The uniform is one of the Aims and Methods of the Scouting Program.
- "The uniform makes the Boy Scout troop visible as a force for good and creates a positive youth image in the community. Boy Scouting is an action program, and wearing the uniform is an action that shows each Boy Scout's commitment to the aims and purposes of Scouting. The uniform gives the Boy Scout identity in a world brotherhood of youth who believe in the same ideals. The uniform is practical attire for Boy Scout activities and provides a way for Boy Scouts to wear the badges that show what they have accomplished." - Aims and Methods of the Scouting Program
When is a Scout "in uniform"?
A Scout is "in uniform" when he wears the full uniform for his program:
- Cub Scout/Webelos uniform has required parts:
- Cap. Tiger Cub cap, Cub Scout Wolf cap, Cub Scout Bear cap, or Webelos cap
- Neckerchief and Slide. Triangular for that rank level
- Shirt. Official long- or short-sleeve, blue for Tiger Cubs and Cub Scouts and either blue or tan (optional) for Webelos Scouts.
- Belt. Official blue web belt. Webelos Scouts wearing optional tan uniform may wear either the blue belt (preferred) and Webelos buckle or olive belt and Webelos buckle. Cub Scout belt loops are worn only on the blue belt.
- Pants/Shorts. Official, pressed; no cuffs. Blue for Tiger Cubs and Cub Scouts and either blue (with blue shirt) or olive (with tan shirt) for Webelos Scouts.
- Socks. Dark blue official socks with orange tops for Tiger Cubs and gold tops for Cub Scouts. Webelos Scouts wearing optional olive/tan uniform wear official Boy Scout olive socks.
- Boy Scout/Varsity Scout uniform has four required parts:
- Headgear. All troop members must wear the headgear chosen by vote of the troop/team.
- 'Shirt and Neckwear. Official long- or shortsleeve tan shirt with red (Boy Scout) or blaze orange (Varsity) shoulder loops on epaulets. The troop/team may vote to wear a neckerchief, bolo tie, or no neckwear. In any case, the collar should be unbuttoned. The troop/team has the choice of wearing the neckerchief over the turned-under collar or under the open collar.
- Belt. Olive web with BSA insignia on brass buckle; or official leather with international-style buckle or buckle of your choice, worn only if voted by the troop/team. Members wear one of the belts chosen by vote of the troop/team.
- Pants/Shorts. Official, olive, pressed; no cuffs. (Units have no option to change.)
- Socks. Official olive-colored socks.
- Adult Leaders uniform has four required and one optional parts:
- Headgear. Headgear is optional.
- Shirt/Blouse and Neckwear. Long or short sleeves with appropriate loops on epaulets. Neckwear is optional but must be worn according to specifications in the Insignia Guide. Male Cub Scout and Boy Scout leaders wear the official tan shirt. Female Cub Scout leaders wear either the official yellow blouse or the official tan blouse. Female Boy Scout leaders wear the official tan blouse. Male Venturing leaders wear the official green shirt. Female Venturing leaders wear the official green blouse.
- Pants/Shorts. Units have no option to change. Male Cub Scout and Boy Scout leaders wear the official olive-colored shorts or pants with no cuffs. Female Cub Scout leaders wear the official blue shorts, skirt, or pants with the yellow blouse or the official olive-colored shorts or pants with the tan blouse. Venturing leaders wear the official gray pants or shorts.
- Belt. Male leaders wear the official olive web belt or official leather belt with the buckle of their choice. Female leaders wear the official blue Cub Scout or Webelos Scout buckle with blue pants, or the official olive web belt or official leather belt with the buckle of their choice with olive pants.
- Socks. Male Cub Scout and Boy Scout leaders wear olive green socks with red tops with shorts or pants. Female leaders wear the blue socks with gold tops with the blue shorts or pants, or the olive green socks with red tops with olive-colored shorts or pants. Venturing leaders wear the official gray socks.
- Nameplates are optional.
Prohibition of Alteration or Imitation
BSA Rules and Regulations -- Article X, Section 4. INSIGNIA, UNIFORMS and BADGES
- Clause 4. Prohibition of Alteration or Imitation
- (a) No alteration of, or additions to, the official uniforms, as described in the official publications, or the rules and regulations covering the wearing of the uniform and the proper combinations thereof on official occasions, may be authorized by any Scouting official or local Council or any local executive board or committee, except the National Executive Board after consideration by the Program Group Committee.
- (b). Imitation of United States Army, Navy, Marine Corps or Air Force uniforms is prohibited, in accordance with the provisions of Act of Congress, approved June 3, 1916.
The uniform is not required
Even for an Eagle Scout Board of Review, the uniform "should" be worn but is not required to be worn:
- "The Scout should be neat in appearance and his uniform should be as correct as possible..."
There are two exceptions:
- Scout and adult leader participants attending a National Jamboree are required to be in uniform. (Visitors do not need to be in uniform.)
- The National Honor Patrol Award requires that at least 75 percent of the patrol's membership wear the full uniform correctly.