When should Scouts wear hats indoors?

Tuesday-TalkbackWear your hat outside; don’t wear your hat inside.

Seems simple, but it’s not that easy. Take, for example, this exception from the BSA’s Guide to Awards and Insignia [PDF]:

Official headgear may be worn while the unit or individual is participating in an indoor formal ceremony or service duty, except in religious institutions where custom forbids.

Typical indoor activities of this type are flag ceremonies, inspections, orderly duty, or ushering service. In any informal indoor activity where no official ceremony is involved, the headgear is removed as when in street clothes.

There are ceremonial reasons for leaving headgear on, but there are practical ones, too. Requiring boys to remove their hats at the beginning of a Cub Scout pack or den meeting likely would result in most of those boys losing their hats by the meeting’s end. Tough to misplace a hat if it’s on your head.

Social customs are changing, too. There was a time when men removed their hats when in the presence of a woman, but those days have passed — for better or worse.

What I’m saying is the answer isn’t black and white. So let’s discuss this gray area in this week’s Tuesday Talkback. Tell me: What’s your unit’s hat policy? And how’d you decide it?

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“No Hats” photo from Flickr: Some rights reserved by Rusty Clark


    • For me this is like the jacket and tie conversation. I’ll be 50 thus coming year, so both in, and out, of scouting I was brought up to remove head gear when indoor. With that having been said, everything we choose to teach in this program should have a purpose. When I questioned why hats were removed indoors, as a child, I was told “out of respect”. Hmm, ok, I get removing my hat out of respect in church, at a funeral, or when Old Golry is paraded past, but at the quickie mart, dining hall, school, or post office? Yes, I was taught, and do this, but why?

    • I do not use the term “religious head gear” since that implies a head covering that is recognizably associated with a religion, such as a kippah or a hijab. However, particularly in Jewish law, the type of head covering is not dictated, just that the head is covered in certain circumstances, which will vary according to the gender of the person in question and to which denomination within Judaism they follow. For many, the custom is to cover the head in some fashion when praying, making oaths or pledges, and when studying or discussing religious matters. The head covering itself isn’t dictated and can be any regular Scout hat, a kippah, a headscarf or wide headband. For many more observant Jewish women, the head covering question also involves their marital status and being in the presence of a man who isn’t her husband or immediate family member. She can use a wig in place of what you would recognize more readily as a head covering. I use the Jewish tradition since it is a fairly common example and not as unknown as the traditions of some of the smaller faith communities. So, when I introduce prayer in a meeting, I ask those whose practice involves covering the head for prayer to do so and all others to remove their head coverings. I keep a scarf in my bag to swap out for my ball cap style hat or my bush style hat that I use for Scout activities. If I am wearing the wool beret, I will typically leave it on all the time.

  1. Indoors without ceremony- hats off. My kids have been taught that since they were little. I’m the Grandson of a police sergeant, and hats were removed as you walked in a door. They even gave my father in law a hard time when he wore his ball cap into the Eagles Club for a fish fry “Grampa, you take your hat off inside!”
    For ceremonies- if it is part of the uniform, it stays. Cubs…make it a game to stack the hats neatly or something like that.

  2. If I can get the boys to remember their hats, I win. When they do have them I rarely ask them to remove them. Although we enforce the customs of wherever we are, like most mess halls at camp, hat off boys!

    • That was my pet peeve at summer camp. All the boys with hats on at the dinner table. My grandma and my mother would skin me alive if I wore a hat inside at the dinner table or inside during prayer. They would let it slide if we were outside during prayer or inside for anything other than at prayer or a meal.

  3. I see no merit in the “everybody’s doing it” approach. Everybody walks around with their shirts untucked and their pants around their knees, let’s do that, too.
    Scouts can come up with excuses for themselves, they don’t need us doing it for them with fluff like “losing their hats.” Clip them on a belt loop. It’s that easy, now we see why excuses are thought of negatively.
    That said, we meet in a non-religious part of our CO, it’s a cinder block room where nothign happens except our meetings, so sometimes it’s a couple minutes before I get my hat off. When some schnook jumps on me about my hat while I’m in the middle of a conversation or trying to get something done, it puts me through the ceiling.

  4. I like the idea of hats off inside, but practically this would be difficult to keep track of the hat. I have Cub Scouts and at the end of the meeting, I usually have two or three handbooks that the boys forget to take with them.

    My understanding from this discussion, they only need their hats at den and pack meetings that are inside. Then what is the point of having them wear their hat when they are at den and pack meetings?

      • They should only wear their hats at indoor den and pack meetings if they are part of the color guard. If they are part of the audience the hats off.

