Obese Boy Scouts Aren’t Welcome at Camp

The group claims the event is more rigorous than in the past, but critics call the restriction unfair

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AP / The Charleston Gazette / Chris Dorst

Some of the 30,000 Boy Scouts and their leaders arrive by bus at the Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve near Glen Jean, W.Va. for the Boy Scouts of America's national Jamboree, Monday, July 15, 2013.

The national Boy Scouts Jamboree — a ten-day camp-out starting this week — got noticeably more exclusive this year. As 30,000 youths descended upon West Virginia’s rugged terrain for the Jamboree on Monday, their peers with a body mass index (BMI) higher than 39 were barred from attending. Even those with a BMI of 32 or higher were required to submit health information and be individually cleared for participation.

This year’s Jamboree, which takes place in the New River Gorge region of West Virginia, is the most physically demanding since the inaugural Jamboree in 1937, which took place in Washington, D.C. The quadrennial pow-wow’s activities range from mountain biking and rock climbing to scuba diving and a water obstacle course — all strenuous exercises that require physical fitness, Dan McCarthy, director of the BSA’s Summit Group, told the Associated Press. Because there are no vehicles on site, the participants are required to walk everywhere, often on hilly or mountainous terrain.

(MORE: Gay Boy Scouts Employee: I Can’t Live a Lie Any Longer)

The Boy Scouts published the health requirements two years in advance, and say that interested scouts had time to lose weight if needed. The Jamboree website prominently features a video explaining the requirements and showing viewers around the park, encouraging scouts to get their BMI measurements into a healthy range. A BMI of 40 or higher indicates morbid obesity; for example, a twelve-year-old boy of average height (around 4 feet 11 inches) would register just above a BMI of 40 if he weighed 200 pounds.

But the Council on Size and Weight Discrimination has a big problem with the rule: BMI measurements are not always accurate proxies for a person’s general health, they 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,” the council said in a statement.

Others have criticized the Boy Scouts for upholding a track record of discrimination. As one reader of the Journal Junction in Martinsburg, West Virgina commented: “So now the Boy Scouts of America won’t discriminate because of sexual orientation, but they are OK with discriminating against fat people … I guess we shouldn’t be surprised, as fat people are the last group you can still legally discriminate against.” The association recently emerged from controversy surrounding its long-standing ban on gay scouts, which was repealed two months ago.

There’s no clear estimate of the number of kids turned away, but Scout spokesman Deron Smith told ABC News that most obese kids just didn’t bother applying.

MORE: Boy Scouts of America Has A Lot To Learn From the Girl Scouts

84 comments
valeriekeefe
valeriekeefe

While I agree that the discrimination is incredibly problematic and should probably be illegal, "One reader of the Journal Junction in Martinsburg" should try being trans in about half of those states in which you can't discriminate on the basis of orientation, because it's a-ok there. Even Massachusetts' NDA doesn't cover public accommodations. They claim this was done to mollify Republicans, an odd claim given the 3-1 majority that Democrats had in the MA General Court at the time. Meanwhile 70% of New York Republicans are in favour of passing an inclusive non-discrimination law.


A sad fact is that some of the remaining prejudices are really the pet hates of the left, and the left's decision makers, more than the right's. (Don't get me wrong, there's some hardcore X-tian pandering driving the GOP's decision to abandon the vast majority of their voters when it comes to simple non-discrimination laws, but the focus on the 52-48 DOMA / same-LEGAL-sex-marriage issue instead of the 75-25 inclusive ENDA is the doing of people like Barney Frank and Joe Solmonese, not Republicans.

BobbyTheTestSheep
BobbyTheTestSheep

At cub scouts, they fed us with nutter butters and oreos. They just created the problem.

Ex-Hooligan
Ex-Hooligan

If you can't cut the mustard, stick to mayo.   I saw the beginning of the end with the advent of T-ball.

Sick up and fed with the crybabies. 

NEII152Buffalo
NEII152Buffalo

What people do not understand about this weight issue is this; This National Jamboree is being held in one of the four High Adventure Bases that the Boy Scouts own.  In these bases, it is very difficult to get an ambulance into where you may have an injured scout.  In SOME CASES, it may be necessary to have members of your group "stretcher carry" the victim to a remote location for them to be medevac out quickly.

