Health and Fitness Column

Obese Boy Scout excluded from national jamboree

By John Taylor | Jul 16, 2013

The Boy Scouts of America believe that not allowing morbidly obese members to attend their annual national Jamboree will motivate them to lead a healthier lifestyle.
An organization spokesperson said the new requirement was published for this year’s national gathering years ago so scouts would have motivation to begin losing weight.
“Teaching scouts and scouters how to live a sustainable life, which includes a healthy lifestyle, and the health of our participants are important goals of the jamboree. We published our height weight requirements years in advance and many individuals began a health regimen to lose weight and attend the jamboree,” Deron Smith, spokesman for the BSA, said in a statement to ABC News.
The jamboree brings in thousands of scouts from across the U.S. for 10 days of hiking, camping, and other outdoor activities. The 2013 event will take place at the Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve in West Virginia.
Boy Scout organizers told the Associated Press that the new location was chosen to emphasize physical fitness among scouts by requiring them to navigate far distances over elevated terrains to attend many of the event’s activities.
“Additionally, as the newest high adventure base of the Boy Scouts of America, The Summit is a fun but physically demanding facility with numerous high-adventure activities, including kayaking, rock climbing, bouldering, skateboarding, BMX, and various other activities,” Smith’s statement to ABC News said.
Scouts with a body mass index of 40 or higher were not eligible to attend the gathering.  According to the Gastroenterology Clinics of North America, a body mass index this high indicates that a person is morbidly obese and will only live another 10  years.
So am I to understand that the Boy Scouts think it’s a good idea to exclude obese members from attending their jamboree? And why? Because they are worried about an obese scout’s ability to participate in the events in the jamboree? Or because they wanted to give an incentive for a child to lose weight, and if an obese scout wasn’t able to drop the pounds, they obviously didn’t want to attend the jamboree badly enough?
This kind of logic is what makes the Boy Scouts a laughing stock in present-day America, and makes our society question their leadership’s logic.
Let me explain.
When I was five years-old, my father took me down to our local scouts meeting hall, and wanted to sign me up for the cub scouts. However, when the father in front us was asked about their religion and the man indicated they were Jewish, the scoutmaster said that the Boy Scouts were a Christian organization and they didn’t admit Jewish members. My father was so upset about this, we walked out. As a five year-old, I didn’t really understand why my dad was so angered by this, but as a 33 year-old man, I am proud of my father’s decision.
Then earlier this year, the Boy Scout leadership decided to allow gay youth to join, but homosexual leaders are still banned. What are they planning to do when those gay youth become gay men who want to be scoutmasters?
So now the Boy Scouts have the nerve to tell obese members who want to attend their jamboree that they can’t go because they are too heavy?
From 2006 to 2011, I helped 178 teens lose over 12,000 pounds, and from this experience, I learned that overweight youth are far more capable than most people give them credit for. I’ve run 5K races with most of my students, finished second place in a regional dodge ball tournament against grown men, and crossed the finish line with my kids at the Marine Corps Ultimate Challenge Mud Run.  I’d ask the jamboree organizers if it makes sense that my students couldn’t go to the jamboree, but they are allowed climb a 25 foot cargo net?
My final question to the Boy Scouts leadership is why would you want to take away any child’s opportunity to see what they are truly capable of, and deprive them of a great character building opportunity?

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