Tuck everlasting: Scout uniform shirts should always be tucked in, BSA says

scout-uniform-4To tuck or not to tuck.

That was the question on the minds of hundreds of parents who have called the BSA headquarters over the past several months.

Their query: Does the Boy Scouts of America require uniform shirts to be tucked in? The questions are specifically referring to field uniforms (known to some by the unofficial name “Class A”) and not activity uniforms (“Class B”).

Problem is there hasn’t been an official policy in the past. The requirement was that the uniform-wearer must be “neat in appearance.” Most packs, troops, and crews interpreted that to mean tucking the shirts in, but a few didn’t.

Now we’ve got our final answer. Read the BSA’s official stance after the jump: 

Effective Oct. 1, 2013, the official stance on the Boy Scouts of America’s uniform policy is that shirts are to be worn tucked in, regardless of whether the wearer is a Cub Scout, Boy Scout, Varsity Scout, Venturer or adult Scouter. All Sea Scout uniforms are designed to be tucked in except youth dress whites and youth dress blues.

In the past, guidelines have simply stated the uniform wearer should be neat in appearance. Neatness includes tucking in the shirt. This update will appear in related resources, such as the uniform inspection sheets, as they are revised and printed.

So there you have it: Tuck those uniform shirts in. Though the official stance is new, the practice is old as the BSA itself. Any time you see a Scout wearing a uniform in an official BSA-printed publication, his shirt is tucked in. Just look through the Boy Scout Handbook, Scouting or Boys’ Life magazines, a BSA Supply catalog, or any merit badge pamphlet, and you’ll see exclusively tucked-in shirts.

Equally important is what’s not being said here. The BSA doesn’t tell you to wear the field uniform at all times. Many units that conduct a service project or take a weekend backpacking trip will leave the field uniform shirt on the hanger at home. But that’s up to you (and your Scouts) to decide.

Related posts

Open for debate: What’s your Scout unit’s uniform policy?

Is an older Scout who wears his uniform in public committing ‘social suicide?’ Weigh in on one Scoutmaster’s policy

What do you think?

What’s your opinion on this clarification? Does this match what your unit does already? Leave a comment below.

246 thoughts on “Tuck everlasting: Scout uniform shirts should always be tucked in, BSA says

  1. I’m a female scouter.This is what I’ve learned here~
    I’m suppose to wear my shirt tucked in though the straight hem indicates otherwise. The shirt that fits my womanly assets is too large, but I’m not allowed to alter it.The pants are utterly hopeless. I’m suppose to be ‘hot’ and not ‘frumpy.’ I can’t exemplify Scout Spirit if I am out of uniform. I am allowed to purchase a custom uniform at a premium price via a process that doesn’t take enough measurements to produce a uniform that will actually fit me (yes, I tried.)

    Clearly, I need to take my 20-25 hours each week of unpaid, un-uniformed service and go home.

    • When the new women’s shirt came out a few years back (maybe five?), I was under the impression that the women’s shirt was made with the straight bottom (no tails) because some women should not tuck in their shirts in order to look neat and attractive. I think the policy needs to be “re-thunk” or the shirts need to be re-designed (again!). However, I recently purchased a new one, so I’m not going to be in the market any time soon.

      • That is more frustration with the uniform, my shirt is too short to tuck in. After tucking in my shirt it only takes two steps or a twist and my shirt is out. I am a firm believer in the shirt being tucked in.

    • What about those BSA uniform shirts with the “cigarette” pocket on the sleeve and the base of which is designed not to be tucked in? I have had that shirt since they came out – now 1 or 2 styles ago. It doesn’t stay tucked un-not even if I duct tape it to my briefs

  2. If National wants the shirt tucked in … why is the shirt tail squared off and 2 inch short than the previous versions of the uniform shirt? It will not stay in.

  3. Hooray BSA! Uniforms are meant to be tucked in. Regardless of the hem, size of the wearer or gender. C’mon folks lets be the example the youth can follow! Thank you for your service regardless of tuck/no tuck! Look at the quote I found…

    “Show me a poorly uniformed troop and I’ll show you a poorly uniformed leader.”
    Sir, Robert Baden-Powell

    • Right you are about being grateful to adults for their service regardless of “belt visibility”!

