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Adopt these 3 steps for healthier meetings, earn the Healthy Unit Patch

healthy-kids-patch

Get one of these for everyone in your unit by completing three easy steps.

Drink Right, Move More, Snack Smart.

Those six small words hold big power. Power to make your unit, and therefore your Scouts, healthier.

Changes you employ today could have positive rewards that last Scouts a lifetime. And speaking of rewards, if you make three health-conscious changes over the next three months, you’ll earn a special patch for everyone in your unit. Now do I have your attention?

There’s more than a patch at stake, though. For the first time in two centuries, the current generation of children in America may have shorter life expectancies than their parents.

Sure, mom and dad play a vital role in their children’s diet and exercise habits. But Scout leaders can make a difference, too. After all, you’re with these kids one night a week and one weekend a month, typically. What you do at unit meetings and campouts matters.

Ask yourself: How active are your meetings? What snacks do you serve? What do Scouts drink?

The Boy Scouts of America has partnered with Healthy Kids Out of School to offer an incentive to reconsider your answers to those three questions.

Say hello to the Healthy Unit Patch, which encourages units to follow the BSA’s SCOUTStrong recommendations at meetings, events and excursions.

Adopt the three healthy principles below by completing the 3–6–9 challenge, and you’ll earn patches for every Scout in your unit. It’s easy and fun. Here’s how:

Complete the 3–6–9 challenge

Make these three positive changes — and track them using the scoresheet found under “Resources” below — and you’ll earn the Healthy Unit Patch.

3: Serve a fruit or vegetable at 3 meetings

6: Make water the main beverage at 6 meetings

9: Include 15 minutes of physical activity at 9 meetings

Drink-Right-water-bottleOnce your unit has completed all of the Healthy Unit Patch activities, please send the completed tracker form to: HealthyKidsOutofSchool@tufts.edu or call Healthy Kids Out of School at (617) 636-0833, for free patches for your Scouts and a certificate for your unit.

Those Units who complete the Healthy Unit Patch and mail their scoresheet to HealthyKidsOutOfSchool@Tufts.edu by June 30, 2014, will be entered into a random drawing for one of five free cases of the Drink Right water bottles seen at right. They come 50 to a case.

Why this matters

This isn’t just the BSA recommending you make these changes.

Eric H. Schultz is president and CEO of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, Healthy Kids Out of School’s major supporter. He’s also a distinguished Eagle Scout.

That makes him uniquely qualified to speak about both the health side and the Scouting side of this new opportunity to make meetings healthier.

“As a lifelong volunteer in Scouting, I appreciate the values, dedication and commitment it takes to be a strong leader,” he says. “Through the Foundation’s support year round, out-of-school time programs like the Boy Scouts are making after-school programs healthier.

“By emphasizing smart snacks and more movement, we are setting positive examples for our young Scouts by encouraging them to earn the Healthy Unit Patch, ultimately creating a healthier Scouting experience.”

Positive feedback from testing

Alyssa Koomas, regional project manager for Healthy Kids Out of School, agrees. She said the Healthy Unit Patch, which units can complete in about three months, has been well-received in initial testing in the New England area.

“We’ve been traveling around three states in the area to roundtable meetings,” she said. “The goal for us is to show Scout leaders that by encouraging water, fruits and vegetables, and physical activity during their den or troop meetings, they can make a big impact. Once leaders hear what’s at stake and how simple it is to make a difference, they’re totally onboard. We’ve had a wonderful response.”

Koomas and her colleagues even spent time teaching fun, active games to a bunch of grown-ups at roundtable meetings.

“It was really fun to see these grown men hopping up and down and getting them out of their comfort zones,” Koomas said. “And they say, ‘I can do this.’”

Start earning the patch now, and your Scouts will be on their way to establishing healthy lifelong habits!

Resources to get you started
What they said

Here are some selected quotes from Scouters in New England who tried the Healthy Unit Patch pilot program:

  • “I was motivated to do the patch because of the reaction of my son, who was present for the roundtable training. He had fun, and seeing his enthusiasm, I wanted to help our Cubs earn the patch. For younger Scouts, it is all about instant gratification. They really wanted to work on this patch.”
  • “Seeing that most children see fast food as a food group, it is worth doing this program to help them make better choices now, and when they are older.”
  • “Parents were in agreement about working on this. Nothing additional had to be done at home. They are so busy and I didn’t have to ask them to do anymore for this patch. We have a very large pack, the boys have a lot of enthusiasm, and the families are involved in what we do.”
  • “We have completed this activity to earn the patch, but the Cubs liked the activities so much, they want to do it more.”
  • “Feedback from the parents was all positive. And, my wife and I are revisiting all of this for our own health, too.”
  • “At the Pinewood Derby on Sunday, my wife and I ran the kitchen (Pit Stop Grill). We only served water. If it’s the only thing available, people will drink it. We had fruit, and it went very well. Given the choice, kids will choose fruit, if it is available.”
  • “This fits in so well for Scouts — the focus on health, getting the kids up and moving. It’s how we run.”
  • “The Tiger Cubs are really engaged and trying new things … and that is what Cub Scouts is all about. I can tell you, we will do this again next year.”
  • “For other leaders, tell them to bring their kids and see their enthusiasm. Keeping them active is so important. When we started, they were excited. They wanted to do it.”
  • “We don’t do sports, but we can promote recreation that you can do all your lives. Our core activities and nutrition/health/fitness are very connected, but we need to raise awareness and shift the culture of leaders.”