SOMETIMES, this location could be a mile or more from where they presently are.  Do you honestly believe that a group of four scouts will be able to carry a stretcher with an overweight victim a lengthy distance without themselves becoming a victim of exhaustion or worse?  The first rule in any life saving course is to not become a victim yourself.  You then become no good to the victim and now you make it two victims to worry about!

Let us not throw stones at the Boy Scouts or complain about the obesity problem without first complaining about how the food companies who make people become overweight, have changed their ingredients and preparation methods, thus making people fat.  Look at what was once in a packaged food from 30 - 50 years ago and look at that same list of ingredients on that same package today.  You probably would not recognize half of those ingredients today and would be astonished as to how many new ingredients are in that same package to make it so cheap to produce.

PopEye
PopEye

This is 2013, and in 2013, people have far more comforts and conveniences than any person before them, ever. The weak and lame are provided for more in 2013 than ever before. Who provides for them? Men who do work that they cannot do. Men who do farming and logging and mining and construction and manufacturing. Yes, like it or not, the strongest among us provide more for the weakest than ever before in human history. Don't like us? Don't like what we do? Maybe its time we stop doing what we do, and start acting the way we are accused. You wanna play survival of the fittest with us? You will get the smelly end of that stick. You physically unfit weaklings and otherwise lame people exist by our grace. Now if you have a brain, you will know it is a good time for you to shut up, or maybe we will start acting exactly the way you accuse us of acting.

cmegonuts
cmegonuts

How about they require all scouts no matter their size pass a physical fitness test prior to being accepted for the jamboree? I was involved in the cub scouts at one time and many of these are things they do at summer camp. Their camp grounds have climbing walls, difficult terrain to hike and lakes, among other obstacles that a scout could be evaluated prior to this event. Size does not always equal fitness. The jamboree is not for the faint of heart but be fair about it.

kd610
kd610

"...a twelve-year-old boy of average height (around 4 feet 11 inches) would register just above a BMI of 40 if he weighed 200 pounds."

There is no possible way a boy in this condition could handle what is described at this year's Jamboree.  If I were insuring the Boy Scouts and this particular camp, I would also outline the benchmarks required for participation.  Sorry, but if you're morbidly obese, you cannot safely participate in activities like this.  It's not discrimination - it's COMMON SENSE.


smkr45
smkr45

The issue with the BSA's exclusivity is that it's not based on any real evidence.  It would be entirely reasonable to exclude obese children had they any hard evidence that they are, in fact, at greater risk.  But they do not, because there is no evidence whatsoever that obesity, in and of itself, is responsible for a general lack of fitness.

Overweight and obesity are often *associated* with broader health problems, but there is no established causal link.  This is the basic science of the matter.

The designation of "morbid" obesity is based on actuarial charts that identify longer-term, population-level risk; it has nothing to do with fitness to participate in a single day's event.  Does the BSA have any statistical evidence based on past experience that obese children were at greater risk in previous Jamborees; and more so, do they have any evidence it was *because* of their obesity?  I seriously doubt it.

Furthermore, it's extremely sanctimonious for them to state they "give the kids time" to lose weight.  Weight-loss programs in general don't work.  Most programs are based on starvation and lead to lethargy and decreased physical fitness.  One likely outcome for an obese child is short-term weight loss in advance of the event, to accord qualification, which will almost certainly be riskier from a fitness and safety standpoint.  The BSA is thus encouraging yo-yo dieting, and I am willing to bet they have no diet recommendations which actually work for long-term weight reduction.

But to be fair, I don't blame the BSA in particular for this stance -- it's the consequence of the insane designation of obesity as a disease or an epidemic with no evidence that size, in itself, is really a problem.  The underlying disease of metabolic syndrome is very much a problem, but it afflicts thinner folks at enormously high rates.  Essentially our policy is to tar and feather those who are visibly "ill" (or not) while ignoring the invisible and growing epidemic of insulin resistance, even among the lean.  It's a shame, but not surprising, that the BSA indulges in this pervasive, anti-science mindset.

