What’s in a Necker?

As OSG scouts, we wear large, traditional neckers. But what are those and why do we wear them?  Scout neckers go back to the start of scouting in England in 1908. They are “original equipment” if you will.

Stock photo we found- not colors currently in use by a OSG group.

Each group in OSG selects their own necker color or pattern, and chooses when and how to give those to group members. Wearing your group necker tells everyone which group you are with. They are especially fun at large group events where scouts from many groups are participating together. From a distance, you can see the color of the neckers far easier than the details that help you tell one scout in uniform from another.

The traditional neck scarf is actually a square.  The size is usually somewhere between 31″ square and 36″ square. This means that when you unfold it, you have a large piece of fabric that can be used for first aid, in survival situations, or for games of capture the flag.  The ways to use them and stories of their usefulness abound.

Scouts can turn them into flags, slings and even stretchers to help an injured person. Wearing a neckerchief is often seen as purely decorative, but they really can be so much more. As a leader, mine has covered items for games of memory and been used to teach the sheep shank knot. I’ve even used it to hide the activity of the day, so I could surprise my group.

The Black Bears recently made paracord bracelets to match their neckers.

Many groups have a story about what their colors are and why. Groups choose green like the grass, blue like the sky, colors that go with their name, or in some way relates to their local area. Every group has a unique color pattern that only they wear. A necker can be a single color like the orange the 91st wears, have a border like the 17th, or be many colors like 80th has. The number of stripes, and how they are situated is up to you. Some groups prefer simple ones, and some prefer very interesting patterns.

These necker colors can also be used in logos, marketing materials and in crafts your group makes. Necker colors are basically your scouting team colors. They build your group identity.

You can see the colors of the South Region group’s neckers on our Find A Group page, as their colors are used for the background of the group logos there.  If you are starting a new group and need help choosing a necker color pattern, contact your regional commissioner for ideas, and approval of your chosen pattern.


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