Nametags on Scout uniforms are OK — and probably a good idea for larger troops

In Tom’s troop, the adult leaders wear nametags. The Scouts do not.

But with the troop now more than 100 Scouts strong, it’s getting tougher to know which Scout is Aiden and which is Jayden.

That led Tom’s troop to consider nametags for youth members.

“We feel it would help not only the adult leaders in learning the Scouts’ names but also help the Scouts,” Tom writes. “My concern is that since the Scouts would obviously be in public with these uniforms and nametags, does that violate any Youth Protection or other privacy issues? I haven’t been able to find anything about this so looking for some help.”

What the Uniform Guide says

The Guide to Awards and Insignia (page 28) shows a nametag on a uniform, meaning they’re approved for uniform wear.

The nametag is worn above the words “Boy Scouts of America” over the right pocket. If an interpreter strip is worn, the nametag goes above that. You’ll find the illustrations on pages 28, 46, 51, and 65 of the Guide to Awards and Insignia.

What you’ll find at your local Scout Shop

The Scout Shop sells nameplates in a number of varieties. You can select which image will appear next to the name — Cub Scout logo, BSA fleur-de-lis, Venturing logo or Exploring logo.

There are one-line and two-line versions, and you can pick between magnetic fasteners or clutch-back clasps.

What the Youth Protection Committee says

I talked to Jim Wilson, chairman of the BSA’s Youth Protection Committee.

He reiterates that nametags are not required and that there’s “no real one answer that fits all occasions.”

“They are worn as a courtesy and a way to identify someone in a group,” Wilson says. “The appropriate type of nametag depends on the activity, the group, and the ages of those wearing the nametags. As we do in all cases, we ask folks to use good judgement when it comes to their concerns about perceived or real Youth Protection issues.”

In other words, nametags are approved by the BSA and even sold in Scout Shops. But they aren’t required.

That means each unit should decide whether nametags make sense for them.

“If a unit doesn’t like nametags, then they shouldn’t use them,” Wilson says. “However, if a grouping of adults think it is the way to ensure all will be easily recognized, clearly that’s OK also.”

What I say

I think nametags are a great idea, especially in larger troops or at events like the National Jamboree, where you have Scouts from several home troops forming one large Jamboree troop.

I’ve seen troops with nametags that show the first name only, first name and last initial, and full name. I’d recommend asking your troop committee to take up the matter.

If you’re looking for a temporary identifier that costs less than $10, invest in some stick-on nametags for a few meetings.

More discussions like this

This blog post idea came from a thread in the Bryan on Scouting forums. Be sure to check the forums out today.

38 Comments

  1. I make name tags for the adults in our troop who have uniforms. I did it at summer camp one year with the boys first names. Easy to do with wood strips and stick on letters.

  2. I have my name embroidered on all my uniform shirts so the don’t come off with the backpack. I also admire the laundry-safe labels from LeeLeeLables from the flyer with my 2017 NSJ order

    • This is a good point. Nametags in the proper nametag location don’t really work with backpack straps. In this case, if people are going to be wearing backpacks/camelbacks all the time, it might make more sense to secure the nametag to the backpack strap in the appropriate location, so that it’s easy to spot the nametag.

    • the problem with embroidering name tags onto uniform shirts is it basically renders the shirt unusable to future scouts who may need shirts at a bargain price.

      • Pants get handed down. Shirts? I’ve never seen it happen. A scout shirt holds and displays the Scout’s entire history of awards and accomplishments. Scouts (or at least, their mothers) want to keep their shirts as a memento of their scouting career.

        I also can’t imagine a young Scout wanting an older shirt. Their “new” uniform would show all the residue and marks of the old Scout’s patches (especially if they were put on with the PatchMagic glue). Even scout families who scrimp on everything else find a way to get a new shirt rather than deal with the damage on an old one..

        But to the extent that you’re willing to unstitch all those old patches, it’s no harder to unstitch the embroidered name tag.

        • As one who has worn “experienced uniforms,” as well as my sons, I can tell you that even sewn on patches will leave a “marked” uniform. When I tried to remove a regional patch from one uniform, the outline of the patch was slightly darker than the rest of the shirt. it was obvious the patch was there, so I put it back on. With patches like rank, CSPs, unit numbers, etc there is a natural “cover up” with the new insignia. Specialty patches, i.e. regional insignia, jamboree insignia, custom name tapes, etc do not have a natural cover up.

    • 🔲🔲 . Think about Velcro like the military “temporary” patches and a fabric name tag. 🔲🔲
      . . . . This would not be uncomfortable under backpack straps.
      . . . . Just be careful that the name patch does not look like it came of the work uniform of “Joe” the plumber or auto mechanic.

  3. Hey Scout? We have had tremendous growth in the past two years and many non typical names in the recruitment, I think we will review this suggestion closely.

