Scouts-L Mail Archive for October of 1998: Personal Fitness: A fat person can not be a Scout
Personal Fitness: A fat person can not be a Scout
James H. Moss
Thu, 8 Oct 1998 21:32:19 -0600
This is going to send some of you to the moon. I am not sure where it is
going to send me, but this thread is going to change my life. I have been
receiving many personal messages regarding my comments on Personal Fitness
Merit Badge and that is great. However, those statements have me bugged.
Not in there sincerity, but in the underlying and unrealized results.
I have been thinking about the thread on personal fitness (forget the Merit
Badge) and it really hit me hard in the middle of my evening run/walk/crawl.
The Scout Oath states that a Scout on his honor will "keep myself
physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight." Based on the
discussion that several people have had on the personal fitness thread, they
seem to be stating that you can discount one aspect of the Scout Oath.
Based on that analogy, no one in Scouting can complain about our President.
He is bright and he runs every day. As Meatloaf sang, "two out of three
However, Scouting has never been a program of compromise on the direction
young men should go.
I look at this thread as following American down a slippery slope of
relaxing its values. Scouting has elected with Personal Fitness MB to not
follow that slide, but to stand up and attempt to lead Scouts and
subsequently all Americans but to a higher plain. Those of you, who wish to
follow that slide, continue to argue for the relaxation of the program. I
have decided not to. A difficult position for me to take, I am a fairly
The results of this thread have come up with the following statement: You
can either lower the requirements and mass-produce Eagles or you can decide
what an Eagle should be and make the requirements match the goal.
Do not get me wrong. I am not, nor will I ever discount an Eagle who earned
his award without Personal Fitness Merit Badge. An Eagle is an Eagle is an
The argument also seems to be about a change in the Eagle requirements.
However, the requirements never changed. A Scout has always had to be
At the very least there seems to be a factor of if you are a great person
and smart it makes up for being fat. In all my years in Scouting and all my
reading of Scout literature, in all the training I have received both as a
volunteer and as professional I have never read anything that says that a
Scouts mind, morals and body are not equally important. (If I were wrong, I
would love to know about it.)
If a young man is bright and moral, it is OK if he is fat. BP recognized
that one of the benefits of being physically fit was the fact that it
cleared the mind and eased stress. Both are contributing to a better mental
and moral condition.
If you allow fat Scouts, you must therefore allow immoral Scouts and dull
Scouts. Any other argument weights one of the basic values of Scouting
higher than the other and that is not so!
Several of you would allow a young man who has no moral compass to remain in
Scouting. All of you, who would allow a young man with no moral values to
remain, would work to change that situation. The same would go for that man
who allows his mind to waste away. This list is constantly in a discussion
about both of those issues. Moreover, the discussion is never about not
doing something, but on how and what to do. (That is what makes this list
Yet several of us are allowing personal fitness to slide and in several
cases to ignore FAT SCOUTS.
I personally over the past five hours have developed a real moral dilemma
over this issue. How can I call myself a Scout or better an Eagle, if I am
out of shape? I pride myself each day on being sharp and morally straight.
Yet I ignore or even laugh at my physical shape. I can no longer allow that
to be. If I truly believe in the Scout Oath, an oath I have repeated almost
weekly for 33 years, how can I allow myself to be fat? I too have slipped.
Slipped is not the word. I seriously wonder if I can say I am a Scout.
I cannot, and I have tried like you can't believe, to justify an opposite
position. I only discount my morals, my mind and Scouting by attempting to
justify my physical state.
Does that mean I am no longer a Scout. Because I have allowed one of the
three main points of the Scout law to slide. If I were convicted of a
felony, or sexually assaulted someone, you would say I am no longer "of
Scouting." I now believe that by being fat, I am no longer "of Scouting"
If you think I jest about this point, I am dead serious. I have failed to
live up to the Scout Oath.
6'3" Probably down to 273 because I had an hour long run.
And now quite unsure of my position in life.