This year's Boy Scouts of America national Jamboree is held at a new location in West Virginia that was built to capitalize on the Mountain State's natural assets. Since events at the Jamboree — including rock climbing, rappelling, whitewater rafting and biking — are going to be extremely physical, the BSA have put new fitness requirements into place that essentially eliminate morbidly obese Scouts from participating.
"Part of the design in building this site was to address the need for physical fitness in our youth, which of course is a longstanding component of Scouting," said Dan McCarthy, director of the BSA's Summit Group. "We saw this as an opportunity to integrate some new challenges ... so we deliberately spread the site to enable us to encourage Scouts and basically require Scouts to move about the site by foot."
Before being cleared to participate, Scouts and Scout leaders were required to have a Body Mass Index — a measure of body fat determined through height and weight — of less than 40. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 17 percent of children ages 2 to 19 are considered obese, The New York Daily News reported.
"We required a level of fitness in order to come to the Jamboree that we haven't required before," McCarthy said. "That has motivated an enormous return in terms of both kids and adults getting serious about improving their health."
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During the Jamboree, Scouts in attendance will be required to go on a three-mile hike up a mountain.
"We certainly want to get the Scouts outdoors, challenge them and have a healthy lifestyle," said the Summit's director of community and governmental relations, Gary Hartley. "We talk about the three C's as kind of the pillars, and that is cardio, character and citizenship. We have all of those embodied here."