On wearing a kilt with the Scout uniform

expertlogo1Kilts, the knee-length Scottish garments traditionally worn on formal occasions, are gaining popularity for everyday wear. But what about wearing a kilt with a Scout uniform?

Over the past few months, several pro-kilt Scouters have asked that very question.

For example, here’s Marcus B. from the Cascade Pacific Council:

The question

What is the BSA policy on wearing the MacLaren Kilt with the BSA uniform? It is my understanding the MacLaren Clan has authorized it to wear with the uniform. But is the policy from the BSA? Is this a subjective part of the rules, or unit discretion? I am also on staff for Wood Badge this year and wanted to wear it for that as well.



The answer

For the answer, I asked the expert: BSA’s Awards and Recognition Committee, of which Larry Cunningham is the chairman. This committee controls the BSA Guide to Awards and Insignia. They respond:

There is not a reference to pants worn with the field uniform in the current Guide to Awards and Insignia.

The Boy Scout Uniform Inspection Sheet and the Adult Leader Inspection Sheet provide the only guidance.

The Boy Scout Uniform Inspection Sheet (No. 34283) specifies:

“Pants/Shorts: Official pants or official uniform pants or shorts; no cuffs. (Units have no option to change.)”

The Adult Leader Inspection Sheet (No. 34048) specifies:

“Pants/Shorts. Units have no option to change. Male Cub Scout and Boy Scout leaders wear the official pants or the official uniform shorts or pants with no cuffs. Female Cub Scout leaders wear the pants or the official navy blue shorts, skirt or pants with the yellow blouse, or the official pants or official uniform shorts or pants with the official shirt or blouse.”

The Venturing program does not address the issue as to an official uniform. Venturers have been suggested to wear the dark green shirt and gray pants/shorts. But the uniform of each Crew was at the discretion of the members.

Frankly, wearing the kilt is similar to wearing blue jeans. Blue jeans are not the official uniform, but I would venture that a large majority of our youth wear them to meetings.

Personal note: As long as youth are active in a unit, don’t become the uniform police. They can learn skills and have fun in official shorts/pants or blue jeans.

My takeaways

The inspection sheets, specifically the line that “units have no option to change,” seem to indicate that Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts and their leaders should wear the official pants, not a kilt. But those inspection sheets are more guides than the kind of outright rules you’d find in the Guide to Awards and Insignia.

Venturers, it seems, are definitely in the clear to kilt it up.

Regardless of what program you’re in, I’d heed the last line of the committee’s response very carefully.

My inelegant rephrasing: While uniforms are one important thing, they’re far from the most important thing.

Ask the Expert

Find other expertly answered questions here, and ask your own by emailing me.

Photo from 2012 Summit Shakedown by W. Garth Dowling/BSA


  1. Who controls the BSA uniform? The BSA. Is Clan McLaren the BSA? No. Does Clan McLaren have the authority to set uniform policy? No.

    I like clown pants, if I get the American Clowning Association to say they don’t mind if I wear clown pants to Scout meetings that makes it official right? That’s the goofy logic of kilt aficionados.

    You want to wear a kilt, fine. You’re out of uniform like anyone else in half a uniform.

    • BSA already encourages wearing half a uniform. From the Boy Scout Handbook, page 33:

      “The BSA’s official uniform includes a Scout shirt, Scout pants or Scout shorts, Scout belt, Scout socks, and shoes or hiking boots. Your troop may also elect to wear a cap or broad-brimmed hat. . . . Proudly wear your uniform to troop meetings, ceremonies such as courts of honor, and most other indoor troop functions. _When you’re headed outdoors, you can pull on a T-shirt with Scout pants or shorts_, or wear other clothing that is right for the events of the day.”

      Note that a T-shirt is _not_ listed as part of “BSA’s official uniform.” So it is okay (at least outdoors) for Boy Scouts to wear half the official uniform, as long as it is the bottom half. Which gets us back to kilts . . .

      • If you’re wearing a kilt with a Scout shirt – you are out of uniform just the same as wearing blue jeans or camo. There is no discussion. If you are a venturer and the crew has adopted kilts – you’re good to go.

        When are some Scouters going to grow up and just follow our simple rules without whining and crying about their personal, special wants. If you don’t believe in Scouting enough to want to properly and proudly wear the most recognizable uniform on Earth, then why are you in the organization that wears it??

        It’s people like this that are slowly chipping away at the good name of Scouting and selfishly clouding its values and visibility.

        BTW, I am of near fully Scottish ancestory and feel no more that a kilt should be worn than an Amazonian descendent should come to meetings naked.

    • Moody, don’t be so rude. True kilts are not apart of the official uniform now but I have seen many pictures of baden Powell wearing one. So rela

      • Mcdshistorian,
        B-P was never part of the BSA and did not wear an official BSA uniform. We need to keep our organizations straight. We are part of the BSA and the kilt isn’t part of our official uniform.

        • “B-P was never part of the BSA” – Not technically true as B-P named his organization The Boy Scouts Association. Hope that made you smile!

    • I think wearing kilts by adult leaders that the adult wants to be seen or wants attention drawn to themselves. Kilts are not part of the BSA uniform policy and should not be part of the scouting uniform for youth or adults. As Woodbadger myself I have the distinguish privilege of wearing the McClaren tartan on Woodbadge regalia..I believe that some adult leaders are not wearing their uniform properly. Many of us have observed adults with improper patches, improper placement of official position in scouting..Adult leaders should set the example for uniform wear, and not self centered male leader.
      What example do we convey to our youth that wearing a improper uniform is proper. WEARING KILTS ARE NOT THE BSA UNIFORM AND SHOULD NOT BE WORN AT ANY SCOUT EVENT………

      • Well, actually, the current Boy Scout Handbook, at page 33, makes allowance for both a “half” uniform (albeit the lower half) AND for other clothing: “When you’re headed outdoors, you can pull on a T-shirt with Scout pants or shorts, or wear other clothing that is right for the events of the day.” So while a kilt may not be part of the official uniform any more than blue jeans are, and perhaps should not be worn with the official Scout uniform shirt, I’m sure there are many outdoor Scout events where a kilt would be “right for the events of the day.” Actually, BSA sells button-front NON-uniform shirts (http://www.scoutstuff.org/bsa/apparel/mens/shirts/men-s-prepared-for-life-tm-silver-ridgetm-short-sleeve-shirt.html) that I’m sure would look splendid with a kilt while providing breathability and UV protection.

        • Just google “Highland Games Camporee”. There are some good resources out there to give you an idea. You’d need to experiment a bit with real boys to get an idea of big a stone to use or how big a caber. I like the Highlander District pdf document because they also include cub scouts in their camporee.

    • Good point…most know the tradition of the undergarment for Kilts…use your head…you are at a scouting function. God forbid you trip and take a header into the ground…no one wants to see that.
      On the undergarment…I hate it when someone asks me about it. Would anyone walk up to woman in a dress or skirt and ask her what she is wearing underneath or ever suggest there is nothing. That would not be very scouting like now would it?

    • The standard answer to “what do you wear beneath your kilt?’ is “Shoes.”

      BTW, as a member of the Gunn Clan, I guess I now have a right to wear two different tartans, but I’d like to see something in writing from the MacLaren Clan first

      But it gets even more complicated. In the 1930’s, BSA considered adult leaders as having “commissions” and youth leaders as having “warrants”, and actually issued such certificates. But in Highland regiments, commissioned officers wore trousers in the regimental tartan, not kilts, since kilts don’t lend themselves to someone mounted on a horse.

      Thus adult Scouters, as commissioned officers in BSA, should be wearing regimental trousers instead of kilts in the first place. I do have pairs in both my clan’s ancient and modern tartans.

      But I think I’ll stick to the official BSA trousers with the uniform to avoid such silliness and pretension. 😉

      • I don’t think it is worth entering into a discussion on tartan trousers vs kilts. Officer v. enlisted distinctions were often blurred and outright transposed over the ages. Today, officers and enlisted wear the same field uniforms and differ only in insignia…….which is what we do as well. Keeps it simple, it does.

    • Yes, Maxine would be correct. The shirt is to be tucked in at all times to be properly worn. Consider this: If a lady chooses to wear the field uniform shirt with a skirt, we would expect it to be tucked in. While a kilt is not a skirt, it has the same functionality as a skirt so I would expect the shirt tucked in.