    • Part of being a scout is learning to be responsible for you personal items. Cub Scout age boys are old enough to learn to keep track of their personal items. yes, some will forget them but that is no excuse for wearing a hat in doors. Hats go off when you walk through the door. Carry them in you hand, clip them to you belt loop, or tuck them behind you in your wast band. We need to stop making excuses and start making the young men responsible for themselves and their personal gear.

  5. Hats off in da house! Wipe your feet on the mat! Bow (or at least nod gratefully) to the host!

    It’s easy for us because our boys don’t wear uniform hats in general. So ceremonies proceed without hats.

    Old school dictates that ladies may wear headgear indoors. (I suppose that stems from religious custom.) But I’ve never had to bring the issue up with my female venturers. So, fellow advisors, has it ever come up with you?

    • My understanding is woman keep hats on indoors stems from hat pins and hairstyles being effected by the hat. Since that doesn’t apply to a Scout hat all of our female cub leaders remove them.

      • During Woodbadge I told one of the staffers that in my church, women don’t take their hats off when bowing in prayer, indoors or out, that it felt strange for me to just follow the crowd and take my hat off. He said that I should feel free to keep it on. And now I do.

  6. Hats off inside….hoods too! Pants up, shirts tucked in. We’re teaching these young men how to behave in the real world….not confuse them. Names should be written inside hats. Problem solved.

  7. We have our Scouts remove headgear when indoors unless part of a color guard or there is a ceremonial reason to wear it. Our Cubs learn to hook their hats to their belt loop, otherwise they tend to go missing, airborne, etc.

  8. “Non-religious head gear”

    Please be aware that any head covering satisfies the religious requirement to cover the head.

  9. My son was kicked out of a Troop because his Scoutmaster insisted he wear his Troop (not BSA uniform) hat in a consecrated house of God where its adult male members did not wear head wear. My son moved on and earned Eagle. But in this conversation, remember the social rules apply (applied) to adults. In the Cub Scout program, the Cubs are treated as juveniles and therefore it is proper for Cub Scouts to wear head gear in most buildings. As for Boy Scouts and Ventures (male and female), they are treated more adult like and should follow the custom or social protocol for adults. Unless the building’s owners custom or policy states otherwise, head gear should be removed as the BSA guideline states.

  10. Growing up in through scouts, I’ve looked back at my photos, we always wore our hats inside for pack, troop, den and patrol meetings. It was on unless we took it off, but we hardly ever lost them. It was acceptable to wear them indoors. With that we also knew that when we went to a church or dining hall or any other indoor function, the hat came off. There were no exceptions. It didnt matter what your hair looked like or where you were. Its just the way it goes. I do not see a problem with wearing a hat while at specific meetings. Yes times are changing, and I see the way more and more people are wearing the hat indoor when they shouldn’t, but I also see a lack luster of respect and organization for wearing the uniform properly. I see more and more, jeans and athletic shorts with a shirt half tucked in. No scout belt, no scout pants or shorts and no scout socks. This is the most disheartening for me, it shows a lack of respect for the group and those before you. There is no excuse to be dressed like that. I know its not all troops or packs but there are many that I have seen. This should be the bigger issue than hats worn inside.

  11. Unless there is a religious reason, covers are removed when inside. Clip your cap to your belt loop or a caribiner if you don’t want to adjust it. I learned to stick the bill of a ball cap inside the back of my pants. Fold the bill and shove it in your back pocket. Take your pick, just not on your head when inside.

    • Its not the lack of respect for the full uniform. Most of our boys do good to be able to afford just the shirt and patch’s to be a part of the troop. Scout wear has out priced itself for its intentions. Full uniform with all the patch’s would probably cost over $150. Now thats alot for a boy 11yrs ol! Thats alot for me!!

  12. Do most Troops require headgear? We found that hats go in and out of style and boys only want to wear them when they’re in style. It’s not really a big deal to anyone in our troop, so we do not require hats. There are a few boys who wear them but we have no requirement.

  13. I can’t tell you how many times even experienced Scouters told me to remove my hat (when in full uniform) outdoors for the flag ceremony. I just kept it on and rendered the Scout salute.

    • That’s a great point. I can tell you every year at Cub Day Camp, on the first morning flag ceremony on the first day, you always hear the parents in attendance telling the Scouts to remove their caps, only to be met with a quick, “No!” from the staff, who remind everyone that whatever hat you’re wearing is the official uniform cap for that moment, and that it should remain on. I’ve seen that same thing followed at multiple camps, Cub and Boy Scout, at multiple campgrounds and in multiple councils.

      • If the cap/hat is official BSA, the Scout can wear it for an outdoor flag ceremony. If it is unofficial, it is removed. I had an issue decided what to do with the “plain” off white hat I was issued at Wood Badge. During Wood Badge, we kept them on for the outdoor ceremonies. In between weekends, I had a Bear patch sewn on the front & still occasionally wear it at Scout functions. I have decided to remove it at flag ceremonies because it was not officially made by BSA.

