New Boy Scout requirements put more emphasis on physical fitness

It’s right there in the Scout Oath: “… to keep myself physically strong … ”

Starting next year, Boy Scouts will be required to do just that if they want to advance through Scouting’s ranks.

New Boy Scout requirements that take effect on Jan. 1, 2016, put a greater emphasis on Scouts being physically active. There are new requirements at Tenderfoot, Second Class and First Class that require Scouts to do what they love to do: move around a lot. The Personal Fitness merit badge, meanwhile, remains a requirement to earn the Eagle Scout rank.

Why the new focus on physical activity? Because childhood obesity is a real thing. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the percentage of adolescents age 12 to 19 (read: Boy Scout age) who were obese increased from 5 percent in 1980 to nearly 21 percent in 2012. This is the BSA doing its part.

To earn Tenderfoot in 2016 and beyond, Scouts must show improvement in their time walking or running one mile. That’s up from one-quarter mile in the previous requirements. Scouts don’t need to be Roger Bannister to check this one off. They need only show improvement of any degree in their one-mile time after 30 days; “improvement” could be a single second.

Pullups, an especially tough requirement for many Scouts, even those in great physical shape, have been dropped from the requirements altogether. (Sam Bennett, an exciting young player for the NHL’s Calgary Flames, famously couldn’t do a single pull-up in the NHL draft combine.) See more about this change below.

To earn both the Second Class and First Class ranks in 2016 and beyond, Scouts will be required to be physically active at least 30 minutes a day for five days a week. They need to do that for four weeks and keep track of their activities.

Take a look at the full requirements below. You’ll notice that most Scouts in active troops will have no trouble with this new way of keeping themselves physically strong in 2016 and beyond.

This is the latest in a series of posts where I take an in-depth look at changes coming to Boy Scouting next year.

I’ve already blogged about the number of camping nights and service hours increasing, Scout becoming its own rank and Boy Scouts telling about their duty to God at each rank. You can read more about changes to Boy Scouting (and, for that matter, Cub Scouting and Venturing, on the Program Updates page.)

Tenderfoot: New fitness requirements (effective Jan. 1, 2016)

6a. Record your best in the following tests:

  • Pushups ________ (Record the number done correctly in 60 seconds.)
  • Situps or curl-ups ________ (Record the number done correctly in 60 seconds.)
  • Back-saver sit-and-reach (Record the distance stretched.)
  • 1-mile walk/run _____________ (Record the time.)

6b. Develop and describe a plan for improvement in each of the activities listed in Tenderfoot requirement 6a. Keep track of your activity for at least 30 days.

6c. Show improvement (of any degree) in each activity listed in Tenderfoot requirement 6a after practicing for 30 days.

  • Pushups ________ (Record the number done correctly in 60 seconds.)
  • Situps or curl-ups ________ (Record the number done correctly in 60 seconds.)
  • Back-saver sit-and-reach (Record the distance stretched.)
  • 1-mile walk/run _____________ (Record the time.)

Tenderfoot: Old fitness requirements

Show improvement in the activities listed in requirement 10a after practicing for 30 days.

  • Pushups ________
  • Pullups ________
  • Situps ________
  • Standing long jump (______ ft. ______ in.)
  • 1⁄4-mile walk/run _____________

Record your best in the following tests:

  • Pushups ________
  • Pullups ________
  • Situps ________
  • Standing long jump (______ ft. ______ in.)
  • 1⁄4-mile walk/run _____________

Second Class: New fitness requirements (effective Jan. 1, 2016)

Note: Completely new requirement, so there isn’t a comparable “old” requirement.

7a. After completing Tenderfoot requirement 6c, be physically active at least 30 minutes each day for five days a week for four weeks. Keep track of your activities.

7b. Share your challenges and successes in completing Second Class requirement 7a. Set a goal for continuing to include physical activity as part of your daily life
and develop a plan for doing so.

First Class: New fitness requirements (effective Jan. 1, 2016)

Note: Completely new requirement, so there isn’t a comparable “old” requirement.

8a. After completing Second Class requirement 7a, be physically active at least 30 minutes each day for five days a week for four weeks. Keep track of your activities.

8b. Share your challenges and successes in completing First Class requirement 8a. Set a goal for continuing to include physical activity as part of your daily life.

Why were pullups dropped?

From the BSA’s FAQs:

While some of the physical fitness elements are more challenging in the new requirements — such as the one-mile walk/run compared to the old quarter-mile — this change is intended to ease up on our expectations of the Scout. Pull-ups are difficult and have been a frustration in the past for some Scouts trying to earn Tenderfoot. Sometimes even very fit people are unable to succeed with pull-ups. The expectation is that a regular physical fitness program in the ranks will improve overall fitness. Pullups might still be part of a troop program, whether in the SCOUTStrong program, working toward the Presidential Active Lifestyle Award (PALA) or the Climbing merit badge, or just overall fitness.

Where can I learn more?

On the BSA’s Program Updates page and in this PDF.