  2. As a Wood Badge Staffer and a Life Member of the Clan MacLaren Society of North America, I wear my kilt proudly. However, I use judgement as to when I wear it. Mostly at Wood Badge events or when I am playing my bagpipes for Scouts. I find it to be a great conversation starter and wearing the kilt has lead to recruiting oportunities. I wear it properly as well. Many Scouters wear the kilt too short…thus appears to be a skirt. Rule of thumb…keep it at the knees and wear the right size. If you wear the MacLaren kilt, know the story of MacLaren and how the Tarten was adopted by Wood Badge…another great conversation starter. Additionally, I have modifed a kilt pin with the BSA logo…keeping the Scouting theme.
    I started wearing my MacLaren kilt many years ago and have seen an increase in kilted Scouters in the Orange County Council…I to not take any credit for starting the wearing of the kilt…once you wear one you will understand.

  3. My problem with the uniform policy is that BSA wants an arm and a leg for the uniforms most boys families can barely afford the overly priced shirts much less the crazy price they want for those zip off pieces of junk they call pants. Our troop does not enforce the pants rule. Scouting is supposed to be an affordable experience for the boys but in my close to 10yrs in the program I have not found this to be the case. Maybe the BSA should look at the uniform and pricing polices Instead of all these other policy changes they are making.

    • In our troop, if a scout can’t afford the official pants/shorts, they are welcome to purchase a pair of olive drab pants/shorts from Walmart and use them. As long as the color is close enough to satisfy our scoutmaster, they don’t have to fork over the bug bucks for the official pants.

      Ebay is also a good option for used uniform parts at a discount.

      • Thank you for adding this — Shorts thru BSA are $32.00 — I purchased for my older son when he made Life. For a similar pair at WalMart, I spent $12.00 for my younger son.

      • I totally agree with Mr. Saint. BSA used to be a great organization, and one could be proud to be involved. Due to National’s stupidity and greed, however, it has become a “Rich Boys’ Club.” Obviously they are making a killing in selling cheap and crappy uniforms and then expecting everyone to rush forward and buy it. The organization used to adhere to some ethics and give value for value. Sadly those days are gone forever.

      • Our Troop offers the same “close enough” and we also have a leader who collects out-grown uniform apparel which is passed on to scouts that need them. Since they are only worn at scouting events, they last much longer than everyday clothes. My son was passed down scout pants from an older scout, my son wore them for a year, and they are now on to a 3rd scout! That is value! We check ebay, Craig’s list, and rummage sales – you’d be surprised what you can find – just make sure you check the sizes before purchasing.

    • New uniforms are expensive, true, but so are kilts.

      We have a uniform bank comprised entirely of Ebay purchases. These uniforms are a third the price of new. Can’t say the same for kilts.

      We are starting a Venturing crew, and I don’t see the youth pushing for kilts. The kilt thing is all adult-driven.

      • No it isn’t I’ve been seeing more and more youth mostly venture age with the kilts. I have not seen maybe one adult. Not in there unit wear a kilt. Here its been the youth.

        • The only crew in our area that uses the kilt as their uniform has bag-piping as its primary activity. It does look sharp.

    • I agree Jason, especially since the quality of the uniform in general has tanked. For our oldest we bought the official pants; less than two years later and 4 patching attemps by my wife they are now in the garbage where they belong.

      Once upon a time the scout uniform was a quality uniform. I still have a pair of pants from my youth (unfortunately too small for me and too big for our boy) that don’t have one hole, rip, or tear in them. And I assure you, I was no gentler on my pants than our boy is. Now, I get shirts with pockets sown on crooked, shirts that ‘pill’ at the slightest touch of a rough surface, pants that develop more holes than Swiss cheese, and pants with crap elastic that goes bad in a matter of months.

      Seriously National, I want the quality uniforms I remember from my youth back. This garbage you have been putting out the last few years has got to stop!

        • That’s not a valid solution to poor quality. Buying something twice is antithetical to a good portion of what we preach.

      • I do agree that the quality has gone down I have bought roughly 6 pants in sets of two with in the last two years. The last pare I just bought a few months ago one of them. The seam came apart and the button broke off. I sewed it on but it’s a matter of time like the last pare. I do remember the good quality uniform stuff. But if the quality doesn’t get better I’m going to start getting commercial tan/green pants and don’t care what people say about me wearing them. I would tell them I’ll wear this untill I see better quality scout pants.

      • Agreed. But I can’t say it’s all BSA…everything is crap now. It’s just that at least WM crap is cheap crap instead of expensive crap, lol.

        I’m a security officer and we were told they had not problem with going to WM to get the pants instead of the specialty security stores. They have the exact same thing? Quality? Have no clue, but $15 versus $50…well I can buy 3 pair for what they charge. So it isn’t just BSA.

        But, the point is that BSA used to be for kids who couldn’t afford the expensive activities and yes it has become a rich boys club. Most can’t afford to enjoy high adventure. At $1000 plus to attend ANY of them, well, that’s a chunk that could be used to take a FAMILY trip, not just one child. And considering the ‘lodging’ at least at Philmont is your sleeping bag, and crap food, where is that money going? Not to pay for the camp….it was donated. My pet peeve. High adventure too costly.

        • Actual cost of high adventure is just over $400. If you pay $1000 you are paying for a council contingent that pads it’s travel a and provides extra items.

          A unit stepping up and planning can do it for a lot less.

    • Yes, BSA pants are pricier than many alternatives — but back to the topic of kilts. Have you priced kilts lately?

      While you CAN get mass-produced kilts made of synthetic materials in random plaids quite cheaply, a real kilt is frightfully expensive, if that’s your clothing reason.

      (I see $14.99 on Lands’ End right now. But the Lands’ End options aren’t even kilts — they are girls or womens’ skirts, though they apparently use the word “kilt” to mean “plaid”. They aren’t any particular clan color, they are “Heather Grey/Navy”, etc.)

      For a real kilt, you’re talking about 8 yards of custom-fitted fine wool fabric. (Some “summer kilts” use 5 yards.) You’re talking about a particular clan, with a proper sett (plaid designs), regular/hunting/ancient etc. In some cases, you specify the particular plaid from an historic specification, and they’ll weave 8 yards for your kilt and then pleat & sew it. Pick the alignment & edge of the pleats.

      You’re talking about $300 for a really inexpensive one — $500-800 for a really nice one.

      And then there are the accouterments! A Kilt pin to start, scout themed if possible. A sporran, of course, and chain. Probably leave out the sgian dubh (dagger) for Scout functions. Appropriate hose, flashes, and ghillie brogues, though in camp hiking boots might be substituted. I assume the shirt, tie, waistcoat, & jacket are omitted for the scout shirt.

      No, a kilt is not an affordable solution to expensive BSA pants!

      • That’s the option? A $500 historically accurate wool kilt? My son wears an olive green polyester kilt made by Mountain Hardware that he got off Amazon for $30. He likes it very much for hiking. And to boot, it’s the only thing that 13 year old boy hasn’t grown out of in 2 years. That seems like a very economical solution to the overpriced BSA labeled pants.

      • I have a kilt at the cleaners. Need to pick it up. Just for collectible reasons. I’m female, lol. Not sure if it’s original, but it’s old enough to have some holes from moths eating the wool! Picked it up at an auction. I’ll photograph it when I get it back and post it if a photo can be posted on here.

      • I am a wearer of kilts, and very recently, an assistant den leader for my Tiger, which is how I stumbled upon this to begin with. No, you don’t have to pick a “random plaid”, nor do you have to spend $300+ to get a decent kilt. Personally, I enjoy wearing my kilts during outdoors activities, but do not typically wear wool, as I live in nearly-tropical Houston. Acrylic is nice and light, and seems to hold up well for me so far. Additionally, it’s widely available in the MacLaren tartan, which seems to be the go-to for scouting.


        That said, I don’t expect I will wear a kilt with my uniform shirt except for our den meeting where we discuss family heritage and such (as outlined in the Tiger book) and possibly some of our less formal events.

  4. Common sense should dictate what’s worn underneath. I’m not sure why you guys take issue with the kilt. Please keep in mind while criticizing-there are a lot of scouts and scout leaders who hold scottish and Irish heritage. I’m sure the main reason for the BSA not including the kilt in their uniform policy is due in part to the fact that when scouts was orgainized in America, this was not the clothing of choice.

  5. As a Scot/Irish descendant i see no problem in wearing a kilt as long it is worn respectfully and yes have something on under it .

  6. Maybe someone should the Order of the Arrow’ s perspective. Vigil members wear kilts. Arguably, they should only wear them at OA events.

    I suggest we consider the value of inspiring and motivating scouts and scouters is more important than disciple. We aren’t an army, but a group focused on developing character.

    • I have yet to see a kilt at my OA Lodge functions. OA is youth-led, and the youth ain’t pushing for kilts.

    • Wish there was a way to post a pic here. At our last Lodge event (Rendezvous) there were at least 7 of us wearing kilts. Twice that number for the feast.

