This week through July 24, about 40,000 Boy Scouts and their leaders are descending on a vast encampment in the hills of southern West Virginia to engage in traditional Boy Scout pastimes — hiking, shooting, repelling, orienteering, swimming, canoeing and fishing — and in a slate of more extreme physical activities such as mountain biking, skateboarding and rock climbing.
Fat Scouts, however, need not apply.
Citing the physical demands of the quadrennial Jamboree and the organization’s ideals of physical fitness, the Boy Scouts this year announced that Scouts or Scout leaders with a body mass index, or BMI, above 40 — the point at which one is medically labeled “severely obese” — may not attend. Those with BMIs falling between 32 and 39.9 — labeled as obese — must have a physician’s clearance.
It’s a policy the Boy Scouts of America said it posted well in advance so that affected Scouts could get serious about improving their health. Boy Scouts of America spokesman Deron Smith called the policy part of an effort to teach Scouts “how to live a sustainable life.” But Smith added that the need to protect the health and safety of attendees also motivated the decision to bar those who may weigh close to 100 pounds more than is considered a “normal healthy” weight.
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