      Sure, the drawing on the inspection sheet is tucked. Every picture I see of BP in scout-dress is tucked. Even his granddaughter (based on the pictures from Jambo) tucks her shirt in. I tuck.

      But goodness knows I will never make a call to National because someone sees a need to do it differently. (In my case, it would be a venturer who is very self-conscious about minimizing the boys’ “head turns” at her developing frame.)

      And I do resent any of my $24/year being spent on superfluous pronouncements like these.

    • Then they shouldn’t have designed “women’s” shirts with no tails. You can’t market a women’s shirt that is designed not to be tucked and then come out with formal policy that requires them to be tucked. Sounds like they want me to buy yet another $40 shirt–not interested.

  4. Margaret, please don’t be more concerned about looking “hot” and tailored than just being there to support a program that is intended to teach, guide, and benefit the boys. I’m a female too and, frankly, I realize that I’m not the focus here. Neither is what I wear. Just stick to putting on a great program for the boys and stop worrying about what you look like!!! It’s called service. Remember the scout oath and law. If you’re putting in that many hours/week, you clearly feeling a dedication to the values and the program. Don’t take your ball and go home unless you really can’t follow the oath and law and put yourself second in the line of cheerful service.

    • I *think* she was using sarcasm to make her point. Which is… when we start focusing too hard on the peripherals (tuck/don’t tuck), we lose sight of the core, which is to give our boys the best program and leaders possible.

      Margaret makes an excellent point that National would do well to acknowledge. Not all Scouters are straight-as-a-board men. Many Scouters are very curvy, often voluptuous, women. We have bumps where men do not, and, with the exception of the very tiniest among us, the uniform offered by National does not properly fit those curves and bumps without being extensively altered.

      So the choice that must be made is: what is more important? Tucking in a uniform to look “proper” and if you can’t, you’re out… or leave it untucked (or, in my case, alter the shirt to fit) and have ‘improper’ leaders who are otherwise stellar and excellent examples for the boys.

      • I just don’t think this is a peripheral. It is respectful to tuck in the shirt. If you need to make an alteration, make an alteration. If you need to buy it a little bigger, than wear a big shirt. Make it work. But don’t insist on a unilateral decision to allow thousands of boys to run around sloppy and disrespectfully wearing an official uniform because you won’t alter your shirt or wear it a little big.

        • I’m sorry. I work full time. I’m a mom full time. If you really think it’s preferable for me to not volunteer at all for my son’s pack because I might set the occasional bad example by having my shirt untucked or not even wearing my official shirt, than for me to volunteer for a fair piece of the leagues of planning and effort it takes to pull off a successful pack AND pay extra & go to the trouble of finding a seamstress in order to get a uniform that has a hope of fitting me, I guess you’re entitled to your opinion.

        • I work full time too and mom full time also. I applaud all our efforts to volunteer for the benefit of the boys. Our family spends a considerable amount of time and MONEY for the program. We donate for what we believe is important for the future of these kids. Yes, if it was that important to me, I would (and have) gone to a seamstress. I walk the walk. Otherwise, I would just wear a big shirt and show up to the meetings full of energy and enthusiasm for the larger purpose. Could we please just focus on the boys here?

        • But the question wasn’t about the boys, was it? It was about the uniform, and how they should be worn. I, and many other women across this country, have been speaking out for YEARS that the uniforms do not fit us. I hardly think that it’s “whining” when we voice that opinion again, since it has fallen on deaf ears. Especially since there appear to be people who have the attitude of “if you don’t do it this way, get out. We’re better off without you because you don’t conform.” Aren’t we trying to raise boys who think for themselves, who stand up and speak when they see something is wrong? Yeah, today it’s “just” a uniform. But what about later?

