By John Gailey
Apr 30, 2016

Can’t I Just Wear a T-Shirt? – Yes!

One of the key methods of Scouting is the uniform, yet many youth (and some adults) chafe at wearing the Boy Scout tan shirt with all of its patches and emblems. Fortunately for them, a Scout t-shirt is often an acceptable alternative to the classic button-up that still allows the group to build unity, reminds group members of their shared values and beliefs and prepares the youth to wear uniforms and adhere to dress codes in the future as LDS missionaries and members of the workforce.

Types of Uniforms

field uniform

In Scouting, there are two types of uniforms: the field uniform and the activity uniform.

  • The field uniform (previously known as a Class A uniform) includes a Scout shirt, Scout pants or shorts, Scout belt, Scout socks, and shoes or hiking boots
  • The activity uniform (previously known as a Class B uniform) is focused primarily on outdoor activities, and includes a troop or camp t-shirt with the Scout pants or shorts or other appropriate attire.

As most activities within Scouting are done in an activity format, the activity uniform is a great way to get Scouting youth and adults to dress the same and build unity – the primary purpose behind this method of Scouting. In fact, the field uniform is almost never required. The handbook states that it “should” be worn at an Eagle Scout Board of Review, yet it is not necessarily required even for that crucial event. The only times it is actually required are at a National Jamboree, Wood Badge or Timberline (NYLT or National Youth Leadership Training).

So, a T-Shirt is Okay?

With this in mind, a Scouting unit can drastically reduce the cost of fully outfitting the troop with the full official field uniform but still get the benefit of uniforms by wearing troop or camp t-shirt as part of their activity uniforms.

So the answer, perhaps surprisingly, is actually, “Yes!”

How Do I get a Scout T-Shirt?

The Utah National Parks Council is pleased to offer a new service – you can now order customized troop or camp activity t-shirts for any Scouting unit at $10 each.

Scout t-shirt designs available at

You choose the shirt color and the professionally-designed (and BSA-approved) graphics from our great selection, specify the sizes you need (youth and adult) and add customizations such as your Troop number and/or the name of the summer camp you are attending.

You can also order matching hoodies for those colder nights and campouts for $20 each.

Best of all, the shirts and hoodies are shipped directly to you!

The result? Your Scouting unit has an attractive and inexpensive uniform that can be worn, not just at camp, but all year round.

To see the amazing designs and options, and to order your unit’s new uniform, go to

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

7 thoughts on “Can’t I Just Wear a T-Shirt? – Yes!

  1. Darryl AlderDarryl Alder

    I feel better informed, but shocked that I had not taken the time to read this from the Handbook for myself, but there on page 5 of the Guide to Awards and Insignia it states: “While wearing the uniform is not mandatory, it is highly encouraged. The leaders of Scouting—both volunteer and professional—promote the wearing of the correct complete uniform on all suitable occasions.” Thanks for listing the times it is required.

    1. John GaileyJohn Gailey

      The point I was trying to get across is that wearing a uniform is one of the key methods of Scouting – however, the activity uniform is just as valid as the field uniform. So wearing a camp t-shirt together as a Scouting unit is not just less expensive, but just as powerful as wearing the full field uniform. So let’s wear uniforms!

  2. AvatarEdgar Tooley

    Why are participants in Wood Badge and Timberline attendees required to spend $150 – $200 for a pair uniforms that are not part of the program when they return to their units? That seems like an enormous additional expense if the units are now officially excused from ever wearing the field uniform. Even a requirement for a field uniform at Jamboree seems hard to justify on an already high-cost activity if wearing matching t-shirts is just as powerful.

    As Andy said, the uniform is a culture thing. A boy in his field uniform isn’t just standing with the boys in his unit he is standing with boys across the nation, united in ideals and purpose. I would argue that wearing a t-shirt like I do every day is not as powerful as the field uniform. The field uniform can be transforming, like Sunday best or dress blues in the military. Can I go to church in a t-shirt and jeans? Yes! I choose to dress up because of what it does for me, not what other people will think.

    The BSA can leave the field uniform behind of course and many units already have. I just hope when the BSA finishes normalizing with the rest of the world on every uncomfortable characteristic of the program there is something left that is worth supporting.

    1. John GaileyJohn Gailey

      I agree with your comments. Wearing of the full field uniform brings a brotherhood across the nation with other boys, and is a very valuable thing. Just as the military does not wear dress blues to every event (in fact, they save those for the special occasions), the field uniform is not needed at every event. However, uniforming is key – therefore, the activity uniform should be leveraged.

      I’m concerned that units get so focused on the field uniform that they end up uniforming only occasionally. Yet if they took advantage of activity uniforming as well, then the unit can obtain the benefits of being dressed the same at all activities – not just those special occasions.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.