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Drink Right: Why now’s the time to replace soda and bug juice with water

healthy-kidsWhen Scout Executive Michael Riley made the choice to eliminate bug juice at the Cape Cod & Islands Council’s summer day camps, he braced for a revolt.

But no uprising came. Sugar-saturated bug juice was available one summer, and the next summer only water was served.

“Surprisingly, we got no pushback from the parents,” he told me. “They said, ‘That’s good; the Scouts don’t need that.’ And the kids? They just thought, ‘This is what we’ve got.'”

This positive step toward healthy living will go a long way toward preventing and reversing obesity in Scouts in Michael’s council. But it shouldn’t stop there.

Your pack, troop, team, crew, ship or post can be a part of this three-step approach to healthy living known as Drink Right, Move More, Snack Smart. The effort is the brainchild of Healthy Kids Out of School (with major funding from the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation) and a Boy Scouts of America partner in the push for healthier Scouts.

Today we’ll look at Drink Right. I’ll cover the other two in future blog posts.

Consider this: Is it time to make the switch to serving only water at Scout meetings, on campouts and at summer camp? The statistics say yes: 

  • Almost half of the added sugar in the typical American diet comes from sugar-sweetened beverages like bug juice, sports drinks, juice drinks and sodas.
  • A 2001 study of schoolchildren age 11 to 17, published in The Lancet medical journal, found that “for each additional serving of sugar-sweetened drink consumed, both body mass index (BMI) … and frequency of obesity increased.”

Those facts are enough to make anyone pour out their syrupy cup of bug juice. But Michael didn’t need numbers to convince him to make this change. It just made sense.

“Clearly we all know that the infamous bug juice that is served in most camps isn’t good for you,” he said. “It’s full of sugar, it’s full of all sorts of artificial colorings. It’s just not really a healthy drink. If we’re going to be talking this health game, we better be practicing what we’re preaching.”

Michael said his council still sells candy and soda at the camp trading post, but now it’s offered alongside bottled water and fresh fruit.

“We’re still giving Scouts the choice and hoping they make the right one,” he said.

Illustrate the facts with this Sugar Quiz

I wouldn’t recommend converting your Scout unit to water-only without first explaining the reasons to your Scouts.

And neither would Alyssa Koomas, regional project manager for Healthy Kids Out of School.

“We do a sugar quiz with Scouts and find they’re shocked to see how many packets of sugar are in some of their favorite beverages,” she said. “For example, about 17 packets in a 20-ounce soda. Activities that help kids make an informed decision on what to eat and drink for themselves can make a lasting impact. We hear kids say, ‘I’ll never drink that again!'”

Try this fun, interactive Sugar Quiz (PDF) at a unit meeting and watch in awe as your Scouts learn what’s really in their favorite drinks.

The PDF outlines the materials needed. Basically that’s a few examples of popular sugar-sweetened beverages and about 40 sugar packets.

Be sure to include more than just sodas in your demonstration, Alyssa said.

“Most people are aware of the sugar in sodas, but juice drinks and sports drinks, which can contain just as much sugar, somehow fall under the radar. Juice ‘drinks’ rarely contain any juice, and pediatricians recommend water over sports drinks for hydration.”

Don’t forget about the patch!

healthy-kids-patchThe Healthy Unit Patch, which encourages units to follow the BSA’s SCOUTStrong recommendations to Drink Right, Move More and Snack Smart at meetings, events and excursions is available free to any unit that completes the 3-6-9 challenge.

The “6” in the challenge is “Make water the main beverage at 6 meetings,” which ties in perfectly to today’s discussion.

Read all about the Healthy Unit Patch here.

Video highlights HKOS partnership

At about 55 seconds into the video below, you’ll see staffers at Camp Norse in Massachusetts explain how they’ve benefited by making an effort to Drink Right, Move More, Snack Smart.

What do you think?

Does your unit serve sugar-sweetened beverages at meetings? How hard will it be to stop? Share your thoughts below.


