Boy Scouts: No Fatties Allowed


Chubby kids aren’t welcome at the Boy Scouts of America’s annual Jamboree thanks to new weight standards:

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.

This really isn’t anything new for the Scouts, given that their oath for years has referenced physical fitness:

On my honor, I will do my best
To do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law;
To help other people at all times;
To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.

Frankly, I applaud the Scouts. It takes courage for a private organization like this to hold its own membership accountable for their actions. Whatever we make think of the “obesity crisis” and the various proposals of government nanny statism aimed at solving it, the fact is that being fat is unhealthy (as a fat man, I should know), and challenging these kids to live healthier is a good thing.

If anything, we don’t have enough of this sort of thing in this age of sports leagues that don’t keep score and schools that grade on effort more than accomplishment.

Rob Port is the editor of In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters.

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  • Jeff

    I have to say I agree. It is a private organization and can have any rules that they wish.

  • Matthew Hawkins

    This is disgraceful.

    Some of the kids that need the scouts the most are overweight and need the activity. The fact that they are turning there back on them is disgusting.

    • Jeff

      What if one of the overweight kids dies? Then people will blame the scouts, so I really don’t have an issue with the protecting themselves from liability.

    • Rob

      Right. Better that they condone the obesity, and don’t ever the challenge the kids to change.

      • Matthew Hawkins

        Why can’t they institute a physical fitness program without excluding them from Jamboree?

        • Rob

          It doesn’t sound like they’re excluded from Jamboree altogether, despite the article I linked to.

          But you seem to think that these kids are entitled to participate. I think we do more than enough to promote a sense of entitlement in our society. If they want to participate, they know what they need to do.

          What’s wrong with expecting them to live healthier?

          • Clay

            As members in good standing, they are eligible to attend. They attend meetings, do public service projects, earn merit badges, etc. You seem to believe if everyone had the same diet and exercise program, we would all look the same. That’s patently absurd. Some heavy kids can carry themselves very well. Some skinny kids are weak and frail, should they be disallowed from attending a jamboree?

            How fat is too fat? Whether they use a height/weight chart or measure body fat, there will always be borderline cases and judgment calls. This kid is one pound under the limit so he can go. This other kid is one pound over the limit so he stays home. It’s a huge can of worms that the scouts should not open.

            And bodies of kids change all the time. Today’s fat kid may be tomorrow’s supermodel. This is nothing more than plain, old-fashioned stereotyping.

        • Dawn

          The point of Jamboree is that it is high-intensity, high adventure for the physically fit. There are plenty of other year-round camping, hiking, swimming, biking activities for these boys to participate in that are less strenuous. Jamboree is ONE event that happens once every four years – if they are sitting at home doing nothing the other 1300+ days in-between – that is their fault, not the BSA’s.

      • Clay

        They shouldn’t have to change to conform to a shallow and arbitrary appearance standard. True and lasting motivation comes from within the individual. When I was in scouts, we had heavy kids and they were good scouts. Our unit would have been diminished without them, and I’m not referring to their weight. Often, heavy kids slim down as their bodies mature into adulthood. Let’s say a boy becomes physically fit for the rest of his life, yet all he can remember about scouting is a negative experience perpetrated by some nanny stater who told him he wasn’t good enough because he was fat. Great memory, huh? I wouldn’t want to be the scout leader that has to tell the scout or the parents that a rare chance to go to a national jamboree isn’t going to happen because of a asinine excuse like being overweight. We are supposed to accept people as they are, why not extend that same courtesy to some overweight kids?

  • alan

    Rob this policy is for high adventure programs and also affects adults too. The high adventure programs usually are high exertion and/or remote areas that limited first aid and usually hard to get people evacuated safely. I have been to Philmont Scout Ranch and had to meet the same BMI requirements a few years ago and I cant imagine them pulling my fat ass( yet I was under the BMI cut off) off a 6000 ft mountain if I got hurt.

    • Rob

      Hmm…the article suggests that this is a new policy. Did they expand something they’ve had in the past?

      Regardless, i’m all for it, and I’d be fine if it were a blanket application of the policy.

      • Dawn

        The article is wrong if it states that this is a newer policy – for many years, the boys have had to pass a physical every year (just as high school athletes do to be allowed to participate in sports) in order to participate in the higher adventure, more strenuous activities. It is the doctor that determines if they are physically fit enough for the event – not the BSA.

        • Rob

          So why is it news now?

          Passing a physical isn’t the same thing as being excluded because of BMI.

          • Dawn

            Because it is one more way to discredit and beat up on the BSA.

