ACCORDING TO THE U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 17 percent of American kids and 35 percent of American adults are obese, putting them at increased risk for heart disease, diabetes and a host of other health problems. The main causes, of course, are too little exercise and too much food. Studies show only a third of kids are physically active each day, while a fourth of young kids eat fast food daily. The BSA is helping to fight the obesity epidemic with the SCOUTStrong PALA Challenge.
WHAT IS THE SCOUTSTRONG PALA CHALLENGE? The Presidential Active Lifestyle Award is a program of the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition. The SCOUTStrong PALA Challenge is a Scouting-specific version of the award.
WHAT IS THE PROGRAM’S GOAL? To motivate participants to be physically active on a regular basis by encouraging them to participate in activities they enjoy, while also improving their eating habits.
WHO CAN PARTICIPATE? The SCOUTStrong PALA Challenge is open to Scouts and Scout leaders of all ages, as well as parents, siblings, BSA alumni and friends of Scouting.
WHAT IS THE ACTIVITY REQUIREMENT? For at least five days a week during a six-week period, participants must meet an activity goal of 30 minutes a day for adults and 60 minutes a day for kids from 6 to 17 years of age. Participants can take up to eight weeks to complete the program, allowing them a margin for error if they fall short once or twice.
WHAT ACTIVITIES COUNT? Participants can count more than 100 indoor and outdoor activities, including walking, gardening, canoeing, water aerobics and more. The key is to engage major muscle groups at a moderate to vigorous activity level. Activities do not have to be Scouting-related.
DO THE ACTIVITIES HAVE TO BE DONE CONTINUOUSLY? No. A Scout could count the 15 minutes he walks to school, a half-hour recess and the 15 minutes he walks home.
WHAT IS THE NUTRITION REQUIREMENT? Participants choose a healthy eating goal to focus on each week, such as eating smaller portions or drinking water instead of sugary drinks. They add a new goal each week.
HOW CAN I TRACK MY PROGRESS? The program relies on self-reporting. There are two options: You can download a paper activity log, or you can use the free online activity tracker. (Scouts should get their parent’s permission before going online.) The online option lets you create a group and see how your performance stacks up against other people in your group.
HOW DO I GET STARTED? Visit the SCOUTStrong PALA website at scouting.org/SCOUTStrongPALA, choose your state and council, and then click “Start your PALA Challenge!”
WHAT RECOGNITION ITEMS ARE AVAILABLE? Purchase a SCOUTStrong PALA Challenge patch (No. 614207) from scoutstuff.org. A free downloadable certificate is available from the SCOUTStrong PALA website, scouting.org/SCOUTStrongPALA. Other items, such as T-shirts, are available from the President’s Challenge website, fitness.gov.
FIND ANSWERS to your award and advancement questions in our FAQs section at scoutingmagazine.org/faq.