When we sign our children up for a sports team we know that the uniform is expected, required and a part of the overall cost. When was the last time your child was allowed out on the field to play when they were not in uniform? In Cub Scouting the uniform is no less important. In Scouting we do let boys “play” even if they are not in uniform but… that doesn’t mean he shouldn’t have one.
First let’s make sure we are all on the same page so we know what is required for a full Cub Scout uniform.The Cub Scout uniform consists of the following 6 parts:
- Shirt—The official uniform shirt is available with long or short sleeves and has button-flap pockets and “Boy Scouts of America” lettered in gold above the right pocket.
- Trousers or shorts—Official blue. (Webelos have the option of olive pants with tan shirt)
- Belt—Official navy-blue web belt with metal buckle and Tiger, Cub Scout, or Webelos Scout emblem. Note – The Webelos bucket does fit the green belt but the adventure loops only fit on the blue Cub Scout belt.
- Socks—Official socks are available in three lengths: ankle, crew, and knee. Tiger Scout socks are navy blue with orange tops; Cub Scout socks are navy blue with gold (yellow) tops.
- Cap—Official navy-blue cap with orange front panel and tiger emblem for Tigers, yellow panel and wolf emblem for Wolfs, blue panel and bear emblem for Bears. Webelos Scouts wear the olive cap with a plaid panel bearing the Webelos logo.
- Neckerchief & Slide—Triangular neckerchief is orange with navy-blue trim for Tiger Scouts, gold with navy-blue trim for Wolf Scouts, light blue with navy-blue trim for Bear Scouts, and plaid for Webelos Scouts. Official BSA neckerchiefs are the only neckerchiefs Cub Scout boys should wear. Boys can wear slides they have made themselves.
Some packs “recycle” the neckerchiefs as boys move through the ranks. Some packs supply the pack numerals or other patches. Some packs even have a uniform bank to share and pass on “experienced” uniform parts. So, depending on your pack you may not need to purchase every part yourself. But for the sake of argument lets say that you do need to buy the entire uniform. Let’s take a quick look at what it will cost.
Right now (July 2016) the average Cub Scout uniform costs right around $100. The actual price goes up or down a little depending on whether you choose short sleeves or long, pants or shorts. It also varies because of how many numerals you need for your pack, if you buy a neckerchief slide, etc. (According to Scoutstuff.org a Wolf uniform is $83 – $135). So, let’s say you pay $100 for your son’s uniform and he wears it to every meeting, as he should. There should be at least 48 meetings during the 52 week year (12 pack meetings + 36 den meetings). That means his uniform costs you $2.08 per wear. The next year he will need a new neckerchief and hat ($21) but you were smart and bought the shirt and pants with room to grow. The second year his uniform only costs you 44 cents per wear. The same could be true for the next year or more depending on how much he grows.
Once your Cub Scout is a Webelos he has the option of switching from the Blue Cub Scout uniform to the Tan and Olive that the Boy Scouts wear. If your son has outgrown his Cub uniform this is a good option. If the blue still fits him, don’t switch yet. If your son started as a Tiger he will probably have grown quite a bit by the time he is a Webelos. If he started as a Wolf he may or may not have grown. In my 13 years as a Cub Scout leader I have had very few boys in my pack that couldn’t wear the same uniform for all 3 years (Wolf, Bear & Webelos). Most boys don’t hit a large growth spurt until later, during their Boy Scout years.
But what if your son begins in Cub Scouting as a Wolf and by the time he is a Webelos he has outgrown his blue uniform. Your costs for his uniforms over 3 years would be about $221 (May actually be less because you wouldn’t need new council patch or numerals, but if you are switching to the tan you would need shoulder loops, so let’s just say about 100 for that new year also). $221 and 103 meetings would be $2.15 per wear. If he fits into that blue uniform for all 3 years those costs are even lower—$1.31 per wear.
Is a cost of $1.31-2.15 per wear really too much? I have a feeling that those who complain about the cost of a uniform have not broken the cost down like I have. And I know most of those that complain are even in a pack that only requires the shirt (cost $25 – $30). Really?! When you buy clothing do you figure out how often you think you will wear it and calculate the cost/wear? How many of you have paid $30 dollars for a shirt/blouse and wear it every week for the next 2 or 3 years so that the cost per wear is only 28-20 cents per wear? I bet few of you (unless you wear a uniform) wear the same shirt every single week and yet if all you have bought for your son is his Cub Scout shirt—like 90% of the Cub Scouts in our council—then you are complaining about spending less than 30 cents per week. I’ll bet most of you spend more than that daily for a soda, coffee, or other daily “treat.” Think about what your complaints say about your son. Is $2 a week really too much?
Let’s look at some other examples of cost per wear… How about your daughter’s prom dress that you paid easily $100 or more that is only worn once. How much do you pay each year for your children who participate in sports, dance, karate etc.? My daughter joined the high school swim team last year for the first time and I actually sat down and figured out how much we paid per swim meet. I was shocked to find out that the total costs averaged out to $5 per wear/swim meet just for her team swimsuit/uniform. If I factor in the team fees (like some packs have weekly dues), it cost us just under $16 per swim meet for the year. And it is even more when I add in the sweats, googles, swim cap, flippers, pull buoy and other equipment she needed to have for practices. Now that is expensive! Not to mention that the swim season, foot ball season etc. only lasts for a few months. Scouting is all year round. I think that swim is one of the less expensive school sports. I bet if we were talking football, softball, or cheerleading it would be even more than that.
So, after breaking it down to “cost per wear” as well as comparing costs of other activities that many parents pay for…I ask the question again. Is a Cub Scout uniform too expensive? I say NO! When you factor in everything a boy gains from Cub Scouting, you are getting a really great deal at about $2 per week. He’s only Cub Scout age for a little while and it’s such a formative time in his life. Cub Scouting is a really great program that helps boys grow to be the kind of young men that this world needs. Boys who are trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent, in my opinion, are worth WAY more than $2 a week. What do you think?
Annaleis Smith – is a “stay at home” mother of 5 children. She has been a Cub Scout leader for the past 13 years in various positions. She is currently a Cubmaster, Unit Commissioner, and the VP of Membership for the Utah National Parks Council (Heading up the Lion and Tiger initiative in the UNPC) Scouting is for every boy!