Boy Scout neckerchiefs have been with us since Baden Powell published Scouting for Boys:
The Scout Uniform is very like the uniform worn by my men when I commanded the South African Constabulary. They knew what was comfortable, serviceable, and a good protection against the weather. So Scouts have much the same uniform.
… the scarf or neckerchief which is folded into a triangle with the point at the back of the neck. Every Troop has its own scarf color, and since the honor of your Troop is bound up in the scarf, you must be very careful to keep it clean and tidy. It is fastened at the throat by a knot, or “woggle”, which is some form of ring made of cord, metal, or bone, or anything you like. The scarf protects your neck from sunburn and serves many purposes, such as for a bandage or as an emergency rope.
Love them or leave them neckerchiefs identify scouts as scouts the world over.
Scout Neckerchief resources at inquiry.net:
Necessary Neckerchief The Neckerchief is the thing by which Scouting is most quickly recognized the world over.
How to make a Traditional (square) Neckerchief Ever wonder why your Troop doesn’t look like a Norman Rockwell painting? One reason is the design of the Scout Neckerchief. In the 1970s, the Neckerchief was relegated to its current position as an under-the-collar fashion accessory. Baden-Powell designed the Neckerchief to protect the neck from sunburn, but even more important than this intended function was B-P’s eye as an artist. Around the world, a full-sized Neckerchief is the most striking aspect of the Scout Uniform! The size of a Traditional Boy Scout Neckerchief is a square 32″ X 32,” and it is worn over the collar.
Scouting with a Neckerchief (1927)
… the Scout Uniform has been brightened by the addition of the colorful Scout kerchief, which is now regarded as an indispensable article of equipment for every member of the Boy Scouts of America. It is more than a part of the Scout Uniform; it is actually one of the most useful items of a Scout’s equipment.
The Neckerchief as a reminder of the Scout Oath and Law (from uscouts.org)
My first Scoutmaster taught the importance of the Scout Oath and Law using the Neckerchief. He would hold the open neckerchief in his hands and remind the young scouts of what the last item of clothing they put on when they were getting dressed for the meeting was, his neckerchief.
He said that it was no coincidence that the neckerchief had 3 sides, just like the three parts of the Scout oath. He would run a side through his fingers and say “On my honor, I’ll do my best. To do my duty to God”. The first and longest side is to remind you of your long standing duty to God. This whole side is hidden from view, just as your faith is deep inside you. But with out that faith, there is no strength for the rest.
Holding on to the neckerchief by the point he would run the next side through his fingers and say “To help other people at all times….” This shorter side is to remind you of your duty to help others. Remember it is some of this duty that shows to others, just like part of this side of your neckerchief shows. So do your duty to others well so that people might see the good work you do in the name of Scouting.
The last side also shows. He would say “To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.” This last side is your duty to your self. This shows to others as well. They will know that by seeing your uniform, you are a young man who is physically fit. Has a strong moral foundation and who is not apt to fall into the temptations of drugs and alcohol.
He would then say that this was a means by which we could remember the Scout Oath, every time we got dressed in uniform. He also gave us a means by which to remember the Scout Law. While wrapping the neckerchief up for wear, he said to wrap it tight in small twists, 12 in fact. And to repeat the 12 points of the Scout Law as you did so. Then as you placed your neckerchief around your neck for wear, the elements of the Scout Oath and Law were with you. They were in fact part of you.