Healthy Kids Out of School is an initiative of ChildObesity180 at Tufts University with regional funding in Maine, Massachusetts and New Hampshire from the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation.

Drinking fountain photo:  Some rights reserved by Indigo Skies Photography

65 Comments on Drink Right: Why now’s the time to replace soda and bug juice with water

  1. Tim Western // April 22, 2014 at 1:51 pm // Reply

    It’s funny, I remember HATING bug juice. It was either too sweet our too sour to be helpful with thirst. Even the rust tasting water from the water tower was preferred by many of us when I was a cubbie.

  2. As far as Campouts go. I think if the boys plan for it, and they have a balanced diet its fine. I only remember having lemonade, Tang, or kool aid on rare occassions during the day. Hot chocolate was the only beverage I drank at least once or twice a campout. (and it was a small cup)

  3. Mark Spears // April 22, 2014 at 2:24 pm // Reply

    Don’t get caught up in thinking that the choice is as simple as sugar-laden drinks vs pure water. There is a lot of choice between those two extremes. In some cases, I believe an in-between choice is better.

    Many of our scouts are not mature enough to heed our warnings about dehydration if they don’t like the choices they are given to hydrate with. A little flavor, even with little or no sugar, can make the difference between a great time, and going home sick. One of our Webelos had to leave summer camp with dehydration because he wouldn’t drink enough of the only thing his mom would let him have, pure water. If he had just been allowed to drink something else, he would have been fine.

    Extreme cold is another situation where it makes sense to let your beverage provide some calories. A high calorie hot chocolate can help stave off both dehydration AND cold.

    Don’t get me wrong. I hate the high-sugar drinks. Let’s just don’t let the pendulum swing too far and insist that pure water is the only path to Scouting enlightenment.

    • Wendy Scott // April 23, 2014 at 2:44 pm // Reply

      Agreed! The taste of the high-mineral water at our BRMC camps is a turn-off to a lot of Scouts and quite a few show signs of dehydration at summer camp. There are many sugar free flavor offerings that make the water more pleasant tasting.

  4. My only reluctance with this advice / direction is when scouts get overheated, they need drinks with sugar and salt – preferably with electrolytes too (read – sports drinks). But even sugary drinks like lemonade will help when overheated. However, I do agree these drinks should be limited to “overheated” cases, and not just general consumption (ie: cooler climates).

    • Yesterday's Scout // April 22, 2014 at 7:11 pm // Reply

      I am so glad someone pointed this out. Drinking only water can lead to dilution of electrolytes within the body and the possibility of fatal water intoxication. This is especially true when people are overheated and have already lost electrolytes via sweating. I always bring along “sports drinks” when camping or hiking. They were originally formulated for athletes who were losing electrolytes along with water as they perspired during workouts. I realize that it is politically correct to demonize sugar but sugar plus salt in the water is better than water alone.

  5. The boys think, “That’s all we’ve got.” And the next summer when they decide where they want to go, they think, “Let’s go to where we’ll have more choices.” I recommend not adding quite as much mix to the water as the directions say. Also, use Crystal Light or something like that — it doesn’t need to be sugary to taste good, plus it’ll be healthier. In fact, if there are any bees around, sugary drinks can be a problem because bees will try to crawl up the spout that the liquid is dispensed from.

    The problem with water is that you have to refresh it/add ice multiple times during the day because warmish water is nasty and nobody wants to drink it. You add a little flavoring to it and suddenly that non-cold liquid gets pretty tasty, which means you can put out drinks containers in the morning in the shade, then don’t have to change them until the afternoon after lunch, then they can continue to sit outside for the rest of the day until you go change them in the morning again. You can’t do that if you’re trying to serve straight water, you’re going to be spending a lot more time and wasting a fair amount of water.

  6. What about Powerade or Gatorade? There are low sugar varieties , they taste good and kids will drink it. Plus they both have electrolytes. Water does not.

    • Good point. If kids are running around all day in the sun (and sweating lots) and drinking lots of plain water all day, there’s a decent chance that at least someone will get hyponatremia and start getting splitting headaches.

