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Ditch the Neckerchief


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#1 EmberMike

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Posted 28 February 2017 - 10:20 AM

A comment in another thread got me thinking again about the stigma of being a scout, wearing the uniform and having friends see you in public as a scout when it's not considered a "cool" thing to do. When I was a kid, the neckerchief was often the most despised part of the uniform, and some of us opted for bolos instead, although in hindsight I'm not sure it was any better of a look. 

 

I've never been involved in a unit that voted to not wear neckerchiefs, although I've heard of some that do vote to go without them. Historically they served a practical purpose, but they were also larger back in the early days and their usefulness in things like first aid was far greater. Today, in their current size and shape, there isn't much use for them beyond uniform wear and unit identification, which is redundant. 

 

Has the time come for the BSA to consider a more formal reduction of the neckerchief in uniform wear?

 

If one were to follow the example of National, you'd think neckerchiefs were already long gone. Few (if any) folks from National are ever seen wearing one. Many adult leaders leave them off, even in units where the policy is to wear them. 

 

Just wanted to hear some thoughts on this. If your unit wears neckerchiefs, why? And if not, also, why? 

 

In my opinion, this seems like one of the easiest changes we would potentially make to reduce some of the "uncool" factor of being in uniform, especially when there is no practical reason to wear them anyway. How many kids quit because of pressure from non-scout friends, or the perception that it's lame or dorky or whatever to be a scout? I don't expect that removing the neckerchief will completely change the school-age perception of the program, but if it helps at all in making the kids feel more comfortable in uniform, I say ditch the neckerchief. 


Edited by EmberMike, 28 February 2017 - 10:25 AM.

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#2 qwazse

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Posted 28 February 2017 - 10:29 AM

The troop we merged with wears them. Scout's decision. I don't propose to probe their minds.

As boys get older, they tend to forget to bring it to meetings.

I wear my WB kerchief with my venturing uni. I cinch it with a friendship knot.

Now that we can officially do so. I am trying to wear it on most scouting activities. Even if I only have an activity shirt.

 

I think if I time it right, I can get the crew to tie dye neckers. Trying to make it seem like it's their idea is tricky. :o


Edited by qwazse, 28 February 2017 - 10:30 AM.

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#3 Eagle94-A1

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Posted 28 February 2017 - 10:47 AM

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.

 

I personally think BSA made a mistake when they decided to make the Boy Scout neckers Cub Scout sized and an option. We are the only country in the world where the necker is an option. Heck in some countries, it is the only uniform Scouts have!


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#4 blw2

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Posted 28 February 2017 - 11:20 AM

I see more adults bucking away from them.

The scouts in our troop generally don't seem to mind them... in fact they chose, must like qazwse's troop


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#5 blw2

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Posted 28 February 2017 - 11:21 AM

I should add, they chose, but I use that term loosely.

As with most decisions I think they are heavily adult steered and swayed.


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#6 RememberSchiff

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Posted 28 February 2017 - 11:42 AM

I still wear a real neckerchief, square of course. It is immensely functional as I often demonstrate on outings. Unfortunately, my troop currently has opted-out of neckerchiefs but I am trying a new approach - the necker as gear not as uniform. My fiendish plot starts with a wilderness survival campout which requires scouts to wear a neckerchief and use it during the weekend activities - water filtration, first aid, signalling.

 

My $0.02


Edited by RememberSchiff, 28 February 2017 - 11:58 AM.

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#7 jjlash

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Posted 28 February 2017 - 11:50 AM

Our Troop does not wear them, though I wish we did.  Dont know if they actually voted at some point in the past or not - it has been this way since I joined.

 

The neckerchief is pretty much universal in identifying as Scouts.  My understanding is that other parts of the world it is even worn as part of an activity uniform - Scout tshirt and necker.  

 

I have two thoughts on them being uncool - when I was a cub, we wore our uniform to school on den meeting day.  Around here at least that just doesnt happen so the only times a Scouts friends might see him in uniform is when they're doing something around the community - scouting for food, or a parade  or service project.  At that point, I doubt it is the neckerchief that causes the teasing so much as the uniform in general.