  7. The photo shows a person wearing a Venturing shirt but the question asks about “BSA Uniform”. If you are talking specifically about a Venturing uniform (as shown in the photo), crews can define their own uniform. So if his crew has specified a kilt as part of their crew uniform, it is truly his “official” uniform. “Uniform” is not a method in Venturing and there is no official BSA uniform inspection sheet.

  8. To reply to J Moody – the MacLaren tartan is closely associated with Wood Badge. It is this tartan that makes up the first scarf those attending Wood Badge receive and it is the swatch of the tartan that adorns someone who has completed their tasks. The tartan represents the generosity of W.F. de Bois MacLaren who purchased Gilwell park and presented it to the British Boy Scout Association. The MacLaren clan allows Boy Scouts to reproduce their tartan for Wood badge. This isn’t just about a personal “taste” for someone to wear a kilt, but about some of the traditions in scouting we have and want to honor. While I have no personal desire to wear a kilt, I know it has meaning and symbolism for others and I respect the person who asked the question because it shows he cares enough to do something the appropriate way.

    • While I can find references that the Clan MacLaren society certainly allows pieces of their tartan to be worn by Wood Badge recipients, and their North America Association will grant paid membership to Wood Badge recipients, I haven’t been able to find an specific reference from the clan that grants authority to wear their kilt to Wood Badge recipients who are not of the clan.

      If anyone can provide a direct link to such an authorization for actually wearing the kilt from The Clan MacLaren themselves, please provide it in a reply post. Without it, the whole argument is moot.

      • Well, it’s like I am a Campbell and therefore, while my sons carry their father’s name of Byrd, I would think that if they wanted to pay homage to that familial heritage, the Campbell plaid would be appropriate for them to wear.

        The McLaren plaid, like so many of the family plaids, has a long and prestigious history. Wearing a plaid is not just a fashion statement. Any family plaid should be worn with respect for the family to which it is associated.

      • From the Clan MacLaren North America website:
        “The Clan MacLaren Society of North America has established a special associate (non-voting) membership for any Scouter who has earned his or her Wood Badge. Wood Badge membership in the Clan MacLaren Society of North America (CMSNA) is therefore extended to all Wood Badge-trained Scouters who have completed their “ticket” and have received their Wood Badge beads. Pick up a membership form at the Clan MacLaren tent at a Highland Games. Or, download an application from here ( please include your Wood Badge Course Number! ).”

        Sounds to me like you not only need to have completed Wood Badge, but you also need to join the Clan in order to be eligible to wear the tartan. Clan guidelines for wearing uniform with kilt can also be found here: http://www.clanmaclarenna.org/articles/woodbadgehighlanddress.pdf

  9. Wood Badge staff and participants should strictly adhere to the BSA uniform requirements, which are pretty clear. Wear the uniform pants or shorts.

    Wear your MacLaren kilt for a non-uniform event.

  10. Speaking of what’s worn under a kilt (and I’m reminded of Andy Stewart’s response – “nothing’s worn, it’s all just as good as new”), believe it or not the Guide to Safe Scouting has a section on that (which implies that BSA does, in fact, recognize that kilts are worn). You’re supposed to wear underwear, Scottish tradition to the contrary. I’m off to the Blair Atholl Patrol Jamborette in Scotland in less than a week, and the Scottish Scouts and leaders are all required to wear kilts as part of their dress uniform. Not that I’ve checked, but I’m assured that pants (Scottish for “underwear” – an interesting point of confusion) are always worn.

    • the “Guide to Safe Scouting” specifically mentions a kilt, or simply that you should always wear underwear??

      And of course Scottish Scouts would wear kilts as part of their national heritage. The kilt has nothing to do with either American or Scouting heritage in the BSA.

  11. Larry Cunningham and commenter J Moody are correct in the letter of the law. There is simply no arguing that point. It is what it is………currently.

    However, there is no doubt that we, as an organization, have struggled with this pants thing for a little while. With the advent of the Oscar de la Renta uniform series, BSA sold what I considered to be a fairly indestructible uniform. My son is re-utilizing my 30 year old uniform today and the only repair it has ever needed is a button replacement.
    For reasons that were probably entirely logical, various iterations of lightweight, zip off, cargo-pocketed shorts and pants were produced in recent years. I think there are somewhere around a dozen variations of uniform shorts and pants issued in the last decade (maybe that will spark a new interest for collectors!). Multiply that by the seemingly endless number of shades of green and the weirdness of faded tops and dark bottoms on switchback zip-offs.
    If the purpose of a uniform is uniformity, then we have cleared missed the mark from a design perspective.

    I think it is worth considering a policy that reflects something akin to our policy on shoes: Neat and clean navy shorts or trousers for Cubs (including navy jeans). Neat and clean olive drab pants or shorts for Boy Scouts. It’s not like we don’t already tolerate wide variation within our own supply system that adheres to that same basic profile.

    Kilts? Why can’t we handle them like hats and let the units decide?

  12. I’m of Irish heritage, and I live near Seattle where Utilikilts are not uncommon (Portland, too).

    My take:The whole notion that kilts enjoy some sort of special status in Scout uniforming is just odd. Kilts aren’t in the uniform regs, and the boys aren’t pushing for them to be adopted. This fetish is all adult-driven. Invoking respect for Maclaren vis-a-vis Gilwell is a rationalization.

    Thought experiment: what would American Scouting community’s reaction be to Scouts of African heritage adopting the dashiki, or those of South Asian descent adopting the dhoti?(This is not a purely academic exercise, as the size of these first generation American immigrant communities is substantial).

    A gentle reminder to Scouters: it ain’t about you. It’s about the boys, and it’s about standardization being used to inculcate equality and unity within them. The standardized uniform is central to this.

    • I have no problem with the kilt being worn occasionally . We need to all just relax and realize that it ALL should be about the boys and delivering a good and meaningful program. As far as national telling me what pants I wear that will go over as much as them trying to tell me that I should be driving a prius.

      • When you decide to deviate from the uniform it stops being about the boys, and it becomes about you.

        • When BSA pays for my uniform (at least other than the shirt which is what is truly recognized by non-BSA people – not the pants)….then, and only then, can they dictate the pants. The shirts we dont’ have much choice. But they are massively overpriced. The crap they sell shouldn’t be more than $20.

        • Mariahwwa, one cannot justify boycotting $40 pants by buying a $250 kilt.

          Moreover, one doesn’t need to pay retail prices for uniforms. My uniforms – and those of my son and our den – are all second-hand, from Ebay.

  13. The kilt question has caused a fair amount of controversy in our council. The uniform is one of the methods of Scouting, and the purpose is to get rid of individual clothing that marks people as affluent, poor, stylish or frumpy. Wearing a kilt is a strong statement using clothing, and most of the time it defeats the purpose of having a BSA uniform.

    Wearing a kilt with a BSA uniform shirt may be okay if done in a spirit of group fellowship or demonstrating cultural pride for a Scouting purpose. I have seen a Cubmaster wear interesting costumes for a themed pack meeting and Wood Badge troop guides wear superhero outfits with their uniforms, but in my experience wearing a kilt with a BSA uniform shirt most often makes individuals seem elitist and pretentious, especially in a Wood Badge setting.

  14. For those of you who object to the “High” priced BSA uniform pants and seek to wear a kilt instead, have you priced and authentic kilt in the last 10 years?…………….LOL

  15. Just restating what’s in many handbooks and training information:

    The uniform has a purpose. It’s a method of Scouting. It builds spirit among the members of the unit. It identifies us to the public. It sets a tone that “we have fun and adventure, and to facilitate that, we have rules.” No youth is required to have a uniform in order to participate in the program.

    If your unit has the boys wear a uniform, it really only works if it’s worn correctly. If a boy cannot afford any part of the uniform, including pants or shorts, there are lots of ways to help him earn money or to find him an experienced pair of shorts or pants.

  16. I wouldn’t have a problem if an entire troop of boys chose to wear kilts. But I’d have a hard time believing that youth would choose to do so. But one person wearing a kilt is a fashion statement – not a uniform.

    There’s a troop in Rhode Island that I know of that for the past thirty years wears khaki shorts to summer camp instead of the BSA green. They wear white socks and brown loafers. They look like a troop because they are all wearing the same stuff – even though it is not “official”. Some won’t like it because it isn’t BSA, but I don’t have a problem with it. They look sharper than most troops, even if it is a little bit like they were outfitted by L.L. Bean.

    • One of the Troops I am involved in, the BOYS decided that a OD green kilt is the official UNIT uniform for UNIT events, but not Camp, Camporee, etc. They chose to raise funds to have them for every boy. I will tell you, they look SHARP, and get a lot of recruiting done. They have fun, and it ALWAYS starts conversations.