  4. I wish I had used name tags when I was Scoutmaster. We had 26 registered Scouts and 3 sets of identical twins. To this day I can’t tell them apart. The other boys knew who was who because they also went to school together.

  5. with sixty scouts and 25 adults I would have to do a fundraiser for name tags! I usually buy them for the adult leaders ,committee chair, treasurer, Eagle coach out of my own pocket!

  6. We give our adult leaders one of the engraved plastic nametags when they complete Adult Leader Training. We give our Scouts who complete NYLT a nametag that we print up ourselves with the Troop logo and “Trained” on it, along with their first name in large type and last name smaller. We make those up on inkjet printer business card stock and laminate them in I.D. badge pockets that come with clips that will hold onto their epaulets on their uniforms.

    The laminated nametags last reasonably well and are inexpensive to replace if lost. The catch is that the business card stock prints 10-up, so you end up running them in batches, not individually. Not a problem as we typically have 8-10 Scouts attending NYLT each year.

  7. Bryan, you are correct in what the illustration on page 28 of the Guide to Awards and Insignia shows. This is also described on page 65. HOWEVER, in true BSA fashion, a contradictory standard is published on the uniform inspection sheets for Boy Scouts (https://www.scoutstuff.org/media/content/docs/pdfs/6568_103111_BS_UniformInspSheet_R11.pdf) and Scouters (https://www.scoutstuff.org/media/content/docs/pdfs/6568_103111_Ldr_UniformInspSheet_R12.pdf). Page two of both states that the nameplate may also be worn on the pocket flap if no OA lodge patch is worn.

    What is the absolute official word? Why is it that frequently there are contradictions between two official sources of information that seemingly come from the same group at National?

    • I was taught that the Insignia Guide now called the <Guide to Awards and Insignia is the ‘Insignia bible” and trumps the inspection sheets. Notice the Boy Scout Inspection sheet does not mention Honor Guard insignia. Also note how on the Scouter inspection sheet,. World Jamboree Insignia is considered temporary insignia, first i hear I might add, but the G2AI states “A World Scout Jamboree or U.S. National Jamboree emblem is worn above the right pocket by a Boy Scout/Venturer/Sea Scout or Scouter who is registered to attend or attended the jamboree as a registered participant or staff
      member. “

    • Keith, it’s not contradictory at all. If you have no OA patch on your flap, you may wear your nametag either on the flap or above the BSA strip. If you have an OA flap patch, the nametag must be worn above the BSA strip.

      • Looking at the G2AI, the policy of wearing a name tag on the right pocket flap is no more. Looks like the inspoection sheets need to be updated, and not copy and pasted.

        • There is nothing written in the G2AI that says where it should go, just a picture, and the same picture that’s always been used showing it above the pocket and showing a pocket flap. Nowhere does it say that is now the only acceptable location, and nowhere does it say that on the pocket flap is incorrect. The problem here doesn’t seem to be that the rules were changed, it’s that there is no explanation in the G2AI to accompany the illustration.

    • I think the “on the pocket flap if no OA lodge patch is worn” might have been in the Guide to Awards and Insignia at one time (or Insignia Control Guide, as it used to be called). I suspect it went away because not many people wore them there and there really wasn’t a reason to have them in two different locations on different people. I seem to recall ladies wearing them on the left pocket instead of right pocket, again for no apparent reason. And “in true BSA fashion,” they update one thing without changing other related things to make them match.

  8. Names on uniforms? Yes. Name tags? No. The plastic nametags from BSA are just one more piece to fall off, get lost and generally give everyone fits. And heaven help you if you try to wear them outside. They snag on overcoats and they REALLY hurt when you try to carry a backpack.

    Much better is to have your (or the Scout’s) name embroidered on the shirt. No, it’s not officially sanctioned (yet) but it is far, far more practical. And more comfortable. I have the embroidery shop match the size and font of the “Boy Scouts of America” but in black (yellow when my son was still wearing the Cub Scout blues).

  9. This article is inaccurate. Nametags only go above the Boy Scouts of America name when there is a pocket flap patch. Otherwise they are worn on the pocket flap.

    • WindLord96,

      Looking at the G2AI, the policy of wearing a name tag on the right pocket flap has changed. Looks like the inspection sheets need to be updated, and not copy and pasted.

    • I believe that was true at one time, but it is not what the current Guide to Awards and Insignia says.

      “Nameplate, white letters on black plastic, No. 20100; worn by all members, above right pocket either above BSA strip or above interpreter strip. May be worn at top edge of left breast pocket on male dress uniform or on right lapel of female dress uniform.”

      “Dress uniform” refers to the blue blazer, NOT the “field uniform” or what many call the “class A uniform.”

