Scoutmaster Musings - Get Fit - or Stay Home


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Scoutmaster Musings

Get Fit - or Stay Home
Our troop is using the new BSA medical form this year since it's available and makes life so much easier - same form for everyone, instead of Class 1, 2, and 3. The fact that most of it can be done online and saved by the parent is great - saves them lots of time each year.

The new BSA medical requirements are that everyone get a physical check every 12 months - no more 3 years for youth and adults under 40. Every year, every person.
As a scoutmaster responsible for safety on our outings, I'm glad this change is in place. In 3 years, a scout changes an incredible amount.

There have been some grumblings about this. The only valid argument I've heard is insurance not covering a physical exam that often. If that's the case, then slipping your exam date out a week or so every year might be needed.



Another health item that is part of the new medical form is the Height to Weight participation requirement. This one is causing a lot of concern.

From the health form: 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.


When I look at the weights on the chart, it's amazing how heavy someone can be and still be allowed to trek. The arguments against this requirement range from being big-boned to solid muscle and in great shape even when over the limit.
At our roundtable meeting last night, I figured about 1/3 of the guys there would not be allowed to backpack - and I certainly would not want them anywhere near any trek I was on.

There is good, sound reasoning for these limits - obese people have a much higher risk of heart failure and other problems under physical exertion. This isn't the BSA being dictators, but setting limits to the minimal level of safety on strenuous activities.

Setting an example of being fit is a very important part of Scouting for adults. The "adult interaction" method lets scouts see how adults 'should' be. A fit man able to hike along with the scouts should be a requirement - and has been a requirement at the National BSA camps for years. BSA is just pushing the Philmont, SeaBase, Northern Tier requirements down to units doing their own high adventure treks.

Obesity continues to be a growing problem in our country. On the charts I could find, a 6foot person is considered obese if they way over 220 pounds. The BSA height-weight chart allows a 6foot person to weigh up to 239 pounds and still participate in high adventure. That sounds quite generous to me.

Finally, the height-weight limit does not eliminate obese scouters from participation. The limits are not mandatory for short-term camping within 30 minutes of emergency help. Car camping at the local park can still be done by any adult volunteer that completes the annual medical record.

Here's the chart. Will you need to diet before that big backpack trip or before attending national jamboree in 2010?


See BSA Annual Health and Medical Record
Posted: 8:13 05-08-2009 414
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Comments:
 Jun 07, 2010 - Kevin Burke
You state "Finally, the height-weight limit does not eliminate obese scouters from participation. The limits are not mandatory for short-term camping within 30 minutes of emergency help."

To sign a document with the intention of violating the intent of the document is not the ethics I'm trying to instill in my son.

However, the intent of the document is exactly that. "Enforcing the height/weight limit is strongly encouraged for all other events, but it is not mandatory."

Why else would the wording "strongly encourage" even be needed?

The only purpose is to "strongly encourage" "enforcing the height weight limit" "for all other events".

Seems obvious to me, thus I have stopped attending scouting activities.

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