About the BSA Uniform

Why We Wear Them and How...

Words from Robert Baden-Powel (Founder of Scouting)

The Scout kit (Unit, Patrol, Crew, Den, etc.), through its uniformity, now constitutes a bond of brotherhood among boys across the world.The correct wearing of the uniform and smartness of turnout of the individual Scout makes him a credit to our movement. It shows his pride in himself and in his unit.

One slovenly Scout, on the other hand, inaccurately dressed may let down the whole movement in the eyes of the public. Show me such a fellow and I can show you one who has not grasped the true Scouting Spirit and who takes no pride in his membership of our great Brotherhood. "Campfire Yarn No.3. Becoming a Scout." Baden-Powell, Scouting for Boys, 1908.

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.

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. Scouts in uniform are conscious of their rank and make a greater effort to advance. Only the uniform provides a place for display of badges—important symbols of achievement. Scouts have more fun, stay longer, feel greater pride in advancement.

It is not the purpose of the Scout uniform to hide the differences between the boys or make them feel that they are all the same. There is one way in which all Scouts are alike. Whenever a Scout sees another person in a Scout uniform he knows he is like that person because both have committed themselves principles of the Scout Oath and Law. The Scout Oath and Law bind all Scouts of the world together in a common purpose.

By wearing the uniform, Scouts give each other strength and support. Beyond accenting the common bond between Scouts, by wearing the uniform, Scouts are declaring their faith and commitment to some important beliefs that bind them to all people. It is a way of making visible their belief in God, their loyalty to our country and their commitment to helping other people who need them.

How the uniform can help the Troop:

  1. When smartly worn, the uniform can help build good Troop spirit.

  2. By investing in a uniform, a Scout and his parents are making a commitment to take Scouting seriously.

  3. The uniform makes the Troop visible as a force for good in the community.

  4. When properly worn on the correct occasions, it can attract new members.

  5. Scouts in uniform create a strong, positive, youth image in the neighborhood, thus helping to counteract the negative feeling some adults have about youth.