Clearing Up Common Questions About What We Wear

(From the September-October 2018 issue of Scouting magazine.)

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.


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.

Photo by Michael Roytek

Can neckerchiefs be worn with the activity uniform?

Yes — and also with nonuniform clothing. All Scouting programs around the world that are part of the World Organization Scouting Movement have a policy that says when you’re wearing the neckerchief, you are in uniform by WOSM’s standards.


What are the pant options for girl Cub Scouts and girl members of Scouts BSA?

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. Webelos girls can choose from roll-up pants, shorts, skorts and pants.


How can girls with ponytails wear Scout caps?

Two Scouts BSA caps are available – one is adjustable, allowing for a ponytail.


Is the uniform required at boards of review for Scouts BSA, Venturing and Sea Scouts?

No. According to the Guide to Advancement, it’s preferable for the Scout 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.


Where can I learn more about the placement of patches?

Check the Guide to Awards and Insignia at You can also put your uniform together at

1 Comment

  1. I am familiar with the Oscar de la Renta and Centennial uniforms, but there appears to be a more recent update to the Centennial. For instance, instead of bellows pockets, the pockets on the shirt are once again flat. Does this redesign have a name or other designation?


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.