is a bit strong for you, but when they have little or no interest in their boy, (the have been charged with abusing him). And they could care less if their son is in scouts (or school for that matter) and most of the time he lives with his Grandma. They use scouts as a ‘Baby Sitting Service” to get rid of their kid for awhile. And then to top it off the Dad shows up drunk at the PW Derby (where he gets physical with his Son because he did not win!). BTW, he was not there for his Son, he was there to meet up with another parent for another reason.
          But on second thought, “Dead Beat” is spot on.
          Sorry for going off topic, sorry for the rant.

          Now, what is wrong using ALL of the methods of scouting for our youth?
          Our Kids deserve the best well rounded program possible.
          Yes, there are exceptions, but exceptions are not the rule.

  34. You know, everyone is talking about the cost of the uniform here, but money isn’t the only issue. I remember a boy in my Cub Scout den who absolutely did not want to wear his uniform. When he did, he threw it on, unbuttoned, over his tee shirt. (And his footwear of choice year-round was invariably flip-flops, even in our harsh Upstate NY winters.) His uniform never had any patches on it – not even the rank badges that he earned! On formal occasions, he would grudgingly button it and put on his neckerchief, but it wouldn’t stay on for long. But you know, this boy LOVED being a Cub Scout. Now I knew this boy pretty well, and I surmised that if I had forced the issue and insisted on his wearing the uniform properly at all times, I probably would have lost him. So I chose to let him be himself. There are *eight* methods used in Cub Scouting, you know… only two of them are the uniform and advancement. This boy cared little for either of those, but does that mean that I can’t reach him and make a difference in his life? I chose to let those things go, and to focus on the other six methods. I think I made the right decision. This is just one example, by the way, I’ve met a number of boys over the years who just don’t respond to one or more of Scouting’s methods. Rather than throwing the baby out with the bathwater, we have to look at the whole picture, and treat each boy as an individual. Reach them in any way that you can. If the uniform isn’t working with him, don’t let it become a stumbling block.

  35. If a unit is really dedicated to uniforming, it will find a way that takes care of families who can’t afford the uniform pieces — a used uniform closet; donations; searching e-bay, garage sales, and thrift stores; and using fundraising to acquire uniforms. If a unit wants to make it happen, it has to be a unit initiative.

    The real problem, it seems to me, is that unlike sports teams, and police, and military, and other groups and occupations where uniforms are standard, there is no obvious _practical need_ for Scouts to wear uniforms. There is no real need for the public to be able to easily identify Scouts, or for the public to be able to tell Scouts apart from other groups, or for Scouts to be able to identify each other. Nor do Scout uniforms help Scouts carry out Scout activities. (Check out p. 33 of the Boy Scout Handbook, which tells us to wear the uniform for ceremonies and indoors, but wear other clothing for outdoor activities.) Rather, we ask Scouts to wear uniforms primarily for character-building and other intangible reasons, and as a convenient place to put badges. The closest analogy, it seems to me, is to private school uniforms (which I’ve lived with for 15 years or so). It is understandable that many Scouts, parents, leaders, and units are not particularly impressed by the reasons given for wearing the uniform.

  36. It seems the real answer to any response that includes “our troop uniform policy” is that there is only one policy, set by national, and subunits (troops, districts, councils, etc) are not empowered to modify it. On the other hand, BSA has also said that uniforms, while one of the eight methods of Scouting, are not required to participate in the program.

    This seems to imply that as leaders, we should encourage Scouts to do their best to wear their uniforms (and wear them correctly) through positive reinforcement and setting the example through our own actions. Just as we are supposed to guide and assist our Scouts in planning activities, running meetings and demonstrating leadership, we should do the same to help them be as uniformed as possible. In some cases this may result in every Scout being in uniform from hat to socks. In others, we may be doing well to afford getting every Scout in a shirt. Each troop, and each Scout in it, has its circumstances with which the leaders must contend to help their Scouts do their best.

  37. I am in the USAF. A uniform is a uniform. My son will be old enough for Tiger Scouts and I will volunteer to lead/help as I can. If nothing else, i hope to convey to the unit the value and importance of not just wearing a uniform, but wearing it properly. I cringe when I see an untucked shirt, with jeans and tennis shoes; especially on an adult leader.

  38. The uniform is a proud part of scouting. Jeans, sweat pants, basketball shorts just don’t cut it with a Scout Shirt for Court of Honor, or other more formal events.

    At least have a policy with Green Kaki pants or shorts when someone can’t afford the higher priced BSA pants or shorts.

  39. Uniforms help keep Boy Scouting a living, breathing youth organization. Scouts and scout leaders are on better behavior when wearing them our troop committee has agreed. As with others, we are concerned about asking too much of the boys who can’t afford as much, however insist upon the uniform shirt, properly tucked in, with neckerchief on, and the olive green uniform pants or anything that looks close enough. When in Class Bs we encourage the boys to wear scout shirts of some kind or plain, solid color shirts. We have never asked them to wear scout hats or other apparel besides the badge sash at ceremonies, however some do.

