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  • old neckerchief for an old troop...

    My son's Webelos II den will be crossing over into an old (1938, 2nd oldest troop in the State) local troop that is in serious need of new leadership. I was informed by my DE that we should consider this troop for many reasons, along with that obvious one. I plan to take over the CC postion, next summer, and my Cubmaster replacement at the pack will follow a year later to take over the SM position. When I asked about a troop neckerchief for the crossover (next month) the troop committee informed me they had been using a custom, hand made neckerchief that was now down to one, unissued, neckerchief, which they have been hanging onto, even though they have several newer scouts in the troop, who have not been issued one. We talked about how many should be made, and I agreed to find a way to make it happen. I know it will be important for the crossover, and my very talented sister will do just about anything for her nephew. This neckerchief is based upon the half of a 32" square (triangle) that is the standard size. In doing some research, I realize the actual, original, neckerchief was a 32" square shape, that was folded diagonally in half, to be worn. Since we will be making these from scratch, I am wondering if there is a reason why we could not go with the original, square neckerchief, which certainly has alot more uses in theory, and would just be more connected to the original reasons it was added to the uniform in the first place, according to research. I know I'm not currently in any official, troop leadership position, but nobody was able to solve this neckerchief problem and there is no reason it can't be done, with a full 32" square or the triangle from half of that. I obviously have a strong interest in history, from my architectural training, but realize there may be more to this. I thought I would float the idea, here, before putting it out to the committee and the CM, of which the CC and the CM are going to be gone, sometime next year. They know I am the lead replacement for the troop, but will be very careful not to appear disrespectful. I have already come up with a crossover ceremony for our Webelos utilizing this double, inverted tripod, pioneering structure they have been building as a part of their more important troop meetings, of which they were impressed with the model I built, and had no problems with the design of the ceremony. I guess I like a design challenge, since this has become a big part of my time as of late. When did BSA go away from the full 32" square neckerchief in the first place?

  • #2
    I do not know when the switch was official. I looked at some of my old neckerchiefs from back in the day. These are summer staff ones from the late 40's. They are 32" square. Some are 33" and 34" square. Most have only one emblem, but a few have an emblem or patch on oppostite corners. A few from 50's are square, but made up of two different colour triangles, so folded one way they are red, but another are white. The only issue I can remember is that it was alot of fabric wrapped around the neck - but that was the style then - worn over the collar, as opposed to folding the collar under, or worn under the collar. They are all cotton, so they absorbed sweat.

    My neckerchiefs from the 60's are all triangle - so my guess is that the switch gradually happened during the 50's - but that is unofficial.


    • #3
      If you're interested in the the BSA policies regarding neckerchiefs, the Insignia Guide has a section that discusses them. I don't have the book at hand just now, but uniform and insignia policies generally do not grant permission to alter the uniform beyond what is described in the Guide. Graphics, logos, and colors are options. Oversized or square design certainly would not be options.


      • #4
        Thanks, for that great deal of information. I had thought it was further back when they material was cut in half, but that explains alot. I think the amount of fabric involved will be the issue, for the troop leadership, and as I mentioned, I'm still on the outside of actually having much say in how they do things, other then this crossover for our Webelos. I think all of the pictures I have seen of older scout uniforms look so great because the neckerchief is full, and not just a uniform accent. Maybe I can have her make a few like that, and see how it looks... I like the larger size, as well, for something that clearly has more functional uses, the larger it goes. The two color triangle is a nice idea, as well. How did they transition that? Was it two different pieces of fabric, sewn together? Thanks, again.



        • #5
          Thanks, FScouter... there is at least the possibility the neckerchief is one part of the uniform that is optional in it's design.

          I found this website:

          that had this to say:

          Scouting Uniforming

          The uniforms of the Boy Scouts of America have changed many times since the first uniforms were introduced in the early 20s. Before that time, military uniforms were used as the first uniforms for Boy Scouts and Scoutmasters.

          Today, the BSA's uniforms are among the most recognizable uniforms within the United States. There's different styles and options, which has caused some minor concern among some Scouters that feel that the ONLY uniform is the CURRENT one.

          This page, along with the graphics and diagrams, answers most of the common questions dealing with the wear and usage of the uniforms of the Boy Scouts of America.


          There are currently SIX CURRENT official uniforms of the BSA:

          * the orange and black teeshirt used by Tiger Cub Scouts
          * the blue and gold uniform used by most Cub Scouts and WEBELOS Cub Scouts
          * the "khakitan" uniform (khaki tan shirt, green pants) worn by some Cub Scouts, WEBELOS Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Varsity Scouts, Explorers and volunteer and professional Scouters; this uniform is the "default" BSA field uniform
          * the kelly green uniform worn by Explorers
          * the blue blazer, red/silver/blue tie, and grey slacks worn by some volunteers and professional Scouters
          * and I am reminded that the gold blouses and blue slacks or skirts may STILL be worn by female Cub Scouters! (Thanks, Marsha Adelson!!!)


