Scouting magazine

Clearing up common questions about what we wear

Scouting founder Robert Baden-Powell was a stickler for correct uniforming. In Aids to Scoutmastership, he explained why: “Smartness in uniform and correctness in detail may seem a small matter, but has its value in the development of self-respect and means an immense deal to the reputation of the movement among outsiders who judge by what they see.”

These days, many packs, troops and crews have a more relaxed stance on uniforms. No Scout is turned away or publicly admonished because he or she isn’t wearing the right thing. But in an effort to keep the uniform, well, uniform, we present these common conundrums.

What’s the field uniform?

It’s what most people think of as the Scout uniform. It includes the uniform shirt; switchback pants, shorts, girls’ skort or girls’ roll-up pants; belt; socks; and, depending on your program, cap and neckerchief. (For Lions, the official uniform is a T-shirt and optional cap.)

What’s the activity uniform?

It’s appropriate for informal occasions. It’s the same as the field uniform, with a Scouting T-shirt or polo shirt replacing the uniform shirt and neckerchief. (Sometimes you’ll hear this unofficially called “Class B” and the field uniform called “Class A.”)

Can neckerchiefs be worn with the activity uniform?

Yes — and also with nonuniform clothing. That change was made to bring the BSA in line with other Scout associations around the world.

What are the pant options for girl Cub Scouts? 

Tigers, Wolves, Bears and Webelos who wear the blue Cub Scout uniform can choose from switchback pants, shorts, roll-up pants and skorts. Webelos who wear the khaki uniform can choose from pants and shorts. (Additional uniform options for girls in the khaki uniform are expected to be available in 2019.)

How can girls with ponytails wear Cub Scout caps?

All current Cub Scout rank caps, with the exception of Webelos, are adjustable to allow for a ponytail. The Supply Group is planning to release similar caps for Webelos soon.

Is the uniform required at boards of review?

No. According to the Guide to Advancement, it’s preferable for the Scout or Venturer to be in full uniform (or at least in as much of it as he or she owns) and that the uniform be as correct as possible. Otherwise, the candidate should be clean and neat in appearance, and dressed appropriately. A board of review cannot reject a candidate solely for reasons related to uniforming or attire. Similarly, Sea Scouts appearing before a bridge of honor are encouraged, but not required, to wear the Sea Scout dress uniform.

Where can I learn more about the placement of patches?

Check the Guide to Awards and Insignia at go.scoutingmagazine.org/insigniaguide. You can also put your uniform together at www.scoutshop.org/uniform_builder