The Scout’s mother, who spent months raising thousands of pounds to attend the World Scout Jamboree in South Korea, said the event was “obviously not safe”.
told the 45-year-old, who did not wish to be named The Independent Her 16-year-old daughter managed to amass nearly £3,500 over the course of 18 months of hard work. Among other fundraising efforts, the 16-year-old, with the help of the rest of her family, sold baked goods, washed cars and wrote to her local parish council asking for sponsorship.
However, her predictions turned out to be far from catastrophic reality — a “perfect storm” of failures, including a lack of food and medical facilities, “filthy” toilets and showers, and an “infestation” of mosquitoes that caused “severe” bites, her mother said.
Scouts, from the East Midlands, said her mother was “really excited” to travel to South Korea to be with over 40,000 Scouts from over 150 countries. “She’s very outgoing and was really keen to meet other Scouts from all over the world.”
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But the 45-year-old said the event set a headache once her daughter’s flight landed. The youths and volunteers were forced to spend an extra night at a hotel in the capital, Seoul, because they were told the camp site at Saemangeum was. not ready for them.
The group was finally moved to the site last Wednesday, the day South Korea also raised its hot weather warning to the highest “dangerous” level for the first time in four years. Hundreds of camp participants developed heat-related illnesses over the following days amid temperatures of 38 degrees Celsius.
Scout’s mother said, “A lot has been made about the reasons behind the failure due to the heatwave, but in reality this was just the last part of the perfect storm. I don’t think the site got any worse, it was bad at first.”
She spoke of the lack of adequate medical facilities and food being “scarce”, with young people eating a mere roll of bread for lunch and those with dietary requirements “suffering because they had nothing”. She said the only fresh water available was warm and a 15 minute walk in the hot sun.
The toilets were described as “dirty”, with no soap available for those present to wash their hands, while the bathrooms were flooded and dirty. “The site was also infested with mosquitoes and other insects, and many of the scouts suffered severe bites,” she said, adding that the ground was flooded, forcing the scouts to pitch their tents on pallets.
“The Scouts tried to be positive because the captains were promised things would get better,” said the 45-year-old. “But my daughter went from corresponding with me every day in Seoul, excited about what they were doing, to being very frustrated that there was nothing to do.” She talked about how all outdoor activities had been canceled due to the high temperatures, for which the organizers were criticized by parents and the public alike for not anticipating them.
Then, when hundreds of children fell ill, the South Korean government initially insisted the event was safe enough to go ahead. The authorities channeled resources into maintaining the camp’s continuity, adding medical staff, air-conditioned buses, military awning structures, and hundreds of workers to maintain bathrooms and showers. Provincial governor Kim Kwan-young later apologized on Sunday for not preparing well.
Just three days after camp kicked off, Scouts UK pulled more than 4,000 people from the event on Friday. Company chief executive Matt Hyde later said the decision was made due to “extreme” health and safety concerns following concerns about high temperatures as well as issues with food and a lack of hygiene.
East Midlands Scott left the camp site with her unit on Saturday and flew back to Seoul, her mother said, where she had to sleep on the floor of a hotel conference room because there were initially not enough rooms available. The 16-year-old was provided with a room on Sunday, where she will stay and continue camp activities until she gets home to the UK on her original finish date of 13 August.
The teen’s mother described the withdrawal as a “real shame”, especially given the juvenile’s age limits. As it happens every four years for Scouts between the ages of 14 and 18, this was really her daughter’s only chance to attend camp.
But, despite her ‘disappointment’, the 46-year-old said: ‘I fully support the decision for Scouts in the UK to leave camp as there were clearly significant safety concerns. I think there are questions to be answered as to how they were able to Scouts from going to camp on a Wednesday when it was clearly not safe.”
when approached The Independent On the criticism of the camp, the World Organization of the Scout Movement shared the following statement.
Ahmad Alhendawi, Secretary General of the World Organization of the Scout Movement, said: “Nearly 40,000 participants have now left safely from the 25th World Scout Jamboree site at SaeManGeum and will be relocated to multiple locations in Seoul and surrounding areas ahead of the expected arrival of Typhoon Khanun.
The Korean government, with the support of hundreds of volunteer Scouts on the ground, facilitated the successful departure of the participants to ensure everyone left the camp site safely and securely.
“The Scouts have once again shown real leadership, determination and teamwork in the face of adversity, and put their skills to good use during this difficult situation,” he said, adding: “It is disappointing that these adverse weather conditions have forced us to change our plans.”
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