        • David!!

          The hat DOES NOT have to carry a BSA logo for it to be “official”. Your Wood Badge hat is a good example. If a local Council, District or unit creates/authorizes a headgear item for its members, ALL members should wear it and it becomes “official wear” as far the BSA is concerned. This is the reason why the Custom Design Catalog are full of various headgear which DOES NOT carry the BSA’s seal anywhere but may carry one or more of the BSA’s indicia. Because only authorized vendors approved by the BSA may make headgear for BSA members, you can be confident that the Wood Badge hat you wore IS OFFICIAL and may be worn as part of the official uniform. Same goes with neckerchiefs. Same goes with jackets and vests. If a BSA authorized vendor created the item, the item is deemed by the Supply Group as an official item.

  14. There is no black and white here, because many of you are quoting societal norms for casual headgear, but fail to realize that uniform headgear has its own code of etiquette as indicated by the body responsible for the uniform, which in this case is the BSA. Do you ever notice the Marines don’t take off their hats when the President boards Marine One, even though hat etiquette says a hat should be removed in the presence of a political leader or foreign dignitary? The reason is because it is part of the full dress uniform and that Marine is part of an honor guard with a specific duty. Those of you saying hats off inside at all times are directly disobeying the guidelines set forth by the BSA. The quote from the original article on when a hat should be worn are the correct answer. They should be worn in any formal ceremony unless doing so would offend religious custom where the ceremony was taking place.

    • Totally agree with what you say. Only wanted to point out it does not say should….it says “may.” Required means you must. Should is not required, but inferred. May is an personal option. Most BSA rules are not black and white, which is why I am calling our local council a lot of times when the people in our Pack want to know what the rules state.

      • Oh and our biggest thing in the Pack in formal functions is conformity…..regardless of what is worn or not, we all try to look the same. Even if you are not in complete uniform, hat or no hat, it looks better when everyone in one single Pack looks the same.

  15. we generally follow the protocol that the only ones who shall wear headgear indoors are those participating in a flag ceremony, all others shall be uncovered.

    actually, I kinda wish the BSA would allow the old style bannana caps (won’t say what we called them in the Navy), those were very easy to keep track of.

    • Craig, Any old uniform is still acceptable, a scout is thrifty. If you group wants to wear the banana cap just find some on ebay. They are out there.

        • I’ve always heard it referred to as a “garrison” cap… you can still find them on eBay or the occasional garage sale. I much preferred them, easily tucked into a belt, and much harder to lose or damage than the baseball cap.

  16. I bet I get a lot of thumbs down on this one. I always want to do the exact opposite of social norms when they don’t have a logical application. So my questions is “Why?” to these social norms.

    Why are women so important that we remove a hat when they happen to be in the room? Hogwash. They seem to love to wear their hats when us men are in the room.
    And maybe my personal belief system inside my religion says I can wear a hat, maybe not. But that’s my choice.

    Maybe we can site some medieval norm with knights and helmets or something. But last I checked, I live in the technology age of the 21st century. If I’m wearing a hat, I’d prefer to leave it on unless it’s making me hot.

    Now if the religious event I’m at or troop I’m with says to take it off in a situation, then I do, obviously. I’m not obnoxious about it. But because grandma or mother or some old social norm tells me it was “polite”, I don’t buy it for the same reason I don’t take castor oil.

    I hold a doors open for a woman (anyone, really) because I’m kind (law 6), not because I’m “supposed to”. I’ll take my hat off because I’m courteous (law 5), not because I’m “supposed to”.

    I’m with the younger generation on this one: give me a good reason and I’ll do it. None of this “you’re supposed to just because” junk.

  17. Problem was mute when the official Boy Scout head gear was the Overseas type fore and aft cap. It could be tucked in your belt.

    • Now this would be a cool thing to add, something that allows a clip on to a belt built into the hat. The hat I normally wear has a chin strap so it hangs on my back. But some design, addition, clip, specialized accessory would be a cool feature for the Scout Shop to include into the baseball cap design. An idea for the Invention Merit Badge!!!!

  18. In putting together the first edition of the Badge and Uniform Site back in the 90s, much of my email came from “old time Scouters” who first, appreciated that there’s a place online they can point to their peers and say “See, THIS is the right information!” even if it doesn’t appear in a *current Scouting booklet* or handbook. The other part is that the information bares out to what I commonly refer to as “Common Scouter Sense”.

    The information has beared out with five subsequent versions of that unofficial website.

