The BSA Centennial Uniform
The Scouting program in America has always included uniforms for
its members and volunteers to identify members and show they are part of
the Boy Scouts of America. Scouts and leaders should wear their
uniforms to all patrol meetings, troop meetings, and scout outings.
The tan and green Boy Scout uniform is a well-known symbol of
American scouting. All scouts in the program wear the same uniform with
the major differences being the badges each scout has earned and the
troop specific neckerchief.
The official dress uniform is commonly referred to as the 'Class A'
uniform but, officially known as the "Field Uniform". Most scout troops
also have an "activity uniform", referred to as 'Class B' which is
often a t-shirt customized just for the troop. Activity uniforms are
worn for work projects, sporting activities, and other events in which
the dress uniform might get damaged.
Field Duty Uniform (Commonly known as Class A)
Official short sleeve shirt
- Red Shoulder Loops
- Troop 319 Numerals
- World Crest
- Patrol Patch
Official scout pants or shorts (optional)
Official BSA tweed belt
Official BSA neckerchief and slide (Blue)
Boy Scout Handbook
Field Activity Uniform (Commonly Class B)
Troop 319 Field Activity T-shirt
Boy Scout Handbook
Boy Scout Uniforms
The first Scout uniform was an impractical copy of the US Army
uniform of 1910, which disregarded the far more practical English
uniform designed by Baden-Powell. The early BSA uniform had no
neckerchief, and Scouts generally wore knickers with leggings and a
button-down coat with metal insignia. Scouts and adults both wore their
rank insignia on their hats (adults were allowed to earn merit badges
and ranks right along with the Scouts).
In 1922, the BSA modernized its uniforms to the style we would
recognize today. Coats and leggings were dropped, and neckerchiefs were
added. Scouts could wear shorts and knee socks in the summer, knickers
and knee socks in the winter (trousers replaced knickers in 1944).
Until 1948, all Scouts wore campaign ("Smokey the Bear") hats. At
that time, the field (overseas) cap (popularized by World War II
soldiers) was added. Red berets and baseball-style caps joined the
options in 1972. Also in 1972, the BSA changed almost every uniform
insignia, making them multi-color, standardizing the shapes, and adding
wording to explain what they signify. Brightly colored patches replaced
the old black-on-red patrol medallions and the black-on-khaki merit
In 1981, fashion designer Oscar de la Renta designed a more
attractive Scout uniform (at no charge). The more stylish new uniform
maintained a clear Scout identity in its appearance, but used more
rugged material and added colored shoulder loops. The most striking
change was the switch to a two-color uniform (something many other
countries have long had). A tan shirt and dark khaki-green trousers
replaced the old medium khaki-green shirt and trousers (which in turn
had replaced a medium khaki-brown). In 1989, along with the other
changes largely restoring the pre-1972 program, the BSA changed its rank
and office insignia so that they more nearly matched the pre-1972
insignia, keeping the wording but replacing the multi-colored
backgrounds with backgrounds matching the tan shirt color.
In 1990, the BSA added an optional "activity" uniform in addition
to the standard field uniform (like the leggings of the 1950s, the
expensive activity uniform has not caught on, mainly because Scouts must
still own a field uniform for more formal occasions).
In the early 1990s, the BSA discontinued its unpopular knee socks,
replacing them with shorter khaki socks with a red band at the top. In
1995, responding to complaints (mostly from adults embarrassed about
their ugly legs, I suspect), the BSA brought back the knee socks as an
Today's Scouts and Scouters wear colored shoulder loops to indicate
the branch of the Scouting family to which they belong. Cub Scout
leaders (and Webelos Scouts who choose to wear the Boy Scout uniform)
wear blue loops (other Cub Scouts and Tiger Cubs do not wear loops), Boy
Scouts and their leaders wear red, Varsity Scouts and their leaders
wear orange, Venturer's and their leaders wear green, District and
Council Scouters wear silver, and Regional and National Scouters wear
The Most Important Change.
With all these many changes, you know what is easily the most
important one in the uniform's 86-year history? It's permanent press!
Until the mid 1960s, uniforms were wrinkle-prone cotton or itchy wool.
Ironing might last an hour or so (sometimes minutes). Modern,
cotton/polyester permanent-press materials are a big improvement.