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Thread: Scouts Set Leader Weight Limit
05-17-09, 04:52 PM #1
Scouts Set Leader Weight Limit
The Boy Scouts of America is sending a message to overweight leaders: shape up or stay home.
Starting next year, volunteers must undergo annual physicals and meet weight restrictions before they can take part in the most rugged Scout activities.
Last summer, Kevin Wright's sons went to the Philmont Scout ranch in the mountains of New Mexico. Wright didn't go make the long trip. The longtime Scout leader didn't meet Philmont's weight restrictions.
"I wasn't in bad shape," he said. "But considering what you're going through on that trek, that was a good instance where they need to have limitations."
Soon those rules will extend beyond the Boy Scouts' three high-adventure bases to other Scouting activities like kayaking, rock climbing and backpacking.
"This is really specific for what we consider high adventure, strenuous, at elevation, remote primitive areas," said Kent York, marketing director for the Northstar Council, which covers the middle third of Minnesota and part of western Wisconsin.
York is 5 feet, 8 inches and 140 pounds, in the "acceptable" range of the Boy Scout guidelines.
Wright is 6 feet tall and 263 pounds, the wrong size, according to the Scout chart. He's now considered too big for the Boundary Waters and other strenuous treks.
"According to that sheet, 239's my max," said Wright. "So I couldn't go."
"It comes down to more likely to suffer health issues such as heart attack or twist an ankle or a knee or have a problem on the trail," said York.
The bigger the person, the harder it would be to evacuate.
"That's a lot of weight to be carrying, and it's very difficult and so that's why we're trying to come up with a policy that makes sense to help protect the whole group," said York.
The new rules mean some leaders will miss out on memorable trips with their sons, like Wright missed on the Philmont trek.
"I regret it to this day," he said. "Because they had the time of a life, and I didn't get to enjoy it with them."
The new policy depends on location, whether emergency help can reach an injured leader in 30 minutes or less. Many Point, a resident camp up north, isn't a problem, but the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness would be.
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