    Bryan asks this question, because the current Uniform and Insignia task force (one of several task forces I find myself assisting) is relooking the question: Just when DO Scouts and Scouters take off their hats (if, like some have posted here, the Troop or Team DECIDES as a unit that they SHOULD wear a hat!) and are asking you and I, fellow Scouters for *what our policy* is.

    Here’s the answer I provided both on the Badge and Uniform Site, and to the seventeen people who posted to me today (no, I don’t know the answer to the “Giraffe Riddle” and even if I did, it’s a fun way to interact with others electronically!).

    This is from one of my favorite references — the BSA’s “Scout Courtesy, Customs and Drills”, which was printed in 1942 and as I stated earlier, provides a lot of “Common Scouter Sense”. Yes, I’ve shared this resource with the Uniform and Insignia task force (and before that the Committee), but it never got past the “that’s nice” stage.

    Your mileage may vary.

    “The Scout hat is an integal and essential part of the Scout Uniform. In many ways it is its most distinctive feature, one which even at considerable distance proclaims that its wearer is a Scout.”

    (they are speaking, of course, to the “broad-brimmed hat” we later called the “Smokey the Bear” hat. It is still “legal” and “official” to wear, BTW.)

    “The Scout hat should be worn at all times that the Uniform is worn. The Scout or Scouter removes his hat, however, in the prescence of ladies or upon entering a home, church, school building, office or indoor public gathering. At church and school assemblies where Scouts are in formation, leaders by prearrangement may indicate that Scouts will remove their hats upon entering the building.

    At Scout meetings, Courts of Honor, circuses, camps and camporees, the leaders should determine the custom to be followed according to the circumstances.

    Scouts attending a funeral service in uniform should remove their hats, unless otherwise requested.

    While marching or standing in a Color Guard, Scouts wear their hats at all times.”

    This information, in more detail, is also found at http://www.scoutinsignia.com/hats.htm

    Hope this helps out….

  19. I have my scouts uncover when indoors. Learned that in the Army – ‘all who enter covered here shall buy the house a round of cheer’ was how they enforced it at em, nco and officer;s clubs.

    When we were at camp this summer one of the commissioners reminded all entering the dining hall to doff their hats.

    As to where to put them, a ball cap bill fits nicely when tucked into the pants at the small of the back. You don’t lose it either.

  20. When I was a leader in Australia, hats were worn for opening and closing and off in between. Don’t see many with hats other than at camp. Definitely off at non-ceremony times

  21. I know that I’m probably in the minority on this one, but despite the ‘good ole days’ of courtesy (the tipping of hats to ladies ‘n such) I also know that the times they are a changin’ (and) I probably have a little rebel in me too. 🙂 I think that way too many scouts are reading far too deep into this controversy and where such energies could be better spent on more critical life lessons.

    While I will always support caps being removed at ‘formal’ gatherings such as church services, O.A. banquets, or Eagle scout ceremonies (even the most rebellious scouts can understand that), …at the same time I also find it completely normal & respectful for a scout to keep his headgear on indoors at ‘casual’ gatherings such as at troop meetings, camp dining halls, or during indoor summer camp classes, etc.

    To me it’s just making mountains outta mole hills. And oh… (just an observation) but the next time someone makes it a point to bring the next gathering to a complete halt to embarrass those with hats on, I would find it much more accepting IF the person asking were holding ‘their’ own hat in their hand. Interesting that it’s usually the ones who never wear a hat. LOL

    Meantime, I sure would appreciate the courtesy of allowing me to sport my headgear and in-turn, I will also respect your ‘courtesy’ in choosing to remove yours. It’s really just not that big a deal IMO.

      • Dave ‘n Mike, what you may not realize: when you keep your hat on for no other reason than to “sport your headgear” is that you are implying to your host that “the roof that you have provided does not give me sufficient honor.”

        Now maybe your host won’t take that meaning. But what do you want to teach your boys? To leave open the possibility that their host will wonder if they are grateful? To make their host wait for an opportunity to be honored in a different way? Or, to choose a simple, common, gesture that, without words, says “I’m really glad to be here, thanks for the roof!”?

        • I have never in my life heard what you describe as dissing a host by wearing a hat. Nor would I ever think that of a person if they were to come into my house. Heck, down here in the South, women still wear hats inside the church building.

          I guess we live in different cultures. So I disagree with your premise that I’m implying anything with anyone by wearing a hat. Nor would I think that I’m teaching that to Scouts. I don’t read all of that into hat wearing like you do.

        • Well, we all know that religion changes everything! Women wear hats because they don’t want to wear veils like St. Paul told them to. 😉
          Likewise, men wear headgear to synagogue (thus the yamaka).