Healthy Kids is an initiative of ChildObesity180 at Tufts University with major funding from the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation

33 Comments on Adopt these 3 steps for healthier meetings, earn the Healthy Unit Patch

  1. Reblogged this on Scouter Adam's Blog and commented:
    This is good timing since I just talked about the JTE and Pack Annual Planning in the past couple of posts. Good read!

  2. I just posted on my blog about the new JTE for Packs. This post is good timing. I re-blogged this post of yours. YIS

  3. Do most Troops serve snacks & drinks? We quit doing that once they moved from Cub Scouts to Boy Scouts. If the kids get thirsty they can get water from the drinking fountain. We do play dodgeball at the end of every meeting, so that gets us the 15 minutes part.

    • Not regularly, but as part of training for camp or cooking MB, they boys will break out the camp stoves and make pancakes. We’re going to be setting up a fire ring behind our scout house, so there will be more opportunities for cooking and fellowship. Having some vegetable and fruit choices for the boys to plan is a good idea.

    • We also don’t serve snacks at our troop meetings. We have a very active game (e.g., dodgeball, British bulldog, capture the flag) every week and drinks from the water fountain too.

  4. Bryan wrote, “After all, you’re with these kids one night a week and one weekend a year, typically.”

    Shouldn’t that be “one weekend a month” (or in some cases, “one weekend a week”)? ;o)

    • Oops. Yes, of course, good catch!

  5. Reblogged this on Fort Clatsop District Boy Scouts of America.

  6. This sounds like it is just for Boy Scouts. Is there a Cub Scout Version? we barely have 9 regular pack meetings a year; the other months are special activities.

    • Don’t forget those den meetings!

    • Hi Carrie! This can certainly be done with Cub scouts, and den meetings, events and other activities can be counted. You can have all dens in your pack earn the patch, or you can work toward it at the den level. Be sure to check out the resources on the Healthy Unit patch here: http://www.edreach2.info/documents/137/UPDATED_march_18_Complete_Packet_On_Hub.pdf

  7. Our Scoutmaster insists everyone stops at McDonald’s for dinner during long trips. Of course, it’s optional to bring your own food but what kid is going to refuse McDonald’s over PB&J? Any suggestions on getting our Scoutmaster back on track with BSA nutritional guidelines?

    • The golden arches also serve salads. The don’t even force you to have dressing. Also, you could ask to hold the bun. (Yes, they will.) Less carbs, more protein.

      Start with the adults and have them count calories. Or have the boys who are working on personal fitness challenge us overweight adult leaders to a diet challenge!

    • Ron Murphy // March 18, 2014 at 1:32 am // Reply

      Check out Subway!

    • Let me send him some pictures from work! I work as in-house maintenance, and none of my people want McDonald’s anymore.

  8. I am a COR of a Troop and Pack – my son is 2nd Class 1st year scout from the associated Pack where he got his Arrow of Light. I am also an ASM of a different Troop (where I earned my Eagle) and I am the Cubmaster of that Troop’s associated Pack. So two Troops, two Packs.

    @Dave – Does your Troop have Court of Honors? We generally serve fruits from parents when a boy advances. Eagle Court of Honors are generally larger affairs. We have regular court of honors every other month and we have Eagle Court of Honors twice a year. For the “regular” (i.e. non-Eagle) court of honors, it is just part of a meeting, and qualifies as a meeting. We do that in both Troops. So, in effect, yes we do have snacks. Also, I don’t see where it says that all three must be done simultaneously each of the boxes on the tracker sheet show that you have to enter in dates. So you don’t have to have one meeting where you have fruit, water, and 15 minutes of activities.

    @Carrie Kathleen Setzkorn – I doesn’t say Pack meetings, it just says meetings. How about Den meetings? On the tracker sheet it says “Unit (Troop, Pack or Den)”. If the whole Pack can’t get it, a den might. If one den gets the patch, it might encourage the others to do so a well. Do you have separate meetings for your Pinewood and Space Derbies and the Raingutter regatta? Why isn’t your “special activities” not considered meetings? Don’t you go on Pack or Den hikes or camps?

    The tracker specifically states:
    “Use this guide to record the dates of the meeting, event or outing when your unit serves water, a healthy snack or performs physical activity.” in the blue bar near the top of the tracker form. Troops can accomplish some at camps, particularly hike camps, way more than 15 minutes (generally). Packs can do these at outings. Now notice that “fruits and vegetables” doesn’t say only fruits and vegetables. The Water part states as the primary beverage, it does not say sole beverage.

    Good luck.

  9. Can we record previous Pack meeting activities from earlier in the Scouting year towards achieving these goals by June 1st? We have one pack meeting per month generally, but we have implemented an “energy burn off time” before each meeting just in the last year (since September) Usually a game of sock wars, basketball skills, kickball, soccer skills, etc. We’ve had healthy snacks at some of our pack events including the Blue and Gold as well as served water.

