USA TODAY -- The quadrennial Boy Scout Jamboree opened Monday at a sprawling new site in the West Virginia mountains, with one big omission: Scouts who are dangerously overweight.
Scout leaders designed the 10-day wilderness gathering in the New River Gorge region to be the most physically demanding since the first Jamboree, a camp-out held around the Washington Monument in 1937.
To be eligible for this year's mass gathering, tens of thousands of Scouts (and their leaders) had to meet standards for Body Mass Index and other health factors. Scouts whose BMI was 40 or above were banned from the 10,600-acre Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve, while those between 32 and 39.9 had to submit medical information to be approved.
"We required a level of fitness in order to come to the Jamboree that we haven't required before," Dan McCarthy, director of the BSA's Summit Group, told the Associated Press. "And that has motivated an enormous return in terms of both kids and adults getting serious about improving their health."
Scouts will be tested by such "high-adventure activities" as kayaking, rock-climbing, bouldering, skateboarding, mountain biking, BMX riding, gliding, a 3-mile hike uphill and a 3,000-foot-long zip line.
"Teaching Scouts and Scouters how to live a sustainable life, which includes a healthy lifestyle, and the health of our participants are important goals of the jamboree. We published our height-weight requirements years in advance and many individuals began a health regimen to lose weight and attend the jamboree. But, for those who couldn't, most self-selected and chose not to apply," Scout spokesman Deron Smith told ABC News.
The Scouts did not provide an estimate of the number of youths who were excluded.
Someone is considered morbidly obese if he or she is 100 pounds over his or her ideal body weight and has a BMI of 40 or more, or 35 and above if the person has high blood pressure, diabetes or other obesity-related conditions.
From 1981 to 2010, the Jamboree was held once every four years on part of the Army post at Fort A.P. Hill, Va., which was flatter and more constricting than the new West Virginia site, the Jamboree's permanent home.
An estimated 30,000 Scouts and Venturers, plus 7,000 staff and adult leaders, are expected to attend, along with about 50,000 visitors.
This year marks the first time that girls - from the Venturing program - will be part of the Jamboree.