          But we’re not talking about temple. We’re talking the roof that someone took the trouble to put over your head so you could enjoy the meal or chat or watch the game with out the depredations of sun or sky. And just because you’re a gracious enough host to not think less of a fella, doesn’t mean that everyone other host is. What makes it worse, is that probably the folks who we’d want to offend the least are the ones least likely to say anything about it. So, isn’t it better to teach boys to act in ways that command respect, and leave their hat off until the host says they may do otherwise?

        • While the subject is open what about women wearing hats, at a troop meeting a scout knocked my hat off….during the pledge an oath. (yeah I was shocked) Women don’t remove hats…Men do….right???

        • Well, Barb, traditionally a woman’s head covering communicated submission to her husband’s authority. So it’s you’re call! 🙂

          Me, personally, I figure I got about as much business telling a lady to remove her at as I do telling her to tuck her shirt in.

          I just know for my part, half the fun of this wide brimmed leather hat of mine is removing it when I go inside or get on a bus. The other half is tipping it at the ladies when I walk down he street. 😉

        • Maybe this is the answer I’m looking for, as to why hats are taken off indoors, maybe not. No disrespect intended, but I’ve never been told this before, and it sounds like an outdated custom from a time long past. I don’t think this is relevant to the 21st century; we have to look to the future.

  22. Tsk, Tsk, Tsk…. The subject of “Hat Courtesy” goes back at least 400 years. For our purposes, the short answer to the original question is… “It depends” .
    Back in the 1600’s, in England and in many other european countries, folks that had a hat on (and the wearing of hats had as much to do with unwashed hair as with anything else), were expected to take it off as a sign of respect to their “social superiors. There was no law about it , it was just expected, and if you didn’t you might be hauled before the local Magistrate and thrown in jail. Quakers were the first to challenge this, they chose to treat all as equal before God. And were thrown in jail for their timerity.
    So Jews wear their hats in temple, and elsewhere, “church ladies” wear theirs seemingly everywhere, oldtime male Quakers would wear their hats in Meeting (worship), taking them off only if moved of the Spirit to stand and speak a message. Sihks wear theirs everywhere, so do our Muslim brothers, if they wear any. Our military direct that theirs be doffed indoors, unless in a ceremony.
    My Woodbadge cap kept the sun out of my eyes and rain off my head, but got tucked into my back belt when I entered the “barn”, my Quaker sensitivities not withstanding. I took my hat off not out of “respect” for any person, but as part of the expected routine.
    So, “it depends”.

  23. Our troop allows boys to wear scouting hats at meetings but nothing else. We tell them if it’s not a scout hat, don’t wear it to a troop meeting in the first place and you won’t lose it!

    • This is an informative post, and makes me suspect our hat policy came from our early ties to the military. Honestly, having a hat policy that mandates anything other than ceremonial use is likely to run afoul of many groups religous, cultural, and geographic customs.

  24. I am regularily asked/told/demanded that I take off my hat during prayers at Troop meetings, Scouting prayers at Camp, meal times, etc. At any given “time” the organizers and participants of the prayer, whether it is said or not, should assume that people are going to follow their own customs. I regularily take off my hat at/during Flag ceremonies, but rarely/never do during Prayer times. I am a Pagan Scouter and do have such customs. It is not enough to say “please remove non-religious headgear” but should rather said, “please present yourself to your own religious customs”. I tend to temporarily move myself away from others when praying anyways. Most times it is a Christian prayer, most bow their heads and cross their arms or hold their hands together in front of them. While I raise my hands towards the sky looking practically straight up smiling towards my Gods, hat on or off doesnt matter to them

  25. I grew up in military-sponsored Scout units and the rules I was taught were that UNIFORM hats are not the same as other hats. If a hat is part of a uniform (like a Cub Scout Hat), it is to be worn at all times and only removed while sitting for a meal at a table, or for a prayer – never removed just because you enter a building, and never removed in a flag ceremony.

    However if a hat is a scout hat but not part of the official uniform, it should be removed when entering a building, sitting to eat, praying and for flag ceremonies.

    That’s the message I pass on to my Cub Scouts….

  26. To be honest, we really do not enforce or have a hats off policy EXCEPT when we are at Scout Camp in the mess hall or we are doing something within the sanctuary of our church. Everyone is in and out and patrols are doing stuff, so unless we are doing the flags at the beginning of the meeting/end of the meeting, in which we never say anything. Our scouts know that they’re in Class B or street clothes and remove their headgear without being asked.

  27. In my Cub Scout pack, if the Scout’s family spends the money to buy a hat I let them wear it. If we were required to take them off indoors (an old custom I’m glad is going away) I would tell every one of them not to waste their money on hats. The vast majority of our meetings are indoors, particularly during the wet and cold Seattle winters. On the subject of hats though I really wish Cub Scouts had a single hat again. Why have the expense of multiple ones? We can distinguish them by their neckerchiefs.