  10. elsiemetz@aol.com // March 18, 2014 at 7:16 am // Reply

    Bryan,

    Is this program and patch going to be available for the next year? I would like to introduce it to my Pack.

    Elsie Metz Minsi Trails Council Unit Commissioner

    • Hi elisemetz, Yes, the patch is an ongoing achievement award and you can certainly begin tracking your activities next program year! We will also hold another raffle in the fall for a case of water bottles, so be on the look-out for that. Thanks!

  11. I wish you would not capitalize SCOUT. It isn’t an acronym, so it’s just sort of weird. SCOUTStrong, why are you shouting?

  12. joselepervanche // March 18, 2014 at 2:14 pm // Reply

    Reblogged this on Scouting Adventures and commented:
    Many units are already doing 6 and 9. Complete the 3–6–9 challenge

    Make these three positive changes — and track them — and you’ll earn the Healthy Unit Patch. 3: Serve a fruit or vegetable at 3 meetings, 6: Make water the main beverage at 6 meetings
    , 9: Include 15 minutes of physical activity at 9 meetings

  13. This makes sense for Cub Scouts, but not for Boy Scouts, in my opinion. Having snacks and a “main beverage” at meetings is something that should stop at Cub Scouts.
    That being said, my troop has an outdoors game at least twice a month, so that would easily account for the fitness aspect already.

    • It really looks like people are voicing their view before looking at the Unit Tracking Sheet. It doesn’t say only meetings, it says activities. For your outdoor games, fruits and water can be served to meet the requirements and you don’t have to do them for each outdoor game either since fruits is three times and water only six. I think it is easy in your case.

  14. Does tracking start from March of this year or can we include the activities/meetings from the start of this program year? My den has already done nutrition and physical fitness where we spent 3 meetings on these alone. Also our weekend activities solely have water and fruit for snacks and we won’t be starting these activities up until April. The amount of time left to complete this is pretty close if it needs to be done by June 1 for some of the boys to do this with our pack before bridging to Boy Scouts.

    • Thanks for your question, HudsonM. We’re thrilled that this is already something you’re doing with your den and at your weekend activities, as well! For the patch, we’ll only be counting meetings from this point forward (post March 17). But we will hold another raffle in the fall, so you can plan to submit your tracker at that time, if you’d like. You can also rally the pack to adopt these healthy principles at all the den meetings, and earn the patch as a pack. If you have questions, don’t hesitate to email us at healthykidsoutofschool@tufts.edu. Thanks!

      • Thank you for your prompt answer. I figured tracking started this week but I wanted to make sure. We started our progress for this at our den meeting last night by going on a hike to begin presenting leave no trace principles. It was much nicer doing it this way than going over LNT inside.
        One last question. Is there a girl scout option in the works? My wife is a Troop leader and this would also fit well with their program.

        • Hi Hudsonmn, Sorry for the delayed reply! Right now, there is not a Girl Scout option for the patch. Your wife and other Girl Scout leaders are welcome to use the tracker and the Healthy Unit Patch packet (which has activities and recipe idea, as well as other resources) to adopt the healthy principles in their meetings. We welcome you both to let us know how it goes and share your story! healthykidsoutofschool@tufts.edu. Thanks!

  15. So the header photo got me wondering. I had always been told football is banned by the GtSS, so I just looked, and the wording in the GtSS seems to ban scouts from playing football in/with a league during Scouting activities, but not from playing a game of football amongst themselves. The Age Appropriate Guidelines chart has “flag football,” but not any other sort of football. The Scouts in the photo are clearly not playing flag football–they have no flags on their hips.
    I would not personally want/allow my troop to play tackle football, but what is the actual rule?

    • I guess they could be playing touch football.

  16. Nate Kidwell // March 19, 2014 at 2:44 pm // Reply

    I almost feel like this award is too easy. The physical activity and drinking water many troops do already, and it’s not that hard to bring some fruits or vegetables to three meetings. I do like the purpose behind this though, scouts should strive to be fit.

  17. Hello, from Healthy Kids Out of School! Thanks for all your interest in completing the Healthy Unit Patch. Below are a few answers to some of the questions that people have raised in their comments:

    Q: My unit is already following these guidelines, so can I submit a patch request now?
    A: While past meeting dates don’t count toward the patch, we invite everyone to begin tracking them now. You can also check out all of the Healthy Unit materials to support your efforts and get Scouts excited about working on this achievement. Find the materials here: http://www.edreach2.info/documents/137/UPDATED_march_18_Complete_Packet_On_Hub.pdf

    Q: My pack only meets one time per month, so I won’t have time to complete the requirements for the patch by the June 30th raffle.
    A: We will hold another water bottle raffle in the fall of 2014. Remember, you can earn the patch as a den, pack or a troop!

    Q: Is this opportunity only available this spring?
    A: Patches will continue to be available as an on-going achievement award for units who prefer to start the activities in the fall.

  18. Thats what I would do.

  19. I would love to see some sort of adaptation for Cub Scout Summer camps so they can earn the patch there.

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