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Cub Scouts Hate Their Uniforms!

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  • Cub Scouts Hate Their Uniforms!

    I've been hearing complaints from several scouts that they don't want to be in Cub Scouts any more. The kids love the activities but they hate the uniform (class-A). They say that the uniforms are too hot and the collar bothers them so don't want to wear it. So it becomes a big ordeal when the parent has to fight the scout to wear his uniform and come to events.

    I've been looking for alternatives including removing the collar and minimizing the number of patches. I've picked over the thread "Why No Collarless Shirt?" and the adults even say that collarless shirts are much cooler. The issue about the collarless shirt is that is looks "dorky" as once person said and I wonder if scouts care or not. The kids often remove their necker and run around before and after events. One parent allow his Wolf scout to wear a tan microfiber Webelo shirt to our last event and he seemed happy.

    Please share your suggestions and success stories.

  • #2
    Digital, your cubs aren't the only ones unhappy with the uniform. The BSA hasn't fielded a functional, durable, affordable, user-popular uniform since the early '70s.

    Today's uniforms are designed for sedentary activities, like passive listening at meetings, watching powerpoint slide shows and videos, crunching JTE metrics in a cubicle, and the like.

    Less patches--good move. Collarless shirts--check ebay, the prices are low these days. Removing the collars off a shirt? Interesting, but may require a level of expertise or cost that would make it prohibitive. Neckerchiefs--they used to be mostly cotton, and actually functional. Last decade or more, they are made of something, not sure what...little/no natural fibers, that's for sure. And uncomfortable. Again, ebay can be a good source for finding old school neckerchiefs that are actually comfortable, even when active.

    Check ebay and thrift stores. The cubs can save their expensive shirt for blue/gold, and wear a classic shirt (70s/60s for example). Back in the day, they made them cub-proof. As a cub from 71 - 74, I had one shirt, and it handled anything and everything.


    • #3
      Interesting conversation. As a current Cub Master, I haven't heard this complaint. (ever actually) We try to teach our Scouts the importance of wearing their uniforms, and they work very hard to earn all of their beads and badges. Most are all VERY proud of the things they have earned, and can't wait to put on the next patch or bead once they complete them.
      For campouts and hiking, etc.. we do wear a Class B Tee-Shirt option. However, if we're going to be out in public, where we represent our Pack...we're in Class A Field Uniforms.

      I will ask some of my parents about this....but again, I haven't heard this complaint once. I'll admit we do get the occasional "didn't wear their uniform" but mostly it's because they came from another activity


      • #4
        I've heard some grumblings from the boys in my den, but I found that the one who never wore his uniform and the one who complained more about it than the others just weren't really into Scouting anyway. They just used the shirts as yet another excuse to avoid following the program. They both voluntarily left at the end of the year, and quite honestly, I feel we are better off without them because the uniform wasn't the only thing they complained about. I can understand being a litle more relaxed about wearing a neckerchief on a hot day, but I think wearing the uniform helps identify the boys as part of Scouting and they should be proud to wear them.


        • #5
          Our Pack is a uniformed Pack for our Den and Pack Meetings and appearing in public for special events. We also have Pack T-Shirts for active events. The only real complaint we have about the uniform is a concern that it might get torn or dirty at a physically active event. Parents appreciate the pack t-shirt option.

          The downside of a pack T-Shirt is it does not readily identify the boys with the Scouting program. Sure, the shirt might say "Pack 123" on it but it's not the uniform. The distinictive look of the uniform with the necker is unmistakable to the public and who you represent. I try to emphasize this as a Cubmaster and take this into consideration when we plan events and how we should dress for those events.


          • #6
            Why require Field uniforms, Class A, for anything other than a pack meeting..... Use the activity shirt for everything else. Short of a parade or collecting food for scouting, then the boys wear the Pack tshirt.....Problem solved.

            No need to over analyse it. Just do it.


            • blw2
              blw2 commented
              Editing a comment
              With the t-shirts, the whole pride in accomplishment thing is shot..... no point then in rank patches, belt loops, temporary patches, etc...
              Shoots down the whole idea & function of the instant recognition beads.
              its a lot of money and work sewing on those patches for something that will be worn a handful of times before they outgrow it.
              The boys don't get used to the feeling of it, making them even more self conscious when they finally do wear them.
              the public identity is lost
              .... I could probably think of a few more......

          • #7
            Some boys just have a sensory issue with the shirts, including my own boys. The biggest complaint they have is wearing pins like service stars and summertime pack awards. So those are off except for pack meetings. I also find a t shirt underneath helps. I think the biggest reason we have this problem is the boys are just not used to wearing button down shirts or tucking shirts in for that matter. I can't say I blame them, they are just little boys. I love the comfort of the microfiber shirt and it does dry quickly, but the durability and stain resistance suffer greatly. I have a problem with piling on the inside and outside of the collar.