      I urge everyone to read the Personal Note in the answer given above “As long as youth are active in a unit, don’t become the uniform police. “

  17. I started wearing the kilt to Court of Honors and Eagle Courts some years ago, it has now become tradition that the boys expect seeing me in kilt & knee socks. I rotate through my collection of BSA head gear also, I find it spotlights the uniform and gives me the opportunity to encourage boys & leaders to be in uniform. I have always found the scout pants to be lipstick on a pig, mainly the Oscar de la Renta pair; I like seeing that BSA is starting to adopt clothing & materials that the outdoor industry uses. bottom line if the boys what to wear kilts fine, most the times they don’t want to wear any. It is a little funny seeing vigorous discussions over uniform standards when other BSA standards have slipped or been put aside.

  18. Oh great! The expert says as long as boys are coming to meetings let’s them wear what they want. Try that the next time your boy plays organized sports and see what it gets him. I’m weary of the complaint that it’s too expensive or boys how up too fast. My pack and troop have a uniform exchange. “Take one, leave one” I’ve even seen complete uniforms on eBay for as little as $10!
    Its the uniform that ties us together. Baden- Powell made that very plain. Lets not “casual it down” like we have so many of our traditions. The uniform is a value we can cherish.

  19. Wearing jeans or other pants/shorts because Scout pants cannot be afforded is totally different than wearing a kilt for the fun of it.

  20. This may need “official” visiting for a change as “hiking kilts” are becoming quite common and are very comfortable for long hikes.

  21. The biggest problem with BSA uniforms and uniform policy today is spelled out in the Boy Scout Handbook (page 32, if I recall correctly) — the official uniform is for meetings and ceremonies; for outdoor activities, wear something else. With sports teams, law enforcement, military, medical personnel, plumbers, food service workers, students in private schools, etc., the uniform is worn to do the work or play the game. In BSA, the uniform is worn to sit around talking about doing the work or playing the game.

    And why? Fundamentally, it is because we have the uniform all junked up with huge colorful patches, badges, pins, ribbons, shoulder loops, belt loops, beads, strips, danglies, necklaces . . . and the neckerchief and slide. No one wants to take all that “flair” out into the woods where it could get torn, stained, or lost.

    • Yeah, I wouldn’t mind seeing a good dose of flair reduction. Quality unit/JTE patches could go with nary a tear shed as could recruiter strips, “Trained” patches, service pins, etc. Personally, I would also like to see a reduction in the size of the position patches (without any text) and another round of reductions in the number of knot awards. I am hoping that world crest rings don’t continue as a trend either.

      • I agree. The more clutter we remove from the uniform – the better it looks. Besides removing and consolidating knots, you’re spot on. The JTE patch should be removed. I think it exists as a profit making venture – since everyone earns one. Position of responsibility patches could be eliminated – and we should switch to metal pins like the old hat pins that scouts had. We could pin the bars on the sleeve for the length of time that the scout holds the position – then remove them when done and re-use them. If we don’t switch to metal pins – we should at least reduce the size of these humungous 3″ round patches and return to the small 2″ rectangles of the 1960’s. We could eliminate the US Flag as well – and incorporate into the “Boy Scouts of America” strip above the right pocket – like so many other countries around the world do. The “trained” patch? Chet is right – eliminate it – as everyone should be required to be trained, so the patch should be meaningless. Eliminate the arrow of light strip on the scout’s uniform and have the youth switch to a knot as its smaller. The more we can eliminate – the better.

      • The epaulets and shoulder loops can also go, as can the gigantic council shoulder patches. Keep the unit number and patrol emblem or den numeral, but much smaller. And consolidate all the insignia on or above one pocket.

        Now, I don’t mind all the flair, as long as it isn’t on a uniform that we should be wearing on hikes and campouts and other adventures. Put all the glitz on something else that can be worn on ceremonial occasions, such as the patch vests that Cub Scouts already wear, or turn Boy Scout merit badge sashes into sashes for all kinds of awards and flair.

    • “Your uniform is part of the thrill of being a Scout. The moment you put it on you feel ready for [a] hike or camp or other vigorous Scout activity.” — Boy Scout Handbook, 7th Edition, at page 20.

      “Proudly wear your uniform to troop meetings, ceremonies such as courts of honor, and most other indoor troop functions.” — Boy Scout Handbook, 12th Edition, at page 33.

    • Half agree. The Scout Uniform should be suitable for field use (hiking, camping, service projects) and dressed up for more ceremonial occasions. This was the original idea through at least the 1950s when you see photograph of Scouts doing outdoor things dressed up like Scouts.

      Admittedly, the US military has gone over to having dress uniforms (wool jackets and ties, not the next step up of Marine blues or formal uniform party wear) and ‘camos’ for field use (that are increasing used for office work with no good reason other than expense and comfort), that is not necessarily the fashion that needs to be followed by BSA — Although {to open another can-of-worms} there is considerable _boy_ support for allowing the use of military or military style camos as a ‘class B’ or field uniform, which could be quite economical – but not looked on with favor by BSA headquarters.

      Too many colorful parches, badges, pins, ribbons, loops, beads, stripes, dangles, necklaces is a question of taste. Doing away with TEXT on leadership badges would be a return to the pre 1960 style — as thing tend to go in circles over time.

      • I’d partially agree with you…. although the military has not really changed– it’s always had fatigue uniforms as well as dress and “mess dress” uniforms. I think the difference is that now you can see them. When I was in the military back in the late 60’s we wore fatigues– the equal of the current BDU– almost everyday, it was pretty much the universal thing to wear, although office workers and such usually wore something a bit dressier. But the catch is that you couldn’t be seen in public in them. If you lived on base, you had to change clothes to go into town. If you lived off base, you had to go straight home and change– no stopping off for a quart of milk or a loaf of bread. It’s the policy that’s changed, not the uniforming.

        But I would agree with you that the old Scout uniforms were made for action and used for dress too! We’d camp and hike in our uniforms and then rush home to wash the before the next meeting. That’s what a uniform should be about….not tee shirts and jeans.

  22. The folks who were against the membership change last year warned us this would happen… he-he, OK, that was a bad joke, sorry…

  23. Summer camp staff (officially a venture crew) has option to wear kilts one day a week. Camp director was leading an adult leader meeting that morning. First thing he said was, “I hope you all don’t mind if I remain standing for this meeting.” There were no objections. 🙂

  24. It makes no mention of Female Boy Scout leaders and what uniform to wear – or did I miss something, it only mentions Female Cub Scout Leaders, sounds like the Inspection sheet needs to be changed to include Female Leaders. I hold a District and Troop positions in scouting and wear a uniform because we expect the boys to wear one.

  25. I think part of the biggest concern with whether or not kilts are acceptable has to do with the fact that, traditionally, there are no undergarments worn with them. Consider this: The Youth Protection Training makes specific reference to undergarments being worn under ceremonial attire. The picture shown in reference to that is of OA dancers.

    Traditionally, I would hazard too guess that the original Native Americans did not wear undergarments under their breech clothes and other clothing. If we are requiring our OA ceremonial dance teams to break with tradition the the Native American attire and wear undergarments, I would say the same applies the breaking with the tradition on kilts and requiring undergarments there as well.

    We have a father in our troop who has a kilt, for other purposes, and on more than one occasion has talked of bringing it on the camp outs to wear on Sunday morning at the troop religious service. He is new to the troop and has yet to have an opportunity (because of his own active schedule with a charitable organization) to attend one of the troop camp outs. So to date it has just been discussed. However, I have advised him as the Committee Chair that I expect him to comply with his Youth Protection Training and the guidelines to proper attire (i.e., if he’s going to wear the kilt he has to wear undergarments.)

    I am not going to become a uniform police or require my Scoutmaster Corps to do so and verify that he has undergarments on when wearing his kilt. However, if something were to occur in which he is accidentally exposed (as we ladies know high winds can do), then I am hopeful it would be discovered that he is in compliance with appropriate attire guidelines. If he is not, he and I will have a serious conversation about his abiding the guideline to appropriate attire. I would also just about bet that his own embarrassment would lead to that compliance the next time he wore the kilt.

  26. Thanks for the clarification, Brian. I teach Scoutmaster Specific training and when we discuss the uniform, this has come up.

    I also remind all of my students that while the uniform is an important thing, as it’s one of the eight methods of Scouting, it’s never more important than what’s inside of it.


  27. According to the Guide to Insignia and Awards page 5 under the Personal Commitment section “While wearing the uniform is not mandatory,
    it is highly encouraged” All of us here understand the importance of the uniform but when we place more emphasis on what we are wearing than the core value of the program for the youth we then become embroiled in distracting arguments. The guidelines for uniforming is there to provide consistency and a standard. The uniform inspection sheets are a great guideline to use but right at the top it says use common sense during the inspection; neatness is the basic rule. Yet we have uniform Nazis out there who chastise others because they wore dark dress socks instead of BSA socks or because mom/spouse accidentally sewed a temporary event patch on the wrong pocket. The only people that ultimately ensure that youth and adults are in proper uniform are the Unit Leader and the Unit Commissioner. This should be done at the unit’s annual uniform inspection. It is actually part of the Unit Commissioner’s assignment. We should also temper our remarks when pointing out uniform issues to others as we may not know the full circumstance that lead to said “issue” Maybe an enterprising Scouter can write up a proposal for National to review the Kilt issue and put it into the next edition of the Insignia Guide.

