An unprecedented heatwave in South Korea, causing temperatures to soar to 35C (95F), has instigated the relocation of UK Scouts from a global event to accommodations in Seoul. The severe weather conditions led to a spate of illnesses at the World Scout Jamboree, which draws over 40,000 youngsters from across the globe.
The Scout Association confirmed that the contingent of 4,500 British Scouts – the largest group in attendance – are in the process of moving from the Saemangeum campsite to hotels in Seoul. Following suit, the US and Singaporean teams have also begun to withdraw their members from the event.
Government Response and Future Plans
In response to the situation, South Korea’s government has pledged to dispatch an additional 60 medical professionals and 700 service workers to oversee the maintenance of toilet and shower facilities. Several nations are expected to remain at the site for the upcoming week.
Held every four years in varying countries, the World Scout Jamboree is regarded as the world’s biggest youth camp. It brings together Scouts aged 14 to 18 from 155 countries, all converging in South Korea this year.
This edition of the Jamboree is the first since the onset of the global pandemic and is scheduled to continue until 12 August.
UK Scouts’ Safe Return and Accommodation
Buses ferrying the British teenagers have started returning to Seoul, a distance of about 120 miles (197km) from the campsite, with plans for the participants to reside in hotels for the ensuing week.
The UK Scout Association confirmed that both young Scouts and adult volunteers have started “settling into their new lodgings”. Despite the change in accommodation, the Jamboree experience will carry on in the city, with a return to the UK scheduled for 13 August.
International Scouting Organisation’s Response
The World Organisation of the Scout Movement (WOSM), the most extensive international Scouting organisation, indicated that it had suggested to the Korean Scout Association – the host of the event – the consideration of an early conclusion to the Jamboree. However, the host resolved to continue with the event, assuring attendees that they are doing “everything feasible to tackle the problems triggered by the heatwave”.
UK Scouts, the largest Scouting organisation in the UK, stressed that their volunteers, alongside others, had strived to ensure that members had “adequate food and water, shelter from the extraordinary hot weather, and sanitation and washing facilities suitable for an event of this magnitude”.
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