AlbertLeo
AlbertLeo

The Boy Scouts also discriminate on the basis of religion.  If you don't "believe in God", you are not welcome.

BlueDuck
BlueDuck

They are not the Boy Scouts. They are the Gay Scouts.

KelcyCole
KelcyCole

Pretty funny that they held the jamboree in W. VA then.  It ranks number one in the US for obese adults and in the top ten for obese children. 

eagle11772
eagle11772

So now that they've changed all the rules, I guess it's now: "Some twinkies can come in, and some twinkies can't come in."

ti97
ti97

The fat boy scouts should revolt and form their own Fat Boy Scouts of America to better suit their needs, maybe even with cupcake Tuesdays.

Autonomous
Autonomous

Either you're born to be fat or you're born to be thin.  It can't be changed.  It's immoral to expect an obese person to go against their inborn and perfectly natural inclination to overeat.  They were born that way.

EagleScouter
EagleScouter

Physical fitness has always been a part of Boy Scouts - from the very beginning.  They are only now beginning to enforce rules that have always been there.  The national high adventure bases - of which the Summit is one - don't allow anyone who is not physically fit to participate.  No exceptions.  They even do a health assessment on base, so you can't bribe your doctor at home.

I was at the Jambo in 2005.  There were some Scouts and adults who had to be airlifted out because they were so obese they could even walk to a place where there was a road.  The adults were worse than the Scouts - so I'm glad those bad examples are not there this time.

jcq707
jcq707

Only skinny gay scouts can attend !!!

SarahConfran
SarahConfran

These aren't new requirements. During my freshman orientation there was a sort of "Olympics" games and we all had to sign waivers that included whether we were morbidly obese. Those who were could only participate is some activities. It's called MORBIDLY obese for a reason and letting those children participate is a liability issue. Yes there are skinny kids who can't do it but it is a good policy to minimize liability risk.

WehttamAkiso
WehttamAkiso

Just letting us all know they can still discriminate.

PopEye
PopEye

The Boy Scouts have a long history of teaching survival in nature, camping and hunting and fishing, shooting rifles, using bow and arrows, and some self-defense and other activities to defend themselves and their moms and little sisters, and help their fathers with various fatherly duties, providing firewood to keep his wife and kids from freezing in the winter, for example.  The Boy Scouts and their moms and little sisters did not come from homosexual people, they came from heterosexual people. The Boy Scouts taught family values, and homosexuals cannot create a family, which is mothers and fathers and kids and grandparents. There are people who are vegetarians and the PETA types who adamantly disagree with hunting and fishing practices. Should the Boy Scouts be forced to include all those people who are nothing like them, and do not want to be anything like they want to be?

How about we start a group called the Gay Scouts, the Fat Scouts, the Stupid Scouts, the Jewish Scouts. Will they invite good-looking, intelligent, Christian, or Muslim, or Hindu heterosexuals who want to learn camping and hunting and fishing and enjoy vigorous outdoor activities? 

DollyDagger
DollyDagger

Doesn't Michelle Obama hate fat kids?

AlexEhrenhalt
AlexEhrenhalt

the boy scouts are still racist my cuz was rejected not from being over weight fact  he weighed 230 pound due to muscle it was because he was a Jew they claim they allow gay scouts and don't judge people by there race BULL i almost broke the jaw of the scout leader when he was harassing my upset cuz with racist insults the prick even went as far to threaten to crave a star of David and said so every 1 will know your a F.U.C.K.I.N.G worthless jew   



sweetdigs
sweetdigs

Misleading headline.  Apparently the media is still peeved at the Boy Scouts over the gay thing.


In any event, the boy Scouts would probably get sued if they allowed these fatties to go on the hike and one of them couldn't keep up, got hurt, or died from exertion.  You're only as strong as your weakest link - good for these kids to learn that now.


Nobody owes you anything because you allowed yourself (or your kids) to get obese.  Get in shape. 


StevenR53208
StevenR53208

The boy scouts suck. Who are they going to hate next? What part of this is totally against everything the boy scouts purport to support? 