  28. In C10 this was addressed years ago because of a crew that the kids wanted kilts. Council said – fine but wear real shorts beneath it for YPT reasons. Easy peasy.

  29. From a Wood Badger point of view, when a staff wears a kilt as their uniform, it can become a distraction to the course. the staff are not on course to provide distraction, they’re there to provide instruction, example, and service. If the Kilt becomes a part of the course, ingrained in the curriculum, to the point of driving away some that are completely against ‘uniform police’ attitudes that happen to pervade every unit, district and council, then I think it’s problematic and a bad idea.

    With that said, I think when worn correctly, with pride and dignity, they are pretty darn sharp.

  30. I’m also Scottish, and a Cub Scout Leader. All kilts are not for formal use only, people wear kilts for everyday use. As for wearing a kilt in Scouting, why not Baden Powell did. I’m all for wearing the proper stuff under kilts during Scouting events. And for the clansman from the clan Gunn, yes if completed Woodbadge and have earned your beads you can wear the Maclaren Kilts also, all you have to do is go to the clan Maclaren Society of North America and fill out the
    “Clan Maclaren and the Scouting Connection form”

    Yours in Scouting

  31. I understand that the Clan MacLaren Society has approve all Wood Badge Scouters to wear the MacLaren kilt, which would not otherwise be proper for those who are not members of Clan MacLaren. The rules on the BSA side still hold.

  32. Uhmmm…. wonder what BP would say about uniforming?? He specifically addressed the issue in his comments written for The Scouter magazine in his entry of August 1913. Look it up!

  33. In my district, when we teach Boy Scout leaders about 2 of the methods of Scouting, Uniform and Advancement, we tell new Boy Scout leaders the following in our summary on Uniform (the last bullet point and the sentence that follows, to me are the most important take away) –
    • Identifies scouts as a member of a group, represents equality and democracy within BSA
    • Gives Scouts a place to display achievements
    • Attention to the uniform should be kept in perspective. It is the boy inside the uniform that ultimately matters
    The uniform is of value to the extent that it encourages boys to grow as Scouts

    We also describe the Activity Uniform – same as the full uniform, with the Field Uniform shirt replaced with a Scout themed shirt (T-shirt, polo shirt) for other activities.

    I also very much liked Nelson Block’s comments above (and subscribe to an email list he frequetnly writes)., They boys DO act and behave better when they wear a uniform than when they are rag tag.

  34. Considering the cut of some of the shorts over the years, a kilt is probably more comfortable; don’t forget the skivvies

  35. It is out of uniform to wear a kilt. Can I wear my red golf shorts with my Scout Shirt and be considered in uniform, NO.

  36. 1. Wearing the kilt in lieu of shorts, out of uniform. Wearing same OVER BSA uniform shorts completely in uniform, just like wearing a coat over your uniform.

    2. Wear whatever tartan floats your boat. There is no taboo about wearing a tartan you aren’t “authorized” to wear. The whole “clan tartan” thing is a relatively new invention of queen vickie’s.

  37. This kind of question is like asking “The twelve points of the Scout Law don’t quite fit what we’re trying to do with our troop. Since we’re not chartered by a church, can we swap out reverent for hungry?”

    No boy (or leader) perfectly exemplifies the ideals of scouting, however, each little bit contributes to the whole. The uniform follows the same principle, where each component is an outward expression of commitment to the whole program.

  38. I wear a mountain hardware backpacking kilt when backpacking, in fact I wore it on my 7 day trek at Philmont. I do not wear it normally to courts of honor or troop meetings. I recently found that I’m one quarter Irish and with some Welsh and Scottish in there too. If I decide to wear a traditional kilt, properly, with my field uniform shirt, and you have issue with it you should address it with me in person!

    There are quite a few keyboard warriors here, and that’s the problem. I’m a volunteer! I hope to one day afford a 5 or 8 yard kilt in a family tartan and will wear it as part of my uniform if I please. Ban me if you like, the national news may like the ratings from running the story.

    There’s more to scouting than an overpriced low quality garment called a uniform. It’s about character development and leadership and the Scout Law and Oath

    The mission of the Boy Scouts of America is to prepare young people to make moral and ethical choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law.

    Neither of which include “uniform police” quite frankly the cost of the official uniform with the proper insignia is quite “exclusive” not “inclusive” and in my experience kept quite a few youth from joining my troop

    • Even low end kilts like the Amerikilt are more expensive than high quality used uniforms.

      Per BSA regs – uniforms never go obsolete. A boy in my Den wears the Cub Scout hat that his father wore in the ’70s. BSA-approved, and it supports the Method perfectly. A boy wearing his father’s Scout uniform: the Aim of shared identity through the Method of uniform cannot be more perfectly supported than that.

      So, all those 30-year old, American-made, tough-as-nails De La Renta-era uniforms are still approved for wear. They are dirt cheap on the used market. Ebay, thrift shops, Craigslist.

      Kilts have a place as a field uniform as a Class B item worn with an ordinary hiking shirt, as Packs and Troops regularly do. But going rogue with the Class A undermines the Method. The Aim of building esprit de corps and unity through uniforms requires norms and standardization, and it requires we set the example.

      (Having said that, I am grateful for the tip: I will be buying an inexpensive Elkommando for non-uniform wear).

  39. I have a son, a scout, who wears a kilt fairly often. He does it on his own, my husband has never owned or worn a kilt. He buys his own kilts and just bought an olive green one to wear with his uniform. We just picked up a flyer for the international jamboree in Japan and on the front page is a photo of a scout (not American I think) in a kilt. So I disagree with the poster who asserted that the wearing of kilts is all adult driven. The kilt is having a bit of popularity now among the youth. I say let them wear it. It hurts no one.

  40. Hopefully all of us agree that the uniform is one of the methods of Scouting and that is has purpose.

    That said I go back and forth in my mind on the subject of ‘non-BSA’ uniform components. For example, when outdoors I wear a simple desert-tan (close to BSA khaki) military boonie hat as my headgear and I have numerous pairs of outdoors and tactical ‘close to BSA green’ pants and shorts. However I try to make it match the official uniform as best I can and with no added flair.

    I guess I fail to see how wearing a kilt fits in for the BSA mission, purpose, and methods. Yep, I get the Wood Badge tie in, but lets all face the facts, WB is about adult Scouters and not the youth. If you doubt that premise, attend a council/district level campfire where all the youth are gathered and the Scouters decide to have a beading and singing session… the youth do not care.

    I am not belittling Wood Badge, just using it to illustrate the point that our focus as Scouters should be about the youth first and foremost. Similarly, I don’t see how your family’s ancestral heritage trumps the aims and methods of Scouting. Wearing of a kilt with the field uniform, as mentioned multiple times above, appears to me to be about the individual and typically an adult Scouter; not about the youth. I’d exempt Venture crew uniform decisions and bagpipe bands and am sure there are a few more.

    Finally, Mr. Cunningham’s response was not an answer, in fact he totally dodged the question of does the BSA allow an adult Scouter wear a kilt as part of his field uniform at an official BSA sanctioned Wood Badge training? Much like the long discussion on tucking in the shirt tails… please provide formal and clear policy.

    • A troop should look uniform. Adults and Scouts dressed the same. Adults in a unit should not stand out because they are wearing kilts or wood badge neckerchiefs.

      • My wood badge is akin to the youth eagle rank. Very few adults earn their wood badge. I would never tell an eagle not to wear his rank or other earned awards and honors because he stands out. I wear my wood badge regalia with pride, because a lot of my time and my family’s time and money and energy were apart of that achievement,

        I personally have more of an issue with OA and the use of Native American traditions and regalia; than I do with someone who is wearing a traditional kilt properly or even a person wearing a newer utility style kilt.

        • It’s policy. Surprised it wasn’t taught in your Wood Badge. The Eagle Scout neckerchief is the only one exempted in the policy. Here is what the policy states (note that adults are not exempted from wearing the troop neckerchief either):

          “Boy Scout neckerchiefs are optional. Troops choose their own official neckerchief. All members of a troop wear the same color. The troop decides by vote, and all members abide by the decision. If the neckerchief is not worn, then the shirt is worn with open collar. Boy Scout and Boy Scout leader neckerchiefs
          may be worn in a variety of plain colors and contrasting borders.”

