The Boy Scouts of America’s jamboree which occurs every four years is being held in West Virginia this week. It’s going on without scouts who are considered obese however. It also excludes scouts who are too thin. I became aware of the Boy Scouts using the BMI (Body Mass Index) to filter scouts who didn’t meet the requirements when my son’s friend who is currently at the jamboree thought he had to gain weight in order to meet the cut (I wish I had his metabolism). Fox News reported yesterday that not only would the BMI requirement screen out obese scouts, but would disqualify many players in the NFL as well.
The Boy Scouts of America’s new fitness standards for participating in the organization’s annual Jamboree are so rigorous they would not just exclude chubby tenderfoots — they would even bar many NFL players.
All Scouts were required to have a physical exam in advance of the Jamboree and those with a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or greater were barred from participating at this year’s gathering, which features strenuous activities such as hiking, rock climbing, rappelling and biking. Scouts with BMIs between 32 and 39.9 had to provide additional health information to take on the 1,000-plus acre Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve in West Virginia. But critics told FoxNews.com excluding obese Boy Scouts goes against the spirit of the organization.
I understand the health concerns behind the limit, and I can see some activities would not be appropriate for obese scouts. But to ban them from the entire jamboree, there isn’t any activities they can do? There isn’t activities that can be modified? When you have a culture obsessed with body image what kind of message does this send? Isn’t there a way to encourage a healthy lifestyle outside of banning them from a big event like this? As a former Boy Scout (and one who was overweight) this just seems discriminatory especially in light of their recent decision to allow openly gay scouts into the program. Gay scouts are ok, but not fat ones?
Update: I was just told this impacts leaders as well as scouts.
Photo credit: Photographer’s Mate 2nd Class Todd Frontom (U.S. Navy) (Released to Public Domain)