EVERYTHING!

nancykorenchan@msn.com
nancykorenchan@msn.com

Boy Scouts seems to be becoming an exclusive club -- only for those individuals fitting into one-dimensional, narrow-focused parameters.  They don't want you if you're gay; don't want you if you're overweight; don't want you if, if, if....  The very boys who need more exercise are being excluded because they need more exercise.  If a kid can't do one or more of the activities, why don't the jamboree planners create a few alternate activities, instead of rejecting the boys?  If a boy has a medical condition of any sort, is he to be excluded?  How far will that go?  If a boy has a psychological condition, is exclusion necessary?  If a boy is not socially ept, and doesn't have hundreds of Facebook friends, does that create a condition where he must be excluded.  It is a slippery slope.  The BSA is not wearing its thinking cap, and should be seated in a corner for a time out.

timeserf
timeserf

Aside from the alleged lifting of the ban on gay scouts not having much effect because the language in the policy change still provides leaders great leeway regarding banning gay scouts to the point that they can just determine that such a boy is not "morally straight." 

 As it is, odds are pretty good that even many "straight" teens who are scouts will engage in some form of sodomy in this male-only "macho" environment.

The still explicit ban on atheists (and even agnostics) and this new requirement shows that the BSA is continuing the fascist culture that scouting founder Baden Powell fostered. Additionally, one would think that the BSA would encourage the kids who need strenuous exercise the most to get it.

The numerous alternatives to the ban included a less demanding program for kids deemed unable to handle the tougher activities and effective liability waivers.

As I have advocated before, let the BSA waive its non-profit status and start paying taxes on its enormous real estate holdings and income, and let's start a new tax-exempt non-discriminatory group that strives to provide the environment that the BSA purports to offer.



BethSheldon-Badore
BethSheldon-Badore

Obesity discrimination will not be tolerated, lesser still for children who are developing and need to be accepted by their peers.  Thank you Time Magazine for publishing to a wider audience.   

cjh2nd
cjh2nd

@cmegonuts 

"The Boy Scouts published the health requirements two years in advance, and say that interested scouts had time to lose weight if needed."

that's from the third paragraph. weight might not equal fitness, but two years to lose said weight is plenty of time. if they didn't lose it, chances are it was because they didn't want to. if they didn't care enough about the scouts then, i don't see how they can claim to care so much now. sometimes you have to work for the things that you want and these kids had every chance to. by choosing not to, they chose not to attend the jamboree. to me that's the definition of fair. they have a goal. they're given instructions/guidelines for meeting said goal. beyond that, it's up to them to reach said goal



cjh2nd
cjh2nd

@BlueDuck 

you are not a blue duck. you're a gay duck. look, i can make lame jokes too. what's your point?

cjh2nd
cjh2nd

@ti97 

and instead of outdoor activities, video game outdoor activities. wouldn't want them to get too exhausted stepping outside or anything now would we?

cjh2nd
cjh2nd

@Autonomous 

ummm, wrong. in no way is that correct. you might be born with a predisposition to be thin or fat, but your lifestyle plays a huge role in how you turn out

valeriekeefe
valeriekeefe

@EagleScouter Yes, much better that fat people are excluded from physical activity and ostracized, because shame is never an eating disorder trigger. Obesity epidemic solved. And the horse you rode in on, sir.

WehttamAkiso
WehttamAkiso

@PopEye Well I'm assuming you speak for the Stupid Scouts so.... would you?

magrott
magrott

@AlexEhrenhalt I am sorry for your cousin's experience. What troop and council was this? That is very serious and such behavior is not tolerated by the BSA. He should call his Local Council Office and report this. If this does not work for him he should contact the National BSA Office. He can find this information on-line. Please encourage him to do so. As I said before this behavior is not tolerated. Any adult (18 and older) involved in Scouts must complete Youth Protection Training and therefore knows better than to allow this behavior.

