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Ditch the Neckerchief

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The Necker is the universal symbol of scouting, we should encourage its use and Scouters should wear it whenever they are in uniform

I admit I'm a traditionalist, so I am for the necker. My troop has opted to go the custom route though. We are using olive drab USGI triangle bandages with a custom patch. So they are quite useful.  

Pyramid scheme?  Not really, in a pyramid scheme quite often some of the victims get their money back.     (Added note, I was probably thinking more of a Ponzi scheme than a pyramid scheme, but I t

Missing the point. If the necker aficionados...

  • Feel so strongly about one part of the uniform, then why not ALL parts of the uniform?


  • Think that only "a skilled and perceptive leader" leaders can "get their boys excited about anything", why focus that energy on an object (necker) rather than really engaging their Scouts on a myriad of other more important issues?

I get you guys are necker-happy. Great. But let's not cast dispersions on those who aren't. The necker doesn't make the Scouter. Heck, the uniform and knots don't make the Scouter, so it really doesn't matter WHAT someone wears. The program and boys learning and growing is what matters.


That's the point.


First of all, I apologize that you have misread my post. I did not intend to cast any aspersions on those who are not fans of the neckerchief, nor even dispersions, which would indeed be redundant to cast in the first place. However, part of the problem is that you seem to have made the innocent but erroneous assumption that I only could only have the energy to focus on the neckerchief while ignoring the rest of the uniform. How little you know me.  ;)


Of course, such a mistake is only natural, as you can't know what goes on here in our California Troop through a few posts I put on an online forum. But let's make a new assumption: I want you to think about all the time and passion and energy I put into defending the neckerchief, the zeal, the emotional effort put into getting 12 year-old boys to put a piece of cloth around their necks. Are you visualizing it?  Is that kind of passion clear in your mind?




Now, let's finish the picture accurately. You seem to have created the image of a leader who invites boys to meetings where for an hour every week he pontificates about the glories of the neckerchief while ignoring the rest of Scouting. For the purposes of this discussion, it is a clever rhetorical move that helps you weaken the argument for neckers by shifting the argument to broader, nobler ideas, and the suggestion that if you focus on neckerchiefs, you ignore other greater things. But this is, of course, untrue, not to mention a logical fallacy. The reality, and the more logical conclusion, is that if I indeed put all this excitement and work into getting the boys to wear one part of the uniform, then it follows that I would put even MORE effort into the uniform as a whole! And I am a zesty young person; when I get excited I get EXCITED!


Now, this thread is about neckerchiefs; thus I talk about neckerchiefs. You put up a thread on hats, I will talk hats! And belts, and woggles - even Scot Socks (not even I have a pair!). You ask "why not ALL parts of the uniform?" without considering that, as is in fact the case, every part of the uniform gets just as much attention. The hats get as much love as the neckers, which get as much love as the shirt and the pants and the belt, even those Scot socks. So let's not perpetuate the idea that anything else is being left out; this is a thread on neckerchiefs, so in this discussion, we are talking neckerchiefs.


And even more to the point, you can safely conclude that for all the love and devotion I put into a detail like neckerchiefs, you will get a hundred times more when it comes to ideals like honor, duty, kindness, respect, or faith. You can probably understand that the zeal for this piece of fabric is only the tiniest reflection of the even greater, almost unspeakable love and devotion that is put into the fabric of the boys' souls. So it does your argument little good by trying to portray the neckerchief as a distraction from the real goals of Scouting; rather it is part of a method of Scouting, the uniform, which is a tool used to turn these boys into upstanding citizens and honest men. By developing an earnest interest in the smaller details, we equip ourselves with more and more tools with which we can teach these future leaders and husbands and fathers. 


So let's put on our perspective glasses and remember - in a thread about neckerchiefs, you are going to get talk about neckerchiefs. That doesn't mean we aren't focused on the greater things. It just means we're staying on topic.  ;)

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My replies are in bold. And no fears - I could never be so fragile as to choose to be offended by anything somebody on an on-line forum said to me.  :)


No offense, bit if your premise was true --  that "a skilled and perceptive leader" get the boys "excited about anything" -- those efforts would be best applied to keeping Scouts who want to drop out of Scouting, rather than something as meaningless as a part of the uniform. Um ... Is it so hard to do both? It's not exactly an either/or situation; to suggest that those efforts aren't also being made is quite the broad assumption you're making. I am assuming that since we all experience kids dropping out of Scouts, Well, it hasn't happened to me yet but maybe someday none of us -- even the necker-wearing ones of us -- are that skilled or perceptive. 


Do you feel the same about Scot socks? Yep.  Scout pants? Uh huh. Wearing patches properly? Heck yes. Adherence to the uniform guidelines? Every word of them.