    • Yesterday's Scout // April 22, 2014 at 7:12 pm // Reply

      Thank you.

  7. My daughter mentioned that at Girl Scout camp they had to drink two full glasses of water first then they were allowed to get bug juice. That goes along with what I talk about with my kids, if your thirsty drink water, drink sweet stuff for the taste and when you aren’t actually thirsty.

  8. A couple of years ago at summer camp I observed that they said “hydrate, hydrate, hydrate”… and then at meals gave us 6-ounce cups for our beverage, whatever it might have been. That’s a lot of trips to the water jug to get a decent amount of hydration.

    Also: beverages and snacks at troop meetings? Huh? Not counting Courts of Honor, we might have a treat for some reason a couple of times a year, but that’s it. Eat before you come, or after you go home, and if you want something to drink the water fountain is over there. In the last three or so years, I think there’s been maybe one request for snacks.

  9. Love the Drink Right, Move More, Snack Smart focus! We are a water family. My old school FIL, who was a doctor and an Eagle, subscribed to drinking plenty of water and eating a small handful of potato chips to keep from becoming dehydrated in the summer. How simple is that? No chemicals. No freaky colors. No fake sugar. Put the boys out in nature and give them natural foods with ingredients they can pronounce.

    • Yesterday's Scout // April 22, 2014 at 7:24 pm // Reply

      The potato chips provided starch (a long-chain of sugar molecules) and presumably salt. No chemicals, you say? Ingredients “they can pronounce”? Potato starch is (2R,3S,4S,5R,6R)-2-(hydroxymethyl)-6-[(2R,3S,4R,5R,6S)-4,5,6-trihydroxy-2-(hydroxymethyl)oxan-3-yl]oxyoxane-3,4,5-triol. Salt is sodium chloride. What is “fake sugar”? If it isn’t a short chained carbohydrate, it isn’t sugar.

      • My apologies for a lack of clarity. I understand that all things can be broken down to their scientific names which can be intimidating. My meaning was simply drinking plain water and a few chips made of potatoes and salt are simple foods, not highly processed filled with manmade dyes and additives. The “fake sugar” is a reference to the laboratory made aspartames and the like often found in low calorie drinks like Gatorade or Powerade. Thanks for the science lesson :)

        • That one guy // April 23, 2014 at 3:10 am //

          Gatorade and Powerade don’t contain aspartame. Even if they did, which they don’t, study after study has shown that there isn’t anything harmful in aspartame — the only exception is that if you feed animals a massive diet composed of empty calories mostly from aspartame, their brain chemistry changes. Hunh, as your whole body chemistry starts to change and become diabetic because all you’re getting are empty calories, it turns out that your brain is part of your body?

          Don’t be like the people who get upset that a vaccination includes something like aluminum phosphate or aluminum hydroxide when a) an adjuvant makes a vaccine better, so we don’t have to pump the baby with as much vaccine to get the same immunological response, and b) natural breast milk will provide more than twice as much aluminum salt as a baby will get from all its recommended vaccines in the first six months of life and it’s such a trivial amount that nobody cares, and breastfeeding is still pretty highly recommended by most doctors.

        • Yesterday's Scout // April 23, 2014 at 6:35 am //

          Thank you “That one guy”.

    • That one guy // April 22, 2014 at 8:47 pm // Reply

      We need to get over this hillbilly knee-jerk reaction that any “unpronounceable” chemical must be bad for a person. Once a person starts getting a basic scientific education, complex words suddenly start becoming much more pronounceable, and the reason such chemicals are included in food starts to become more clear.

      • Yesterday's Scout // April 23, 2014 at 6:39 am // Reply

        I don’t know whether science education has been “dumbed-down” or fewer and fewer people are choosing to study science but there is a real lack of knowledge among the general public.

      • “Give them foods with ingredients they can pronounce”

        Rather than removing, say, Cyanocobalamin or Niacinamide from your diet because you can’t pronounce them why not just learning how to pronounce them instead?