  40. I have to admit that on one hand, yes, the uniform is expensive, and there are definitely people that can’t afford it, but on the other, it’s not a good excuse. The people that refuse to require it based on price almost always jump to the “growing boy” diminishing returns argument, but it’s a logical fallacy. If scouts buy a uniform and then -poof- they’ve outgrown it so fast as to make them uneconomical, then what you have here is not a lot of trash, but a rotating stock of cheap uniforms. An 11-yr-old joins, gets his uniform, outgrows it, are you telling me everyone throws them away or takes them to Goodwill? No, that’s stupid, they’re an untapped resource sitting in the bottom of closets. Collect them and they go in a uniform exchange/sale or free locker.
    My troop is in a mid-to-upper-middle class neighborhood, it stays between 30-40 scouts, we’ve been around for 48 years. We have a “uniform locker” with free items for anyone that needs them, from uniforms to old boots to old frame packs. I could walk into the QM Store tomorrow and outfit a patrol of 8 boys easily. Some would be in Oscar de la Renta uniforms, some would be in the lightweight switchbacks, some would be in the Centennial uniform, but they would all be in uniform and none of them would be out $120+. Why? It’s not a miracle or a mystery; we don’t have some benefactor dumping money on us. We have a troop of 30 of those ~growing boys~ and they bring their outgrown uniforms in and pass them down.
    This is a no-brainer. It’s one thing for a parent to raise the cost objection before they know about an exchange, but leaders who do so are lazy and unimaginative. Get a $10 footlocker from a store, tell your scouts that they all have uniform articles they’ll never wear again, and that there are boys who could really use the, so you’d like them to drop them off in that footlocker. When a boy ages out or quits, politely ask for the uniform.
    Then, tell your new Scouts that there’s a footlocker full of uniforms just waiting for a new owner. If the free cycle won’t do it in your troop, hold a “yard sale.” While our troop does it free, I know lots of troops that have a few nights a year where scouts can sell their outgrown items. An individual scout or parent can make the cost excuse, but the leadership should have the answer to that excuse rather than promoting it.

    As for people/troops that just don’t want to wear the Boy Scout uniform, fine, don’t be Boy Scouts. Join Campfire USA or YMCA Indian Guides, or just go camping in your spare time. If you don’t want to be a scout, then don’t be.

  41. My position is why do we use cheap Chinese vendors instead of buying american. Why isn’t the uniform more outdoor freindly? I can buy a pair of BSA/Chinese pants that zip off at the knee for $45 an spend another $10 to get them hemmed or I can buy a pair of WOOLRICH “tactical” pants that are hemmed for $40. It was once suggested that the BSA would have to pay the unions to buy American. The latest uniform shirt is better at being outdoor friendly, but why can Academy Sports get a columbia or house brand shirt for the same price or less. Both are better shirts. Are the profits for national supply that important?

  42. While I agree that the “full uniform” means the complete uniform, I do think that jeans (nice ones, no holes) look appropriate with the uniform. Our local Den, of Pack 329 in Phoenix, AZ, has a more detailed question about the uniform, which appears to not fully be answered. Although, some of the comments above mention the neckerchief, no one (even BSA) states specifically how the neckerchief should be worn. I wrote this article about the discussion:

    I’m sure the discussion will continue to have opinions on both sides, but whenever wearing even a partial uniform, I think everyone would agree that the most important part is that the Scout uniform is highly recognized and Scouts need to wear the uniform with pride and act according to the Scout law when wearing the uniform.

    • Debbie, the BSA does in fact explicitly outline when, when not, and how the neckerchief is worn in the Uniform and Insignia Guide. You can purchase a hard copy online or at your service center, and portions of the guide are available online. The neckerchief is addressed here (near the bottom of the page): As to your specific question (over or under the collar), the BSA does “specifically state” how it should be worn: The unit decides for itself! Thus, so long as everyone in the unit is wearing it in a manner prescribed by BSA (either over or under) and the same, they’re wearing it properly.

      In fact, for an optional item, and given the murkiness surrounding other uniform items, the guide goes into a surprising amount of detail: It should be folded flat rather than rolled or twirled; the top button is not buttoned when wearing a neckerchief (as you can see in the illustration and official inspection checklist); all members of the troop wear the same color, etc.

      • GGreene840 – Thank you – I found many pages stating the details of how the neckerchief is folded, etc and that each unit may decide on whether to wear them – but I never found the page that you listed above – Thank you. And what helps further is that the Unit is to decide – so I guess I need to inform everyone that we need to make a formal decision. Right now, some boys wear it over the collar and some under.

  43. Whatever pieces of the uniform are worn, they should be worn neatly and proudly. This hanging-shirttail, sloppy-neckerchief thing is absolutely unacceptable. I demand my den get it together on neatness, and I accept no excuses for sloppy uniform wear. If all you have is a uniform shirt, wear it like you were standing before Baden-Powell.

  44. In my troop we require the shirt, handkerchief, a slide , and a belt (any belt) they can wear shorts or pants and have to have closed shoes. the rule is as long as it looks good with the uniform. And in our area we are the best looking troop.

  45. Our Troop is full uniform, top to bottom no if, ans or buts. Class A shirt for formal functions or inspections and a Class B shirt for all other occasions. Families have three months to slowly acquire the uniform. I find it amazing at the comments of families who can’t afford or are we making scouts to be sharp dressers. How many photo’s of a Boy Scout have you seen from the 50’s and 60’s that was not in a full uniform. The uniform is to instill confidence in the boys by not making anyone feel different, in addition it provides a positive recognition from the community. They are not judged by a brand name, they are equal. The uniform is more than a piece of clothing and carries a sense of pride. Something boys today lack is pride in what they do. Society has deemed everything should be easy and free and if it isn’t it, should not be required. Units should be providing ample fundraising opportunities so families can be thrifty and pay for Scout items. But families who need the money seem to be the ones who refuses to participate in the fundraising events.

  46. We encourage full class A at troop meetings but we don’t make a big deal when a boy wears jeans. We require the full uniform for boards of review. But I keep an extra belt and clean socks in my trunk in case a boy forgets those for his B of R.