          Each unit can decide their uniforming standards in accordance with the BSA's uniforming policies. For instance, two Packs in the same town can have two separate "standards of dress" for their youth members: One pack can have ALL youth and adult members wear the khakitan uniform with the approviate dark blue shoulder loops which indicates Cub Scouting and Cub Scouters. The other pack can allow WEBELOS Cub Scouts (those in the last two years of the Cub Scouting program and whom are transitioning to Boy Scouting) to wear the khakitan uniforms while all other Cub Scouts wear the traditional blue and gold (yellow) uniforms.

          Likewise, two separate Troops can decide on which uniform options are to be worn.

          Which brings up the following important points about wearing older uniforms:

          The question was whether or not older uniform parts (hats specifically, but in general uniform parts) can still be worn by Scouts and Scouters today.

          The answers are:

          *if you have a COMPLETE older uniform, that you have purchased in parts or in whole, you may continue to wear that uniform as it is considered an official uniform of the BSA. Same goes for units whose members cannot afford the current uniform and have purchased/was given/found older uniforms. As long as the uniform is COMPLETE AND SERVICABLE, the BSA considers that uniform to be the same as the current uniform sold for retail

          *EVERYONE should be striving to wear the CURRENT COMPLETE UNIFORM. Yeah, the older uniforms were more confortable and fit better; but we're living in the 90s and not in the 60 or 40s, and our image to our public should in the current uniform style.
          However, there are plenty of older uniforms out there to be worn, and lots of Scouts and Scouters to wear them. The lack of a current uniform should NEVER deter a Scout or Scouter from becoming a part of the fun and action of Scouting today.

          *Hats and socks change with the times. However, those items are still allowed to be worn with the current uniform as long as there's some uniformity within those choices and as long as the items can still be obtained. There's some uniform houses that still have the red beret or the older khaki "earmuff hats"'ll have to find them and purchase them, since the BSA no longer markets those items. Same with the older socks and other uniform items.

          *BSA uniform policies does NOT allow for "mixing and matching" of new and previous versions of uniform parts, except for hats, neckerchiefs and socks. Old pants cannot be worn with the current khakitan uniform shirts; the older shirts cannot be worn with the current olive pants or shorts. We all do it....but it's not correct.

          The reference to all of this is found in several places, to start out, the BSA's Administration Manaul that your Council's Scout Executive and every District Executive has. It's also found in three different editions of _Scouting_ magazine, published in 1976, again in 1987 and once again in 1993 in the "News Briefs" column. It's also found in the BSA publications dealing with the Improved Scouting program; and finally, the Supply Division Director has sent five memos to the field in the past seventeen years reminding Scout Executives of the BSA's current policy dealing with uniforms and uniformity among its youth and adult members.


          • #6
            No way! If you wear a 32' square neckerchief folded in half instead of the current approved neckerchief, your boy's badges will all fall off, the council office will collapse and the Chief Scout Executive will come down and take your charter away. Maybe the charter of the whole council.

            BTW, it was late forties/early fifties that the neckerchief transitioned to the "half" currently in vogue.


            • #7
              I finally got a hold of my DE and he said it was fine to use either type. Apparently they have a Christmas sock in the scout shop that comes with a 4 sided neckerchief, and it was their impression the change was made to cut down on material cost, much like the Tiger cub totem going from leather to plastic. Now I think the whole design of the neckerchief needs to be reconsidered, starting with the type of fabric, and weave pattern. If this is going to be a more useful uniform component, the light cotton broadcloth there are using is probably not going to hold up to being used as a tool. That might be the hard part, getting them to go with a new design, but then, they are all leaving next year. I love a design challenge.


              • #8
                The original neckerchief design was the "full square". It was designed to be a tool, useful for many things, including bandaging, and carrying things, along with the scout stave. The stave has faded into history, and the neckerchief is a vestigial shadow of it's former self, if worn at all. I say, celebrate your Troop's long and rich history...go with the full square.


                • #9
                  Instructions on how our Troop makes the 32" "full square" neckerchief, plus two different early histories of the BSA neckerchief (including long lists of practical uses for the full neckerchief) can be found at The Inquiry Net:


                  The last time we made them, they cost us about $2 each.

                  If you study at the old Norman Rockwell paintings, you will see that it is the full square neckerchief (when worn correctly over the collar), that gives Rockwell's Scouts that classical "Boy Scout" look.

                  likewise, if you look at the neckerchief in the beginning of the Indiana Jones movie that features the young Indiana as a Boy Scout, you will notice that the neckerchiefs of that era often did not have any printing on them.

                  However, if you want to add a design, consider ordering the inverted triangle patches designed for neckerchiefs.

                  Baden-Powell and James E. West probably turned over in their graves when they heard that the BSA's dress designer had demoted the BSA neckerchief into a fashion accessory by designing Scout shirt collars that required that the neckerchief be worn under them :-/

                  Wearing It Right

                  James E. West, Chief Scout Executive, says "We are anxious to have the co-operation of every Scout and Scout Official in making effective the regulations covering the Official Uniform, Insignia and Badges. To tolerate a conscious disregard for requirements, even in simple matters, breeds disrespect for law and order.