  28. Since it is a uniform, hats should be worn at all times except religious services, and or when volunteering in a hospital or similar facility.

    Non uniform hats off indoors always.

  29. One of the reasons women were allowed to keep hats on is because they were held on with hat pins or bobby pins.
    If I wore a bonnet to church I would keep it on. When I have gone to church in my adult male leader uniform I remove my hat.
    Our pack allows them to be worn during pack meetings which are held in school hall.

  30. When I was Scoutmaster taking my unit to BSA summer camps in the Bible Belt, I became infuriated during Scout’s Own Ceremonies by local people who kept haranguing my Jewish adult leaders and youths to remove their hats for prayer. “Prepare for prayer as it is your custom” does not mean that if a scout or scouter is not following YOUR custom, does not mean they are not following THEIR custom. So it is NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS. If you are so worried about their lack of courtesy, check your own. The Scout Law applies to everyone, it is not just one way. The hat on/off issue is a non-issue in my book, except when someone else takes umbrage, and then I usually go with the opposite of what they are trying to coerce me into. Or I might comply momentarily, and then have a followup conversation with the Camp Director.

  31. Bum Philips was coach of the Houston Oilers that use to play in the Astrodome. He was famous for his cowboy hat on the sidelines, that is until his mom got a hold of him. She asked him if she hadn’t taught him better manners than to wear a hat inside. He tried to write it off as a sports arena and not the same. Her reply was if it had a ceiling over his head it was indoors and he needed to take his hat off.

    While society isn’t as unaccepting of hats indoors as they were not to long ago, as a veteran, and as someone who sees scouting as a way to refine manners in our boys on their way to manhood, little things like taking your hats off inside are the things that will stand out. Let’s face it scouting is not about being mainstream, but about being good people with good morals and manners.

    As for what to do with those cub scout hats during the meeting? Teach them to tuck them in the back of their pants (that’s what I still do when I walk into a building),or put a clip on their scout belt so they can hook them there and not forget them. We can always make excuses for bad manners, but that’s not what scouting is about.

  32. I don’t understand why it matters to take them off when inside. It’s so silly! For me, it’s hats on whenever, except when not in uniform and the National Anthem is playing. This seems like an old time custom to me that makes no sense and needs to change.

    • “It depends”. Watch a parade thru Lancaster PA. Any watching Amish will not remove their hats when the US flag goes by. They do not consider the US flag as an “idol” to be worshipped, or to be “respected”, anymore than they would doff their hats to another human, no matter what their social “rank” or position. Are they to be harrassed for their religious belief that the “hat courtesy” is not something to “obey”?

  33. The way that I have learned it is that if the hat is part of the uniform and you are attending a troop meeting then the hat can stay, but for me just to be safe I remove my hat in any building that I go into, when ever I am on the grounds of any religious building, even if it is not my own religion just out of respect to God. Having worked food service I can understand those that do have hats on in a dining hall but I also know that when they sit down at the table to eat they do not need hats on (those working at a scout dining hall). Also any time that I would have a conversation I will remove my hat.

    The main reason that I feel that this should be taught is because our boys need to be taught to respect one another and that small action of removing ones hat shows that respect.

  34. We wear hats all the time except at indoor meals and religious services. We have the scout’s first name printed boldly on the back that really helps us slow to learn leaders remember their names.

  35. Hats are one thing but I got jumped on by a Scout for wearing my hair tied back with a bandana. I was taught the rules for headgear were different for men and women and in general I take off a cap the same time as the guys but a bandana? I folded it up like a headband and was still jumped on. Where is the line on what is considered a hat/cap?

  36. Our Summer Camp always has the boys remove hats when in the lodge. Other rooms and cabins allow them to choose. This allows them to pick and choose when they think respect needs to be higher (such as in a formal setting) or when they need to be lower.

  37. Hat’s off. Scouting is modeled after the military and it is a military custom. We teach our scouts to tuck the bill of the hat behind their back in their pant waistband….just like we did in the military. Hats off and not lost. win win.

  38. We had quite the discussion, bordering on argument, with a parent about this once. We ask our Cubs to take their hat off in the building. One boy consistently refused. He was a difficult Scout who constantly went against pack rules and in general wore his uniform any way he wanted, usually un-tucked. When one of our Den Chief’s snatched it off of his head at a meeting (from behind) he got rather upset. He said “Daddy says I can wear it this way.”. Daddy was a den leader and he too wore his hat in the building in spite of knowing what pack rules were. One meeting “Daddy” pulled about Scout rules on his smart phone and read the top portion that Scouts could wear their hats inside. Not the rest, just the first part. That justified his position and we gave up.