 

PopEye
PopEye

@StevenR53208 Ugly girls hate me because I married a good looking tomato.  Am I evil, or are they?

eagle11772
eagle11772

@nancykorenchan@msn.com They were ALWAYS an exclusive club !  It' only recently, after decades of fighting over it, have they become less exclusive.  Remember, they won't let Buddhists or Hindus join.  (There's a REQUIREMENT that you MUST believe in God, and Buddhists and Hindus, do not).

jeffkt95
jeffkt95

@nancykorenchan@msn.com This national jamboree is just one event that a troop may or may not decide to participate in. A quality troop will have at least 10 outdoor, campout-style activities a year. Troop-level organized activities would naturally be catered more towards the individual needs of its scouts. So while your suggestion is a good one, it's already being done. 

Besides, wouldn't it be reverse discrimination to limit the activities to those any out of shape scout could do? It's obvious most of the folks commenting here have no personal experience with the program.

PopEye
PopEye

@nancykorenchan@msn.com The Boy Scouts have a long history of teaching survival in nature, camoing and hunting and fishing, shooting rifles, using bow and arrows, and some self-defense and other activities to defend themselves and their moms and little sisters.  The Boy Scouts and their moms and little sisters did not come from homosexual people, they came from heterosexual people.  The Boy Scouts taught family values, and heterosexuals cannot create a family, which is mothers and fathers and kids and grandparents.  There are people who are vegetarians and the PETA types who adamantly disagree with hunting and fishing practices.  Should the Boy Scouts be forced to include all those people who are nothing like them?

chris1312000
chris1312000

@nancykorenchan@msn.com 

BSA is a volunteer organization.  You have great ideas.  You should sign up as an adult leader, and lead changes like this.  You would be helping so many kids.  There aren't enough people like you who  with great ideas who volunteer to be adult leaders.  The resources are there to help you get this started, run with it.  Make a difference, in a childs life.

You are awesome

DollyDagger
DollyDagger

@timeserfYou are so ill-informed that I don't even know where to start with debunking all of your ridiculous claims and accusations. You have absolutely no idea what you are talking about. 

Who is preventing the creation of "a new tax-exempt non-discriminatory group that strives to provide the environment that the BSA purports to offer"? In my opinion, I would suggest that the whiners stop whining and just do it.



sweetdigs
sweetdigs

@BethSheldon-Badore Nothing wrong with obesity discrimination.  Obesity can be "cured" with a moderately healthy diet and a little exercise.  If you're not willing to moderate your behavior, don't expect others to moderate their reactions to you.  Obesity is nasty.  It's also very expensive for the rest of us to maintain your unhealthy lifestyle and resulting health problems.

nornoel89
nornoel89

@BethSheldon-Badore I am not overly pleased with the scouts for discriminating against LGBT individuals and agnostics/atheists. Having said that, "obesity discrimination" is perhaps not a suitable phrase; it does not seem that obese children cannot be Scouts, but only that they cannot participate in events incorporating rigorous and potentially dangerous activities. I am told that Scouts with severe allergies and asthmatic conditions might also be precluded from participating. Please remember that Scouts can and have died at these events. One cannot dispute that blanket definitions of obesity can be misleading and inappropriate; however, SOME definition is needed, unless mothers of unfit Scouts don't mind risking their children's lives. Any suggestions about how the Scouts can be screened for actual physical fitness for rigorous and potentially dangerous activities? That would be helpful. 

DollyDagger
DollyDagger

@BethSheldon-Badore Obesity discrimination? Great, another thing to scream discrimination about, or another thing to complain about regarding the BSA? Maybe we should release all restrictions and requirements from our lives..a little ridiculous, isn't it?

BlueDuck
BlueDuck

Name calling, eh? Anyway, they have the Boy Scouts for boys, the Girl Scouts for girls, the Cub Scouts for younger boys, etal. So what's wrong with the Gay Scouts for gays?

valeriekeefe
valeriekeefe

@cjh2nd @AutonomousSo in France they just make better lifestyle choices? Or is it perhaps the environment which allows 300 fewer hours a year of work (A South Korean study found a correlation between overtime and obesity, so much for the myth of the lazy fatty) and better access to public transportation, as well as subsidizing fresh produce instead of cereal grains?


When dealing with national-level populations, the arguments about lax morals or lacking concientiousness fall flat. It's environment.

When a fat person walking down the street gets calls of derision, you think they're going to continue to exercise? Or did someone just make it relatively cheaper to stay in and order a pizza? The blame we mete out to fat people does nothing but make people fatter.