 

The other thought is much more noble - rather than discard the necker (and eventually the uniform?) so kids dont get hassled for being uncool, I would rather put in the effort to make Scouting something that kids can be proud to be a part of.  A challenge for sure, but one that needs to happen to help ensure our survival.


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#8 Tampa Turtle

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Posted 28 February 2017 - 11:53 AM

I love the tradition of it but our Troop decided long ago to go necker-less because it was just cooler in the warm weather. If a Boy wants to wear one he can though; a few transfers felt pretty strongly about it.


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#9 SSScout

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Posted 28 February 2017 - 11:54 AM

True, the necker was added to the uniform both as a "tool" with which to "be prepared" and as a set off from the rest of the society.  The neckerchief of my Scout days was designed by the Scouts of that era, just before I joined.  It now shows it's age, with some nicks and tears. It is very distinctive, has a patch on its apex that by itself would probably cost 6 or more  dollars today. Triangular, It is 4" on the diagonal bigger than the standard necker the same Troop uses today, and that is the standard, Scout Stuff necker. 

I too bemoaned the YSL necker the Scouts promoted thru the '80's and on.  It was a cravat, not useable for much of anything else. My home Troop later opted for a bigger necker, tho still not as large  as the one I display at CoH in February. 

The utility (or lack of it) of our uniform is often noted . The pockets, toughness, (?), comfort (?) mark the Scout uniform as a useful item, not just "fashion". 

The necker and it's woggle/slide is often pointed to as THE item that marks a Scout around the world.  As said above, it is often the ONLY uniform the Scout actually has.  Go to any World Jamboree, (2019 !) and the neckers are  prime trading items.    

 

I would favor the Troop  utilizing the necker again as a utility item.  Make it BIG.  Make it DISTINCTIVE in color and pattern.   And USE it for a sweat band, head covering, neckcovering, , scarf against the cold,  Make it inexpensive enough to wash and wear.  Signal flag, swim towel,  blindfold, leg tie for games. Make the Cub Necker a Scout Necker the Cub can "Grow Into". 

 I have seen Kindergarten teachers and day care folks use neckers as ID for their kids on field trips.  Everybody with a Bright Green necker is OUR kid . Easy!  

 

Don't negate the item from poor choices of reasoning (small size, poor design, no practice or encouragement with utility).  Make better choices !


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#10 The Latin Scot

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Posted 28 February 2017 - 01:12 PM

Yeah, there is no way the BSA will be phasing out neckerchiefs any time soon, and thank goodness! The neckerchief is the most recognizable part of the Scouts uniform, not to mention the only really useful part of it!

 

How the boys feel about the necker' is usually a reflection of how the leader feels about it. The boys in my congregation's troop were always ambivalent about wearing neckerchiefs, until I came in one day and talked about the history of why we wear them, the dozens of ways in which they can be useful, etc. I then showed them all the neckerchiefs I have saved up from the time I was a little Wolf Scout, and then revealed to them that they actually had the privilege of choosing to wear whatever neckerchief they wanted - they had never been told how many color choices there were, and they were EXCITED! Each patrol had voted on a differently-colored necker' within 10 minutes. Later the SPL attended the monthly Committee Meeting and formally requested new neckerchiefs for each patrol, and now they wear them all the time - and as per BSA policy, when their Field Uniforms aren't practical, they go out with at least their neckerchiefs to identify them as Scouts!

 

In Cub Scouts, it's not even optional - my boys wear them, or they aren't counted as being in uniform. That's also BSA policy. And I have a few different ones, depending on what role I am filling at that particular event. The neckerchief is one of the best parts of the uniform! And luckily, the BSA seems to agree: 

 

http://blog.scouting...iform-clothing/

 

I think a recent move like this makes it pretty clear that the Boy Scouts of America won't be getting rid of this key uniform component any time soon, and hooray for that! I would hate to see such a wonderful tradition sacked just because a few self-conscious teenagers are too embarrassed to put a neckerchief around their neck, lol.  :cool:


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Hearken world, and listen up! There is no such word as "Webelo." If your son is an older Cub Scout, he is NOT a "Webelo!"