        • Your problem is with the manufacturing and design of the shirt. National simply put in writing what has been observed and expected since Baden-Powell, simply put: respectfully attired in class A uniform is to have a shirt tucked in. People seem to accept that point. Getting National to redesign the shirt is another fight altogether. I’ll support that too, but that is a different petition to National. Fix that problem, not argue the bigger issue of respecting a uniform.

        • Nobody (at least I’m not) arguing that we should not “respect the uniform”. In fact, I’m one of the “tuck nazis” in our pack. I’m constantly fussing at the boys to tuck in shirts, tie shoes, remove/don hats at appropriate times, change patches, etc. After all, these are 6-11-year old boys I’m working with, and their default setting is “sloppy”.

          That I CANNOT tuck my uniform in because it is not made for that, nor does it fit properly regardless what size I purchase, is a big problem when I am trying to set the example of being neat, tidy, and proper. In that case, it is absolutely appropriate that I, and others, once again raise the issue that the “women’s” uniform is not made to fit a woman’s body. It is not a matter of respecting the uniform. It’s a matter of having a well-fitting uniform to wear. And then we can discuss whether we should tuck it or not.

        • Okay, so what have you done to petition National? Send letters, make phone calls, get your troop and district involved in a campaign to get new uniform designs for women? Have you wriitten in to Scout Life magazine urging readers to write/call in? Have you gone to your local Roundtable meeting and gotten help/support? Have you done anything proactive except complain? I agree the uniforms are not made well…so DO something constructive and make it an issue National addresses. Isn’t that how this blog article started? National was facing hundreds of phone calls and finally reacted. Start moving and stop complaining……Be an example of positive change! 🙂

        • As a matter of fact, I HAVE done several of those things. I worked as a professional (Dist. Exec) in the late ’90s, and voiced my concerns, along with many of my peers – both at the professional level and the volunteer level – at that time. I even spoke with one of the managers of Scout Supply when I was in Irving for PDL-I (first-level training for Professionals) and spoke up again at PDL-II, held in my Region. I have written letters. One even went to a previous Chief Scout Executive.

          Now, since those vocalizations have apparently fallen upon deaf ears, I alter my own uniforms.

          Is that proactive enough for you?

        • It’s got to be a tidal wave…one person is not enough to get National’s attention unfortunately. Keep up the good work! Passionate causes don’t get left behind! Rally more people to speak up and write in because they respond to the numbers!!! You’ve started the dialogue…keep it going…wishing you all the best on this very worthy cause!

  5. OK…so this has gotten pretty contentious, and IMHO. not very Scout like. I hope you all figure out the best way to serve your units…and to wear whatever uniform you want or need. I’m leaving this thread and unsubscribing now. Best wishes

    • I think the problem is that women are frustrated that they have taken appropriate action to get uniforms changed, but it has been ignored. There is nothing wrong with pointing out that there is a problem here which is not being dealt with and should be addressed by the powers that be. They give options, none of which work for some people. It is their responsibility to revisit this issue and find a solution rather than ignoring the problem so that people become frustrated and leave an otherwise worthwhile program. In fact, I would say that how the leaders in Scouts deal with this longstanding problem from this point in an appropriate and timely manner is just as important as having Scouts tuck in their shirts to appear neat and tidy. (And it will set an example to the Scouts, as well.)

  6. This is a huge pet peeve of mine too – Just tuck the shirts in – In our Troop, we value full uniforming – Scout shorts, or long pants, Scout Shirt, Belt, Socks, etc… And yes, you tuck your shirt in. It doesn’t matter if you’re Male, or Female, or a Scouting youth – The shirt is to be tucked in….

  7. So I’ve been thinking about women in uniform and tucking. The US military obviously has stringent fitness standards, but when female service members are pregnant and unable to tuck, the military allows uniform shirts that are straight across the bottom (no tails), similar in style to the BSA women’s shirt. The BSA has hundreds (thousands?) of adult female volunteers who are heavy and unable to tuck. The fact that in 2008 (or maybe 2010? correct me if I’m wrong) the tan women’s shirt came out with an even hem and without the cargo pockets on the chest, showed that BSA understood women contribute to the program and many women’s bodies don’t work in uniforms styled for men. The formulation of the “tuck regardless” policy seems to be a step backwards.
    I can’t think of an example at the moment, but I’m also wondering if there is a medical condition (maybe use of some type of appliance) that would dis-allow boys from tucking. I think the policy needs an out for special circumstances.

