Scout’s Honor (Our History with Scouting) | Diamond Brand Gear

 In Camp Notes

The Beginnings

For nearly 90 years, we at Diamond Brand have taken pride in our history with the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) and their commitment to building character and developing leadership in today’s youth and tomorrow’s leaders.

In 1931, we began manufacturing products specifically for the Boy Scouts with the introduction of our canvas Yucca Pack – the first pack of the Boy Scouts of America and a famed original creation. Soon, everything with the Boy Scout label, from packs to tents, came out of our Singer sewing machines in Lower Manhattan.

While the Yucca Pack marked the beginning of a lasting partnership with the Boy Scouts, it also marked our entry into the world of gear craftsmanship. Canvas became more than just the fabric we used to make our original drop cloths; it became the playground for our creativity. They say to make the world your canvas; we made canvas our world. Today we offer a variety of Scouting Tents

Changing Recreation

As recreation changed (backpacking rose in popularity and lightweight gear rose in prominence), canvas soon gave way to lighter, faster-drying fabrics. The Boy Scouts soon favored nylon for backpacking and short-term setups, but continued to favor the more sun-resistant cotton canvas for basecamps and long-term arrangements.

Enter our famed Canvas Wall Tents, which quickly rose in popularity amongst Scout camps across the country looking for semi-permanent arrangements. Today, many Boy Scout camps throughout the U.S., including Camp Daniel Boone and Philmont Scout Ranch, are still outfitted with Diamond Brand Gear’s canvas Wall Tents.

And we’re bringing the classic creation back. Inspired by our legendary Scouting tents, our new canvas Wall Tents are tested in the harshest of elements and through decades of manufacturing. These semi-permanent outdoor shelters feature the highest quality materials, reinforced edges, and innovative engineering, designed to keep you comfortable, dry, and protected on your next Scouting adventure.

Getting Creative

This change in recreation, by chance, coincided with the end of World War II, which left a surplus of both nylon and cotton canvas. Dave Kemp, youngest son of founder Abraham Kemp, took on the task of making this leftover fabric available to the general public and particularly to the Scouts–even if it took some creativity.

Upon purchasing a surplus of cotton canvas U.S. Army tents, Dave was confronted with a problem: stenciled onto the side of each tent were the letters “USA.” Fortunately, Dave had a simple solution: stencil over the “U” to make it look more like a “B.” Soon, “USA” became “BSA,” and the tents were ready for the Boy Scouts. Arnold Kemp, Dave’s youngest, would later recall that story with a wide grin and a laugh.

Beyond Fabric

Yet our relationship with the Boy Scouts also extended beyond just manufacturing. In 1964, we converted a four-car garage into a retail store in Western North Carolina. The night before the official opening of the beloved Diamond Brand Camping Center, local Boy Scout leaders were invited to be the first to walk through its doors and peruse our gear.

Scout leaders would also frequently call our retail store in Naples, NC, hoping to buy factory “seconds” at a discounted price for their Scout troops. Between the 1970s and 2000s, some troops would even make special trips to Naples to purchase packs, tents, and replacement parts. Our relationship was about more than product; it was about loyalty and trust in quality, service, and each other.

And it wasn’t a one-way street. Though we certainly had a great impact on the Boy Scouts, the Boy Scouts also left a great imprint on us. Our partnership has pushed us to be both price and quality-conscious, finding the perfect intersection between well-made and affordable, a commitment that still continues today.

It’s a commitment that extends to our new Wall Tents. To learn more about the canvas structures or purchase a set for your Scout camp, please visit our website.

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