The Boy Scouts of America have a long history of being very exclusionary, but this year’s move on behalf of the national organization really takes the cake (pun not intended.) The Boy Scouts have announced that boys who do not meet the body mass index requirements set forth for this year’s National Scout Jamboree will not be allowed to participate in the event. Boy Scouts who are considered fat will be excluded.
Citing the fact that there will be more hiking and additional fitness activities than in other years, the Boy Scouts have decided to set weight limits on boys who may attend the event. As reported by NBC News, the Boy Scouts posted the following statement on its website:
“It is essential that all participants and staff are prepared for their Summit jamboree experience. Our goal is to prevent any serious health-related event from occurring, and ensuring that all of our participants and staff are ‘physically strong.’”
They cut off the body mass index number at 40, which is considered obese by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The website went on to say that this year’s Jamboree would be very difficult for those who are not fit.
“For that reason,” they said, “physical standards have been set unique to the jamboree. These standards help highlight some of the challenging terrain at the Summit and types of activities that will take place, all with the goal of keeping participants safe.”
They went on to explain the development of the website for the purpose of informing people of their decision:
Part of the design in building this site was to address the need for physical fitness in our youth, which of course, is a longstanding component of Scouting. We saw this as an opportunity to integrate some new challenges … so we deliberately spread the site to enable us to encourage Scouts and basically require Scouts to move about the site by foot.
Besides the outright banning of fat Boy Scouts from the event, the organization is also requiring that those whose body mass index is slightly lower-between 32 and 39.9-submit their private medical charts to the Boy Scouts for review before being considered for participation in the Jamboree.
The rationale presented by the Boy Scouts is quite confusing to those in the health community as well as many laypeople because it seems as though a ten-day stint of hiking and other fitness-related activities would only serve to enhance the health of children who are overweight and obese. Excluding them from the gathering encourages further sedentary behavior. The ability to participate in the Jamboree could be a fantastic springboard to getting obese children interested in health and fitness.
Fox News reports that the group, The Council on Size & Weight Discrimination, called the decision “an unfair and discriminatory policy.” They went on to say, ” There are boy scouts who are heavier than average but extremely fit and capable of strenuous physical activity. At the same time, it is patently absurd to assume that just because a boy is thin, that means he is capable of a three-mile hike up a mountain.”
Indeed, the decision to have the policy that no fat Boy Scouts will be allowed at the jamboree seems to fly in the face of reason, as it is clear that engaging in physical activity at a fun event with friends could only be a very positive step in the right direction for any child who is considered obese.
By: Rebecca Savastio
Source: Fox News
Source: NBC News
Source: Boy Scouts