COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KDVR) — Justin and Sue Cauthen are excited for their 14-year-old son, Daniel, to return home to Colorado after a frightening experience at the World Scout Jamboree in South Korea.
About 40,000 scouts from around the world were evacuated from the troubled coastal campsite this week as a typhoon approached, but Daniel’s U.S. contingent had already pulled out after serious issues with sickness, medical care, heat, hygiene and camp conditions. They were bused to a U.S. military base in South Korea.
The experience has been difficult for the Cauthen family.
Daniel is a longtime scout, and Sue is from Korea, so she had been excited for him to see some of the country.
“I was very proud, and I was very excited or him,” the mother said.
‘Very scared’ at World Scout Jamboree
The Cauthens paid about $9,000 to send Daniel to what they expected was a premier scouting event, but it didn’t take long for the couple to realize there were problems.
They say the massive camp was set up in a marshy area that retained water. There were mosquitos, huge piles of trash and not enough sinks, and there were bathrooms that didn’t function.
Plus, when the temperatures soared, there was not sufficient shade or medical care for the thousands of teens who needed help, including their son.
“Day two was when he had a heat injury and had to go to the clinic for the first time, and then we started getting really scared,” Justin said.
Daniel had called home. “He said I feel nauseous, and I’ve been throwing up and I feel exhausted,” Sue remembers.
When Daniel went to the medical tent a second time at night, he told them it was closed.
“He was very scared,” Justin said.
Daniel recovered, but the Cauthens say other teens had trouble right up until the moment they were moving to the military base.
“Two more collapsed due to heat injuries as they were loading the bus, just in his small group of 40 alone,” Justin said.
45,000 at World Scout Jamboree
Daniel is set to return home on Aug. 13. The family is grateful to the U.S. team that is supporting the teens through this, but they say they want an investigation into the way the South Korean groups handled this event.
“I’m not just upset about the lack of preparation. I’m upset at how that lack of preparation endangered 45,000 of the world’s future leaders. A lot of young men and women spent a lot of years preparing for this, and we need to make sure that the sanctity of the World Jamboree and the world scouting movement is intact, and the only way we can do this is if there are some hard questions being asked of some people in charge,” Justin said.