  47. As a Scoutmaster, I am pretty flexible on the uniform. Shirt is a must, but I do however except any type of green short or pant…up until first class. At first class, for a scoutmaster conference or a board of review, full official uniform is required. we are a head to toe troop. Which means from socks to a hat! If you have a merit badges, you better have a sash, and wear it for conferences, COH, etc…

  48. Our troop “uniform” is the belt up with all patches placed correctly. As a parent, it is not that I can not afford the scout pants, but that I do not see the value in them. With boys growing as fast as they do between 11 and 18, pants need to be replaced 5 or 6 times to accomodate growth spurts. At $40 a pair, I think there are better ways to spend money when they only wear them one day a week. Especially, when our scout shop was selling denim jeans for $9.99. If the uniform was a good value, more scouts might be wearing it.

  49. Full uniform is encouraged but nobody has ever missed an event because of dress. We have busy families that sometimes come straight from soccer practice. I do believe that leaders always lead by example.

  50. For our weekly meetings, we wear our uniforms. As a leader I wear a complete uniform (save for the socks). The scouts all wear their shirts, and some have proper pants or shorts. I have always bought uniforms for my own children, and have maintained a uniform bank of stuff to loan out to scouts. When we are marching in a parade or having our picture taken at camp, we always stress that scouts need ‘as complete a uniform as they own’ and that they should have olive green shorts if they don’t have uniform shorts.

    As to scouts that come to meetings from other activities without their uniform, I always ask if they went from scouts to baseball, would the coach let them take the field in their scout shirt? When they laugh and say no, I remind them they can bring the scout shirt in the car with them, and change when they arrive.

  51. When I was a Scout, I did yard work and was paid by my neighbors. Later, I worked at the grocery store stocking shelves, etc. I paid for my uniforms. My Mom sewed on my patches. I paid my way to Philmont when we lived in Winter Park, Florida. It was a three day bus ride to Philmont back then. At night we slept in high school school football stadiums in our sleeping bags. We used their locker rooms for showers, etc. I worked all my life and I learned the thrifty ethic as a youngster in Scouting. Kids today are too soft and want to follow the easy road. They need a role model on thrift and many other things taught in the Scout Law and Oath. A good Scoutmaster can be that model. Help sale BSA popcorn or other items to help finance troop expenses. Yes, expect a fully uniformed Boy Scout Troop!

  52. We struggled for years with this issue. We always made it a requirement to be in full class a, with the exception of the chief, during meetings, and campouts. In public the scouts always felt “out of place” or “embarrassed”. A few weeks ago, I contacted a local Marine office, and they came out to teach the boys a few pointers and talk to them about how important their scout uniform is as well as their own uniforms are.

    This talk really triggered something, cause we’ve had 100% on uniforms and attendance since then.

    • Daniel, that is a brilliant idea. I think I’ll mention it to the other den leader – our Cubs show up in their shirts, but no neckerchief, no belt, shirt not tucked in…. My son is the only one who shows up in full uniform (from the belt up, anyway).

      I just got my shirt myself, and I’ll be wearing it to set a good example.

  53. On the subject of Uniforms. We have a gent that is wearing our Troop Calss B shirt to demonstration/protest rallies. Does anyone now of any and where i can find information about the wearing of Class A and Class B uniforms to such events? There has to be something out there prohibiting this. I think it is completeley tasteless myself.

  54. I agree with most of what is being stated on the blogs on both sides especially dealing with cost as a major factor. I do believe all young people in scouting should have a proper uniform as with any other organization has theirs. rest asure that there are uniforms in your community not being used. on any given day a person can go to any thrift shop, goodwill, salvation army, chuch thrift store, etc.

  55. I’d love to push uniforms for my unit, but until they start making them in the U.S.A again, I just can’t. Pretty much everything in the local scouting shop is made in China, Bangladesh, or Viet Nam. I’ve got no problem with the folks in those countries, but BSA gear should be made in the USA. Until then, class B (t-shirt) is all I recommend to the families that join.

  56. I recently when through the OA ceremony as an adult leader. I was surprised to see only 1 in 5 of the OA candidates in full BSA prescribed uniform. I was further surprised to see less than 50% of the OA staff in proper uniform. Dress ranged from running shorts to hunting and fishing hats. (Now remember, this is the Order of the Arrow, considered the “honor society” of Boy Scouts). Why? The uniform is prescribed by the Boy Scouts of America. It is designed to build character, respect, and public visibility for scouting. It’s not optional. Compromise on the uniform and you compromise on respect for scouting and in the same way pass on that disrespect to your son.

    The same scouts and adult leaders at my Order of the Arrow weekend, hundreds strong, stood around the raising of the American flag Saturday morning. We were in work cloths ready for a day of service, Sadly, I was one of less than 10 who removed their hats for the ceremony. In some way, respect and honor for scouting and the scout uniform, seems to impact respect other areas of life as well.

    In summary, stop bellyaching about whether or not you like the uniform, wear it for what it represents and instill the same pride and respect in you son. It will will make him a better scout and a better American citizen.

  57. Well being an Eagle Scout and having been through NYLT (nagatamen) and Worked as part of a Summer Camp staff (Chief Logan Reservation) I see the importance of having a full and complete uniform, I do (many times over), but as an Asst. Scoutmaster in a troop in southern Ohio i see that every one cant afford them so we allow jeans to be worn and we have an exchange program and try to get everyone with a complete uniform. But we are flexible. Guys try to look presentable and many who cant get all the uniform go and get pants that are similar in color and look as the scout pants and you cant really tell the difference.