          “Neckerchiefs available through the Supply Group include the embroidered universal Scouting emblem if permanent press, or printed if not. Local councils may prescribe that the specific official neckerchief be worn by Boy Scouts and Scouters on a council or district basis. The neckerchief is worn only with the official uniform and never with T-shirts or civilian clothing.

          Special neckerchiefs, the same size as the official ones, may be authorized by local councils. Such neckerchiefs may include identification of the chartered organization. The standard designed neckerchief may be personalized with troop number, city, and state. By troop approval, an Eagle Scout may wear
          an Eagle Scout neckerchief.”


        • What?!?!?!? “My wood badge is akin to the youth eagle rank. ” I think that might just be the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard someone say in scouting.

        • Certainly there are many factors which can’t be compared, but the level of effort required to complete your Wood Badge ticket is easily equivalent to the effort required to complete the Eagle Scout rank.

        • Dan Kurtenbach, the level of effort of a 2 weekend or 1 week course with some additional homework is no where near the level of effort of a 3 to 5 to 7 year trail of Tenderfoot to Eagle Scout Rank. Give the boys a break here. Eagle is much harder to obtain then Wood Badge beads. Bottom line is Wood Badge is a training class. A good one, granted, but isn’t in the same class as Eagle Rank.

        • WB is nowhere near the difficulty of Eagle.

          As for OA and concerns of cultural appropriation, in most Lodges local tribes are partners and consultants on matters of custom and ceremony. Sensitivity to this concern is OA policy, particularly as it pertains to violations of religious custom (OA Handbook, p. 67).

          For example, Chief Seattle Council’s OA T’Kope Kwiskwis Lodge 502 has a long-standing relationship with Northwest Coast tribes. This relationship goes back at least 50 years. Tribal carvers of the Haida, Tlingit, Chilkat, and Kwakutl assist and advise the Lodge in the construction of the Lodge Longhouse, totem poles, and ceremonial canoes. I have seen historical film footage of tribal dancers performing at the Lodge Longhouse.

        • Hi, Bill. Nothing against the boys at all! It doesn’t take anything away from their efforts to also recognize the efforts of adults who take on the highest level of training BSA has to offer. “[S]ome additional homework” is really five required projects involving leadership, research, writing, and coordination with Scouts and other Scouters to accomplish tangible, measurable results that benefit their Scouting organization. Working your “ticket” requires a lot of time, commitment, and other resources. And you also have to remember that Wood Badge is preceded by being fully trained for the Scouter’s position and, for most participants, having years of service as an adult leader, picking up the skills, knowledge, and experience needed to guide youth along their advancement trail while helping them develop character, citizenship, and fitness.

          As I said, some factors can’t be compared — such as the level of recognition and prestige enjoyed by the Eagle Scout rank. But I think it is very fair to say that the time, dedication, effort, and resources that a Scouter has to put into earning his or her Wood Badge beads is easily comparable to that of a youth earning Eagle Scout rank. And saying so does no disservice to Eagle Scouts and those working toward Eagle.

          That said, I agree that the troop neckerchief, if the troop has one, is the appropriate neckerchief to wear at troop activities. But there are still plenty of other Scouting events where the Wood Badge neckerchief would be very appropriate: any adult training event; district and council gatherings, meetings, and conferences; roundtable; when serving as staff (rather than part of the troop) at camporees, merit badge clinics, and other multi-unit events; and any other time that a Scouter is serving in a non-troop position (such as a Unit Commissioner or member of a Council committee).

          And kilts? Well, definitely non-uniform; but (at least when speaking of _real_ Scottish-type kilts) not worn as a poor substitute for an official uniform piece (like blue jeans). Rather, based on the comments here, a real kilt is formal attire, and its wear is intended to enhance the uniform rather than degrade it. As such, I put it in the same category as wearing the Order of the Arrow sash and tucking the merit badge sash in the belt — a non-uniformity that calls attention to the uniform and its purpose.

        • Woodbadge. Smoodbadge. I know scouters who completed their ticket and I was in their units. I have no idea what their ticket items were that helped the troop or the pack. The ticket items were pretty minor in the scheme of the functioning of the troop if in the normal course of a year we didn’t even know they were working them.

        • Not in my council is the an easy peas ticket… that being said, I pay money and time to be a volunteer scout leader who has served on the council, district, and unit level as part of my ticket, and recommitted to being on staff for 3 separate wood badge courses, all while still keeping my paying job, and being a father, and being a husband. If you say don’t wear a kilt because it’s not a proper uniform item. Consider this, I was an infantryman for 9 years I know what uniform discipline is. I joined Scouts as a leader to help a few young men through their awkward teenage years, and because I get some reward out of it, it is fun most of the time; and just like the army when it becomes a burden I will stop being a scouter. I just hope jilted or not I leave a worthy legacy and plant an acorn in preparation of the future needs.

          Now I remove myself from this conversation, as it will not be resolved soon, and in the grand scheme is trivial. Though I enjoyed the debate, I must say good day.

        • I was Queen of Battle as well, before going on to WOCS.

          Military personnel – of all people – should understand the value of uniformity in promoting unity and a sense of collective identity. These are Aims of the Uniform Method. These Aims are undermined when we ignore BSA’s version of AR 670-1.

        • Daniel,
          AR 670-1 (Rev Mar 2013) makes old uniforms obsolete. AR 670-1 requires the soldier wear a cold weather top with a cold weather bottom. A tie with long sleeve green gray class b shirt along with decorations and rank on your collar.

          BSA makes no uniform obsolete. Do I make all the youth go buy the latest rendition of the BSA Uniform? Do I tell the one scout with the latest rendition he can’t wear it because the rest of us wear the previous rendition? Do you wear the red wool-jack or the olive wool-jack? That concept does not exude a remote attempt at uniform discipline…

        • Rudolph, there has never been a provision for a kilt in any version of the GAI.

          Personally, I like kilts and would welcome them in the GAI. But that day isn’t here; as such, they have no place in the uniform.

        • Dave B, we all have known folks who just squeaked by, whether because there was a mismatch between their task and their talent or resources, or because they chose to just do the minimum. (It happens with some Eagle Scout candidates too.) I suspect — and this is a compliment based just on your comment — that if _you_ went through the course and worked your ticket, your ticket items would _not_ be minor, they would make a clearly measurable improvement in the functioning of your troop, and the youth and adults in the troop would know how hard you worked.

  41. In regards to why the Maclaren tartan is so popular in Scouting, it’s not only due to Gilwell and Wood Badge, but also from a letter from the clan chief in 1920s I believe. Wish I could find the letter I read, but basically the Maclaren Clan Chief was also involved in Scottish Scouting. He noticed that some Scottish Scouts didn’t have a clan tartan to wear and it was causing some issues. In his letter granting any Scout or Scouter the right to wear the Maclaren tartan, he quotes BP on how Scouts are brothers to one another. Thus any Scout or Scouter has his permission to wear the clan tartan since they are his brother.

    Again wish I could find that letter

  42. I happily wear kilts during Scouting activities & events, but not at ALL activities & events.
    When I was attending Woodbadge course, the course director & SPL encouraged it & participated as well. When I was on staff, that course director made it open for attendees, but as staff, we stuck with the official full uniform.
    I feel free to wear a kilt anytime the boys are free to wear jeans or shorts.
    I do NOT wear it during a Troop CoH, and have only worn it during an Eagle CoH at the request of the Eagle Scout & his family.
    I did NOT wear it during my own son’s Eagle CoH, figuring it was HIS day and the focus should be on him completely, even though he expected me to wear it.

    My family requested that all of us Scouters wore uniforms to my grandmother’s funeral, and my brother & I wore kilts. The ladies of the family wore fancy red hats. My grandmother would have been extremely proud & all in attendance understood & loved it.

    I wore a kilt to a music festival yesterday & people I knew from Scouting picked me out of the crowd due to the kilt & came over for healthy, fun visits about their Scouts, Scouting, and how we can make the world in general a better place for youth.

    Units can’t dictate what Official BSA uniform is, but units can decide where & when non-official uniform, class B, non-holey jeans, kilts, casual dress, formal wear, etc is appropriate for their Troop.

    I know people who have other signature items they wear, shoes [you know who you are, Red Shoes 🙂 ], hat, bracelet, shorts, etc. Think about how FEW people actually wear a campaign hat – at this point you recognize each of them at a glance!
    As long as it’s meant for fun & to help people get to know & identify each other, and it’s NOT done disrespectfully, what’s the issue?

    • Greetings Adam –

      Sincerely appreciate your perspective and attitude toward the kilt.

