BSA merchandise should be "Made in America" not China
members of the Boy Scouts of America
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I am writing this letter to formally request a change in policy within the Boy Scouts of America regarding the purchase of official BSA uniforms, equipment, and other materials that are made outside of the United States of America. I believe my request is timely, given the current economic crisis faced by this nation, but I also believe it is the right thing to do for several reasons.
The first reason is economic. I will not belabor the point that our country is on the brink of economic chaos; we all know that by now. Across this great nation, companies are closing their doors at an escalating pace and people in increasing numbers are finding themselves out of work. Here in Elk County, Pennsylvania our unemployment rate has nearly doubled in the past year. We know that many of the jobs that used to be here have now gone overseas. Understandably, there is growing resentment over the increasing number of products that are labeled made in Taiwan, made in China, made in Indonesia or made anywhere but in the U.S.A.
I dislike seeing that resentment directed toward the Boy Scouts of America or the young people we exist to serve because those labels appear on just about everything considered official BSA products. And we must remember that those same companies, and those same employees, are the ones on whom we depend to support our programs financially at the local unit, Council, and National levels. Quite frankly, a Boy Scout or leader wearing a shirt that sports a Made in China label is simply bad marketing, and very likely to have negative impact on the support we need for the program. So from an economic point of view, a change in policy would both help support American jobs and help preserve our needed financial support.
I believe the second reason for a change in this policy is philosophicalor perhaps I should say patriotic. The countries where BSA uniforms and products are now being made are typically totalitarian or communist regimes. They limit human freedoms and often support child labor under extreme and adverse conditions. In short, such countries represent values that are diametrically opposed to the character, citizenship, and fitness that we seek to instill in the young men and women enrolled in BSA programs. It seems to me that we have lost our credibility by supporting such nations by allowing anything with Boy Scouts of America on it to be made there.
The third reason in support of a change in policy is that buying outside of the USA has created an internal contradiction within our program. I can best illustrate this point with an example. A Scouter who serves as a counselor for the American Labor merit badge shared this story. As part of the activities of this merit badge, he was able to ask the boys to look at the tag on their uniform shirt and they would note that it was Made in the USA. Imagine his dismay when Scouts began to point out that the tags in their uniform shirts now indicated that it was made in China! It truly is a blatant contradiction in what we say on the one hand, and what we as the BSA are doing on the other.
It appears that the decision to have uniforms made outside of this country is relatively recent. I was informed by another Scouter that he recently purchased a shirt for his son and was surprised to find that it was made in China. He checked his sons two-year-old shirt and his own five-year-old shirt and discovered that they had been made in the USA. If it is in fact a recent policy, I suspect it can be readily changed, and I encourage you to do so.
But I am also encouraging you to change the purchasing policy for all BSA products. Many of us who are long tenured Scouters have been unhappy with BSA products made outside of the USA, and we have often opted to purchase alternatives. Let me share a few examples with you.
I have been registered as a Scout or Scouter for 49 years. Im an Eagle Scout (class of 64) and a Vigil Honor OA member (class of 65). I have been awarded the Silver Beaver, Wood Badge and the Bucktail Council Founders Award. I have been a Senior Patrol Leader, a Scoutmaster, a Troop Committee Chairman, and the Advisor of AhTic Lodge. Ive been a member of our Executive Board and served as the Council Camping Chairman. As you might imagine, I am invited to a fair number of Eagle Scout Courts of Honor about 10 each year.
Twenty years ago, I began purchasing an Eagle Scout Knife to give as a gift to new Eagle Scouts. I stopped buying them a few years ago when they began being made in China. Unfortunately, there is not one Eagle Scout item on stock at our Council Service Center that is made in the USA. Consequently, I now purchase Eagle Scout gifts elsewhere.
AhTic Lodge has been a National Quality Lodge for the past four years but will not buy the pins because they are made in China.
This is by far not a unique, local issue. I am hearing from Scouting friends across the country of the growing dissatisfaction with the BSA purchasing policy and practices. And as the economy worsens, I suspect this negative sentiment will continue to grow.
Fortunately, such policies are not irrevocable, and I sincerely request that you and the National Council give serious consideration to a change in policy. Lets return to a policy of buy in America for the Boy Scouts of America.
Thank you for reading this letter, and I trust you will give my request serious consideration.