  8. Just to put a thoroughly trivial twist on things, I have a Boy Scout skirt from the last of the ODL. It doesn’t even have belt loops. Tuck or untuck? Add a belt or not?

    Here’s a thought: Does everyone arguing over tuck/untuck trust your troop program enough to let your Scouts camp out of sight of the adults? Even the young ones?

  9. I’d like to raise one other point that has been bugging me. There’s was concern voiced that if the women leaders (and female venturers) look too good in their uniforms that the boys just won’t be able to concentrate on what they are doing; that the guys would be soooo tempted by the gals that they might misbehave. So it’s OK that all the gals look like they are playing dress-up in guys clothes.

    I’m sorry, but I just have to object to that. Aren’t we raising young men of character? Aren’t we raising them to respect everyone regardless of race, religion, or gender? So why should they behave in a disrespectful manner to a woman who is wearing clothes that fit her? If my son did that, I’d smack him up-side the head and set him straight.

      • Despite your condescension, I do understand very well. Some guys might be distracted instead of misbehaving–I’ll acknowledge that point. But we aren’t talking about skin-tight clothes or bikinis either.

        I have dozens of business shirts that have the proper darting for a nice female silhouette. The BSA shirt looks nothing like that. Nor would any boy seeing me in my business shirts be too distracted to work. For that matter, I can’t imagine any boy seeing a fellow venturer (female) in those darted business shirts would be too distracted to work unless their hormones would kick in regardless of what the girl is wearing. That’s not the shirt.

        How is it treating our female venturers or volunteers with respect to expect them to dress in sacks because our boys can’t be expected control themselves? That doesn’t respect anyone.

        • Jambo shake down….Female venture crew….Inappropriate clothing. Butts hanging out of short, spaghetti strap tops. Yes we are talking about some skin tight clothing.

          Yes it was a problem

          Requiring a clothing directive from National as to appropriate attire. I can no longer find the document.

        • Maybe if the gals had better looking uniforms to put on (or, you know–ones that fit their female frame!) they would be less inclined to wear something you think is inappropriate for official outings. They aren’t one-of-the-guys when it comes to their physical bodies. They can’t help that.

          I’m asking for uniforms that fit women before we worry about the detail of tuck/not tuck. Do you think National would provide short-shorts and spaghetti strap tops in response to my request?

  10. Terriffic!! I agree that uniforms look better tucked in. What gets me is National can stand its ground on a dress code tradition but not on “moral” issues that BSA was founded on and was also a tradition. Go figure!

  11. The uniform is a terrible design. It doesn’t seem to fit anyone well. Sizing is inconsistent because of cheapo manufacture in China.

    Scout leaders are typically very fat and have a hard time wearing any sort of clothing anyway.

    Boys are no longer interested in joining programs with paramilitary style uniforms.

    Time to dump the uniform, folks. We are not a historical preservation society. We are a youth program that is supposed to serve youth. What do they want? Neckerchiefs and tucked in shirts?

    We all know the answer is “no.” Look at the plummeting membership since 1970.

    • good point on a boys program, building character verses an historical society, i would rrather see scouts/boys participating,
      the cost of the unidorm kept my son out of scout until he was a weblos

        • Many units require boys to have a uniform. Someone bought my son his shirt last year because they required at minimum shirt, neckerchief, & slide. After paying registration and dues I couldn’t spare more money for a uniform, but it was a requirement. And before you call me ignorant, I checked with all packs withing 20 minutes of us. So try to educate yourself before trolling. Your Pack may not require Class A, but many do.

    • Tell that to all the boys in camp playing paintball.

      The uniform fits healthy boys bodies just fine. No it does not fit fat old people like me. The program is not about me.

  12. I’m going to sound a bit like the old codger that I am.

    When I was a Scout (late 50’s, early 60’s) there was only one uniform (now called the Field uniform).

