By Boy Scouts of America
Jun 05, 2013

A Hundred Years of Uniforms

venturing men in uniform

BSAs new Venturing Uniform

Question: What’s tough enough for the outdoors, special enough to stand out in a crowd, and worthy of a hundred years of respect?
Answer: The uniform of the Boy Scouts of America.

Uniforms have been an emblem of Scouting since the founding of the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. The BSA has grown a great deal since then. The uniform has also evolved to provide Scouts with clothing ideal for its time.

historic unifromThe first Scout uniforms included brown jackets with metal buttons, large outside pockets, and high collars. They were worn with breeches-pants flared at the thighs and tight at the knees-and canvas leggings to shield the calves of hikers, or long socks turned down at the knee.

robert-baden-powell-08386035Early uniforms also featured a broad-brimmed campaign hat with a badge of rank pinned to the crown. Robert Baden-Powell, Scouting’s founder, had worn a similar hat in the field to protect himself from sun and rain. It was a natural choice for Boy Scouts, too.

historic uniformWithin a few years the coats were gone and the high collars of BSA uniforms had been replaced by neckerchiefs. Shorts were approved as an option, with knee socks instead of leggings.

1960 UniformIn the 1940s Scouts were ready for khaki green uniform shirts, trousers, and shorts made of sturdy cotton. Campaign hats gave way to caps similar to those worn by many Americans serving in the military during World War II.

1970s hatsRed berets became optional wear in the 1970s, as did baseball-style caps. Berets were short-lived uniform pieces, but caps grew in popularity. Campaign hats were allowed, too.

A 1981 uniform redesign introduced tan shirts and dark green trousers and shorts. The colors of loops on shoulder epaulets represented different BSA programs.

BSAScout UNFORMToday’s Centennial edition uniform is a versatile outfit made of high-tech fabrics just right for Scout meetings and community activities. With the pull of a zipper, BSA’s Switchback pants convert from trousers to shorts.

Uniforms have come a long way since the beginning of the BSA, but one item hasn’t changed much at all. Just as the Scout Law and Oath are still around after all these years, the campaign hat can be worn as it was a century ago. That’s a tribute to the success of Scouting and to the millions of members who have proudly pulled on the uniform of the Boy Scouts of America.

For more information on the history of the uniform and other developments in the Boy Scouts’ 100-year history, purchase the Boy Scouts of America: A Centennial History

pillar with fluerdelies
Author: Boy Scouts of America |  Be Prepared for Adventure. For Life. Vol. 1 No. 8


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