JONATHAN TURLEY

Earning Your E-Coli Badge: 18 Scouts Sickened at Virginia Camp

Today I returned from Goshen — the huge Virginia Cub Scout reservation where my oldest son was completing a week of camping as a cub scout. I only learned when I returned that nine scouts were sickened by E. coli 0157 at the camp. Now, with eighteen serious cases and 60 scouts showing symptoms, the number of cases are expected to rise in the coming days. Both Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts were affected.

Goshen Scout Reservation is located near Lexington, Va. and health officials suspect foil-packaged meals that included ground beef and vegetables. These are cooked over fires but most be properly heated to be safe. Ten of the kids ranging in age from 10 to 16 required hospitalization. Two are in serious condition showing hemolytic uremic syndrome, when toxins from the bacteria enter the bloodstream.

The health investigators are looking at 1,700 people who attended Goshen between July 20 and 26. We arrived the following week and I am disappointed that no notice was sent out — or at least we did not receive one. The scouts were notified Monday and I understand why pack leaders were not able to inform parents. However, the national headquarters should have been able to contact parents. Moreover, as disappointed as Ben would have been, I am not sure that it was wise to keep the kids at the camp while the source of the e-coli remained uncertain — though health officials may have cleared the next group of campers. Since a few extreme cases can result in kidney failure and dialysis — I would like to have found out a bit earlier than the Washington Post article. It seems that the Scouts need to look at an email notification system in the future.

Since we are just now getting these facts, I do not want to pass judgment on the scouts. While I have been critical of the Scouts on its position on gay scout leaders, I agreed to let my boys sign up despite my earlier reservations due to the policy, click here.

Frankly, it has been a terrific experience. Moreover, Benjamin loved Goshen and appears perfectly fine except of a deep cut on his hand from earning his whittling badge. (He just need to whittle the wood a bit more but he will have a nice scar to thrill his friends in fourth grade). The scouts do a wonderful job with these kids and Goshen is a wonderful place. One of our friends is a mother of a Goshen scout who returned a few weeks ago. She was delighted that he had neatly repacked his clothes when she realized that he had simply kept the same clothes on for the entire week without a shower or change of clothes. A kid’s paradise . . .
For the full story, click here.