        • Yesterday's Scout // April 23, 2014 at 5:33 pm //

          Amen! We wouldn’t want them to be getting any cholecalciferol, pyridoxine hydrochloride, or ascorbic acid, now would we?

  10. joselepervanche // April 22, 2014 at 7:38 pm // Reply

    Reblogged this on Scouting Adventures.

  11. Skipper Tim Millar // April 22, 2014 at 9:24 pm // Reply

    Mike Riley is my Council Exec, and I’m very glad he made the decision to dump the bug juice. It’s a huge step I toward a healthier lifestyle for our scouts and leaders, and I hope it spreads nationwide. Way to go, Mike!

  12. We try to use walmart brand crystal light. when the kids shop that is when the coolaid starts showing up.

  13. Two years of Cub Scout Day Camp in Central Texas with many days over 100 degrees F.

    100% Water all the time.

    Our nurses had Gatorade available, but it wasn’t sitting out for the general population of campers.

    • Yesterday's Scout // April 23, 2014 at 6:29 am // Reply

      So the Cubs (or more likely their adult leaders) had to appeal to an authority figure (nurse) for permission to replace lost electrolytes? All to prove a political point?

  14. Good grief! Water is great, but eliminate Bug Juice . . . really? Why does every thing have to be so politicly correct? Scouting is about a lot of things, one of which is having fun. Let the kids drink Bug Juice if they want to. Drinking or not drinking Bug Juice at a once a month camp out is not going to make the difference in whether the Scout is obese or not. Healthy choices sometimes, not so healthy choices other times. Moderation.

  15. Yesterday's Scout // April 23, 2014 at 6:31 am // Reply

    This sounds like another one of those politically correct “great ideas” coming out of national the past few years. Who comes up with this stuff? And why?

    • Yesterday's Scout // April 23, 2014 at 6:34 am // Reply

      Always read the fine print:

      “Healthy Kids Out of School is an initiative of ChildObesity180 at Tufts University with regional funding in Maine, Massachusetts and New Hampshire from the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation.”

      And BSA jumped right on the bandwagon.

      • If you mean the BSA has jumped on the bandwagon when it comes to promoting healthy, responsible choices among young people, I’ll correct you only to say we’ve been on that bandwagon for a long time.

        • This gets tiresome. What’s next national hires Michelle Obama as Chief Nutritionist and bans all cobblers?

        • Yesterday's Scout // April 23, 2014 at 5:12 pm //

          No Bryan, I mean the politically correctness bandwagon. That’s a relatively recent one, Right now BSA is promoting something that very well could result in serious injury or even death – water intoxication and dilution of electrolytes. But I’m sure it appeals to a certain demographic.

  16. scouter9933 // April 23, 2014 at 6:51 am // Reply

    I run one of the Cub Scout Day Camps in our area and we offer water stations at every activity. The scouts and adults pack lunches, but we supply only water. We do have Gatorade and banana’s at our main first aid station – and we usually only have 1 scout that has a problem. Our biggest problem are adults – they will bring coffee or pop and not drink water and they are the ones who get dehydrated and sick. We have only ever offered water.

  17. Mike Brown // April 23, 2014 at 9:56 am // Reply

    “Michael said his council still sells candy and soda at the camp trading post, but now it’s offered alongside bottled water and fresh fruit.”

    Am I the only one who thinks it would have been better to provide a water fountain than to view this as an opportunity to sell bottles of what in many cases is just tap water wrapped in plastic?

    • Water fountains are stuck on the side of a building. Water bottles are portable.

      All camps have “free” water available (they have to have water available per the National BSA Camp Standards). You can fill up your bottle or cup at most faucets in any camp).

      The selling of bottled water simply provides the convenience of “grab-and-go.”

  18. Once again National knows best. Banning self made alcohol stoves .Running for cover at every instance of thunder. Thank you national but your recommendations come across all too often as preachy at best and downright politically correctness at worst. Lets take every thing sweet or slightly risky thing out of scouting and we will be left with a VERY safe and bland boring program.