    My son is in the military and he is well aware of the rules of when and where to wear your “cover”. He is an Eagle and with those two things combined hats indoors are a pet peeve to him. We try to have to boys take off their hats but after the last issue our Cubmaster doesn’t push the issue as it just doesn’t seem to be worth the fight. We do have one parent who is recovering from cancer and, although he is in remission, still wears his hat. Some of it is because of his work but I think he has gotten into the habit of wearing a hat most of the time.

  39. We are training the kids to become gentlemen, correct? A gentleman always removes his hat indoors, except when required to be covered for a religious or another specific ceremony.
    BTW, warehouses and hangars don’t count as indoors; restaurants and stores do.

    The only exception in civil society is out west, where large cowboy hats are often worn indoors as finding a place to hang them is problematic.

    The problem has only surfaced with the dumbing down of society and egotistical baby boomers trying to hide their bald spots with baseball caps.

  40. Despite what is becoming the norm, it is still respectful to remove your hat indoors. The excuse that “everyone is doing it” does not work. Scouts are to uphold respect and honor and be the exception not follow the crowd.

  41. Friend Morley: As in many things, “It depends”. It depends on what organization you are in, and what the “official” requirements are. It depends on what your faith might require in it’s traditions and rites. It depends on the physical requirements of the situation (pouring down rain? Sub zero temperatures? Indoors? Outdoors?).
    As has been mentioned above, many faiths require a head covering, both indoors and out, male and female. Some faiths require the head covering be removed in certain situations but not in others. Some , the males are concerned but not the females. In other faiths, it is the reverse.
    Color guard, in uniform? Not in color guard? Prayer offered? What is a uniform? At camp, a camp tshirt and shorts and camp cap may be the uniform.
    And then we can get into the problems of saying the so called “pledge of allegiance” or not…. another time.
    Good Scouting to you!

  42. I teach my boys that they need to be respectful and neat in their uniform then let them decide what that means. Our CO is a religious one, but we have several members of our Scouting Units who are not members of our church. Because of this, we’ve stopped asking for hats to be removed for any reason, but have asked that they be official (though if a Bear is still wearing his Wolf hat, good enough, honestly. Still a BSA hat. We’re not that fussy)

  43. This custom is ridiculous. And not one person here insisting on the “hat off” rule has a legitimate *logical* reason — only that it’s “respectful” and/or “tradition.” Yeah, so was making black people ride in the back of the bus. So was making women stay at home while husbands went to work. How dare blacks challenge white rules? How dare women challenge men’s rules? Those were TRADITIONS! They were showing respect to white folks! Get over yourselves. An uncovered head doesn’t make a gentleman — politeness, manners, kindness, and generosity make a gentleman. Let’s not lose sight of the bigger picture here.

    My son (a 2nd grader Cub Scout) got scolded last night for having his hat on during the flag ceremony — and he got really upset, thinking he did something really bad. He was bawling. And it fires me up because he is a really good kid — perhaps the best behaved in the entire pack. He is kind and generous and deferential. He stands at attention and listens to his elders (while all the other kids are running around being rowdy and disrespectful). That he was lectured for wearing a Cub Scout hat at Cub Scouts — and now wants to quit Cub Scouts — is an absolute joke.

    • Hats are allowed during a Flag Ceremony… so your son was correct in wearing his during the ceremony, and whoever scolded him should look up the actual BSA policy (stated at the beginning of this article.)

  44. Our troop does not have an official troop hat. As we don’t have one, uniform at official occasions means no hats. And taking off your hat when you pray or going inside for meals at camp shouldn’t become some kind of debate. A scout is courteous and obedient. Simple as that. If an adult leader asks you to take off your hat, you should do so. No adult leader should ever demean or scold a scout, but simply and quietly explain that we follow the scout law – and courtesy and obedience to adult instruction are a part of that. Scouters – like scout should be kind and courteous too.

  45. Some religions (like ours) require covered heads. My son is tired of some well-meaning but obtuse Scout or Scouter taking his hat off for him during prayer at events. Should I make assumptions about your faith and actively put a hat on you during prayer? Of course not. So get your booger hooks off my hat and head during prayer. One of these days someone’s going to lose teeth…but I’ll wait until the prayer is over. A Scout is Courteous.

  46. The tradition of removing a hat upon entering a building (except when “under arms” in the military) is simply a sign of respect for the hostess or host. Similar signs of respect include pulling your vehicle over to the side of the road whe a funeral procession passes, or saluting the American flag when it passes by in a parade, or standing when singing America the Beautiful… or removing one’s hat when eating a meal. Our scouts should be taught these signs of respect because they are important to being good citizens.

  47. I just think that this is not that important in the whole scheme of things. It amazes me, however, that there is a personality type that gets a dopamine release from telling someone, “hats off inside”.

