My friend has been a boy scout leader for years. She doesn’t have any children, but she and her husband are active scout leaders nonetheless, giving their support and guidance to kids because they enjoy it, and because they are good people.
My friend has lost a lot of weight and goes to boot camp and bikram yoga regularly. She did the Danskin triathlon with me last year. She could almost certainly pass whatever fitness test the BSA threw at her to prove she’s able to survive in the severe conditions present at a Boy Scout Camping event.
The BSA has just updated their guidelines for their leaders. According to the chart they have, unless she loses weight to meet an arbitrary standard, she will no longer be able to participate in remote or strenuous boy scout events, and the organization strongly suggests that she not be able to participate in *ANY* boy scout event. If their goal is to provide the boys with a good role model, a larger person who is active and healthy is a much better role model than a normal weight person who smokes, or drinks, or just plain doesn’t exercise. I would take her as a leader for my den in a heartbeat – she is a smart, moral, and fit person who embodies the values I’d like my son to strive for.
I hope that someone sues the Boy Scouts over this. It is pure discrimination with no reasonable defense. I will have to consider strongly whether my son should continue in an organization which believes that they can judge his moral worth based on his belt size – or the belt size of his leaders. I realize that the Boy Scouts are a private organization, but this kind of ignorant elitism is unacceptable. If you want to make sure that people are fit to camp, test them. The results might surprise you. The only reason for this particular decision has to be that someone in BSA headquarters doesn’t want their organization associated with overweight people. Pure, unadulterated, bigotry.
If you’d like to see the new health form yourself you can see it on their website.
The precise wording is “Individuals desiring to participate in any high-adventure activity or events in which emergency evacuation would take longer
than 30 minutes by ground transportation will not be permitted to do so if they exceed the weight limit as documented at the
bottom of this page. Enforcing the height/weight limit is strongly encouraged for all other events, but it is not mandatory.”