The parent of a British scout attending the World Scout Jamboree in South Korea has described chaotic scenes of children fainting in extreme heat and even finding a snake under their bed. Following these incidents, the British contingent decided to withdraw its more than 4,000 scouts due to safety concerns, including a lack of hygiene and inadequate food. Matt Hyde, the chief executive of UK Scouts, criticized the event organizers for the sanitation, cleanliness, and medical services at the campsite. He also expressed concerns about the extreme heat and the impact it was having on the scouts.
Hyde stated that the toilets were not being cleaned frequently enough, causing severe health and safety concerns. Additionally, there was a lack of sufficient food, particularly for those with dietary requirements. He expressed disappointment with the organizers and warned that UK Scouts would face the consequences of the evacuation for up to five years. The funds used for the evacuation were taken from the organization’s reserves.
The situation in South Korea worsened due to the punishing heat, with temperatures reaching 38°C. Olaf Clayton, the parent of a 16-year-old scout, described the conditions as hellish, with children fainting and mosquitoes infesting the area. His daughter even discovered a snake under her bed, although the Bangladeshi scouts knew how to handle it.
The UK Scouts confirmed that all British attendees had been relocated to Seoul, where the jamboree would continue until its scheduled end date. Britain had sent the largest contingent to the event, which was the first global scout gathering since the pandemic. The US Scouts and Singaporean scouts also left the campsite.
In response to a typhoon heading towards South Korea, organizers announced that around 36,000 participants would be evacuated to areas away from the typhoon’s path. Despite the change in location, the jamboree would still continue. The organizers faced criticism for not anticipating the extreme heat, and provincial governor Kim Kwan-young apologized for the lack of preparedness.
Each UK scout spent approximately £3,500 on the trip, relying on fundraising or donations. The parent of one scout called for an independent inquiry into the jamboree to be conducted. It is important to learn from the incidents and ensure that such problems do not occur in the future.