                  "When I have found boys wearing the neckerchief, under instead of over the shirt collar, it developed that invariably the Scouts, and indeed their own Scoutmaster, did not understand the correct way of wearing the neckerchief. I am anxious that every Scout and Scout Official study the diagram, wear the neckerchief in the right way, and that he invite the attention of other fellows to the right way, when he finds them wearing it wrong."



                  • #10
                    Thanks, scoutldr.... the thing that brought me to this troop (and the work that it is going to take to bring it back to where it belongs) was the history. Having grown up on the Standing Rock Sioux reservation (my father was a scoutmaster, but I was in Cubs, I remember seeing some of the old things(pioneering structures were my favorites) that seem to have gone by the wayside, and I think that is why my DE asked me to consider taking my son's den there. I'm looking into high tech fabrics that can be used for these neckerchiefs, and I'll go from there. I plan to take Wood Badge this fall, for more inspiration, and know that I have 2 more leaders coming from the Webelos I den. They said they would go wherever I go, and we'll need them. I'm very happy to be out of Cub Scouts, and know this is entirely different. The boys will do the leading, but I'll do what I can as the future CC. I appreciate the encouragement.


                    • #11
                      Wow, thanks, Kudo.... I have always had my son tuck his collar in, so he could wear his neckerchief the way I thought it was supposed to be worn, just trying to remember how I saw it worn, some 35 years ago. He is used to wearing it that way, and once they get a full, square neckerchief, that collar is definitely going to get in the way. Whether I can convince the boys who have been in the troop for many years before I just showed up will be the challenge. Perhaps that might be part of my ticket for Wood Badge. I believe it is no accident I have been given this opportunity to resurrect this 67 year old troop, and after seeing what current boy and adult (talk about Cubs Scouts gone wild...) led Troops look like, I think there can be one troop in our district that seeks to learn from the old ways. At least it is a choice for a Webelos scout that does not currently exist. Thanks for the inspiration. I found this bit of vintage inspiraton on the stave:


                      • #12
                        I'm looking into high tech fabrics that can be used for these neckerchiefs

                        Make sure that it is soft. We bought a bolt of "wrinkle-free" material that felt OK to me, but the Scouts hated how "scratchy" it was :-/

                        I found this bit of vintage inspiration on the stave:

                        Here are some more diagrams and instructions on making staves:


                        It sounds like you might be interested in my Kudu/Inquiry Net: 2,000 pages of Traditional Scouting information, check out the list of Scouting skills on the left side of the the above URL.

                        Native American skills from your area (including an old sign language dictionary written for Scouts):


                        Songs and dances listed by tribe:


                        An overview of Traditional Scouting (including the entire texts of Ernest Seton's Birch Bark Roll and Dan Beard's The Boy Pioneers/Sons of Daniel Boone handbook at:




                        • #13

                          I agree on the need for the neckerchief to be easy to wear around the neck, especially if they are going to wear it over the collar. I guess anything that comes close to cotton, but is more durable would be a good option.

                          Thanks for all of those sources.... I will read all of them. I see this as a good time for the troop to reconnect with their past, and yet still move into the future. Since all of the Troop leadership/committee are looking for a clear sign it is being being taken care of, they will have no problems... I hope. Now I need to get my buddy to digitize a design for the neckerchief patch, which could easily incorporate parts, colors included, of the old, triangle neckerchief. Finding the fabric with color will be the big challenge. Thanks, again... I knew I would find the knowledge and experience I need for this reconstruction effort on this board. My thanks to all of you for your willingness to share!!


                          • #14
                            Congratulations and kudos on returning to a full-square neckerchief. They look terrific, fit taller scouts and us Scouters fine and are usefully for practicing all sorts of skills.
                            As far as material and comfort are concerned the standard issue full-squares that were issued up to about 1940 were made of mercerized cotton ponge. They are as light and strong as silk, they feel cool and soft against the neck, and look fresh and wrinkle-free after a wash and quick dry on the line. I've gotten loads of them at trade-o-rees.


                            • #15
                              Thanks, SWN... this is going to be an interesting process, including how we bring along the current, soon to be gone, troop committee and SM. The SM agrees this is the time to make a change, if there ever was one, and all the things I want to do to help the troop recruit more scouts, with some emphasis made on the 67 year history of the troop, falls along those lines. Is ponge pronounced pong-aa? Finding the proper fabric in a proper color will be the challenge, but there is so much that is new and functional in this area of making the neckerchief a tool on the uniform, once again. I am 6' 6", myself, so this would be an area that would make it a little easier for myself to wear as well. This Scouter network post has produced a wealth of knowledge and advice. Now to get some samples and a patch design before the next committee meeting. Thanks, again.