            I think one thing that gets overlooked in the issue is safety. The uniform and neckerchief provide an easy identification in herding the cats, especially in larger packs at activities. Ask Andy over at has several examples of the benefits in wearing the uniform. From just getting a warning from traffic cops to an opportunity for his troop to receive free ropes course training after an instructor class because his troop was the only one identifiable as scouts at a camp and the class needed some practice subjects. Our troop policy is to always wear the uniform while traveling.

            They way I have heard the old timers talk about their uniforms they must have been made out of burlap.


            • King Ding Dong
              King Ding Dong commented
              Editing a comment
              Another problem I see with the uniform is obesity. The bigger your gut the more uncomfortable the uniforms are and harder to keep tucked in. I count myself in this group as well, but I must lead by example.

          • #8
            I have two boys in Cub scouts and I am the Weblos den leader. My boys get excited to wear the uniform and think it looks cool. however with in a couple of hours of an event they are ready to peel them off complaining about being to hot and collar is "scrathy" all that. I insist that my boys wear the pack t-shirt undernieth so that if the situation permits it they can downgrade but I will always require them to put it back on for offical ceremonies, traveling, or being in the public eye. this compromise has worked out great and solved the complaining issue


            • #9
              We could try switching from a necker to a silk ascot.


              • DigitalScout
                DigitalScout commented
                Editing a comment
                I love this idea. Not only is silk soft to the touch but will make any scout look dashing!

              • King Ding Dong
                King Ding Dong commented
                Editing a comment
                Didn't the Air Force use them at some point ?

                " I don't always wear an ascot, but when I do I wear my Tiger Cub Orange"
                The most interesting Cub in the world.

            • #10
              A lot of the issues around uniforms depends on the attitude developed within the boys. If forced, they will buck the system every time. This is their time of life to test the limits of adults. But for the most part they are all very strong conformists in their peer groups. If the older boys are blowing off the uniform, the younger boys will pick up on it and not want to be different. On the other hand, when the SPL is in full uniform (with necker) doing his Eagle Project, the younger boys tend to follow. Of course the SPL would always picked the best dressed patrol to do the flags for the evening and soon it became a subtle competition to get to do the flags. The PL's picked up on it and followed.

              During this whole process there was never any discussion on whether or not the uniform was important. Everyone eventually had full uniforms.

              Once the comments began coming in at Camporees that the boys always looked the best, there were a few negative comments from the other troops, but when the boys showed up at opening ceremonies on Saturday morning with full uniforms, patrol flags, and troop flag, the other troops took notice.

              At summer camp (Council camp) one year the boys all showed up as such and the "joke" was everyone had decided to do a no uniform flag ceremony. The SPL was notified of this after the troop had arrived, and immediately turned the boys around, went back to camp and performed a morning flag-raising at the campsite. The boys preferred the site ceremony, they didn't ever return back to the camp ceremony, and to this day, they always attend a different summer camp. The original SPL has gone on to college and yet to this day, the traditions he started still is strong in that troop.


              • #11
                Our Tigers love to wear their uniforms but I've noticed at pack meetings that a lot of the older boys come in their school uniforms, not their cub scout uniforms. The neckerchief sliders are a PITA, we are forever having them slide off no matter how tight we get them on. I try to get our scouts to wear them to all our outings as scouts, to get them accustomed to wearing them later on as well. I know some scouts who haven't worn one from day one so I figure the earlier the better. With that being said, I agree with a majority of the comments in this thread and think there is room for improvement with the uniforms. Our boys have complained about how hot they get in theirs (especially when outdoors) but so far no one has refused to wear it (in our den.)


                • #12
                  Our pack wears uniforms, but we're not terribly strong in our uniform ethic. There's a sort of we'd like you to wear it, but if not, no big deal. It's rare that we ask for them to be in uniform. Neckerchiefs are almost always optional.

                  We also have a pack t-shirt, which is always an option.

                  This seems to work well enough. Boys that don't want to wear the uniform don't, and because there are options and no-pressure the uniform is never really an issue.

                  I do wish we had a bit more energy behind wearing the uniform, but it's not a battle that's on my radar right now

                  One other note - my own son is a Webelos now. I was always very lax with him about tucking in his shirt, wearing the neckerchief, etc... However. once he went from the blue uniform to the tan, I drew a line in the sand. I told him that if he's going to wear a Boy Scout uniform, I want him to set an example and be fully uniformed (pants, belt, shirt). He's responded with enthusiasm to that one.


                  • blw2
                    blw2 commented
                    Editing a comment
                    I've started since day one trying to teach my son that same respect for the blue uniform, and pride in wearing it correctly.

                • #13
                  I think the T-Shirt thing is just lazy.

                  Yeah, sure.... there's a place for it when doing some highly active outing or something..... but IMO a meeting aint the place. A field trip to tour a fire station or whatever aint the place. Hanging from a zip-line, jumping trampolines..... ok, I might buy the idea of a T-Shirt here.....

                  I've heard my son grumble about the uniform 2 or maybe 3 times over the Tiger and Wolf years..... but I think only because he's had to get up and move to make the meeting. It's more about not wanting to change clothes, go find his socks, etc..... than the uniform itself. We get exactly the same grief often when leaving the house for other things too.....

