Do you need to match your uniform to specific meetings?

You’re going to your daughter’s den meeting at 5:30 p.m., and your son’s troop meeting is at 7 p.m. You’ll have to drive straight there from the den meeting — and your uniform is covered in Cub Scout patches.

Correct uniforming is important, but obviously, you’re not going to break out the fabric scissors, needle and thread between meetings to swap out patches. Should you be worried about wearing den leader badges while serving as an assistant Scoutmaster?

The question

A Scouter named Dave wrote us with these concerns:

If I hold two leadership positions in two different units, which badge of office patch should I sew to my uniform? Is it the official BSA policy for me to use Velcro to change my leadership position patches on my sleeve? Am I technically required to swap out my shoulder loops for every meeting?

The expert’s response

The official policy in the Guide to Awards and Insignia states that while wearing the uniform at events is not mandatory, it’s highly encouraged. Wearing your uniform properly can instill a sense of achievement, belonging and pride. It can also serve as a good example to your Scouts and work as a recruiting tool for those interested in Scouting who you encounter. We asked National Awards and Recognition Committee Chair John Duncan to provide some guidance on uniforming while leading in different programs:

Ideally, you should wear a uniform that reflects the volunteer position you are serving in at that moment. There is nothing in our uniform guidelines that precludes the use of Velcro, if desired, and if that works for you, it is acceptable. This enables you to keep your other badge of office in your pocket along with the other set of shoulder loops, and change in a minimal amount of time.  

And what about the shoulder loops?

The shoulder loops reflect the programs, and should match the badge of office, so when you change a badge of office, you should also change the shoulder loops.   

Some leaders prefer to have multiple uniforms at the ready to change into, though that might be cost-prohibitive for some. So, what if you don’t want to put Velcro on all your badges and can’t afford to get another uniform? Don’t sweat it, Duncan says; you can find ways to reinforce the connection among Scouting’s programs:

Don’t get too caught up in changing a uniform between every meeting. There is no harm in occasionally being in a Cub Scout leader uniform while working with the Scouts — it may remind them of the important tie the troop needs to maintain to area Cub Scout packs as the source of the next generation of Scouts. Likewise, there is no harm in occasionally wearing a Scout leader uniform while working with Cub Scouts — they might ask you questions that give you an opportunity to get them (youth or adults) excited about what lies ahead in the next program.  

Let’s hear from you

As a leader in multiple programs, what have you done in this situation?

Also, the Scout Shop can help you build your uniform here.

About Michael Freeman 50 Articles
Michael Freeman, an Eagle Scout, is associate editor of Boys’ Life, Scouting and Eagles’ Call magazines.