Presidential Visit to Scouts Jamboree Is Postponed

A firetruck's spray helps cool Boy Scouts at the National Jamboree, where several people were treated for heat-related problems and storms forced cancellation of evening events.
A firetruck's spray helps cool Boy Scouts at the National Jamboree, where several people were treated for heat-related problems and storms forced cancellation of evening events. (By Haraz N. Ghanbari -- Associated Press)

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By Karin Brulliard
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, July 28, 2005

FORT A.P. HILL, Va., July 27 -- Tens of thousands of Boy Scouts, hoping to get things back to normal at their National Jamboree after four Scout leaders were killed on opening day, endured more disappointment and hardship Wednesday as they learned that President Bush had delayed his visit and as hundreds of people were treated for heat-related conditions.

The announcement that severe storms prompted the president's postponement came after the Scouts waited for more than two hours in the blazing sun in their dress uniforms, and was met with loud boos.

Last night, officials announced on the Boy Scouts Web site that about 300 people were treated yesterday for conditions due to excessive heat. The statement said that most were seen at an on-post medical facility and released. A small number were transported to hospitals, where they were reported to be in stable condition. Scout officials declined further comment late last night.

The president's visit was rescheduled for tonight. The event is to include a memorial service for the Scout leaders from the Western Alaska Council who were electrocuted Monday when a pole they were hoisting for a dining canopy apparently struck a power line.

The deaths made for a somber beginning to the 16th National Boy Scout Jamboree, held every four years at this military base 80 miles south of Washington. Word of the deaths traveled from tent to tent, and some Scout troops gathered for moments of silence to honor the four men.

Boy Scout officials offered no further details yesterday about the accident. A metal pole in the center of the canopy hit an overhead power line, officials have said, but the investigation is continuing.

The Scout officials would not disclose the new camp location of the two Alaskan troops, which were moved from the accident site.

Five Alaskan Scouts stopped Wednesday afternoon to check out patches offered by a Hawaiian Scout for trading. Their faces turned serious when they were asked about the accident, which some said they witnessed, and they declined to be interviewed. Several of their fellow troop members had gone home, they said, but those who stayed were managing to enjoy themselves as best they could.

"You can just say we're doing fine," one Scout said.

On Wednesday night, Matthew Adams, 17, a member of the Western Alaska Council, said that his first Jamboree in 2001 was so much fun that he "couldn't pass up the opportunity" to come again. But he said he and other members of Troop 711 did not begin to enjoy this year's Jamboree until Tuesday afternoon.

On Monday night, they slept in an Army barracks and waited for more details of the accident. "It was pretty tough," Adams said. He said the leaders who were killed were role models "for every Boy Scout in central Alaska."

David Apperson, 17, also of Troop 711, said things were better by Wednesday. "This is amazing. It's incredible," he said of his second Jamboree. "It's just cool to be a part of this."

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