The singular of Webelos Scout is ... WEBELOS SCOUT!  That's it! Please take the extra half second and get it right! Thank you for indulging my little pet peeve!

 

Did I mention my obnoxious OCD?  :D 

 


#11 CalicoPenn

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Posted 28 February 2017 - 01:13 PM

When I was a Scout (in the 1970's) neckerchiefs were worn by the boys - the only exception was the Wood Badge neckerchiefs and we understood that as the adults playing at being Boy Scouts.

 

The adults wore ties or bolos - being from the suburbs of Chicago bolos tended to be worn as part of the "informal" uniform - which really was just the full uniform without a tie.  Bolos were typically worn to scout meetings and roundtables.  Ties were reserved for Courts of Honor and Scout Sunday.  My uncle in Arizona only wore Bolos - no ties - as an adult Scouter.

 

When I was a Scout, we didn't like wearing neckerchiefs but not because it didn't look cool - we didn't like them because it was too easy for them, or the slide, or both, to get lost - but wear them we did.  They often played a role in our Scout meetings - we were always using our neckerchiefs for something - first aid practice, knot tying - we learned that they could be pretty handy things. 

 

I guess I'm still a fan of neckerchiefs - but it should be the boys decisions - since adults shouldn't wear neckerchiefs anyway, adults shouldn't get a vote.


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#12 mgood777

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Posted 28 February 2017 - 01:15 PM

If one were to follow the example of National, you'd think neckerchiefs were already long gone. Few (if any) folks from National are ever seen wearing one.

I've met National Commissioner Charles Dahlquist several times and he was wearing one each time. Once I saw him wearing two. :)
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#13 Ankylus

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Posted 28 February 2017 - 02:11 PM

Our troop does not wear them. Neither did my older son's troop. I don't know why. That decision was made before I joined the troop, nobody has mentioned it, and nobody has ever raised the question of reconsidering it.

 

I don't think it is any more, or less, uncool than any other part of the uniform.

 

I admit to some personal bias here because we wore neckerchiefs in my troop as a youth. Those, along with those stupid berets, and the...uh...strange..tabs and garters on the knee high socks were completely useless and extremely annoying. None of those things ever got worn on campouts or anything remotely active. Nothing like a uniform so impractical you don't ever wear it.

 

I see utility in neckerchiefs, but none of that utility has anything to do with the way they are worn on the boy scout uniform. But if we're going to have them, at least make them big enough for practical uses. I think the test on the size should be at least large enough to tie a head bandage for First Aid purposes.

 

But I don't miss them and, aside from this board, don't know that I know anybody who misses them.


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#14 Eagle94-A1

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Posted 28 February 2017 - 02:53 PM

Yeah, there is no way the BSA will be phasing out neckerchiefs any time soon, and thank goodness! The neckerchief is the most recognizable part of the Scouts uniform, not to mention the only really useful part of it!

 

Actually National supply has quit making them. They are now only selling what is left in their inventory.  In the 3 years I've been in my troop, We have gone through  3 different colored neckers from national. We are are now on #4, which is a custom necker described above.

 

And yes, in many places, including now in the US, Scouts will sometimes wear only a necker as their identifying scout item.


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#15 Col. Flagg

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Posted 28 February 2017 - 03:21 PM

In reading this thread and a few others, it would be interesting to see how many people like neckerchiefs but also favor coed scouting, etc. It seems some traditions folks don't want to part with (neckers) but some other things (boy only) can go.  ;)

 

Not trying to be incendiary, just a passing observation. Moving along, nothing to see here. :D


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#16 The Latin Scot

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Posted 28 February 2017 - 04:11 PM

I am 100% in favor of neckerchiefs, and 100% opposed to co-ed Scouting. In my chartered organization we don't even have girls in our Venturing program, which I am glad of.