PopEye
PopEye

@magrott @AlexEhrenhalt Just curious, if somebody wanted to start a Good-Looking, Physically-Fit, Christian-Only, Male-Only, Heterosexual-Only, European-American-Only, 4'-6' only, etc., type of organization, would they be allowed to? or should they be discriminated against?  In other words, why do the Boy Scouts need to include girls and anything and every other identifiable thing on the planet? and what happens when aliens arrive - do they need to include them too?  Do the Boy Scouts receive government financing, or is it pivate. Are they for some legal reason required to be non-selective, or are they allowed to be selcetive in any manner?  I don't know, I'm just curious why everyone thinks they have a right to be a Boy Scout, which was cearly founded by a very selective and identifiable group of people.

valeriekeefe
valeriekeefe

@sweetdigs @BethSheldon-Badore 

Take an economics class: Discrimination reduces resources to pursue the 'cure' (and really, you mean put in remission) and for that matter, reducing comfort shifts the indifference curve and heightens discounting, so all you're doing is encouraging people to stay at home where they won't be treated like subhuman garbage.

timeserf
timeserf

@DollyDagger @BethSheldon-Badore Tell that to the millions of women, minorities, disabled folks, folks over 40, gay people, etc, who only receive equal treatment because of non-discrimination laws and policies. Perhaps close to home, those laws allow girls to play soccer and other organized sports.

BlueDuck
BlueDuck

That's YOUR assumption, val, not mine. As far as I'm concerned they can call all of the groups the Homosapien Scouts. Get it?

valeriekeefe
valeriekeefe

@BlueDuck Well, first of all it would be based on the assumption that a gay boy is somehow less of a boy than a straight boy... If you want to re-name an organization The Cismasculine Heteronormative Scouts, I'm fine with you doing whatever you want to do there (just so long as I don't have to see it).

PopEye
PopEye

@AlbertLeo @PopEye @magrott @AlexEhrenhalt   Let's all remember that the next time that somebody needs a bunch of physically-fit, outdoor types in the US military to go and save them from their enemy.  A good example would be the Jews who needed to be saved by physically-fit GI-JOEs in the 1940s.  Yes, by all means, lets not have anything to do with these types.

timeserf
timeserf

@DollyDagger @timeserf @StevenR53208 @BethSheldon-Badore   Just give it up! Obviously the difference between the revenue that all levels of government need to operate and the amount that they would collect if non-profits such as the BSA paid taxes on their income and the value of their property and the items that they purchase that are subject to sales tax when you and I buy them.

To bring things down to a third grade level, a very simple purely hypothetical example is that the BSA and nine other property owners each own property that is worth exactly the same amount in Hooterville. The Hooterville government must collect a total of $100 in property taxes each year to operate.

If the BSA was not tax-exempt, it and the other property owners would need to pay $10/year in property tax. Because the BSA does not pay property tax, the other property owners have to pay just over $11 each to raise the $100.

Of course, this is a very dumbed-down example of the issue. The real numbers are much larger when you consider all the amounts involved, including the value of the tax-exempt land on which the scouts are holding their version of Woodstock.



StevenR53208
StevenR53208

@DollyDagger @timeserf @BethSheldon-Badore THEY ARE TAX EXEMPT. We are ALL paying for their discrimination. I for one am NOT GOOD WITH THAT. Take away their exemption. These jerks, like the Catholics and basically all other religions, are stealing from all of us. The constitution says make no laws regarding religion and awarding TAX EXEMPT status to any of these groups is UNCONSTITUTIONAL. EVERYONE should be treated fairly. ANYONE getting an exemption MUST toe the line or lose that exemption.

DollyDagger
DollyDagger

@timeserf @DollyDagger @BethSheldon-Badore Seriously? What "non-discrimination law" would you put into effect in this case? And based on what? Also, maybe our federal and local gov't should stop trying to control our health and weight using FDA regulations and bans on salt and 16 ounce soft drinks. Should we consider those regulations and bans to be discrimination? 

You bleeding heart libs need to stop being so fickle and hypocritical. Either you are going to encourage obesity, or your not. Which is it?