Heat Sickens Hundreds at World Scout Jamboree

12-day event is being held in 'vast treeless area' in South Korea
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 4, 2023 9:34 AM CDT
Heat Makes Hundreds Ill at World Scout Jamboree
An ambulance passes a scout camping site during the World Scout Jamboree in Buan, South Korea, Wednesday, Aug. 2, 2023.   (Jeonbuk Fire Station/Yonhap via AP)

The first World Scout Jamboree since the pandemic is being held amid South Korea's hottest summer in years—and the on-site hospital has been very busy. The Guardian reports that 138 people were treated for heat-related illness on Thursday alone, bringing the total to more than 700 in the first few days of the event, which began Tuesday and runs until Aug. 12. Officials say hundreds more visited the hospital Thursday with ailments including skin rashes and bug bites, CNN reports. The AP describes the campsite on land reclaimed from the sea as a "vast, treeless area lacking refuge from the heat"—not ideal when temperatures are regularly approaching 100 degrees.

A Reuters reporter saw several scouts being stretchered into a treatment area in the severe heat. Organizers say more than 43,000 boys and girls from 155 countries, most of them between 14 and 17 years old, are at the event. Some countries, including the UK, have sent consular staff to the site in the country's southwest amid complaints of "hospital bed shortages, waterlogged conditions caused by earlier heavy rains, rotten food, swarms of mosquitoes and flies, and poor sanitation," per the Guardian. South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol said Friday that millions of dollars are being spent to improve conditions.

Officials said "unlimited" air-conditioned buses are being sent to the site, along with trucks with cold water. Organizers said the military is helping set up shaded areas, food supplies are being improved, and the number of cleaning staff has been increased from 70 to more than 500. Jacob Murray, events director at the World Organization of the Scout Movement, said most attendees are having a good time and a poll found that 62% are satisfied or very satisfied with the experience, with only 8% very unsatisfied. "Scouts are resilient, resourceful, and have come prepared for different weather conditions," he said. (More Boy Scouts stories.)

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