Sunday, June 7, 2009

Boy Scouts place weight restrictions on some outings

A recent news article noted the the Boy Scouts of America has had to place weight restrictions on leaders' participation in some activities. To quote from the article:

But the expanding waistlines of troop leaders, a widespread phenomenon fondly called the "leader belly" by Scouts, have pressed the nearly 100-year-old organization to place weight restrictions on some outings.

The restrictions, which will take effect in January, ban overweight leaders from venturing more than 30 minutes from ground transportation that can reach a hospital.

"For high-adventure activities for which medical care may be delayed, restrictions based on standardized height/weight ratios are now mandatory," says a statement on the Boy Scouts of America Web site.

From the BSA site:

It is important to note that if the event will take your unit beyond a radius wherein emergency care is more than 30 minutes by ground transportation, the height/weight chart found at the bottom of Part B should be strictly followed. Please note that individual units, districts, or councils may have policies in place to exceed this standard based on their unique risks.
Further explanation was as follows:

Q. Our camp is at least 30 minutes from the local hospital by ambulance or EMS. Does this mean that we automatically have to meet the height/weight requirements for all activities at the camp?

A. While response time for basic or advanced life support should be a consideration for a camp’s emergency action plan, it is not the record’s intent. If your travels by foot, bicycle, horseback, afloat, or whatever the mode of transportation take you more than 30 minutes off of an accessible roadway where in an emergency vehicle can reach you, you will need to meet the height/weight requirements.

Q. When does the height/weight chart apply? We have differing opinions in our unit/district.

A. When the Annual Health and Medical Record goes into effect, the height/weight chart will apply in the following known adventure activities: When your travels take you more than 30 minutes off of an accessible roadway, fire lane, camp road, etc., where you float, walk, hike, bike, or otherwise go into the backcountry. Depending on the terrain and local conditions, this might be a couple hundred yards or a couple of miles into the backcountry. Most BSA high-adventure camps that include a backcountry component (ask them about their requirements before you go). Philmont Scout Ranch has this standard in place as an example. When your lodge, unit, district, or council requires it as part of a program.
More interesting than the announcement were the many comments, including accusations against the BSA for "fat bashing." I guess we now have to worry about the civil rights of fat people. Maybe the BSA has been watching the leaders who can hardly walk from their cars to the camp fire circle. I do like this comment however, made in response to a criticism that the policy "will exclude many good leaders." "Wouldn't they be even better leaders if they led by example? Obesity is rapidly becoming the number one health issue in the United States due to all the risks involved with it. When are we as a people and individuals going to start taking personal responsibility for our actions instead of blaming someone else for our problems?"

I agree. I have personally known a number of otherwise good Scout leaders who couldn't walk a mile without pain and suffering. Is that the example we want to teach to our young men? Not from my perspective it isn't.

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