The Boy Scouts of America has always been a uniformed body. There are many reasons for this. One reason stands out above all the rest. We wear the uniform because it is a means of identifying ourselves openly with the principles to which we are committed - character development, citizenship training, and physical and mental fitness.
The fact that youth and adult members of Scouting wear a uniform doesn't mean that we are all alike. We come from different ethnic and racial backgrounds. We have our own religious beliefs and political views. We are each individuals with our own family traditions and loyalties. So, the uniform is not intended to hide our individuality. But it is a way we give each other strength and support. It is a bond that ties us together, in spite of our differences. It is a way of making visible our commitment to a belief in God, loyalty to our country, and to helping other people.
The Scouting movement is built on positive values. As we wear the uniform, we are openly identifying ourselves with those values where everyone can see us. We stand together, not alone, in encouraging others to live by those same principles. Boys and adults alike should take pride in belonging to such a movement and wear the uniform as it is intended.
History of the Uniform
Early Boy Scout uniforms were copies of the U.S. Army uniforms of the time. Scouts generally wore knickers with leggings, a button-down choke-collar coat and the campaign hat. Adults wore a Norfolk jacket with knickers or trousers. In 1916, Congress banned civilians from wearing uniforms that were similar in appearance to those of the armed forces with the exception of the BSA. The uniform was redesigned in 1923—the coat and leggings were dropped and the neckerchief standardized. The field cap was introduced in 1943. A major improvement in 1965 was the change from wool and cotton to permanent press materials. The Improved Scouting Program in 1972 included a major overhaul of badges and other insignia, replacing many two color patches with multicolor versions and also introduced the red beret. In 1980 fashion designer, Oscar de la Renta, introduced the two color uniform with tan shirt and green pants.
Explorers had a spruce green uniform, but by the 1970s many posts were developing their own uniform. Eventually only the shirt was available, leading many to wear the shirt with olive green Boy Scout pants or shorts. When Exploring was moved to Learning for Life in 1998, the new Venturing division used the spruce green shirt with charcoal gray pants.
The uniform had traditionally been referred to as the "field uniform", but the BSA now uses the terms "official Boy Scout uniform", "official Venturing uniform" and the like. With the introduction of the Switchbacks zip-off pants, the trend is towards a uniform emphasizing comfort and utility.
The New Uniform
We’ve come a long way from the original short pants and stockings of the British Scout uniform from 100 years ago. As technology advances, high-performance, functional fabrics evolve, allowing us to improve upon and make significant changes to the Boy Scout Uniform.
It’s all about comfort, ease of care, and functionality. The shirts and pants are lightweight and highly durable in microfiber Supplex® nylon or cotton-rich poplin and canvas. Bellows pockets keep things secure with hook-and-loop closures; roll-up sleeves stay in place with Swiss tabs. From the top of the new forest green cap down to the moisture-wicking socks, you’ll be comfortable and proud to wear the new official Centennial Boy Scouts of America Uniform.
Uniform Policies and Procedures
There are certain rules about how and where the uniform should be worn. There is a correct place on the uniform for each badge and insignia. All Scout leaders should become familiar with the rules and regulations on uniforming so they can set a good example for their Scouts. You can find more information in the Insignia Control Guide .
To download Uniform Inspection Sheets that will assist with the proper placement of patches on you and your Scouts uniform, click a link below.
Cub Scout Uniform Inspection Sheet
Webelos Uniform Inspection Sheet
Boy Scout Uniform Inspection Sheet
Leader Uniform Inspection Sheet