    • As a military family (19yrs in) uniforms are nothing new. However, with being a one income family, due to health issues, we cant afford the entire uniform. My husband is the new Cubmaster for our Pack and is dressed properly, down to the socks. I serve on the committe and my son is a scout. Taking into consideration that we have to be at every campout and event, which gets costly, my son wears pants that are dark blue(not BSA) and I have yet to buy my uniform and cringe at the almost $100 I will have to spend to look resectable.

  58. And yet whether the school is in the poorest farm country or most poverty-stricken inner-city, every single football player has a full uniform including cleats.

  59. very lax. they are allowed to wear the t shirts to den
    meetings, and are only required to wear blue shirt at pack meetings

  60. what is the rule when indoors in regards to caps. I know they can leave them on when saying pledge, outdoors, when in complete uniform. my question is: Aren’t they supposed to remove caps when indoors, as is with any other uniform?

    • In the Guide to Awards and Insignia under Headgear Regulations in the Special Regulations section, it states “In any informal indoor activity where no official ceremony is involved, the headgear is removed as when in street clothes.”

  61. This was just a discussion at our Troop Committee meeting last night. At our last CoH, we had boys show up in jeans, shorts, etc. It was far from a “uniform” appearance. For whatever reason (tradition, I guess), we do not require our Scouts to wear the uniform pants. Or even neckerchiefs (except at formal occasions, like CoH). Can’t say as I agree with this, but at least we’re starting to spiff the CoH’s back up, and I’m hoping that this will trickle down to our everyday meetings.

  62. I believe that they should be in full uniform. “Uniform”, by definition is that everybody looks same, that is why it is called a uniform in the first place.

  63. I am a firm believer in the value of the uniform. The change in behavior when my Scout puts on the uniform is remarkable. But it’s the shirt and neckerchief hat are important. Extending the uniform to pants was counterproductive (and the socks are just silly). Boys outgrow pants too fast. I can get away with buying a really big shirt to make it last for several years of growth. I can’t do the same with pants. Buying uniform pants that can only be worn a few times before their outgrown just doesn’t make sense. Whether the Scout can afford it or not, it’s wasteful.

    My argument against socks is that you can’t see them (except when wearing shorts which in NE Ohio is a fairly small window). We tolerate diversity in shoes and don’t have any rules about underwear – why do we care about socks?

    The uniform should stop at the waist. Pants, socks and shoes should be neat and tidy but there is no incremental value to forcing parents to buy them from the Scout Store.

  64. I believe the full uniform should be worn as much as is practical, as long as a scout has the correct color green khakis I will accept them. Our scouts are told this up front and we do maintain a lending system for shorts and pants. COH and anytime we represent scouting in public all scouts are told to wear complete uniform to include sash, hat and neckerchief. I even insist they tuck in the activity uniform.

  65. Uniforms are one of the methods of delivering the program to youth. They show that we belong to an organization that has a set of standards. It allows the boys to be a walking billboard for others to see what they have earned. A well run program will find a way to afford those uniforms. I’m in a deep south very rural part of Alabama, and our youth all have complete uniforms. They earn them through fundraisers, or they are given as a gift for holidays/birthdays. We have a uniform bank and exchange program within the Pack. I will not take the excuse that they cannot afford 25$ for the pants, when their child is wearing 80$ sneakers. At least with the pants, you can adjust the hem.

  66. We have implemented our version of Class A uniforms (shirt, neckerchief & slider) within our troop and everyone is on board except the older scouts. All these scouts will be having their Eagle Board of Review and I realize we cannot hold back their advancement because they are not wearing their uniform but I also cannot believe we are the only troop that this has / is occurring. What have other troops done in addressing this situation – have they ? This soon to be adults are really putting their heels in the sand.

  67. As the mother of an autistic child that has sensory processing disorder i feel that no one should be excluded. there may be boys who do not wear certain fabrics because those fabrics feel like thousands of tiny pins pricking them all over. i think that everyone is entitled to decide for themselves and their troop what the appropriate level of uniform is and that no one should decide that because someone may be a little less strict they are not a good scout or leader.

    • With all due respect, letting everyone decide for themselves what level of uniform to wear ignores one of the methods of scouting (uniforming). If you go there, why even have uniforms to begin with? (to answer that, please refer to the methods of scouting).
      Scouting (both Cub & Boy) is a uniformed organization, period.
      However there are exceptions, your situation may be one of them. What types of fabric are acceptable for him to wear?
      Have you tried to find a camp t-shirt of that type for him to wear?
      There are many types of such t-shirts available, similare to what he might wear on a daily basis. Talk to his Den Leader and Cub Master to find a good solution.

      What we have to becareful of is for everyone to “do their own thing” for what ever they feel is a good reason for them.

      While you may have an actual medical reason, there are far too many who don’t want to be bothered with a uniform, or hate the uniform concept.
      They will use every excuse in the book, especially the line where ” A scout is not required to have a uniform to participate in scouting”.
      While that may be true, if you read further and learn about why that was put out. You will find that is for finacial reasons. BP and out early Scouting founders did not want a boy turned away from scouting just because that cound not afford a uniform. Sadly, people use that line when they feel the uniform is out of fashon,, the older boy dosent like to wear it (or has outgrown it), they don’t want to deal with the patches, etc.
      Cost, should not be an issue. With the internet, Ebay,, Craigs List, Uniform banks, and good leadership,no boy should go with out.

  68. The long-sleeve BSA uniform shirt is currently being sold for $14.44 (a reasonable price for a long-sleeved, button-down collared shirt with pockets and epaulets)

    Meanwhile the short-sleeved uniform shirt is $44.99 (and up):

    Why is the short-sleeved shirt more expensive than the long-sleeved shirt (it uses less materials) and why in the world is it three times more expensive! And why is it nearly $50!