  10. We had two Jamboree troops that had identamelabels.com create name tags for. These looked identical to the supply division labels and you don’t have to worry about pin backs, or magnetic backs coming off. They go through the laundry just fine, and my troop even stitched them on like a patch for longevity. Cost is less than an engraved name plate and you will get 5 of them that you can also use to mark gear with. Talk/email Gail, she will know what you need.

  11. No on the stick on nametags or you will have another issue. There is something about the adhesive that does not stick as it should and they end up falling off. Can you guess where? the floor and never fails sticky side down on the floor which means now one has to scrap them off. We were having issues with this at our event that I had to ask out not to use this method and instead do the folded cardstock on the desk instead. It is torture getting them off the floor.

  12. My troop has our names (first & last name) on our uniforms. It was getting hard to tell which shirt was whose, if we collected them after an event/flag ceremony. When we get a new scout, we show them which cleaners we use. It was never to tell which scout was who. Our troop is kind of small, 25 Scouts or less. Our name tags are embroidered and sewn on material like the shirt.

  13. This article begs the question about troop size. If a troop is so large that we don’t not know the Scout’s name, it is time to think the troop is too large. Not only are the Scout’s names lost, but leadership opportunities and personal attention suffer in large troops.

    This issue may come into sharp focus in Cub Scout packs next year as already large packs burst at the seams with girls joining the program. In this case, it may be hard finding big enough locations to meet together that allow the promise of Family Scouting to take root. A central premise of Family Scouting is one place to take all the boys and girls in scouting.

  14. There are many pros for Scouts and Scouters wearing a name tag on their uniform but if the reason is because their unit is so big that the unit leader can’t remember everyone’s name then the Unit committee has another issue to address. Can a unit properly achieve the Aims and fulfill the Mission in every youth member if there are so many members that the Unit Leader doesn’t know them all by name?

    • Yes, if you have enough leaders, youth and adult. Every Patrol Leader knows the Scouts in his patrol. If it’s too large for one SPL to deal with all the Patrol Leaders, then you have multiple ASPLs, each responsible for a group of PLs. An ASM can be advisor to each ASPL/PL group.

  15. Our troop orders embroidered nametag patches for each of our new scouts. They are then sewn on the uniform like any other patch, and can be removed if the uniform is handed down (or transferred to a new uniform, when the Scout grows.) We only use first-name, last-initial, to preserve privacy when in public or in pictures.

  16. Our Troop floats around the 100 member mark depending on age outs and recruitment. We have a strong adult leadership to mentor the different aspects of Scouting and have a very successful program.

    As to the names issue – as Scoutmaster, I can tell you I know every Scout’s name and rank from memory. When they first join – it takes me a few weeks to learn all their names – and the name-tag helps.

    Troop styles and practices vary from Troop to Troop. It’s an all volunteer organization. Keep that in mind before questioning the validity of a large Troop’s ability to deliver the program. Not all my leaders are directly involved with every Scout every meeting or event. The name-tags help when they first come on board with the Troop.

    Our name-tag is a printed washable patch that is sewn on. It can transfer easily to the next shirt size up as they grow up. The smaller shirt is able to be put in our uniform closet for other younger

    The first batch was expensive (for 100+ Scouts and 40+ Leaders) – but maintenance year to year for new recruits is very inexpensive and part of our on boarding packet with our Troop numbers and neckerchief.

    The name-tag is not only for the adults but is mostly for the Scouts for 2 main reasons:

    1st) When they remove the Field shirt for a sports activity to only be wearing the activity shirt under. The pile of shirts with name-tags = no lost shirts or traded shirts between Scouts.

    2nd) Especially with the youngest Scouts – they don’t know all the older Scouts names or adult leader names. When they come to an adult for help and then are asked to talk to the SPL, ASPL, Quartermaster, etc… by name – they can find them with a little detective work of reading the patches. Or – you need to go see Mr. Smith for the Outdoor Chairperson to RSVP, or etc…

  17. If identifing the scout not the issue but the uniform is use laundry or sharpie pen on hidden seam. I have been assiciated with several different units that used this method. In lew of names come uo w/ a numbering system, especially when Uniform bank maintained.

  18. I’ve seen a few Leaders that have taken an old uniform shirt, cut a patch-sized piece off of it, and then had it embroidered and hemmed to make a name-tag patch. These could then be sewn onto the uniform, with no permanent damage to either patch or uniform. They actually look very nice, and more “official” looking than the plastic ones from the BSA 🙂 . I’d love to see National amend the uniform policy to allow embroidered name patches. I’m a Roundtable Commissioner, and occasionally do presentations on proper uniforming and insignia… as such, while I’m not the “uniform police” for others, I do have to be so for myself… I can’t be telling others what’s proper if I’m not setting the example 🙂 .

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