Edited by The Latin Scot
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Neckers? As I have mentioned, my boys like them, they wear them, they use them for other purposes.  The troop is in an economically depressed area of town.  The boys work hard at getting a uniform shirt.  Just maybe, but not always, they get a camp t-shirt on their own.  The closest thing to a "class-b" shirt is a t-shirt with no writing on it.  So, with that being said, they wear the scout shirt and when "relaxing in camp" they take the shirt off on a not day, but soak the necker and put it around their neck to stay cool. 


I don't think I would make a big stink about the necker, but for some reason my boys really like them. 


Maybe, just maybe, it is because they were given to them by Mrs. Stosh when they crossed over.  Every boy that crossed over got one with the stipulation that 1) it doesn't belong to them, she made them, she owns them.  2) it will cost the boy $15 and an apology to her if they need another because it got lost, stolen or destroyed, and 3) when they Eagle, it is her gift to them.


To date, no one has ever lost or destroyed one, but some of the boys that quit didn't return them.


Mrs. Stosh does a lot of beautiful quilting and applique work and I'm thinking that if any of these boys Eagle, there'll be something quite astonishing to replace one with 6-7 years of scouting ground in when they Eagle.


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The Scouts in my troop wear neckerchiefs and they have since before I was involved.  I don't think the subject of not wearing neckerchiefs has ever even come up.  If you weren't wearing a neckerchief you were not wearing a full uniform, although there have never been any real consequences for not wearing one.  (And if push came to shove, there are always extra generic BSA neckerchiefs in the storage closet.)  I don't think that either the PLC or the troop committee or any other gathering has ever discussed whether our troop should wear neckerchiefs.  The Scouts just wear them.


For most of the time I have been involved with this troop, the Scouts all wore the generic standard-issue red BSA neckerchief.  If the Scout had an NYLT neckerchief or a Philmont neckerchief or Eagle Scout neckerchief they could wear that instead.   The adults would wear a variety of bolo ties, neckerchiefs or no neckwear.  (I was a bolo tie man myself, going back to when I was a JASM. I hate wearing a neckerchief.)  Then about 3-4 years ago the troop decided to order custom neckerchiefs with our troop number, town and other "art" similar to what is on our troop trailer.  The kids all started wearing them and most of the adults did as well.  In honor of this attempt to make our troop's uniforming more, um, "uniform", I decided to "ditch" (going back to the title of this thread) the bolo tie.  Now when I wear the uniform (which is only occasionally as I am a committee member) I wear the troop neckerchief.  I still hate wearing it, but I don't tell the kids that.

Edited by NJCubScouter
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To condense the past discussion: (we will ignore the over/under debate...)


Reasons to wear a neckerchief:

* It is tradition. Scouts have always worn neckerchiefs.

*It marks/identifies  the wearer as a Scout., recognized thereby  thruout the world.

            ( Noting this, the rest of the uniform might be seen as not necessary).

* It (they ) can be used to identify/organize Patrols, Troops, Camp Staff or other Scout groups.  In this , the Unit may decide on it's design and construction.

* It can be useful. First Aid , bandage, wrapper, sweatband, sun cap, emergency rope, dust mask, game/team ID,

* It can be an award for  noting a Scout's (or other person !) activities.

*  It can be used as a mark of achievement (see previous).

* It can be a souvenir of a memorable event, or place visited.

* It can be a means to secure a new friendship thru trading.



* The slide or woggle used to secure the neckerchief can be a means to exhibit one's creativity. 

*The slide/woggle can be all the above , in and by itself.


Reasons NOT to wear a neckerchief:

*  It can be itchy, uncomfortable.

* "It's dorky", (perhaps compared to a gent's necktie/cravat/ascot?)

* It can be expensive, an extra expense.

* Fashion statement?  HAH !

*  They get lost easily.

* The slide (woggle) is inconvenient, it gets lost, it is an added expense.

*  The "useful"  reasons mentioned above can be better met with more appropriate gear/items, rather than a piece of apparel.

*  It has become mere decoration, and has lost it's "traditional" reasons. Let the old time stuff be old. Time marches on.

*  We don't really "need" it.

*  Why should I want to LOOK like a Scout?  (perhaps there are other dynamics at work here).

* If I don't have to tuck in my shirt, or sew on these patches, or come to meetings, or go camping ....   what's so big about a neckerchief?



I think that's about all....

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Nice summary.


Never lost a slide as I was taught to wear a cord around my neck and feed he "tail" though a loop in the cord below the slide.  Those with beads understand.

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I've always enjoyed seeing scouts from different troops together.  Even troops from the same district usually have unique features that set them apart with the patches, summer camp awards and neckerchiefs.  Was at a recent NYLT meeting and several boys from the same troop had bright red neckers and their long sleeved undershirts were the same shade.  It was enough boys to assume that maybe the whole troop had thermal shirts that matched the neckers.


