No More Camp for Fat Boy Scouts?

You read it right.  The Boy Scouts decided this year not to allow any boy with a body mass index (BMI) over 40 to attend its National Jamboree this summer.

So what, you say?  The Jamboree is the biggest outdoor event of the year, with camping and lots of outdoor activities and, most of all, "camaraderie," as puts it.  But even those with BMIs over 32 can only attend after consultation with camp directors and a doctor. Liability sticks its big fat head up all over again.

j. Bryan Lowder at seems to feel very passionately about this.  He writes that some people believe, “Since they allow gay scouts, they had to find someone else to exclude.”

An Eagle Scout, Lowder says he likes to "believe that scouting has something useful to offer every boy, regardless of weight, and imposing limits on who is eligible to attend one of the biggest events in scouting doesn’t jibe with that ideal."

However, he goes on to report, after looking into the reasoning behind the policy, he found these accusations to be "a bit overblown and ill-informed."

He points out that "the BSA is not banning over-40 BMI boys or leaders from scouting in general, but rather from this specific event. "  And it's for a very good reason.  "Before you even get to the physically demanding and potentially dangerous 'high-adventure' activities like white-water rafting, high-ropes, and rock climbing—navigating the Summit Reserve itself is a formidable physical challenge."

That's because the new Jamboree site is "a mountainous 10,000 acres," and, because there will be no buses or other motor vehicles to move people around if they can't take it, "participants will have to hike miles, often uphill, each day from activity to activity."

It's kind of like protecting us from ourselves -- or is it?  No one would disagree that allowing a blind person to drive a car is a good idea (and please, I'm very supportive of people with disabilities and letting them do whatever they want, and can).  What would happen if a morbidly obese, or even just seriously overweight, kid went into cardiac arrest?  It's not just possible, it's probable. 

By the same token, would overweight Boy Scouts want special coddling?  Isn't Boy Scouts a place to prove yourself?

I was intermittently a Brownie and Girl Scout, and my son, a Tiger Scout for a while (that's pre-Cub Scout). But since my husband couldn't be involved, and I'm not much for wood-workng and climbing rocks and camping under the stars, we all decided it would be best to just quietly disappear into the night.

So what's the answer?  I don't know.  I respect Lowder's reasoning, and I've known some Eagle Scouts myself and would love to see my son grow up to be like one of them.  But let's face it -- overweight, and especially severe overweight, comes with major challenges, and people who are should probably not subject themselves to conditions for people with BMIs under 20.



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