The Boy Scouts of America is getting heat for banning obese kids from its quadrennial jamboree, a celebration that occurs every four years that includes thousands of Boy Scouts from across the nation who hike, camp, and enjoy other activities.
The first jamboree was held in Washington, D.C., in 1937, and President Franklin D. Roosevelt attended. The event attracted about 25,000 scouts who camped around the Washington Monument and the Tidal Basin.
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This year’s jamboree, which began Monday, will be held at the Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve in West Virginia. Boy Scout officials said the site was selected to encourage physical fitness, and it includes hikes in the mountains.
“The Summit is a fun but physically demanding facility with numerous high-adventure activities, including kayaking, rock climbing, bouldering, skateboarding, BMX, and various other activities,” Boy Scouts of America spokesman Deron Smith told ABC News.
Scouts and scout leaders had to meet various health standards, including having a body mass index below 40. Members with a body mass index between 32 and 39.9 had to submit medical information that would clear them to participate.
Body mass index measures an individual's fat percentage by calculating a person’s weight and height. A healthy body mass index is between 18.5 and 25. A person with a body max index above 40 is considered morbidly obese.
Social network sites are flush with commentary.
“What’s up with the #BoyScouts?? Now they’re banning overweight boys from the jamboree,” @modmomelleroy tweeted.
“It seems the @boyscouts are slowly trying to recreate the Hitler Youth by discreetly kicking people out. Whose next on the list guys?” tweeted @TheAnonymousTWI.
Despite the criticism, the scouts are not backing down.
“Teaching scouts and scouters how to live a sustainable life, which includes a healthy lifestyle, and the health of our participants are important goals of the jamboree,” Smith’s statement read. “We published our height weight requirements years in advance and many individuals began a health regimen to lose weight and attend the jamboree. But, for those who couldn’t, most self-selected and chose not to apply.”
Registered dietician Patricia Bannon told FoxNews.com
that she found no issue with the guidelines, but suggested those who were excluded from competitions should be allowed to participate in other ways.
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