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Boy Scouts Get SCOUTStrong to Earn their PALA

Some of my best memories are of time spent over the years exploring the wilderness with my son, Nate, a Boy Scout since the age of 7. With Nate off to college now, it is exciting for me to continue my role with the Boy Scouts as a volunteer and Scout leader. Last Thursday, I had the opportunity to join the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) in San Antonio, Texas at its annual Top Hands Conference of Scouting professionals. There, they announced a new healthy-living initiative, SCOUTStrong, and a partnership with the President’s Challenge, the premier program of the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition (PCFSN).

This year, the BSA created SCOUTStrong, a Scout-specific Presidential Active Lifestyle Award(PALA) challenge. In keeping with PCFSN’s mission to empower all Americans to lead active, healthy lifestyles the BSA helps provide wonderful opportunities for youth to be active outdoors and learn some important life skills and lessons. Over the next three years, the BSA aims to have 500,000 Scouts earn their SCOUTStrong PALA by being active 60 minutes a day, five days a week for six weeks. Adults need to be active 30 minutes a day, five days a week, for six weeks. Each BSA local council will have its own PALA group to help them achieve their goal of earning a special SCOUTStrong PALA Challenge patch. 

I’m proud to say my Troop 123 of the Northern Lights Council, Frontier Trails District is one of the first troops in the country to participate in the SCOUTStrong challenge! While the primary goal is to foster healthy habits among youth members, the BSA is asking adult leaders, staff, families, and alumni to walk the walk by earning their SCOUTStrong PALA, too. At the Top Hands Conference, PCFSN Executive Director Shellie Pfohl awarded 12 Boy Scouts adult leaders, including myself and Chief Scout Executive Bob Mazzuca, with PALA patches. 

As a father, pediatrician, Scout leader, and PCFSN member, it is a dream come true to have the BSA partner with the President’s Challenge to support the First Lady’s Let’s Move! initiative, and ensure that youth live healthier lifestyles and set an important example for their peers.