Travel in uniform for BSA

Boy Scout California official uniform


"Celebrity Costumes...or Uniforming?

Sure, they look good. They certainly look like "Survivors"...but is this a proper usage of the Boy Scouts' uniform?? NO! Destiny's Child photo used by permission from Nicklelodeon/CBS Inc.

(this occurred in 2000; however, every year at Halloween time, this comes back up!)

Music recording group Destiny's Child, recipients of the award for "Favorite Singing Group, " arrived at the Nickelodeon's 14th Annual Kid's Choice Awards in Santa Monica, California wearing what appeared to be official BSA uniforms and insignia.

Officials at the BSA's National Office informed the record management and the personal managers of the trio April 23 (2000) that the wearing of BSA uniforms and insignia is limited to those whom are registered members of the movement.

The managers of the R&B recording act, whose hits include the recent song "Survivor" as well as the theme song to the movie "Charlie's Angels" immediately contacted the BSA, apologized and stated that the ladies would provide a written apology.

In their explanation, the group's management stated that in preparation for their national appearance, a member of their "Crew" found the uniforms and badges at a second-hand store and thought that since they were appearing at a kid's show, that they should wear clothing familiar to kids.

The young trio - the youngest is 17 and the oldest is 18 - received two awards from the cable network based upon votes cast by kids either via email, through special boxes at their theme park/television studio ranch in central Florida, or through their corporate sponsors. Nickelodeon is one of several cable networks owned by CBS, Inc. through their recently acquired VIACOM subsidiary.

This is the third time in which the BSA re-asserted their policy - which is covered under their Federal Charter - to a music artist or group. In the early 80s, the BSA went after rocker Alice Cooper and in 1993, the BSA's lawyers sent Axel Rose of Guns z Roses fame a "cease and desist" letter after repeated attempts to ask him to refrain from using BSA uniforms as costumes during his concerts. Cooper and Rose were both Boy Scouts in their youth.

The official uniforms and/or insignia of the BSA are not to be used as costumes for any kind of theatrical or musical production without the written permission of the Boy Scouts of America. Registered members of the BSA, youth and adult, may appear before cameras, be videotaped for television programs, and post their image in uniform on websites; however, they cannot use such appearances to promote or advertise any commercial venture nor to promote or support any cause - even if the cause is one in which the BSA supports.

It is important to note that the BSA has granted permission several times since it's organization for their official uniforms to be worn by actors or musical groups or individuals. In cases whereby the program, movie or concert would receive national attention, the BSA has sent along a professional, volunteer and youth member. This trio advises the production company, managers - and the artists themselves - on how to properly wear and present the uniform as well as such matters as how and when to salute, coaching on the Scouting promises and ideals, and how a neckerchief is worn. In two cases, production companies worked with the BSA in developing special insignia to be worn on the actor's uniforms which made it clear that they are members of a mythical or fake BSA organization.

This permission has NOT been a "blanket invite". Those production companies and management agencies who do NOT receive the BSA's written permission had to settle with calling their Scouts "Pathfinders" and to get other badges, mostly military-related ones - and attach them to shirts in the same style or color as Boy Scout uniforms to "simulate" or give the impression that they indeed are "boy scouts" or "cub scouts".

In the "old days", the only way one could obtain a uniform or insignia is by presenting a valid registration card to a retailer authorized to sell or distribute BSA insignia and/or uniforming. The BSA has went away from this in recent years because many Scouts and Scouters do not have immediate access to their registration cards. Additionally, many parents of Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts, as well as relatives and others wishing to purchase Scouting items, do not have the registration information handy at the time of purchase many times. However, it is always a good idea to present your registration card anytime you purchase Scouting items through a Scout Shop (tm) or at a Council Service Center - especially when you are outside your local Council's service area.

The BSA's Supply Division has sent letters to Salvation Army (tm) and Goodwill(tm), asking their local stores to discontinue selling Cub Scout and Boy Scouting uniforms and books. The justification is that many times the uniforms are too worn or are torn and the books well-written in, which negates the reasoning for purchasing the items. The BSA additionally, does not receive any of the proceeds from such sales, which in part they use to make available additional uniforms and insignia items as well as to provide national-level programming and resources.

However, many smaller second-hand stores, similar to the one in which the costume designers for Destiny's Child visited in advance of their Kid's Choice Awards' appearance, did not receive a letter or request from the BSA; and many Goodwill(tm) and Salvation Army (tm) facilities still accept, clean, and resell Scouting uniforms because "they are providing a needed service which others are not providing for families whom cannot afford the cost of new uniforms and camping equipment."

The uniform is the BSA's "calling card" and "billboard" to youth members in the United States as well as around the world. For this reason, Scouts and Scouters should take extra care in not just how their wear their uniforms and the placement of their insignia - but also the location and venue in which the uniform is to be worn.

While it may be "cute" and "attractive" to wear the uniform - even the older versions of the BSA's uniform - all of the BSA's uniform and insignia ARE PROTECTED by federal law.

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