      Carry on brother!

      ad altiora tendo

  43. Greetings all.

    I don’t normally follow this web site, but a good friend of mine forwarded a link to this discussion, knowing that I would be interested in the topic. I appreciate both the question being raised and for folks weighing in with their thoughts and opinions.

    For myself, I am an avid kilt wearer. I have 20 kilts, both traditional tartans and modern kilts of various types. I have a mixed Celtic ancestry, but I don’t cite that ancestry as any particular reason or authority to wear kilts. I wear them year round, for casual, fun, and for formal occasions. I wore a kilt in the Tough Mudder, Spartan Race, and several other adventure races. I’ve even worn a kilt on the Great Wall of China. (When people ask me if I’m Scottish, I generally reply, “A little bit, but I’m mostly just crazy!”)

    I was a Pack Cub Master for 5 years, and went by the moniker “the Kilted Cub Master”. I didn’t get kilted for everyday Pack events, but saved it for special occasions. I’ve been kilted at every summer camp I’ve attended for the past 7 years (for the whole camp stay mind you). I’ve even been kilted while Christmas caroling in the snow on more than one occasion! I’ve attended most official Scout training classes kilted, including Round Table, and definitely at Pow Wow. When I retired as Cub Master, the Pack’s parting gift to me was — yes! — another kilt.

    I have a UtiliKilt that is almost exactly the same color of green as the official Scout pants, and I can’t tell you the number of times people have approached me to ask if it was an “official” Scout kilt!

    In all the times that I’ve worn a kilt, no parent or adult has said one negative word to me directly, or that I’ve heard passed on to me from another. There has been some occasional friendly banter about wearing a “skirt”, but it’s always been in a good-natured way.

    In all my service to Scouting, my emphasis has been to provide an invigorating program that emphasizes fun, but which truly seeks to instill the spirit of Scouting to the boys. The values of moral character, leadership, followership, self-reliance, respect, and service have been at the core of what we’ve sought to do. I feel that I can look back proudly at my time in Scouting and the positive effect that we’ve had on the boys in our program. Being occasionally kilted hasn’t detracted from that – if anything, it added something unique to it.

    Now that our sons have “graduated” into Boy Scouts, I’ve taken a break from having a leadership role and am for the time being content to be “just” a dad in the troop. None-the-less, I am still kilted at all camp outs and at most other activities (I generally avoid being kilted while rock wall climbing and kayaking though…). All the other parents seem to have accepted this completely in stride, with no negative feedback.

    And like Adam in another post, I don’t wear the kilt at CoH’s as not to detract from the due attention being paid to others, or in other similar circumstances.

    So the question really is — why? Why be kilted? Well, I equate the kilt to something like a tribal tattoo. I don’t have any ink myself, but to me, a kilt is similar to having a tattoo that can be changed depending on the occasion. It’s a marking that separates me in one perspective, yet gives me fellowship in another. It is, at its core, an innately masculine artifact that is outside our cultural mainstream. It’s a reflection of a certain kind of inner spirit that refuses to be bottled up.

    (And for the record, since others brought it up, I always wear appropriate undergarments in any Scouting activity and would expect others to do the same.)

  44. If BSA allows Scottish / Irish kilts, then in this world of DIVERSITY should not every other ethnic type of lower body half covering be allowed, too?

  45. Seriously? You know where that money goes right? 13% goes straight back to your council to fund urban scouting programs; on top of that National donates even more to the council to help councils run. Uniforms and things from Supply are the ONLY way the BSA make what little money they do because they are a non-profit.

    I understand that it’s hard for low income units to gain uniforms, however I encourage those who can to do so for that very reason.

    Uniforms are an investment, stop bitching about how much it costs. No ones going to bend your arm to buy it. However I do feel people look out of place in jeans or other pants, especially leaders but I’m not going to say anything about it. It just shows they don’t read the insignia guide and if they do they don’t care. That’s what uniformity is all about but trying to drill that into some leaders is impossible.

    If you experience a problem with the Uniform, take it back to the shop! If it’s a manufacture defect, they will replace it. They have a 100% satisfaction guarantee. Stop slandering the BSA.

    • You are kidding, right? Where are you getting your info. Here’s a cut and paste about the income of the BSA. If they are getting that much money from selling uniforms I’m coming out of retirement and entering the clothing industry.

      The BSA’s total unrestricted assets—money that isn’t earmarked for any specific purpose—approached a billion dollars at that time (2009), and the national organization’s annual revenues top $300 million.

      Also, here’s a link to how units/councils/national are funded. I did not see a listing of national giving councils anything unless I missed it.

      Hell, they hardly do anything! I reported abuse when council would do nothing to the and all they did was tell me that it was a council problem. What do we pay them for!?

      The top exec gets 1.6 million a year! That’s thrifty?!


  46. To be perfectly honest….as long as youth shows up I was never very fussy as to what they wore. I never wanted any youth to be left out because of the uniform, especially since it is so expensive.

  47. In the Troop and Crew I’m involved with we have a very simply policy regarding Uniforms. Formal uniform for the Units are the inspection sheet from the waist up, starting at the belt. Closed toe shoes, and appropriate shorts or pants.

    We do provide the word “appropriate” when referring to pants, which starts off with the term ‘if there are not belt loops, its not appropriate’. Then we get into condition of the clothing matching the activity. We understand that not everyone can drop the money it takes to provide a complete uniform for their Scout, especially when they may have two boys and one or two adults involved to uniform.

    Now, as for the Kilt. No, we are not the UK branch of Scouting. And there is nothing in the Uniform guidelines that addresses the matter of the Kilt. Recently, I had a young man show up in a kilt. We had a little fun with it, lined him up for inspection and immediately pointed out that had forgotten to include a belt. It was fun, and considering the personality of the Scout, it was all in good fun, he’s sort of a comedian in the Troop and Crew.

    Do I have a problem with it? My thoughts on the matter are this. Uniformity. Most of the Boys in the Unit wear jeans under the Uniform Shirt. Those who don’t often wear an appropriate pair of belted shorts. It is the appearance of being a unit that we promote, the uniform is the glue that holds a unit together. So while we have a little fun with the kilt, I quietly explained to the young man that it didn’t fit into the appearance of the Unit. He understood.

    Now, if the entire unit wanted to adopt this item, which I seriously doubt will become the case, I don’t have a problem with it, as long as again, there is an appearance of being a single unit. We would have to address some ‘dress code’ issues, no regimental as they call it. And we would have to discuss the likely responses from other Scouters who simply have no sense of humor and are determined to be the Uniform Police.

  48. I have seen many adult leaders wear the kilt at Wood Badge events and ceremonies. My understanding is that this is appropriate since Clan McClaren is associated with the transferrance of Gilwell Field to Scouting in England. In fact, the Wood Badge kerchief has the McClaren tartan on it and those that complete Wood Badge are able to be registered as part of the McClaren Clan. It is part of BSA tradition for those who completed Wood Badge.

  49. I thought you had to have finished wood badge and been beaded in order to be with clan MacLaren also having done so the kilt was an honor as MacLaren was the one who gave Gilwell to Baden-Powel I am always very proud to wear it and explain it at every formal scouting event I attend

  50. We encourage our Scouts to be respectful of others, and I hope that includes other peoples cultures and history. I’m Scottish by birth and went through Scouting with 60th Ayrshire. I now live in the USA and gladly give up my time and energy to help my local troop. If anyone grudges me my birth right to wear my kilt then I’d suggest they’re analyzing the rules too much and missing a fundamental part of Scouting.

  51. Has anyone forgotten that BSA uniforms are offical but not mandatory? Whatever instills pride in the BOYS should be the focus. Kilts, pants, jeans, BDUs… Are you focusing on the appearance or the Aims and Methods while executing the Program? Let’s face it, the upcoming generation doesn’t have the feel the same appeal to uniforms. If the boys are stoked to wear a “hodge podge” uniform and show Scout Spirit as they grow into the young leaders we want the. To be, then we’ve won. This isn’t the military (of which I’m a 23 year veteran) and we should keep that in mind when dealing with the boys. I can quote uniform regs all day, but that’s not the point in the Scouting Movement.

    • That’s fine, but this thread isn’t really about the boys’ uniform preferences. It’s about the uniform preferences – kilts – of a few geeky adults.

      “Scout Spirit” includes building a sense of shared unit identity, esprit de corps. If that can be fostered through kilts, fine – deviate from the regs.

      In most cases, however, the preference for kilts is about adults just wanting to do their own thing. I don’t exactly see a groundswell of support among youth to wear kilts.

  52. This topic of conversation has been fun reading. Many valid points and I agree that the key to any Scout program is making it fun. As a retired military vet I am very familiar with uniform regulations. As a SM I want uniformity. As a Wood Badger, I had a lot of fun! And that’s what it really all comes down to – Are they boys getting anything out of it? Getting them to attend regularly is the first step, into a uniform is second.

