Jeff Watts

Medical volunteers ready to tend to scouts

By the end of the week, a community about half the size of Sylvan Lake will spring up just up the road from the resort community.

CAMP WOODS — By the end of the week, a community about half the size of Sylvan Lake will spring up just up the road from the resort community.

And it will be a young community, prone to everything from blisters and sprained ankles to homesickness and overindulging in sugary treats.

This, perhaps, is why Jeff Watts and a crew of about 250 volunteers are spending the entire week before a crush of some 5,000 11-to-14-year-olds arrive preparing Camp Woods for any potential medical necessity.

On Tuesday, volunteers were out at the camp northwest of Sylvan Lake, preparing first aid stations and a 12-bed health-care centre. While the camp is being prepared for safety, Watts is certain hundreds of campers will inevitably find themselves in need of care.

“We will treat 10 per cent of the camp population every day . . . That’s a proven fact going back to 1974,” said Watts, the director of health care for Scouts Canada’s national jamboree to take place from Saturday to July 13.

Having already served as health-care head for 19 previous jamborees, Watts said the 120 medical volunteers who will tend to the youth have to be prepared for just about anything. There could be allergic reactions, youth might have philosophical nutritional requirements, and the fact that Ramadan begins while the camp is on might mean some participants are fasting during full days of programming.

“We have Scouters who are Muslim clerics who will guide us on that. We take into account all of this. Scouting truly is a world organization and we’re practising Scouting within Canada, but there’s all of the multiculturalism that goes with it,” said Watts.

There will be French-speaking Scouts from Quebec at the jamboree, and even a few dozen Scouts from Taiwan making the trip. There are four physicians, 15 paramedics and eight registered nurses volunteering for the cause, and they are prepared to deal with language issues and whatever else comes along.

Along with the approximately 5,000 youth and troop leaders set to attend are 1,600 volunteers and an average of 1,500 visitors per day. On both July 9 and July 11, the 100-acre camp will be open to the public for hourly tours from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Work has been ongoing at the camp for days, with upgrades to the camp’s water system and resurfacing of internal roads among the permanent improvements being made.

Food to feed the thousands of attendees is being stored in multiple refrigerated warehouses in Calgary and will be trucked up daily during the event.

This is the 12th national jamboree to be held, the last one being in 2007 in conjunction with the 100th anniversary of Scouting in Canada. The last national jamboree in Alberta was held in 1981 in Kananaskis, drawing about 25,000 Scouts.

The event gets underway Saturday with opening ceremonies at 7 p.m. followed by a concert by musical comedy trio The Arrogant Worms. Lt.-Gov. Donald Ethell and other dignitaries are set to attend.

During the week, Scouts will enjoy a number of activities at the camp and will take trips to such places as the Calgary Stampede and Wetaskiwin’s Reynolds Museum.

On July 8 at 10:31 a.m., Scouts will make contact via ham radio with the International Space Station, said Watts.

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