Our troops necker was discontinued so SM suggested the troop use a larger solid color cotton fabric.  The idea was that it could function as a sling or bandage, etc.. where the store bought neckerchief is a bit smaller.  It's also cheaper to make our own.  No embroidery and it's a dull olive green but I don't think anyone cares.  The scouts make their own turk's head woggle with paracord.  Seems to function better than the metal slides and has the added benefit of being multi-functional paracord and we can coordinate the color with the necker.


It's nice to have a multi-purpose necker and woggle but on the other hand, our troop only wears class A every other meeting, BOR, COH, trips and misc.  The uniforms come off as soon as the tents goes up.  The likelihood that the necker would ever actually be used as intended seems extremely small for us.  I doubt the scouts would even remember the woggle around their neck is paracord.  I get the impression that the boys tolerate the necker but don't really care for it and take them off as soon as possible.

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 I am a den leader, we are just moving into Webelo. Parents are giving me that sideways look at the prospect of paying out for yet another uniform change. I think they are are starting to suspect they've signed on to some sort of pyramid scheme. Each rank has had a different, expensive and not super useful neckerchief, rank specific gimme cap, etc. Cross reference that with your little Cub Scout pressed into selling amazingly expensive popcorn- the organization loses some of the luster.


Okay- I think I see a plan forming.

The old school neckerchiefs were useful and I think these guys will benefit from having one. Tentatively I have pretty good response from parents and pack leader at the prospect of producing our own. The old guidelines I've come across put the size at over 32" square folded into a triangle. I bet I can find broadcloth that we can make them for a couple of bucks a piece. We'll keep to a simple design. When I was a Scout, our troop adopted neckerchiefs to look like we were serving with John Wayne in a cavalry unit. Seriously. I do not recall anybody complaining about them. As an adult (chronologically anyway) I have continued to use them on hiking and paddling trips.


This has been a fascinating discussion. Thanks for your insights.

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I am a den leader, we are just moving into Webelo. Parents are giving me that sideways look at the prospect of paying out for yet another uniform change. I think they are are starting to suspect they've signed on to some sort of pyramid scheme. Each rank has had a different, expensive and not super useful neckerchief, rank specific gimme cap, etc. Cross reference that with your little Cub Scout pressed into selling amazingly expensive popcorn- the organization loses some of the luster.


Pyramid scheme?  Not really, in a pyramid scheme quite often some of the victims get their money back.   :)


(Added note, I was probably thinking more of a Ponzi scheme than a pyramid scheme, but I thought my comment was funny anyway.)


But seriously, this nonsense of a different neckerchief and hat for every single year of Cub Scouting was being phased in while my son was a Cub Scout (late-90s/early 00's) and was completed shortly after that.  When he was in Tigers the Tigers didn't even have a hat or neckerchief, there was a single set for Wolf/Bear, and then another for Webelos.  Two hats, two neckerchiefs. Now it's... well, you know what it is.  It's ridiculous.


Don't get me started on popcorn sales.  Part of the problem there is you are raising money for two different organizations, the pack and the council.  I don't think there is anything to stop a pack from doing its own fundraisers, as many troops do.  Our troop sells holiday wreaths and does some version of pancake breakfast/chili dinner/fish fry/spaghetti dinner/etc. depending on who is running things.

Edited by NJCubScouter
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After a few years of putting up with the constant whining of lost slides, I finally got my boys on track and to-date NONE of them has ever lost one.


Conventional wisdom says that the woggle is applied at the base of two tapering pieces of ever thickening cloth.  It is held in place by the friction of the cloth and often times rather smooth wood or metal surfaces. 


Eventually the laws of nature take over (gravity pulling down) and the decreasing thickness of the actual necker ends means eventually it will fall off and get lost.  I know it doesn't happen very often, but it most often traumatizes first year scouts so that they have difficulty finishing up their Eagle projects by their 18th birthday.


In order to provide safe spaces and reduce woggle-loss triggers, there are two alternatives.  My boys have either tied a knot in the necker tails or they have gone to the vertical application of the woggle.  Because our neckers are larger than most, the vertical application method is preferred.


I use paracord to make 4 strand woggles.  Whatever the woggle, it must not be displayable horizontal only.  Take the standard Turk's Head woggle, it can be displayd horizontally and vertically.  Thus it works the best.  Put one necker tail in the "top" of the woggle, and thread the other necker tail into the opposite "bottom) of the woggle.  So now you have a vertical necker with necker tails crossing inside the necker and coming out opposite sides.  Tie a square knot in the ends of the two necker tails and it is impossible to get the woggle off without untying the knot.


There have been a couple of cases where such woggles have been lost, but they were still on the necker, around the lost scout's neck.. 

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I really would love to implement just the Yellow and Blue necker for all cubs in our Pack (Tiger through Bear, Webelos get the plaid ones).... and I'm one of the strict ones on uniforming.  But having to shell out $25 each year just in uniform gear.... not even including the belt buckle... it's absurd.  Are any other units doing this? 

Edited by Gwaihir
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