    I could buy three (3) long-sleeved shirts for less money than buying one (1) short-sleeved shirt! That’s crazy! And goes to show the mark-up BSA puts on the uniform (a core “method” of their program). You could outfit an entire patrol in long-sleeved shirts for less money than outfitting just yourself and your son in short-sleeved shirts.

    If the uniform was affordable we wouldn’t have to debate uniform policies or fighting to get families to put their kid in one. I don’t own any other $44 shirts…and I’m hesitant to take the one that I do own camping or to a service project where it may get stained, torn, or worn out.

    It costs well over $100 to get a full uniform (shirt, pants, belt, socks)…and they don’t last a lifetime (kids grow, and clothes wear out). It’s a barrier to the program. BSA should sell the uniform at cost (and look to keep that cost as low as possible). And make a mark-up on all their other Scout Shop items…. but not on the uniform!

    • The $14 shirt is an old style that’s in closeout. It’s also 4x, which is large enough to fit an entire den into.

      My big beef with uniforms is that the sizes (at least for adults) are crazy big. The cost can be contained by shopping at thrift stores and ebay. My BSA pants were about $20 on ebay. You just need to be patient and look around, like anything else you want to save $$ on.

  69. I have a question that always seems to be a problem with council “Uniform Cops” In Wood Badge the beads are to be worn with the scout uniform. I agree the problem is with the Varsity Units and Venture Units that chose to wear a golf style shirt as there uniform wear for scout meetings the Scout leader would never be able to wear their Wood Badge beads except in formal occasions. Why cant they change that item in the Wood Badge handbook and uniform guide. It seems we are leaving out the older boy program again, thinking everything is Cubs and Boy Scouts.

  70. I believe is an important part of the program and I believe all of my boys want to wear as much as possible. Strongly encourage official scout pants, but it is a must to have at least khaki or green pants.

    Now I do have another question though, I have my old official red beret and the boys really like them. The boys would love to make the beret official troop headgear. What is the opinion on wearing retired uniform pieces? I told them if they wanted it, everyone would need to agree to wear them to be “uniform” with the whole troop.

    As far as situations, I believe a troop should be in Field Uniform at all meetings, court of honors, and ceremonies. Also they should be wearing it anytime they are in the non-scout public. Activity uniforms should only be in the backcountry, scout camps, and at the campsite.

    • Uniform pieces never expire. If it was official in 1958, you can properly wear it today. If they want the berets, have them wear them!

  71. My wife and I are Den Leaders for a Wolf Den. This is our Dens uniform policy. We are the only Den in our pack with a policy and we also require the young men tuck in their shirts before entering the Den Meeting room. Need I say we are also the sharpest Den in the pack.

    We are a uniform wearing Den and we encourage the youth to work towards earning a full uniform. We understand uniforms are expensive so it may take sometime for your young man to acquire a full uniform. The Cub Scout motto of “Do Your Best” applies in this situation. Start with the blue Cub Scout Shirt and Yellow Wolf Cub Neckerchief. We have a special Neckerchief slide for our den so you don’t need to purchase the Neckerchief slide that is available at the scout office. As Cub Scout paints are very expensive a regular blue pair of paints or shorts are acceptable until official uniform paints are acquired. No young man should embarrassed because he does not have a uniform it takes time for them to earn these things. Used uniforms are available at much lower cost from “A Scout is Thrifty Uniform Exchange” located at 201 N Kings Rd Ste 102, Nampa Idaho.

  72. I don’t get the double standard of wearing one version of what is considered to be uniform for meetings and something else for Boards of Review. How is that consistent with the purpose of the uniform? Are you only a scout when it’s time to be evaluated or reviewed? No. The BSA already has several versions of uniform to choose from. To add our own takes away from the reason for it in the first place.

  73. Even though I’m only 17, and not a scouter yet(although I wish I could just stay scout forever) I honestly find the uniforming thing to be important. it separates us from other children and shows equality within the masses. You can’t tell who is richer, poorer, it shows uniformity. And baden Powell made remarks about how it is important too, as i recall. I always try to make sure the younger scouts follow it to key since our troop requires the full thing majority of the time. And saying the cost is an issue. If your scout is thrifty, he will save his money and buy it himself, and work for it. But other than that, when you wear it, it shows that your proud to be in the BSA and too me is my biggest reason. I love this organization and I can’t believe my time is up in 8 short months. But really I wish it was like the older times, when scouts wore it virtually all the time. I’d love to wear it everyday haha! But yeah, that is my opinion.

  74. I have had discussions up and down with our committee members about this issue, and they normally just blow me off. In fact, the way our troop’s official policy is written, the Scouts don’t even need to wear pants…the excuse I have been given is “our boys have never been forced to wear full uniform because they outgrow it too fast.”

    I am a staunch supporter of wearing the full and complete uniform — if you are able. When our Scouts attend NYLT or serve as CIT/staff at summer camp, a full (even two) uniform is expected. What gets me is, even after the Scouts attend NYLT or camp staff and have the correct legwear, they still wear blue jeans. It would help if more of the adults set the example, but the only ones I ever see in uniform besides myself have all been to Wood Badge.

    In summer our Scouts only wear the field uniform for public events; at troop meetings they wear a troop or camp t-shirt.

  75. Every scout in our troop has a scout account. They have several fund raisers a year that can fill that account up. If a boy applies himself, he can pay for dues, uniform, camping and summer camp from his account. There is no reason for any boy who has been in troop for more than a year to not have a uniform shirt, pants and belt.