    There were some dumb things about it – knee length socks with garters, “barracks” caps which were useless.

    However, the neckerchief was a size actually usable for a sling – the pockets had some capacity – and it was a practical uniform, wearable everywhere.

    They then replaced it with a designer uniform, and things went downhill from there. The uniform was so impractical for camping that they had to introduce the “activity” uniform; the neckerchief is too small to use for anything but a blindfold, the pockets were either taken away or overlap so there’s no capacity.

    I bought the original switchbacks – again, some nice ideas, but not well executed (and I miss the opportunity to wear the leather scout belt).

    And the square-bottom shirts were clearly designed to be worn untucked – so someone in the design department didn’t talk to the uniform guidelines people.

    Also, the accordian shirt pockets are singularly unattractive for the female scouts and scouters.

    And don’t get me started on the cigarette pockets on the shirt sleeves (yes, I know, they’re supposed to be media pockets, but still –).

    Can we get some decent uniform design? A design which doesn’t need a whole separate “activity” uniform? I see nothing wrong with a design which allows for untucked shirts – but everyone has to be on the same page, and the guidelines need to be clearly spelled out.

    • Well said. The main reaction to this directive seems to be more “The Lord has spoken.” than “Is that the way it should be?” There should be a practical flexible uniform that looks good, is comfortable to wear and doesn’t need constant readjustments. The reason camo outfits are so popular, for example, is because they allow for freedom of movement and look fairly sharp. Plus, you can ditch the top and work in just the tee shirt and then slip back into the top. It’s not a uniform made to pass inspections it’s one designed to allow you to do things. And scouts should be doing things not worrying about being unwrinkled and all tucked in…

      • Isn’t that what class B t-shirts are for? Our kids travel in class A (most with the troop t-shirt underneath) and as soon as they get to the camp or activity site, they peel off the class A’s and start working/playing in the class B’s.

        • Class A is the uniform shirt. Class B is typically a troop tshirt or other scouting tshirt, like the ones from camps, camporees, etc.

        • SW, there is the field uniform. It is intended for most BSA activities, and for enabling a youth or adult to display their association, position, and achievements via patches and insignia. I know it’s hard to believe, but it the intent was for both work and play in the field! The closest parallel in military parlance would be the army “Class B”.

          Then, for adults, there is the dress uniform for formal occasions: http://www.scouting.org/scoutsource/CubScouts/Uniform/dress.aspx These can include your pack meetings, courts of honor, worship service, even troop/crew meetings. Anything where the adult is not “in the thick of it” with the boys. This most closely parallel’s army “Class A”.

          The US Army’s site has some nice pictures for comparison http://www.army.mil/asu/.

          Finally, there are “special-purpose” uniforms that are not to hold insignia — or to be worn with your uniform pants. It’s what everyone calls “class B” but that’s a misnomer because there is not single-issue “special purpose” uniform for it to be called a “class”. There is nothing preventing a pack or troop from only using special-purpose uniforms, although it is basically setting aside an entire method of cub/boy scouting!

        • Yes, it is – but the whole point of my remark is that the “class b” shirt is a recent innovation. There should be a uniform which is usable for all occasions, as there used to be.

        • The activity t-shirt is a great idea. They are inexpensive and allow Scouts to be “in uniform” while doing messy things like service-project painting that could ruin their more expensive official uniform.

  13. I just read a comment that was not scout like at all – “Now I know why we don’t allow women as leaders in our troop” – wow fairly straight forward rudeness. Frankly I am ready to leave this discussion based on that conversation. That comment is inappropriate whether directed to male or female. The program is about the scouts, and helping them grow into men, with spines and integrity. Female leaders are a good support to our troop, and very dependable. The uniform tucking issue should not come down to who can be an effective leader. I am appalled he wrote that.

    • That fellow is been a bit of a jerk, that’s for sure but I figure that if you leave for that reason you’ve conceded. On the other hand, if you leave because you think everything that can be said on the subject has been said…

  14. The uniform issue is NOT a vain issue – it is a matter of being able to move, walk around and function in an activity.

