Scouting gets a good checkup from U.S. Surgeon General

To hear U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy tell it, the BSA is right on track when it comes to promoting health among its members.

BSA initiatives on the responsible use of medicine, on physical activity and on nutrition are in lock-step alignment with what the Office of the Surgeon General deems most important for public health, especially among young people.

A group of 10 youth representatives presented the BSA’s Report to the Nation to Murthy on Tuesday in Washington. After that, instead of only taking questions, Murthy asked some as well.

“Who taught you about how to use over-the-counter medications properly?” he asked.

“For me, it was my parents,” said Hunter Jones, the Order of the Arrow National Chief who wants to be a doctor some day.

“Did any of you learn from folks other than your parents?” Murthy asked.

“Uh, the instruction label,” joked Eagle Scout Dan Ta.

“That’s what it’s there for, but it’s surprising, most people don’t read those labels,” Murthy said. “So good for you.”

Murthy praised the BSA for its SCOUTStrong BeMedwise Award, introduced last year. Scouts and Venturers who earn the award learn about the danger of misusing medicines by not following the directions on the label.


Physical activity

“The recommendation right now is that young people, like yourself, get at least 60 minutes of active physical activity each day. How do each of you get that 60 minutes a day?” Murthy asked.

N’Jhari Jackson is on a football team. Cynthia Garcia plays lacrosse. Matt Moniz climbs and skis. Sean Nichols plays wheelchair basketball.

Murthy was impressed, and again the BSA is right there to do its part by offering the SCOUTStrong Healthy Unit Award.



“All of you know that food is a really important building block for our bodies,” Murthy said, moving on to his final topic. “Tell me a little about what you guys are doing to make sure that you are eating a healthy diet.”

Jones, a student at the University of Tennessee, was the first to respond.

“For me being a college student, it’s not always the easiest thing,” he said. “You want to stay away from the ramen noodles as much as possible.”

The goal should be at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day, Murthy said.

“It sounds like it’s not that many, but the truth is a lot of people in America don’t even get five,” he said. “Some people only get one or two.”

Once again, score one for the BSA, which has revamped the Eagle-required Cooking merit badge to focus more on nutrition.

2015 Report to the Nation

Read more coverage from the 2015 Report to the Nation, happening Feb. 27 to March 3, 2016, right here. And see more photos here.

Photos by Michael Roytek and Randy Piland.

About Bryan Wendell 3282 Articles
Bryan Wendell, an Eagle Scout, is the founder of Bryan on Scouting and a contributing writer.