  76. When I was a scout in my troop we had a strict uniform policy and the scouts acted more like young men than “boys”. Now that I’ve come back as an assistant scoutmaster a few years later in the same troop there is no real dress code and the boys run more wild than they did before. I don’t care for it too much but what can you do?

  77. My family is poor…I am only able to take on a part time job that pays a little over minimum wage and my spouse only recently landed a hopefully full time, permanent job that unfortunately doesn’t pay a lot. We probably have made some bad choices along the way. We have two boys that said they want to do cub scouts and boy scouts. We explained to them that if they chose scouting that would be the only activity they could do and so far it hasn’t come up again. The only other “activity” they do outside of scouting is swimming at the local YMCA.

    We decided that getting them fully uniformed would be an important investment, and that they are held accountable for maintaining their uniforms and helping to make sure that they are sharp looking. We economize in other places where we can to make things work. So personally we go for toes to nose.When fundraisers come up our boys participate to the best of their ability, my son has paid for most of his summer camp expenses and he/we are proud of him for doing it.

    I like that there are different units out there that allow different uniforming policies. We as a family want to be in units that are 100% boy led, using the patrol method, and that are 100% uniformed. And I shouldn’t begrudge people that do. But a lot of time I hear people bemoaning the cost of a complete uniform who have their kids in multiple activities and think nothing about getting their kids a new set of football pads every year or new set of lacrosse gear. Or signing their kid up for multiple seasons of soccer and baseball and paying out for new gear there.

    A new uniform for an adult sized kid is $8 socks, $37 cotton/polyester shirt, $40 cotton/poly pants, $9 Neckerchief, then about $2 for world crest, $5 for council patch, $5 unit numbers, $2 for other patches, and bsa belt $10. So about $120 for one kid which we can expect to get 3 years of life out of…so all together $40 per year and hopefully we don’t have to buy anymore patches and can recycle them from uniform to uniform.

    We may drive a beaten up vehicle and I myself don’t get new clothes that often, but our kids look awesome in their uniforms and take pride in scouting.

  78. I pretty much have mixed feelings on the subject. Our troop scoutmaster is a strong advocate for full uniform, no exceptions. He is in charge, so we go with it. I understand and accept all the rational for doing so.
    However, my personal thoughts are that I am more interested in having the boy participate then not be there because of some dress code. Don’t have? Come anyway, we’ll figure it out. Hawaii is pretty loose in dress anyway, so I think belt up is the way to go. Show pride in what your wearing, clean, well mended and tucks that shirt in.

  79. From the start I require new Scouts to get uniforms. That being said I understand they are expensive and give families time to acquire them. I keep a recycled bin of old uniforms to assist those who cannot afford them. Typically Scouts will come to meetings in full dress or in jeans. If they are in a sport and are pressed for time they may also come wearing football gear, etc., you see for me although the uniform is important it is the boy that is the MOST important part or what we do in Scouting.

  80. Has it occurred to anyone to approach local businesses to raise money for a grant/fund? Scouts who can’t afford a full uniform can either 1) clean out the Troop trailer perform a service for the Chartered Org to pay it back, or 2) pay it back from their Scout account at fundraising time.

  81. Scouting is like any other organization. You would not play on a soccer team without one, you would not be part of a boys choir without a tux. You would never be in a marching band without the uniform.

    The BSA has a uniform. Ours is the recommended uniform, and the Scouts can then pick their hat and neckerchief. They wear Class B’s in the Summer, and they are happy to be Scouts.

    Our guys think it is a disgrace if you wear the uniform with gym shorts unless you are a Team, they think you disgrace the uniform if you wear it doing heavy work. That is why there is a class B.

    Our unit is traveling 5 hours to summer camp in the morning. We have kids who do not have two nickles to rub together going in a full uniform. The idea that poor kids can’t get in a uniform is an excuse that adults justify not having one. We have kids who have no father, in full uniform.

    You want the kids to have a sense of belonging? Get them in a uniform. All of our Adults are in full uniform all the time, because we set the example. If the adults are sloppy, so are the youth.

  82. Wear it, don’t wear it, great discussion.

    What I don’t like is the “Class A” and “Class B” nonsense.

    It’s the “field uniform” and the “activity uniform.”

  83. When my older boys began scouting a little over a decade ago, there was a statement in the literature on scouting that I received from the pack leader, to paraphrase, it basically said that while the uniform is an important part of scouting, no boy will ever be denied participation in any BSA event for lack of a uniform. I cannot find that statement anywhere on the official pages today as my youngest son begins, and that saddens me greatly. I guess the funds generated from uniform sales now trumps everything else.

  84. My troops position on the uniform when I was a scout (some 20 years ago) was belt up for “class a”, just the shirt “class b”, and we also had troop shirts that we had designed ourselves to match out custom neckerchiefs. At a SM conference, Class A, at a Board of Review, Class A. Travel to camp Class A. Participating at camp was Class B, or Class C so that our adult staff and SPL could see our kids. Jeans are what we wore to almost every outing except backpacking, and snow camping. The older scout pants were uncomfortable, and the nearest scout store 45 miles away!

  85. Am I the only one with a crew of scouts who love scouting but think the uniform is horrible? They don’t like it and they don’t like wearing it. They think its dorky. I don’t blame them, I do too. I did when I was a kid. I hated my uniform. Not because it was uniform, but because it just looked silly. A handkerchief? Really? Why have they not updated the style in a gazillion years to something that looks even remotely attractive or cool? These are kids that are in baseball and football soccer etc – they have no problems wearing those uniforms. Just the fact is the scouting uniform has not changed and has no appeal to an average kid in my den or pack.