  15. I am 5 foot in height, short waisted, big chest and overweight. My shirt has to be big for the front, which makes the sleeve seams go down to far. My pants are long in the straddle. If I tuck in my shirt, I can’t raise my arms. My pants are too tight around the waist, but if I buy them larger the straddle will hang down farther where I can’t lift my leg. I try to look neat with what I have to work with. Some people like myself look neater with the shirt out. I have always told the boys in our troop, that rule doesn’t apply to old fat women. Wish it were true tomorrow. Guess I can wear a jacket.

  16. I just wanted to say thank you to all the women who have replied here. I have three boys. When I was pregnant with each of them, I was also a BSA volunteer in some capacity (yes, this means I was involved in the BSA long before any of my boys were scouts). Fortunately, around the 3rd pregnancy, they had the clearance sale with ladies’ shirts for $5, so I was able to buy one in each size to guarantee I would have something to wear when teaching my training classes that year. (During previous pregnancy I had taught – at eight and a half months pregnant – with my uniform shirt unbuttoned over a Day Camp t-shirt.)

    If I were to show up in the future to a University of Scouting, eight months pregnant, with my shirt untucked and wearing olive green sweat pants, I doubt any other Scouter in my district would blink an eye. But I would feel uncomfortable, knowing what official policy is. That is why I am glad I read these comments, because it is reassuring to read about other women with various uniforming issues. This is something the BSA should be aware of, if they are not already, but I also think it is good for us to be aware of each other and the issues we face (and to support each other, rather than judging and and arguing).

    • I forgot to add that, fortunately, the standard of excellence for leaders is also that we do our best – you can’t be expected to do more, and you shouldn’t do less (at least, that’s what they told us at Wood Badge).

  17. I am a 5’10” female commissioner. I have never been able to buy (even by special order) a women’s blouse long enough to tuck in. I had even contemplated buying a men’s shirt so that I could tuck but in order to fit my chest I needed a men’s 2x which hung to my knees and had arm holes so big everytime I saluted I was giving peep shows.I have a short sleeve and long sleeve blouse that both have straight hems (both were special ordered in the longest size I could get in womens) and neither of which is ever tucked in. In fact, I can barely raise my arms without showing what ever shirt I’m wearing underneath (and I always wear a shirt underneath!) For me its not about being tidy/neat or respectful of the uniform and what it represents, its a more about what is physically possible. If national wants my shirt tucked in, then they need to be more reasonable in sizing (and before you mans any snarky comments, yes I have addressed the issue with national and my local council as well as the scoutshop with no results). My entire district, the units I’m responsible for and all of my adult leaders know what the uniform standards are and they all follow them with the exception of myself and a handful of other moms in the same boat. I am tired of being demeaned and nagged by a bunch of shirt gestapo that are more worried about whether I tuck or not than they are about the quality of their units. It is what it is, get over it.

  18. Wow. Some of the comments in here are a little ridiculous. “Accomadate them by letting have the stupid shirt untucked.” I hope you don’t refer to inanimate objects as stupid around the scouts. That sets a bad example.

    “I find it hard that your son’s physiology is so outside the norm that even a shirt made for giants is too small for him if he is wearing his pants how they are supposed to be worn.” Spoken like a person that has never had to choose between wearing a shirt that fit but was too short to tuck in or that was long enough to tuck in but ballooned out like a garbage bag. I hit 6’7 around the age of 16 and I am now 6’9, 33 years old, have a stocky build and a 4th year Cub Scout Adult Leader. I am always amazed at how many adult leaders I see that are “Big and Tall” but yet tall uniform shirts aren’t readily available. I have talked to serveral leaders from multiple packs at Roundtables, Jamborees, ETC. who share my concerns. When the bottom button on your shirt is 3-5 inches above your waist it looks awkward no matter how you tuck it in. Add in outdoor activity and I keep having to readjust my shirt. I am going to look into getting my 2 uniform shirts tailored but I just wanted to comment to those who think it’s just as easy as “pull your pants up and tuck it in.” I wish it was that simple.

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