What is a Scout Neckerchief? (with picture)

Sheri Cyprus
Sheri Cyprus
Neckerchiefs have been part of the Boy Scout uniform since 1915.
Neckerchiefs have been part of the Boy Scout uniform since 1915.

A scout neckerchief is the neck scarf worn as part of a scouting uniform such as that of the Boy Scouts of America. This neckerchief is a square of fabric that is folded into a triangle, draped around the neck and knotted in the middle. Two long, pointed ends hang from the center knot. The back view of a scout neckerchief is a triangle of fabric at the collar that points downward. Scout neckerchiefs are thought to have been worn consistently with the rest of the uniform starting in 1915.

Up until the 1970s, the neckerchief was worn over the scout uniform's shirt collar. After that, wearing the scout neck wear under the uniform collar became popular. The color of scout neckerchiefs identify members of different troops or districts. In some countries, scouts wear not only different colored neckerchiefs, but distinct patterns as well.

Far from being merely decorative, a scout neckerchief is a highly useful part of scouting. The most important use of scout neckerchiefs is as a first aid bandage. Scout neck wear can be wrapped around wounds as a tourniquet to stop bleeding or tied loosely on a cleansed wound to keep it clean. A scout's neck wear can also be used as a sling for an injured arm or to be waved to signal an emergency when tied to a stick or boat paddle. When dampened, the neckerchief can be used to cleanse wounds or to help prevent smoke inhalation during a fire when it covers the mouth and is tied at the back of the head.

Scouts are encouraged to think of constructive and helpful uses for their neckerchiefs. For example, when the four points of the scout neckerchief square are brought together and tied, a useful carrying pouch or sack is formed. During a messy fireside meal, the neckerchief can be tied at the back of the neck with the rest of the fabric hanging at the front like a bib to protect the scout uniform from food stains.

When worn as part of the uniform, a scout neckerchief should be able to be loosened and tightened by a slip knot or a small accessory called a slide. The slide is also called a woogle. Woogles or slides are made from many different materials such as metal, plastic, wood, bark or bone. They fit around the folded, draped neckerchief and should stay in position until they are moved to loosen or tighten the neck wear. Scout neckerchiefs are typically worn looser in warm weather to help lessen sweating and left tighter in cooler conditions to add warmth to the neck.

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    • Neckerchiefs have been part of the Boy Scout uniform since 1915.
      Neckerchiefs have been part of the Boy Scout uniform since 1915.