What is a Neckerchief Slide?

Dan Cavallari

As a member of the Boy Scouts of America, a young man will learn many new skills related to the outdoors and everyday life. One of those skills is how to look presentable, which is a skill acquired by wearing a Boy Scout uniform properly. Part of the uniform Boy Scouts wear is the neckerchief, or a triangular scarf tied around the neck. When Scouting first began, the neckerchief was secured by tying a knot below the chin, but today, many Scouts secure their neckerchiefs using a neckerchief slide, or a woggle.

One skill a Boy Scout will learn is how to look presentable.
One skill a Boy Scout will learn is how to look presentable.

The neckerchief slide can be made of any type of material. The most popular materials are leather and metal, and the original neckerchief slide was made of the former. The function of the neckerchief slide is fairly simple: it secures the neckerchief by surrounding the tethered ends and pinching them together tightly enough that the neckerchief does not loosen. The metal versions of the neckerchief slide are typically decorated with the Boy Scouts insignia or other Boy Scout symbols, and other simpler versions may be blank.

Because the neckerchief slide acts as a fastener, it can generally be made out of simple materials. For example, a slide may simply be a length of string or rope tied in a square not around the neckerchief. A piece of leather tied into a circle is another popular choice, though the leather versions can range from very simple designs to very complex designs that are woven, punched, or branded. Wooden neckerchief slides are less common, but still prevalent.

The origins of neckerchief slides can be traced to Bill Shankley, a young Boy Scout who devised a leather fastener for his neckerchief while running a workshop at a camp in England. He called it a woggle, and it was quickly accepted as part of the regular Boy Scout uniform. The particular design of his woggle became known as the Gilwell woggle, which now holds special significance in the Boy Scouts because it is awarded to leaders who complete their wood badge. Other scouts therefore do not wear this particular design.

In keeping with the ways of Scouting, the neckerchief is not just a decorative scarf. It is a utilitarian piece of equipment meant to serve many purposes: it can act as a makeshift sling or rag for medical purposes, and it can be used as a makeshift satchel or sack. Therefore, the woggle too is a utilitarian piece of clothing that can be used for more than simply securing a neckerchief, its uses limited only by the user's imagination.

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