          • Alan

            Its because the jamboree is going on and the liberal media just loves to kick the BSA around.
            The reason this is coming up this Jamboree is this new jambo site its a bit more physically demanding than the old site in Virginia.

  • John_Wayne_American

    I once was on a 50 mile backpack trip in Glacier Park with a over weight kid that couldn’t keep up on our practice hikes, but was allowed (due to parental pressure) to go to MT with us.

    2 days into the trip he was miserable, our scoutmaster a really great man, tried everything to encourage him, we would rally around him, I and 2 others split his whole load so all he was carrying was an empty pack, yet the altitude and exertion was more than he could handle, so on the end of the 2nd day our scoutmaster shifted his pack load to a few of us, loaded the boys gear and walked him all the way out to the trail head where he caught a ride with some vacationers to the families were waiting for us in the campgrounds in Waterton Park.

    After leaving the boy with the families to be sent home on the train, He then got a ride back to the trail head, spent the entire 3rd day well into the late evening catching up with us. This was over 30 years ago, I remember it like it was last summer. My scoutmaster was awesome and I’ll never forget his dedication to that boy, and his efforts to get him home safely.

    I attended 2 National scout jamborees, they are huge. 40,000 scouts, activities scattered over miles of Jamboree grounds, in the past at a huge military base in VA, I believe they are moving to a permanent site of their own. but its huge. Each patrol of 8 boys led by a older scout each. gets a list of activities to attend and participate in every day. Activities like High Rope courses, kayaking, swimming, rocketing etc.

    Like a military unit, the boys have little time to march in single file lines from one station to another, they could be miles apart. It’s hot and humid on the east coast in July/Aug you need to be in top form just to keep up. If you are late to an station, you are not allowed to participate, (remember there are 40,000 boys that need to be scheduled and very limited times for your patrol of 8 boys.) So punctuality is a must, and dragging, prodding, nudging someone that would rather be playing video games on a couch, really can’t be an option.

    It sucks to have to say no to someone that cannot physically handle it, I’m glad there are excellent volunteer scoutmasters like the one I had, that will handle it with class.

    btw when I attended my first Jamboree in 1977 it cost a bit over $500 with airfare, the second 1981 was an outrageous $800! it now costs over 4,000 dollars to attend, the trips now last weeks, they see a lot of sites on the east coast. It is a very worthwhile experience, so if you see a boy scout selling candy bars to help pay for his trip, help him out, would ya. :0

  • Dawn

    This is so ridiculous! Anyone who is making an issue of this has no idea what Jamboree is about. It is a once-every-four-year event that is specifically high adventure and high intensity. It involves hiking, camping and climbing in high heat/humidity for days over a camp area that is miles wide. There is no air conditioning and the camping is ‘roughing it’ – there are no modern conveniences. All boys, who go to any BSA camp, are required to get a doctor’s physical – just like if they play High School sports. The doctor determines if the scout is physically fit enough to participate – not the BSA. The same as if you fail your HS physical, you don’t get to play football, etc.

    And just because they cannot participate in this ONE event, does not mean they are excluded from any of the other outdoor camping, hiking, biking, swimming, etc events that happen all year round. They have plenty of opportunities to participate in outdoor events. And they have 4 years to get in shape for Jamboree, if they choose to go. Core principles of BSA are physical fitness, self-discipline and personal responsibility. We can teach them how to live a healthy lifestyle – but we cannot force them to do it.

    I find it very ironic that the same week that this ‘story’ came out, they also released a study showing that BMI is directly related to high-blood pressure which increases risk of heart attack. So send your obese son to Jamboree – defying Dr’s recommendations – watch him have a heart attack trying to scale a cliff. And then sue the BSA for not taking proper health and safety measures to protect your kid.

  • scanham2

    A BMI of 40 is not “chubby.” It is extremely obese.

  • Dawn

    Also, think of it this way: if your 15 year old son announced to you that he wanted to run a marathon next week, but he can’t walk more than a mile without huffing and puffing, would you let him do it? No, that would be foolish. But some say that it is unfair to not let him participate in the marathon because ‘he really wants to do it’.

    So we now have two choices: we either ask all the other marathoners to shorten the race and run slower so this boy can participate on his level and avoid damaging his self-esteem… or we tell him he can’t participate in this one but he has a year (or four) to train and get ready for the next one. One of these options teaches personal responsibility and self-discipline …the other teaches him that he is a helpless victim.

    I choose to teach my sons they can do anything they want if they put in the time, effort and hard work.

  • Clay

    Fatties bad, gays good. Physically strong, morally straight? Neither, not so much. Priorities fracked up? Yup.

  • devilschild

    What type of test is administered to insure people are morally straight or mentally awake?