  19. Nate Kidwell // April 23, 2014 at 2:17 pm // Reply

    That’s great. Water is a way healthier drink to drink for a week than soda or bug juice. Unfortunately many people don’t realize that soda actually dehydrates you; and bug juice can be pretty unhealthy too, depending on the bug juice.

    • Mark Spears // April 24, 2014 at 4:25 pm // Reply

      Nate, the myth about soda causing dehydration has been thoroughly debunked for years now. The Mayo Clinic, ABC News, several universities, have recently concluded that caffeine consumption (the component in SOME sodas thought to cause dehydration) does NOT contribute to dehydration.

      It may be true that soda doesn’t hydrate as well as water. But that is much different from saying that soda actually DE-hydrates. That’s a bogus claim with no scientific basis. That would mean that if you were dying from thirst in the desert and found a six-pack of Mountain Dew, you would be better off pouring it all on the ground than drinking it. I don’t think so!

      • Yesterday's Scout // April 25, 2014 at 3:24 pm // Reply

        Don’t try to use science to interfere with a good “PC” myth. They’re going to tell you how to like and by golly you’re going to like it! People are always talking about zombies but myths like this one rise from the dead more often than to the creatures of the night.

  20. Philip Avery // April 23, 2014 at 2:47 pm // Reply

    I also throw in, “A Scout is Thrifty.” Water is available from the tap and yes, contrary to hysteria local municipalities do not want to kill their taxpayers with fluoride. I go further and say, “A Scout is Clean” and “Leave no Trace.” Drinking water from a refillable Nalgene container generates no trash. I have had new patrols still influenced by their Cub Scout Parents show up at their first campout with individual juice containers with the little straws in their individual straw wrappers that blow everywhere and individual salty snack bags like they were at a grade school birthday party. That is when I send the Troop Guides in to teach them how to plan meals at $2 – $3 per scout per meal and generate as little trash as possible. Hot chocolate, soda, sweetened lemonade, etc are all good in limited moderation. If this trend continues, then Bryan on Scouting may also have a topic about banning Dutch oven cobbler. Kudos also to the chemists and other scientists posting on this topic.

    • Yesterday's Scout // April 23, 2014 at 5:15 pm // Reply

      Don’t give them any ideas.

  21. Yesterday's Scout // April 23, 2014 at 5:27 pm // Reply

    Anyone want to guess what’s an inexpensive and easily prepared remedy for the potentially fatal infant dehydration that occurs in Third World countries? No? Six teaspoons of sugar and a half teaspoon of salt in about a quart (one liter) of water.

  22. Ok, so the phrase “political correctness” (or some variation thereof) has been thrown around 6+ times in the comments here… and they all make it seem like the BSA attempting to be more “politically correct” is a bad thing!

    Firstly, political correctness refers to ideas or acts that attempt to address some kind of discrimination (whether perceived or actual) against an alienation or disadvantaged group of people purely for political purposes. I’m not really sure how replacing sugary drinks with water is an act of political correctness. Is the water industry a disadvantaged group that the BSA is trying to gain favor with by making such a stand against sugary drinks? Are they trying to appease a health-crazed nation (or just people who want to keep themselves physically strong) by promoting and modeling healthier habits through their programs? Is taking away bug juice ruining the fun or methods of Scouting? But whatever.

    The term “politically correct” is often used as a pejorative term by conservatives for any attempts to promote multiculturalism and more inclusive language, actions and ideals by the left. But being “politically correct” is the Scout-like thing to do. Scouts should always be friendly, courteous and kind… and they should respect the beliefs of others (i.e. being “reverent”). So being “politically correct” (i.e. using phrases like “Native American”, “police officer” or “happy holidays” instead of saying “Indian”, “policeman” or “Merry Christmas”) isn’t a bad thing, it’s being respectful and is very Scout-like.

    • I only have one thing to say to you I wish you an early MERRY CHISTMAS!!!!

      • Jim R, where did you get your definition of “political correctness?” Wow!

      • I hope you have a happy Ramadan!

        • Yesterday's Scout // April 25, 2014 at 3:21 pm //

          I do. I eat during the daylight hours making sure to consume plenty of haram foods.