  48. Another scouter got physical over this issue. My council closed a camp that offered Kosher Dining Halls. Not being Orthodox I will eat the regular food. The staff announced at each meal that Thad are not permitted in the dining hall. My practice is to wear my hat at least through grace as it is a prayer. Someone didn’t approve of my personal interpretation of my observance drceided to remove my hat for me and push me as well. Not the scouting way in my opinion.

  49. This is very interesting. Before I go into my input, I feel that I should admit that I’m 16 and I’ve always just taken my hat off because I was told to. That being said, I always take my hat off inside a religious building of any kind because there are people who have fought and died for the right to have a place to worship. No matter the BSA protocol, I will never violate my own morals, particularly when it comes to my religion.

    Recently, I have been doing a lot of research on what the original guidelines are as they were later out in 1910. Through this I have found that the majority of the customs that we as scouts follow today are rooted in military customs. As far as I am concerned I think that we should stop looking at the social norms of today and think about where we came from. We wear hats today because hats were part of the uniform of the army in 1910. The uniforms issued then closely resembled that of the army. In fact, in the 1920s there was a law made that said that no organization can have a uniform that resembles that of the US Army other than the BSA. This leads me to believe that we should look at what the army does as far as hats on or off in buildings. Unfortunately, at this point I don’t know what the protocol is in this are but I plan to research it further.

  50. Usually we’ve always taken our hats off for flag ceremonies, and non-uniform hats off for fall-in when inside, same as jackets and coats.
    Outside we sometimes allow headgear to stay on during flag ceremonies, usually when it’s too cold to do otherwise.
    I agree that removing headgear is a sign of respect, but requiring people to remove headgear every time they walk inside makes no sense. For a flag ceremony it’s a sign of respect to the flag and country, and for other ceremonies it would work the same way. But removing headgear inside, what are we trying to respect?

  51. As an Orthodox Jewish woman my hair is covered at all times either by a wig, a hat, or a scarf. My husband and sons who are also Orthodox Jews and their heads are also always covered either by a hat or a yamulka. I think when discussing this issue we should remember the points of the scout law that refer to be kind, courteous, and reverent!

    • I was a committee chair of a troop of Orthodox Jewish boys . It hats on wherever. I was pleased at our last OA induction the Inductions Vice Chief announced before grace to ” prepare yourself as is your custom”

  52. I have not actually had an “Official Hat Policy” for my Troop in the last 29 years. Scouts have just taken their hats off on their own as the enter the meeting room and it has not been an issue. I see Scout hats as part of the uniform and therefor permissible. Wearing them in ceremonies however I do insist that either we all wear them, and the same one, or we don’t. I believe that we, as Leaders, must set the example in our uniforms but we must also teach our Scouts the importance of what we do. I would not want to exclude a Scout, for example, because he did not have a hat. The hat is not the priority.

  53. It’s really just a hat so keeping with common sense events I actually encourage for meetings any kind of hat…to include silly hat month. Listen, I get it, we remove when we pray, eat, and so forth but think of it this way….this is nowhere BSA set in stone so until it is, leave it to the Cubmaster/Scoutmaster to make the call. As leaders we want to teach the boys values while having lots of fun….not being difficult or setting rules regarding wearing a hat. Let common sense dictate.

    • I stand corrected on the policy….looks like there is one however, what defines “official headgear”? I certainly want to do what’s right either way.

  54. Interesting. I have a 15 year old and a 10 year old who are both in scouts and both play baseball, basketball and golf. My oldest wears a hat continually except to school or church. He wears it at scout meetings and I never thought a thing about him. Honestly he wears it so much I don’t even notice. He does remove it for the national anthem and prayer wherever he is, and doesn’t wear it during basketball games. My youngest doesn’t like hats and only wears it during baseball practice and games and immediately removes it any other time. He does not wear it at cub scouts but the rest do. I would never think wearing it inside was disrespectful.

  55. I’ve been taking portraits of Eagle Scouts for display at out local council now for almost 25 years. I can count on one hand the number of boys who wore a hat of some kind in their picture. Thinking about scouting functions both indoor and out door over the last year… I don’t remember many of the boys wearing hats at all. When doing Fly Fishing merit badge, I insist on wearing a hat as a safety measure.

  56. Hats serve no purpose indoors, so there is no reason to wear one. A hat or hood tends to hide the eyes from hosts, guests and comrades; making you seem less open, honest, and approachable. Hats also carry the dirt of outdoors to the indoors, which can be removed by removing the hat. Removal of the hat, therefore, conveys honesty and consideration.

    Courtesy and friendship have always been conveyed by lowering one’s guard, much the same as submissive postures of animals that meet. Removal of headgear is a similar offering of vulnerability, thus friendship.

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