  86. Our policy is belt and up, hat optional, shirt tucked into pants that have loops for the belt (and preferably are close in colour to the official). However, we have made exceptions for boys with sensory issues or other disabilities and never really police them strictly. Most of our youth wear cargo pants in navy blue, some shade of olive-ish green, or grey. Our leaders do the same, and female Cub leaders in particular seem to like blue, so we let them wear blue. We also have made a hat allowance for female Cub leaders for one of the “girlier” hats that is available at our local BSA Council’s store rather than always requiring the Den-appropriate ball-cap.
    For shoes, we simply ask that they be appropriate to the day’s activity…most of our kids own one pair of tennis shoes, one for church that their moms would kill them over if they got muddied hiking or something, and maybe a pair of sandals or flip-flops in the summer, so clean and properly tied tennis shoes it is, generally speaking.
    If they show up with all of the other things competing for their attention (sports, music, friends, girls, etc, etc), we’re happy. We do occasionally have surprise inspections though. The kids who don’t have uniform or full/proper uniform aren’t ridiculed at all, though maybe a jest if they’re not as neat as they could be in the clothes they have on (shoes untied, hands/face visibly dirty, etc…but we make sure our inspector knows them and it’s always in good fun, not a put-down). Those who do have a uniform at the standard of the unit will generally get something for it–anything from getting to go first in a game to a tootsie roll or fruit roll up to a patch duplicate from the inspectors’ collection.
    It works well for us and teaches what we believe the uniforming method is meant to teach, plus with the whole unit being aware of the policy, from Cubs through Scouts and Ventures (our chartering organization sponsors all 3 which share a unit number and most boys will graduate from one to the other seamlessly, with girls occasionally jumping in once they’re 14…we do have a few boys dual-registered in the troop and the crew who work on awards for both as well), it makes it look pretty uniform throughout.

  87. You can not show up to any youth team sport, school or park district, and not be in your full and complete uniform, so why do we turn our cheek in scouting? It does not make sense. Money is not an excuse, it can be earned, or received from a troops uniform recycling program. It is truly a black and white issue. No gray here.

  88. OK why is this being discussed? Page 32 and 33 of the Boy Scout Handbook makes it very clear. Baden-Powell (pronounced ‘Pole’ by the way) has a quote “Show me a poorly uniformed troop and I will show you a poorly uniformed Leader”. The eight method of Scouting is all about the Uniform, its purpose and value to the troop. We have the option of a Scout hat and neckerchief, which by the way truly completes the look and feel along with the service to community and to Scouting. Like our first Eagle Scout, our troop holds fundraising for the uniform as well as the program. After all like our hockey and football and marching bands, the troop seeks to look as one as well. We leaders need to get with it and stop this nonsense. Do you realize it is against the Flag protocol to use the military hand salute, a privilege given to the Boy Scouts of America when out of a complete uniform? It is time for some respect, role model, example setting, and BSA proper attitude.

    One frustrated long time Eagle Scouter

  89. Just asking …Why is it acceptable to wear any type of pants or shorts when one would most certainly not go this route when participating on a sports team or as part of a school marching band? In fact, I am sure that the coach and the music director would each sit the youth out who showed up out of uniform.

    Why is Scouting different?

    • There is no debate. No unit can vote on what they are going to wear outside of their neckerchief and hat. The rest is plainly stated. We are a Field uniform body, and we wear it.

    • I understand the tradition, and the rules. But I have never been much of a follower when it comes to rules when they don’t make sense.

      Many of our pack meetings are group activities that involve athletic endeavors. The uniform is an uncomfortable hot mess for these boys to try do have fun in. It makes no sense that they cannot devise a more comfortable outfit for these boys to wear, that would also update the look into something even remotely stylish. The kerchief and slides are lost, forgotten and misplaced during any event that requires athletics. My boys are often coming straight from football, soccer lacrosse or baseball practice or games. They have no issue with uniforms that serve a purpose for a team event in a competitive endeavor. But the scout uniform is pointless and dorky to most of my boys. And even when they are sitting and learning, taking part in some group activity that is educational, what is the purpose of the uniform. They are not performing and it does not add to their experience.

      Scouting membership has dwindled and continues to do so. Refusal to change, adapt and appeal to boys of a different age, this should be no surprise but yet still seems to be. Scouting’s purpose is not about the uniforms. It is and was about bring boys from the city back to the land nature and the country, introduce them to skills city life does not provide, and master abilities they may not be exposed to otherwise. Don’t get hung up on the uniform, try to find a new way to connect with boys who are of a different mindset than boys 30 years ago, or 60 years ago. Grow the boys, build character. I offer the idea that scouts is shrinking because it does not seem cool or interesting to the boys themselves who do not know much about it, but stiff and uptight. Set in their ways. Old school.

  90. I see a lot of comments about the cost. I would like to know what you would think about a boy coming straight from high school baseball practice to a troop meeting without a uniform? The comment was made to me about him wearing his uniform at our last meeting.

  91. As the Scoutmaster of a new Troop in a rural area with low income parents, my belief has always been that I would rather the Scout be in attendance and gaining experience than nit picking over the uniform. The Troop provides the t-shirts and for us the next step is the A shirt, followed by the hat, belt, and eventually pants. To insist on an upfront uniform cost, in addition to event costs, camping gear, etc is not only cost prohibitive but surely goes down the path of exclusionary behavior. Unlike some commentors here, I will never question a parents ways. If they say they can’t afford something, they cannot afford it. It is interesting to see the diversity in Scouting within this thread. The economic gulf is wide and the wealthy Troops make us all likely to tip over. My objective is to see boys become good men through a program I believe in. Discouraging Scouts or Scouters with nonsensical strictness or, as above, discouraging comments is unacceptable.