    • Yesterday's Scout // April 25, 2014 at 3:15 pm // Reply

      Recently BSA made another decision that may well force me to allow my sons to associate with people certain aspects of whose behavior violates my belief in “morally straight” but that’s okay, right? Not at all disrespectful to me and the way I am trying to raise my sons.

      • You know, years ago the BSA made a decision that forced me to allow my Christian sons to associate with people (such as Jews and Muslims) whose behavior violates my belief in “duty to God” but that’s okay, right? Not at all disrespectful to me and the way I am trying to raise my sons (to know that accepting Jesus Christ is the only true way to salvation).

        • Yesterday's Scout // April 25, 2014 at 3:40 pm //

          Nice try, but Christianity, Judaism, and Islam are all pretty much in agreement when it comes to what used to called “morally straight”.

        • Yesterday’s Scout – Christianity, Judaism, and Islam are not all in agreement when it comes to what you refer to as “morally straight.” I am Christian and the reverend of my congregation is a homosexual (I would say his morals are straight and true…he’s morally straight, even if he doesn’t fit the outdated term of sexually “straight” people use to describe heterosexuality). We held a same-sex wedding in the church on Saturday and have many LGBT members of our congregations. Our congregation charters a BSA troop (of which I am the Scoutmaster) but the BSA made a decision that forces us to not allow members of our congregation to participate in the program (the reverend of the church can’t even be the charter organization representative!)

        • Yesterday's Scout // May 4, 2014 at 3:17 am //

          The Scriptures are clear on this point. It is modern fashion to ignore the Scriptures; the Scriptures are not “outdated”. In fact, they predict the great falling away and acceptance of wrong as right that is going on in our world today. You know, the passages about how many false teachings would be put forth and accepted as right. I could give you references but you’d only tell the that the words don’t really mean what they say. I geuss we’ll see on Judgement Day.

    • Yesterday's Scout // April 25, 2014 at 3:32 pm // Reply

      You seem to be implying that it is “Scout-like” to be a political liberal. Where in BSA literature does it say that our political beliefs will be dictated to us?

      And you do realize, don’t you, that it is the bottled water industry (in part) that is behind at least some of the propaganda being presented as fact?

    • I think you have demonstrated that the vast majority of people believe that political correctness is a bad thing.

  23. Another definition of political correctness is taking “under God ” out of the Pledge. We might offend somebody.

    • A Scout is reverent, he respect the beliefs of others. Forcing someone to say something that they don’t believe in isn’t Scout-like and is un-American!

      • Yesterday's Scout // April 25, 2014 at 3:19 pm // Reply

        I think that may be next on National’s agenda. I once challenged a high ranking BSA professional that this was next and he insisted it was not, that “Duty to God’ was part and parcel of BSA. But so was “morally straight” for decades. Then something happened….

    • Jeff Traviss wrote:
      “Another definition of political correctness is taking “under God ” out of the Pledge. We might offend somebody.”

      You are 100% right, Jeff. It might offend somebody. And shouldn’t we, as Scouts, be striving not to offend people? Shouldn’t we be courteous, kind, and reverent here?

      We should be politically correct (I’m not sure why you and others keep painting politically correctness as a bad thing or a “liberal” thing). The BSA should be politically correct not just to appease people and gain relevance (and membership) in 2014 America but they should be politically correct on this issues because it’s the ethically right thing to do.

      Just because you celebrate Christmas and worship the God of Abraham, doesn’t mean we all do. So saying “Merry Christmas” or “under God” doesn’t work for all of us. Scouts should be inclusive and tolerant people.

      • You ought to read Ben Stein’ s book about The whole Merry Christmas thing . Ben is a Jew who is not offended by Merry Christmas. just as as I am not offended by Happy Hanukah . We are becoming a nation of easily offended people and in my opinion a nation of woosies if we continue this path of never speaking a word as we might offend. In your opinion wishing a stranger Merry Christmas is not Scout Like . Give me a break . I bet you drive a Prius and have a Coexist sticker on the bumper to boot.

