Presidential Active Lifestyle Award (PALA) Challenge

Submitted by Dr. Stephen McDonough

“To keep myself physically strong” has been part of the oath that Boy Scouts have followed for more than 100 years. Even with fitness and wellness already one of its aims, the Boy Scouts of America has made a formal commitment to do more to address the major health concerns facing today’s youth. In August, the organization launched SCOUTStrong.

SCOUTStrong was kicked off by announcing a collaboration with the President’s Challenge, the premier program of the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition, resulting in a Scout-specific Presidential Active Lifestyle Award (PALA) Challenge. The BSA hopes more than 500,000 youth will achieve the SCOUTStrong PALA by 2013, the year of the BSA’s next national Scout jamboree.

Scouting parents and volunteers can participate in the PALA Challenge with Scouts. Scouts under age 18 earn the PALA by exercising 60 minutes a day for five days a week for six out of eight weeks. Adults earn the PALA by exercising 30 minutes a day for five days a week for six out of eight weeks. There is no cost to participate in PALA.

Scouts, parents, and volunteers can improve their fitness by earning the SCOUTStrong PALA Challenge award, which is now available in Scout shops. Family members can do this together. The motto for SCOUTStrong is, “Fit, Fuel, Fun,” emphasizing physical fitness, good nutrition, and having fun. You can participate or find more information here.

I was honored by the Boy Scouts of America to be one of 16 Scout leaders who earned their PALAs this past summer. I have also worked with Troop 123, Frontier Trails District, Northern Lights Council, on the PALA offered by the President’s Challenge. The Scouts and parents of Troop 123 were very positive about fitness and logging their activities. The Scouts were active in summer camp, at Philmont, and with bicycling and backpacking. They are now working toward their SCOUTStrong PALA Challenge awards.

The Boy Scouts of America is to be commended for its efforts to improve fitness and nutrition for parents and volunteers—in addition to the Scouts. The first lady’s efforts and the President’s Council’s resources are a perfect fit for BSA councils, districts, and units in achieving their Journey to Excellence goals in health.

I have been involved with Scouting for 11 years and have participated on three high adventures with Scouts. I have also served on the President’s Council since my appointment by President Barack Obama last year. It is a dream come true for me to see the BSA, the President’s Council, and the first lady’s Let’s Move! initiative work together to improve our country’s fitness and nutrition.

About Dr. Stephen McDonough: Pediatrician, Bismarck, North Dakota; Troop 123 and district committee, Frontier Trails District, Northern Lights Council; Health and Safety Committee, Boy Scouts of America; President s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition.