Too Fat for the Boy Scouts? New Weight Requirement Angers Some

Armstrong said he lost 40 pounds and passed a doctor-administered physical and completed a swim test, but it wasn't enough to allow him on the June 15 trip as he was still too heavy for some of the ladders at the facility.

Armstrong said he's concerned that enforcement of this new policy will mean fewer volunteers, which are hard enough to find as it is.

"It takes a heck of a person to do this," he said.

Commenters on Godinez's Web site,, had the same concerns.

"This is nuts," one poster wrote. "Guidelines are welcome, not mandatory policy. Risk and ability to participate should be a matter between the boy/parent and trained medical staff, not an arbitrary table."

Both Armstrong and Godinez said they are trying to lose weight, a battle they've been fighting for years.

Armstrong said he's cut out sodas and sweet tea. But he said he hasn't weighed 239 pounds, his maximum weight for participation in high adventure activities, since "probably when I was a young guy."

The national Boy Scout destinations, such as the Florida Sea Base, have always had these standards, Smith said. According to the FAQ, local councils will be able to impose additional requirements on top of the national policy, depending on the activity in their region.

"We want to note that these policies do not restrict a person's ability to volunteer in the scouting program and are not meant to make it difficult to participate in scouting activities; rather, they are meant to ensure the health and safety of those who participate in high adventure activities," Smith said in an e-mailed statement to "Therefore, we do not expect it will greatly impact many volunteers or leaders."

Armstrong said he was concerned that the new requirements would preclude him from teaching archery next year, something he's done for years. The day camp, he believes, is more than 30 minutes away from a medical facility.

He's also now questioning whether, under the new requirement, he won't be able to help his older son, 16, complete his Eagle Scout project, which involves pouring concrete to improve a school's baseball batting cage.

But Hugh Travis, scout executive of the Middle Tennessee Council, said Armstrong would not be prevented from participating in non-high adventure activities locally and that while there are changes, height and weight requirements are nothing new for the Boy Scouts.

"The Boy Scouts are concerned about childhood and adult obesity," he said. "The primary concern is for the health and safety and welfare of the scouts and the adult leaders."

When asked what affect the new requirements would have on his volunteers, Travis said he doesn't expect much of any. Out of about 12,000 volunteers in the Middle Tennessee Council, he said, only Armstrong has complained.

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