EYEWITNESS LOCAL NEWSBoy Scouts Enforce New Fitness Requirements At Jamboree
from Eyewitness News Online
Reported by: Kera Mashek
Web Producer: Kera Mashek
Reported: Jul. 16, 2013 9:46 PM EDT
Updated: Jul. 17, 2013 9:26 AM EDT
Summersville , West Virginia
The National 2013 Boy Scouts Jamboree is officially underway in Fayette County.
The terrain and activities featured at this year's Jamboree are being billed as the most physically demanding in Boy Scouts history. That's part of the reason the Boy Scouts of America decided to adopt new fitness requirements for kids attending the camp, requirements that could mean some kids are kept out because of their weight.
It's no secret that as a country, our waistlines are growing at an alarming and unhealthy rate, ,with about 17 percent of all kids nationwide between ages 2-19 now considered obese. To make sure Scouts and their leaders could physically keep up with this year's Jamboree activities, no one with a body mass index of over 40 is allowed to participate. Some call it discrimination, but others say it's just common sense.
This week, the campsite for the National Boy Scout Jamboree in Fayette County becomes one of West Virginia's largest cities, with 30,000 campers and another 6,000 volunteers. And their physical fortitude is being put to the test, with activities ranging from mountain biking to zip-lining and rafting. Those are challenges many of the Scouts are excited about.
"I think this week holds a lot of fun and a lot more movement because at the other one there were buses, and here we're walking everywhere. So I think it's going to be a lot more fun," said Gabe Murphy a Scout from New Hampshire.
Combine all that exercise with 90-plus degree temperatures, it's a grueling week for Scouts and leaders. That's why months ago, the Boy Scouts of America rolled out new fitness requirements for campers, which ban the morbidly obese from participating--that's anyone with a very high body fat measure, based on their height and weight. Jamboree organizers say the new rules were issued with safety in mind.
"We work together with our group of doctors and other High Adventure bases to establish what we thought would be the most appropriate thing to make sure everyone who comes has a positive experience," said Larry Pritchard, 2013 BSA National Jamboree Director.
The goal: make it an experience without health problems brought on by obesity. Some Scouts expressed concerns about excluding anyone from having the chance to be part of the national Jamboree.
"At first I was like, 'Why are they doing this? That's not fair,'" said Virginia Scout Emily Mathae.
But now experiencing the camp's physical demands, some of them understand the new fitness rules.
"Everyday I hike about three miles to my exhibit, and that's back and forth. So you have to make sure you're healthy, drink enough water, and people who aren't healthy aren't going to be able to do as well, so it's to keep the Scouts safe," said Skye Miller, Scout from New York.
"It's extremely important, and they were wise to put that in place. A lot of our Sea Scouts staffers are getting really ill because they're not physically fit enough, because they're not capable of walking around.. Seeing this place, you need to by physically fit," Mathae said.
Scout leaders say the new fitness regulations even encouraged several Scout leaders to lose weight and get in better shape before camp, so they could attend. Others opted not to participate because of the rules, afraid they couldn't keep up. The Boy Scouts organization would not confirm whether any Scouts or leaders were denied the ability to attend because of the new fitness regulations.
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