I am on the National Executive Board of
the Boy Scouts of America. I’m also leading a task force for the
Boy Scouts on the prevention of childhood obesity. We are finding that many of our children
and adults fall into a category of obesity, which is not healthy. We first
started thinking through some interventions that we could do during
the troop time and in true community-engaged fashion — when we
approached to the council executive here at the Pennsylvania Dutch Council — they
asked us to start doing some work in camp. Not only are we trying to fight
childhood obesity, but we’re also trying to make an impression for these boys to
make better choices the rest of their lives. Through the Scout oath and law
we talk about Scouts being physically strong and mentally awake and you can’t
do that without your Scouts feeling well, resting well, hydrating well, and eating
well — and we need to keep that going through our camping program. So, the role that
Penn State PRO Wellness has played with the Boy Scouts of America, and healthy
modifications at camp, was really to come in and to look at the current camp menus
and try to make them more healthful. We wanted to keep it child-friendly. So, we
made very small modifications that really do amount to a big impact. We
introduced some whole grains, some positioning of our salad bar, extra
vegetables available, and just kind of introduced healthier options in
the dining hall. The Trading Post was an interesting dynamic because that’s
obviously a source of revenue for us and we’re a nonprofit organization. So,
no, you don’t necessarily want to make all this money on unhealthy food, but
at the same time we have a bottom line that we need to to look after. It wasn’t
just enough for us to bring in healthier options and expect them to sell. So, we
incorporated principles of food psychology and price point advantage to
encourage sales. And we found afterwards, through the statistics and evaluation,
that our trading post sales actually went up when we introduced healthier
options — which was a nice surprise. Penn State donated all these pedometers for
each child, and each leader, and each staff member that came to camp, and
kids use the pedometers to track their steps. They were encouraged to get as
many steps as they could each day. The winning troop for that day was able to
visit the dining hall line first, which was really cool because we had leaders
saying that they saw Scouts doing extra steps in their campsite. For
us, if a Scout sets a goal, wants to attain a goal, and is positively affected
with taking a few extra steps, we don’t see how that’s a bad thing. The biggest
thing that I noticed was that when working with the Penn State people that
they were able to really work with us, collaborate with us… There’s an
opportunity for a dialogue to be able to say “well, here’s what we face in
camp and here’s the the changes that you want to make how can we make those work
together.” So, it’s kind of a win-win situation. Working with Penn State was a
really great opportunity. I think it was a unique opportunity for us to bring in
somebody who is an expert on healthy matters, trying to make a difference in
the lives of the boys and the lives of the leaders. I would fully encourage it
because I really hope that you you want to make a positive impact at your camp
and really live the Scout Oath and Law and making sure our kids have healthy
options when they come to camp.