  24. Cynthia Reneke // April 25, 2014 at 8:52 am // Reply

    This conversation seems to have digressed rather quickly to be about political correctness, etc. My son is a scout in Florida, so we contend with the heat and potential dehydration for much of the year, particularly at summer camp. I think if a scout drinks water as a regular matter of course, it is all that is necessary for maintaining hydration. There are times when they are more active and aren’t hurt (and perhaps even benefit) by using sports drinks to help rehydrate their bodies, but I think there isn’t much benefit from the over consumption of sugar and calories. I support the reduction of high-calorie, high-sugar drinks as a general philosophy, but I do not think it should become a mandate. My son probably consumes more sodas at summer camp then he ever has access to at home, but I figure that is part of the fun about going away to camp.

  25. Gary Holewinski // April 25, 2014 at 9:51 am // Reply

    And no cake on your birthday either? As a troop almost all of our outings provide water, not pop, not juice, not power drinks, just water so I’m OK with having bug juice at camp. It’s not an all or nothing,

    • Yesterday's Scout // April 25, 2014 at 3:16 pm // Reply

      Again, don’t give them any ideas.

  26. having served on medical subcamp staff at eight national Scout Jamborees at Ft. A.P. Hill and on staff and a crew advisor for three World Jamborees all of which experienced very high heat index days, dehydration, and heat exhaustion were very prevalent among Scouts, Venturers and leaders. This was largely due to a changed environment with no air conditioning for nearly two weeks. Participants and staff who were not used to such temperature extremes coupled with high exertion caused by hiking miles each day and participating in strenuous physical activities resulted in many experiencing dehydration or even heat exhaustion..

    The concept of lessening consumption of commercial food and beverages with high fructose corn syrup sugars is commendable, but it has to be considered in the context of greater needs to ensure that participants are hydrating properly. Most people are chronically dehydrated in their day to day lives. Moreover, chronic dehydration is related to inappropriate brain function which affects judgement. Many of the elderly who suffer from dementia are also chronically dehydrated and when rehydrated, their mentation often improves to near normal levels.

    A good indication is the Philmont test for appropriate hydration which is urine color. The ideal color of urine should be clear to light yellow. Dark amber colored urine output which is low volume and infrequent means that the body is conserving fluids and concentrating waste products. Clear, frequent and copious urine output indicates adequate hydration.

    The new Scout Fieldbook 2014; edition has an excellent discussion of proper oral hydration and recognizing signs and symptoms of dehydration.

    . a Scout camp and a Jamboree are quite different than the day to day typical environment of the average Scout or Venturer or adult leaders who participate in such events. Clearly dehydration is a far greater risk than consumption of sugared drinks during such short periods. that these events occur in.

    A renowned Eagle Scout physician and professor of pediatrics [ who also served on national and world Scout Jamboree medical staffs] and I collaborated to write a document on appropriate hydration methods for participants at Scouting events including National and World Jamborees, and the document was used by BSA health and safety when briefing Scouts, Venturers and leaders on appropriate hydration methodologies at such events. Here are the conclusions of that document:

    1. youth and adults are more likely to drink flavored sports drinks than water due to unpleasant tastes caused by water treatment processes [e.g., chlorination or iodine treatments]. which are further amplified by tepid water. Consequently, subcamps and medical centers provided substantial availability of iced cold gatorade for youth and adults. which they drank in large qauantities with resultant lessening of dehydration and heat exhaustion cases.

    Signs of dehydration may include, the abnormal urine output noted above, lack of perspiration, fatigue even after a good night’s sleep, grouchiness and irritability,
    muscle aches and cramps, nausea, dizziness and lack of coordination.

    Profound dehydration and heat exhaustion at previous jamborees had resulted in sending many youth and adults to the military hospital for intravenous injections of electrolyte solutions to restore sufficient fluids to patients who were so lethargic and drowsy as to be unable to drink fluids by themselves. It is never appropriate to attempt to give semiconscious or unconscious patients fluids or food for fear of causing aspiration pneumonia which is often fatal.