    But let’s stay on topic – the Kilt. I embrace history and the idea of the kilt, assuming that the MacLaren tartan is the true official tartan to be worn in Scouting (although the Webelos plaid is another topic) it should be an option if National BSA policy can’t make a firm ruling. That being said, here is the topic for tomorrow because this is what bothers me most…
    If there is latitude to wear a kilt, using Gilwell history as a basis of my argument, should we not also be embracing the Scottish heritage that comes with wearing the kilt? I find it very out of place that women are wearing the kilt. If you are compelled to do so, then stay true to Scottish tradition and wear either the ankle-length tartan skirts or a below the knee pleated skirt. Have fun with what you’re doing, but please don’t be disrespectful or inappropriate to the Scottish heritage we draw some of our BSA history from.

    • Rand, I worry about the “Scottish Heritage” aspect. The entire Victorian Scottish revival skews the discussion, clan tartans or formal (short) kilts are not as old as the American nation, as it was mostly made up by and English Woman in the 1840s-50s. I enjoy wearing my kilt but I don’t get too caught up in the drama surrounding the “heritage” like my fellow Robbie Burns Society members do.

  53. Very interesting. Didn’t make it past July 2014 before jumping to the end. Forgive me if this has been answered multiple times. Early in the thread it was stated “B-P wore a kilt.” I can’t find a picture with B-P in a kilt. That was what brought me to this discussion.

  54. I wear uniform pants that match the color of the Bsa pant but buy from a uniform company(better quality n same price as the scout shop). Every April they sell a “tactical duty kilt” which is the same official green. I wear it at special occasions. Kids love it.

  55. Stillwaterkilts.com sells McClaren tartan kilts for scouts. I wear a kilt but never with scouting. I can’t imagine trying to camp in 14 yards synthetic wool.

  56. The uniform is not required to be a Scout. A boy could show up to his Eagle board of Review in a kilt and t-shirt, neat in appearance, and he would be allowed to have his BOR. Guide to Advancement section

  57. Was just at summer camp and saw plenty of boys wearing kilts. They were neat in appearance and they answered a lot of questions from other scouts. One question was answered with, “yes, we all wear something under it.” No one teased them and boys were walking off saying they thought it was cool.

  58. In this era of social activism, I would be leery of any talk of the introduction of skirts, be they kilts are not, into the BSA. Allowing that camel into the tent is a sure way to end up with a discrimination law suit. Make no mistake, there is an agenda by those not wishing to adhere to “morally straight”. Anyone not alert should be reminded, the BSA was forced into a expensive battle which led all the way to the Supreme Court just a few years ago. You may not wish to be combative, but your opponent is and does not rest.

  59. As a Wood Badger (Bobwhites) and a Member of the Clan McLean. I wear my kilt proudly. However, I use judgement as to when I wear it. When I am in scouting events I make sure I am respectful in the way i present myself.

  60. The comment that the uniform is not important … CONTRADICTS the training in S24 – Scoumaster Position Specific Training which says the polar opposite. Scouting Magazine needs training.

  61. Uniformity is one of the methods of the BSA, same as advancement … But the guidelines are muddied with lack of formal policy and guidance… Oddly enough, even with the policy and guidance for advancement we can still find ways to make that exceedingly painful 😉

  62. I still have two of the three uniform shirts I wore at the 2001 Jamboree. The only wear is fraying at the crease in the collar on the short sleeve shirt, the one I wear the most. I hesitate to purchase a new shirt as I don’t know how long I will continue in Scouting. I have stayed in 13 years after My son Eagled and aged out.

  63. Very little conversation about what is best for the kids on this thread. Just a lot of adults focusing on rule and regulations. How many Scouts wear blue jeans? Sad. So very sad.

  64. As a former Scoutmaster and OA member, our troop was not from well to do families but they were good parents and supported their children. These parents worked hard to support the troop. Our Class A uniform included scout pants or shorts if you could get them however, Jeans were accepted as Class A. Class B uniform should consist of a BSA T shirt and scout pants, or a similar color or jeans. It is the shirt that the scout can look back on and see just what he did accomplish. Not the clothes, the ideals of Scouting.

  65. UK Scouting have the kilt as an official option for male members, and tartan skirts for girls. In Scotland all members may wear either their own tartan, the Scout tartan, or a “generic” tartan such as the Black Watch. Any UK citizen may wear the Hunting Stewart as a sign of allegiance the the Queen as Chief of Chiefs. In theory in the rest of UK Scouts should be of Scottish descent to wear the kilt in uniform, but we don’t ask to see your grandfather’s birth certificate!

    The tartan of the Webelos scarf – ” Cub Scouts of America” -.is registered with the Tartans Authority as a corporate tartan, but it is not available as kilt fabric. Presumably it could be manufactured to order, although for US copyright reasons it might require permission from BSA National. The Scout Tartans (there are two) belong to The Scout Association in UK, but as far as I know the design is not legally protected, so anyone can order it. Or there would be nothing to stop BSA designing its own tartan … for that matter a unit could design its own tartan and register if with the Tartan Auithority … the problem is the cost of weaving a short length.

    A full kilt outfit is expensive … sports kilts are relatively cheap, but if you want one made to measure in your own family tartan you are talking $500 and upwards here in UK. Then add kilt hose (socks), sporran, sgian dubh … I got a discount on my outfit and it still cost over $750. A kilt looks smart on formal occasions, but probably not for camp … woodsmoke, mud, ketchup etc. is not good for a kilt that consists of seven yards of pleated, dry clean only woolen fabric! I have bought a blue utilikilt for camp (blue is the colour of official Scout trousers and skirts in UK)

    That said, a few years ago we had a St Andrew’s Night at Beavers (UK program for 6-8 year-olds) and six of the boys were of Scottish descent and wore a kilt … Iit was possible to pick up a kilt and a sporran on eBay secondhand for about $30 in their sizes. On Burns’ Night we had haggis and tatties and one of the kilted Beaver Scouts brought in the haggis with due ceremony. We had Irn-Bru in place of the traditional malt whisky.

    I am an instructor at the Scout Air Activities Centre at Biggin Hill Airport and sometimes wear my kilt, usually in summer. In winter the airport is wet and windy and you can’t wear waterproofs with a kilt!

  66. Just got my first Kilt at the urging of my boys in The a Order of The Arrow. Will be fun to see how many boys follow suit now.

  67. I see alot of debate saying what is proper and what the Clan MacLaren Association permits or allows etc…

    It is up to the Scouting organization to set and police their uniform requirements, but in doing so the governing council would be wise to remember the words of Scouting’s founder, Lord Robert Baden-Powell, who said, and wrote, “A kilt is always an acceptable part of any uniform.”

    A proper kilt should always considered a quite proper and formal garment when worn with a formal sporran, and it can also be considered an informal one when worn with an informal or day wear sporran.

    As for the wearing the MacLaren kilt.. regardless of what the Clan MacLaren Association says they permit or allow… there is no regulation authority anywhere restricting who is permitted to wear what tartan, even in Scotland, for individuals associated of one clan or another, or of no clan membership or association at all. It is proper and permitted or allowed for any individual to wear any specific tartan they choose, with the exception of the Queens own Tartan (Royal Balmoral) or private restricted tartans.

    The wearing of the Royal Balmoral Tartan is restricted by British law to only the Queen or her immediate family, or her designates. The wearing of other restricted tartans is not truly restricted, but the official government tartan registry and the weaving industry strictly controls the release of their patterns (thread counts), and the production and selling is limited to only individuals that are permitted or licensed by the registered owner, making obtaining one rather difficult. ALL other tartans, including Clan, Regional, and Organizational Tartans, are permitted or allowed to be purchased and worn by anyone that desires to do so, whether they want to do so to show allegiance or loyalty to that clan, region, or organization, or just because they like the pattern.

    SO….Membership in Clan MacLaren, or any other Clan for that matter, even in the USA, is not a requirement for it to be proper to wear that clans tartan, and their permission, or having to document geneological proof, is not required for an individual to be permitted to wear it.

  68. I like and wear kilts almost daily; they are comfortable for me for many reasons and none of it is about getting attention. I like Scouting.We have a few die-hard-kilted local Scout Execs in this council. I’m an Eagle Scout, Husband, Father, Leader, Wood Badger (C5-198-15,Owl), and on Wood Badge Staff (C5-198-16, Troop Guide) this year. While I wore kilts to Wood Badge as I went through the course and as I have conducted round-table training, I have been asked to adhere more strictly to the uniform policy as a Wood Badge staff member; I will not be wearing my kilts as Wood Badge Staff. For me, it is about the boys and their needs, not my personal desires and comfort. I am willing to sacrifice some personal comfort to help train the adults who are guiding these boys.

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