Posted at: 07/16/2013 11:23 AM
By: Elizabeth Reed, KOB.com
The Boy Scouts of America's annual Jamboree gives young scouts the chance to connect with other troops under the same set of values established by the organization in 1910.
But this year, the Boy Scouts introduced new standards that ban some scouts from participating in the Jamboree: Their weight.
According to USA Today, tens of thousands of scouts and troop leaders had to undergo a fitness test due to the Jamboree's physically demanding schedule. Those with a Body Mass Index over 40 were not permitted to attend the summit, which began Monday in the West Virginia mountains.
"We required a level of fitness in order to come to the Jamboree that we haven't required before," Dan McCarthy, director of the BSA's Summit Group, told the Associated Press. "And that has motivated an enormous return in terms of both kids and adults getting serious about improving their health."
While some parents say the requirement sends a negative message to overweight scouts, the executive director of the Boy Scouts of America Great Southwest Council says it's all about safety.
"We're supportive of it, especially here in New Mexico," director Chris Shelby said. "We run a camp right outside of Chimayo and many participants in the Southwest Council come from Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas. When you go to higher altitudes, there are risks that can affect the scouts' health."
Shelby said the Southwest Council doesn't only look at BMI, but also blood pressure and overall health of both the scouts and the volunteers.
No members of the Southwest Council were banned from the Jamboree due to their weight, Shelby said.
The Boy Scouts of America did not disclose the number of scouts banned from attending this year's Jamboree. According to USA Today, an estimated 30,000 Scouts and Venturers, plus 7,000 staff, were expected to attend.
The Associated Press notes in 2005, around 300 scouts and visitors fell ill during the Jamboree due to intense heat. The same year, four adults were killed in an electrical accident during the opening ceremony.
Do you support the BMI requirement, or do you think there is a better way to promote health in the Boy Scouts of America? Weigh in below and on the KOB Eyewitness News 4 Facebook page.