I am also barely into my thirties, which I know is unusual since many people my age are all about "changing things up," but I am a traditionalist and prefer to remain very conservative in my BSA views. It has worked for 107 years, so I think there are values and patterns inherent in the program that the world needs now more than ever.

Edited by The Latin Scot, 28 February 2017 - 04:13 PM.

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Hearken world, and listen up! There is no such word as "Webelo." If your son is an older Cub Scout, he is NOT a "Webelo!"

The singular of Webelos Scout is ... WEBELOS SCOUT!  That's it! Please take the extra half second and get it right! Thank you for indulging my little pet peeve!

 

Did I mention my obnoxious OCD?  :D 

 


#17 Col. Flagg

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Posted 28 February 2017 - 04:15 PM

I am 100% in favor of neckerchiefs, and 100% opposed to co-ed Scouting. In my chartered organization we don't even have girls in our Venturing program, which I am glad of.

I am also barely into my thirties, which I know is unusual since many people my age are all about "changing things up," but I am a traditionalist and prefer to remain very conservative in my BSA views. It has worked for 107 years, so I think there are values and patterns inherent in the program that the world needs now more than ever.

 

But -- and I infer this from our handle -- are Scottish, so change is not in your nature. :) And, of course, if it's not Scottish, it's c**p! [We were all thinking it...I just said it]

 

I say this as a proud member of the Lamont Clan!


Edited by Col. Flagg, 28 February 2017 - 04:16 PM.

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#18 Cambridgeskip

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Posted 28 February 2017 - 04:17 PM

Ditching the necker was seriously talked about in the UK in the late 90s as part of the big overhaul of uniform. They were kept in the end because the kids demanded it! The scouts themselves wear them with real pride at district and county events. There's always inter troop rivalry and the different colours of troop neckers helps reinforce that. From my perspective I like them as it helps distinguish my scouts from other troops at a distance.


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#19 The Latin Scot

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Posted 28 February 2017 - 05:24 PM

But -- and I infer this from our handle -- are Scottish, so change is not in your nature. :) And, of course, if it's not Scottish, it's c**p! [We were all thinking it...I just said it]

 

I say this as a proud member of the Lamont Clan!

Ah, well then in that case @Col. FlaggCeud mìle fàilte agus slàinte mhath from Clan Ross!

 

And @Cambridgeskip, that makes me happy to hear that the youth on Scouting's home turf are so fond of their neckerchiefs! I love seeing the different color neckers from Troop to Troop at large Scouting events. It really does promote patrol unity and team spirit when the neckerchief is given meaning in the patrol's mind! For example, one of our patrols is the "Knights of Light" patrol. Their patch is a smart-looking silver knight's helmet, their flag is in the shape of a large shield in black and white with the silver helmet emblazoned in the center, and they now wear their new black neckerchiefs with silver trim. The necker' reinforces their patrol colors (black and silver), and distinguishes them from other patrols at Scout Camp, Camporee, etc. And now that they have them (we only recently purchased them for the whole patrol), they wear them EVERYWHERE. And if I may say so, the black looks particularly smart against the olives and greens of the Centennial uniform.  ;) 

 

When you give the uniform meaning in a Scout's mind, he comes to value it far more than than any sense of embarrassment could ever override. 


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Hearken world, and listen up! There is no such word as "Webelo." If your son is an older Cub Scout, he is NOT a "Webelo!"

The singular of Webelos Scout is ... WEBELOS SCOUT!  That's it! Please take the extra half second and get it right! Thank you for indulging my little pet peeve!

 

Did I mention my obnoxious OCD?  :D 

 


#20 desertrat77

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Posted 28 February 2017 - 06:09 PM

By all means, let's ditch the crummy, small, made-from-fibers-not-found-in nature neckerchief that National pushed for about three decades.   Barely useful as a first aid cravat, and usually too small even for that.

 

Get an old, full-square cotton neckerchief.   Or make one from scratch.

 

Night and day.


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