    2. Water delivery systems for youth and adults are best served by “camel back [tm]”
    water bladder devices with mouth tubes that are clipped to clothing near the mouth. and carried on a small pack or in a regular backpack. This permits and encourages youth and adults to sip fluids frequently without stopping and pulling out a water bottle and drinking larger quantities at a given time. Consuming large amounts of fluids at one time may result in nausea and electrolyte imbalances.

    3. It was recommended that consumption of fluids be equivalent to about 12 fluid ounces of fluid per hour[ equivalent to a can of soda] depending on heat index and exertion levels. Higher volumes are recommended in more severe conditions.

    4. It should be noted that sports drinks use a monosaccharide or simple sugar in the form of glucose which is directly absorbed directly via the digestive system and metabolized by muscle for energy..Sports drinks were originally developed based on considerable research of athletes at a Florida University who were suffering from frequent dehydration and muscle cramps during high heat index weather and athletic practices.

    5.. See the Gatorade Institute website for research studies showing the value of sports drinks with glucose and electrolytes in enhancing performance and replacing electrolytes lost through exertion and sweating

    .http://www.gssiweb.org/

    6.. Documented cases of hypernatremia have occurred where Scouts only consumed water and no sports drinks. . This condition resulted in loss of excess potassium and sodium and thus an iimbalance in those electrolytes in the circulatory system which can result in heart disrrhymias or irregular heart function that can result in sudden cardiac arrest and death, This occurred with several Scouts in a high heat trek in Arizona some years ago and one Scout died from the lack of electroliytes even though he had been drinking large amounts of plain water.

    7. High fructose corn syrup on the other hand, used in most sugared beverages such as soda, artificial fruit drinks and many foods such as ice cream, candy bars, pastries, etc. is a complex polysaccharide which is metabolized differently and is thought to contribute to chronic elevated triglycerides [blood fats] that are associated with heart and blood vessel disease and a major contributor of morbid obesity among youth and adults. The excess consumption of this product in so many foods is also believed to be responsible for the epidemic of type 2 diabetes among youth and adults that is occurring throughout the nation. Moreover, a commensurate lack of physical exercise on a daily basis contributes substantially to obesity and metabolic diseases such as diabetes type 2.

    8. Moderate consumption of sugared drinks so as sodas, fruit juices, as well as coffee, tea and other comfort beverages are acceptable so long as adequate hydration with sports drinks and water is keeping the hydration levels at adequate levels as measured by the urine color and output evaluation as noted above. It is far more important to maintain adequate hydration than to be overly concerned about restricting fluids unless they are only water, as this may actually result in dehydration due to a reluctance to drink water than has an unpleasant taste.

    10. A larger impetus should be placed on promoting year-around healthy eating habits that limit consumption of so called “fast foods” with high fructose corn syrup as well as , saturated fats, in favor of wholesome fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, lean meats, and adequate hydration with water and sports drinks. . .

    11. Another concern is so called “energy drinks”. It is estimated that 47 percent of all commercial beverage sales in the nation are for energy drinks. Moreover, it is estimated that 24 percent of those sales are to teenagers and young adults. These beverages have a high caffeine and taurine formula that may result in rapid heart rate, elevated blood pressure and have been known to cause seizures in some individuals. Emotional or behavioral abnormalities may also result from consuming such products especially when mixed with alcohol consumption. While not prohibited by BSA health and safety, energy drinks are not recommended for youth or adults on Scouting activities. See BSA health and safety newsletter

    http://www.scouting.org/filestore/HealthSafety/pdf/FallWinter2013Newsletter.pdf

    • Excellent, well written, and very informative Dean! I hope Scout Executive Michael Riley and National read this and heed your advice. Thank you for taking the time to document this issue, and thank you for all of the time that you have given to Scouts and Scouting,

  27. Some of the comments on this thread linking a so-called “politically correct” conspiracy against bug juice with Scouting’s position on equality remind me of this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iAHJCPoWCC8&sns=em

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