Below is my letter to CEO, Wayne Brock. I encourage you to speak out on this issue and contact Mr. Brock. More information can be found on the OAC Bias Buster page: http://www.obesityaction.org/weight-bias-and-stigma/bias-busters/boy-scouts-of-america
Dear Mr. Brock,
As a member of the Obesity Action Coalition, I am writing to express my disappointment in the Boy Scouts of America’s BMI policy for attendees of the 2013 Jamboree. I live in southern Ohio, near the border of West Virginia, so I have seen a lot of local news coverage about the Summit and the excitement for this year’s Jamboree. It saddens me to know young men are being excluded from this “Wild and Wonderful” experience simply based on their weight.
I understand the BSA’s concern for health and safety, however, BMI is not a good indicator of health. As a morbidly obese child and teen I participated in many activities including attending 4H Summer camp. My cabin was at the top of the second hill, the restrooms and showers were on the first hill. Was it easy for me to climb the hills several times a day? Of course not, but I did it because I wanted to participate in camp, and as the days went by the climb became easier and I gained a sense of accomplishment. I participated in many camp activities, and there were of course some I was unable to participate in because of my weight, however, just being there and seeing all the possibilities motivated me to be more active so I could participate the following summer. If BSA were truly concerned with the overall health and wellbeing of your scouts you would encourage participation in the Jamboree no matter the fitness level. After all, HEALTH is more than just physical, there is also emotional and social element to health and wellness. Which is really better for health: these young men participating at the Jamboree with their peers, or sitting at home?
I also wanted to point out that many children and adults of normal size can suffer health emergencies during strenuous activities. I was in marching band and never once had an emergency while many friends often had asthma attacks after a performance. Also, consider the sad occurrence of children and adults with unknown cardiac issues collapsing during sporting events.
In addition, I am interested to know if Boy Scouts with other physical limitations are excluded from participating in the Jamboree? Are Boy Scouts with physical disabilities that require use of a wheelchair or other accommodations able to participate? I do hope the answer is, yes. If accommodations are being made for their inclusion than accommodations should be made so that ALL scouts can participate.
I look forward to your review of this policy and forthcoming changes.
Sarah M. Bramblette