SOUTH KOREA – A massive global gathering of scouts in South Korea had to evacuate the campsite a week before its planned conclusion due to an approaching typhoon. Shortly after, sweltering heat took a toll on hundreds of adolescents, raising complaints about the management of the event.
According to the organizers, around 40,000 young scouts participated in the World Scout Jamboree held in SaeManGeum, a western coastal region of the country. The program encompassed outdoor activities, cultural displays, stability workshops, and various presentations primarily aimed at middle and high school students.
However, the impact of adverse weather has marred the festivities, causing scouts to depart from the main venue almost a week ahead of schedule.
The World Organization of the Scout Movement (WOSM) announced in a statement that it had received confirmation from the government of the Republic of Korea this morning that preparations would be made for all attendees of the 25th World Scout Jamboree to leave early due to Typhoon Khanun’s anticipated effects.
Kim Sung-ho, the Deputy Minister for Disaster and Safety Management, mentioned that nearly 36,000 scout participants from 156 countries would be relocated to the greater Seoul area starting Tuesday morning.
He added, “An emergency evacuation plan” will include 1,000 buses for transportation, while the Prime Minister will meet local officials on Monday to discuss accommodations and extra activities for scouts.
Since its launch on August 1, the typhoon has posed a series of challenges for the event. Within the first week, intense heat led to numerous cases of illnesses among the participants, and others were departing from the venue. Hospitals were available for issues like sunburns and insect bites.
Kim Hyun-suk, Chair of the Jamboree Organizing Committee and the Minister of Gender Equality and Family, mentioned that on a single Sunday, nearly 1,300 people visited the on-site hospital.
According to the Korean Meteorological Administration, South Korea had issued heat advisories for most parts of the country from late July, with temperatures expected to reach up to 37 degrees Celsius (98.6 degrees Fahrenheit) in some areas on Monday.
Other concerns were also raised, worried parents shared online that their children weren’t reporting from the campsite – whether it was about sufficient meals, bedding, or even the availability of beds.
To address the situation, the organizers announced several measures on Friday, including increasing the number of janitors by sevenfold to over 500.
During the weekend, South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol ordered officials to send air-conditioned buses to the site for additional shelter against heat and urged for “all-out efforts” to maintain cleanliness to prevent food poisoning.
However, the delays in addressing concerns from families of scouts from other nations and abroad had caused a significant disruption. During the weekend, contingents of scouts from the United States, the United Kingdom, and Singapore withdrew segments of their delegations from the event, accelerating the calls to conclude the Jamboree swiftly.