East Texas parents react to obese Boy Scout ban

East Texas parents react to obese Boy Scout ban

TYLER (KYTX) - Boy Scouts have been banned from a national summer camp, because they're overweight. 30,000 Boy Scouts and 7,000 adults are out in the mountains of southern West Virginia for the National Scouts Jamboree; but to be there, they all had to meet a body mass index cut-off. 

Every four years, thousands of boy scouts from around the world head to the Jamboree to climb, hike, bike, zip line and more.

"It's a very strenuous place. It requires a lot more of you than your regular boy scout activities," says Tyler mom Ann Brown. She has two sons in Boy Scouts. Her oldest, 14-year-old Noah, is at Jamboree right now.

"We applied to go to Jamboree in February of last year, so almost a year and a half ago, and at that time on their web site, it was very up front - your BMI will be tested, what it needed to be, and why it needed to be that way," Brown says.

For the past two years the Boy Scouts of America has notified parents signing their kids up that scouts and adult leaders with a body mass index over 40, will not be allowed at Jamboree.

BMI is a measure of body fat based on height and weight. The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute shows these numbers:  

- a BMI of 18.5 or less means you're underweight
- 18.5 - 24.9 is normal
- 25 - 29.9 is overweight
- 30 plus is obese

"Where they're camping at Jamboree, they have to walk a minimum of one mile to get to any place they're going to go. It would be different if this were flat land, but this is up and down mountains. That is not something extra that you sign up for. That's just part of the activities that's there," Brown says.

She says now that her son is at Jamboree, she understands why there's a BMI limit.

"He did collapse of heat exhaustion already while he was there, and was taken in and had to be treated for that. He's in good shape! and he did have difficulties there."

Brown says she understands why parents with Boy Scouts over the BMI limit would be upset, but assures them, it's a safety issue.
The nonprofit, National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance, publicly asked the Boy Scouts to remove the BMI limit.  In response, Boy Scouts of America says there are  thousands of other scout  camps, less intense than Jamboree, with no BMI limit.

In a statement, the local Boy Scouts office in Tyler's Communications Director, Greg Leitch said: "The fitness requirements to attend this event were established nearly two years by the National Council as the Jamboree is a National event. The requirements are in place to ensure that every participant would be able to enjoy the program safely and to the fullest extent. Part of the Scout Oath is to be physically strong and the Boy Scouts of America are committed to ending childhood obesity. Children should enjoy long and healthy lives and that begins with exercise and eating healthy foods."


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