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.

Joshua Rhett Miller reports:

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 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)

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  1. Good for them! American is far to accepting of fatness! Maybe these parents instead of being outraged will finally see that their kids are obese and do something about it, well, probably not because they are most likely fat too…

  2. So you’re against gay people being scouts, but are okay with fat people making the choice to be fat, in the scouts? Your dumb logic never astounds me.

      1. Yes Andrew, I do.

        We’ll have to disagree on it being a choice. I believe that it is, I haven’t found scientific proof that anyone is “born gay.” There were a couple of studies that I’ve seen that said otherwise, but those have been debunked by those in the science community. I will acknowledge some people have a proclivity toward homosexuality, just as some have a proclivity to want to overeat, and some who want to steal, etc., but I think that is due to nurture than nature. If nature is involved it’s our sin nature, not that we were “made this way.” Also even with a proclivity towards a particular behavior or lifestyle you still choose to act on it.

  3. as a scout myself and one that just attended the jambo i agree with the watching of kids weight i easily walked 10 miles a day and not only that but kids were passing out and getting sick from heat exhaustion. Plus there are safety weight limits for most of the activities to avoid injury. So they were doing the best they could to ensure that everyone who would make the most of the jambo could attend. Then on the issue of the gay scouts i just would like to say i am completely uncomfortable with staying in a camp with gays. Im not trying to be discriminatory but i know a lot of scouts feel this way. I wish they would have asked us boys how we feel because we are the ones who have to deal with them. Not only that but how do you think these gays will be treated? They will be made fun of and mistreated. The scouts used to be based on a set of morals but now all it is about is the money and i am completely disappointed in the scouts for the way they choose money over what we stand for.

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