                  Honestly, I think the boys can sense that they look goofy or sloppy..... I know I sure can, and did as a boy, too.

                  You know that feeling of looking sharp if you put on a new suit that fits? Put on the uniform complete, neat, and looking sharp. Feels good. Makes you stand a little taller!

                  Now put on some clothes that don't fit right. Baggy shirt or worse, one that's too tight.... Mismatched pants (jeans or whatever) that are out of place. Maybe throw in white socks and dress shoes to complete the goofy mismatched outfit.....untucked and sloppy. Feels goofy. Makes you want to stand a little shorter & hide..... or just go home.

                  So the boys see their dads' and leaders wearing half a uniform for one or more of the many excuses already stated many times before..... maybe a shirt that doesn't fit right.... and then they follow suit and only wear it half way. Necker rolled up sloppy and thrown around their neck. Lost the woggle, so they have it tied in some sloppy knot, with the standing ends pointing in different directions, one more or less down and the other up and to the left..... they look like a complete goof, and feel like it too!

                  No wonder some of the boys start complaining about the uniform. Much easier and more comfortable to wear the same t-shirt that they wore to school, as opposed to putting on a mess and feeling like a goof.

                  Sure there are weaknesses in quality, design, or whatever...... but nothing that can't be overcome if you wanted to.
                  Teach them to take pride in the uniform!


                  • #14
                    My son's the same way. He grumbles about putting his uniform on (though less now with the tan uniform), he grumbles about having to go to meetings, he grumbles about having to eat dinner too In my house, scouting is important and my son sees that. So, as he's matured, he's taking more and more pride in scouting. When he needs a nudge to get active in Scouting, I give it to him and over time that's worked.

                    In a lot of houses, that's not the case though. I know many parents who don't see the bigger picture and for whom scouting is just another activity. When their son grumbles a few times about going to meetings or putting on their uniforms, the parents start to give up.

                    For us, right or wrong, we've not been fighting the battle. Do I think it would help if we were better uniformed - yes. However, I think before we do that, we need to get better participation at pack meetings, have better programs, etc...

                    So, for now I make the uniforming as painless as possible - hence the t-shirt.


                    • blw2
                      blw2 commented
                      Editing a comment
                      I sort of see it as a chicken or egg thing. Which came first?

                      Maybe if the whole pack, leaders and all, went all out with the uniform.... not so much as to be rigid or military, but enough to instill an attitude of Doing Your Best.....Maybe it could as designed or intended, install a group identity and pride in self and accomplishment, that is missing. Therefore pack meetings would get better participation and the program will be better.

                      Of course it wouldn't work without a fun meeting agenda, but hand in hand??? I think it stands a good chance. Whoever it was that started this uniform thing a long time ago sure thought so....... and it apparently worked for a long time before we started watering it down with "Class B's" and other self produced variations on the theme..... After all, to this day almost anyone out there, no matter what will be able to tell you what a Boy Scout or Cub Scout is 'supposed' to look like.

                      Unfortunately, I won't be reporting about anything learned from such an experience in my pack any time soon. Leaders are too entrenched in a half-way attitude.

                    • ParkMan
                      ParkMan commented
                      Editing a comment
                      As I wrote that, I had that thought too. Perhaps I'm thinking about all this too hard and trying to solve issues one-by-one instead of just dealing with a bunch at once. I don't know.

                  • #15
                    In 17 years of working with Cub Scouts, I have heard very few (if any) complaints about the uniform. The Tigers love it. The older boys tend to get whiney, but then they get whiney about everything as they get older! They still wear their uniforms.

                    The short sleeve Cub shirt isn't really any hotter than a regular shirt, and Cubs have the options of buying shorts, or the zip-off Switchback pants. The problem with Cubs is a lighter weight uniform will not last a week. Especially the pants. Little boys seem to be highly affected by gravity. They spend a good portion of their time on their knees, and/or skidding across floors/sidewalks/etc. You need something extremely sturdy.

                    As others have stated, a Pack t-shirt for active activities is also a viable way to go.

                    Faith - for the slipping neckers, tie a knot, or put a rubber band, under the slide,


                    • ParkMan
                      ParkMan commented
                      Editing a comment
                      I'd recommend making slides. It's great fun, they're memorable, and the boys like them more anyways.

                    • Adam S
                      Adam S commented
                      Editing a comment
                      Someone suggested making their own slides and that is always great, bending the tabs works on the BSA neckerchiefs, but for the non-BSA slides try using grip tape (the textured tape on top of a skateboard) it gives the slide a bit more friction while making the opening a little narrow, works like a charm!

                    • Faith
                      Faith commented
                      Editing a comment
                      Nice, thank you! I was not aware that we could make our own (as someone who is trying to get everyone to follow the uniform code to the best of their ability, I had no idea if that would be acceptable or not.) I know they'd love to do that though, we have a crafty bunch Never would have thought of grip tape either!