  92. As a Cubmaster… I believe in promoting, encouraging, and rewarding through recognition, the wearing of the uniform.
    That said, I hate the convertible pants. Its not the cost, but that dang zipper that kills my knees. I absolutly cannot wear them if the activity involves using or getting on my knees.I have been looking for the old style canvas twill scout pants with the red piping that I wore when I was a boy scout in the late 60s and early 70s. In the mean time, I wear olive green cargo pants similar in style. The only style of official pants that I can see on the scouting uniform stores website are the switchback or convertables. I can understand the boys not wanting to wear them for the same reasons as me, comfort and safety. It also irks my patriotism that the BSA uniform is not ‘Made in America’.

  93. Oh what a bunch of “BALONEY” . . .
    If you are a scout, you should be in uniform PERIOD. Any excuse about the cost is simply a convenient excuse. Most if not every single youngster that I see is wearing sneakers that are extremely pricey… how much is pricey? $50+. As well as brand name clothing. If you want to be in the “scouts” SAVE some money and buy the uniform. Your only excuse would be that you are unemployed and don’t receive Unemployment Insurance. And if that is the case, then you would probably be able to find donated uniforms if you had to.

  94. Comment threads like this make me wonder if I should remove my son from scouting now, if I made a mistake allowing him to join. My understanding was that it would help encourage good character, not bullying and insults. Especially since he has a hard time wearing anything other than super-soft clothes, I wonder how long it will be before he will be on the receiving end of some of this vitriol from someone.

  95. Every year I donate to the Christmas gift drive at my workplace, giving to families poor enough they request _clothes_ for their kids as the main Christmas present.

    You betcha, when they ask for shoes, I getthem nice ones. The kid ought to get a little joy out of a literally-pedestrian Christmas gift…and they also need to be sturdy to last a long time. Also, $50 shoes can be gotten for quite a lot less with enough care and sales-hunting, or could be second-hand. (I am often able to track down a good deal, and pay way less than you’d think for those nice shoes I give.)

    I realize sales-hunting and second-hand are also options for Scouting gear, but I don’t think an ask that specific is something you get through these clothing drives – and without a specific ask, who would give Scouting gear, not even knowing if the kid _was_ a Scout? (These things are all anonymized – we know the age/size and gender, and _maybe_ first name, but we’ve never met the kid and have no way to contact them.)

    I hope my generosity hasn’t lead to anyone judging that their family priorities are out of whack, when all they said was ‘pair of shoes, boys, size 12.5’ or whatever. I find that a very disheartening thought.

  96. Do school activities such as football , choir and stem activities come first before Boy Scouts. I’m having a dilemma because my son wants to do other school activities along with boy scout. This is his senior year. Also, he has 4 months to go before he receives his Eagle.

  97. I have two 6 year olds joining Cub Scouts. When I looked on the web for uniforms, I was appalled at the prices. $130 for a 6 year olds uniform is ridiculous. They only meet once a month for 9 months out of the year. I decided to order them the $10 orange Tiger Scout t-shirt instead. Also, how can the Boy Scouts insist the pants are apart of the uniform? One of my kids is Autistic and those pants are not sensory friendly. The other child wears an 8 Husky, but that size is not even offered. The bottom line is the cost of the uniforms, are enough to keep some families out of Scouting, and that is sad.

  98. Good grief, the people and arguments in this thread are prime examples of why I nearly quit when I was in scouts, why the organization as a whole has been dropping numbers drastically, and why I (and many other former scouts) have questioned whether or not to even bring my son into it. Someone up above mentioned being bullied, and that’s exactly what many of the commenters here are – bullies and nothing more. What is more important – that the scout fits your mold and shows up in your full uniform or that the scout grows up to be a good member of society? Too many people here seem to equate the former with being a requirement of the latter. Sorry, but that way of thinking went the way of the dodo twenty plus years ago. If Boy Scouts as an organization is going to survive, it needs to adapt with the times, and the number of people commenting here with this “do it the way it was done 50 years ago or else” attitude are exactly who are going to kill this organization.

  99. For a recent rank advancement I asked that the scouts wear their black slacks and dress shoes with their uniform shirts and everyone did. I also bought all of the black web belts to match. A few only had gray slacks but the overall result looked sharp.
    Although kids may grow out of their pants quickly I believe that no matter what, the parents will usually make sure their kids have pants to wear to church.

  100. We’re belt up.
    Most kids wear jeans.
    People can generally tell that we’re cub scouts.

    When uniforms are provided – like for school sports teams – they function as an “equalizer”, when you have to pay $150 for them, they prevent some kids from participating. You “can’t tell the rich kids from the poor kids” because the poor kids aren’t there.

    The shirts seem necessary as they provide troop/den identification and are the most visually identifiable component. The belts show the scouts accomplishments.
    The pants cost significantly more than they should, don’t function any differently than any other pants, and don’t look significantly better than jeans.

7 Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. New York OA Trader | Shared Items From Around The Web – June 17, 2011
  2. Bryan on Scouting – A Blog for BSA Adult Leaders |
  3. Is an older Scout who wears his uniform in public committing ‘social suicide?’ Weigh in on one Scoutmaster’s policy « Bryan on Scouting
  4. Your uniform questions, all sewn up « Bryan on Scouting
  5. Tuck everlasting: Scout uniform shirts should always be tucked in, BSA says « Bryan on Scouting
  6. In Troop 501, wearing jeans with the Scout uniform fits just fine
  7. When encouraging proper uniforming becomes unkind

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