Scout jamboree cancelled

CUB scouts were left heartbroken after torrential rain forced scouting leaders to turn the youngsters away from Ireland’s biggest jamboree.

The decision was made by scout leaders, gardaí and health and safety bosses after “unprecedented” amounts of rain saw campsites at the Punchestown site in Kildare become waterlogged and paths overcome with mud.

“It would’ve been a very negative experience for their first time at a jamboree camping with wet sleeping bags and everything,” said jamboree spokeswoman Ciara Higgins.

Scouting leaders for more than 1,500 children aged between eight and 11 years were told of the decision late on Wednesday night.

Children were devastated, callers to RTÉ said, and had had their scouting gear packed for days ahead of Jamboree 2008, which is part of centenary celebrations of scouting in Ireland. Events are being attended by nearly 13,000 scouts and cubs.

One Mayo scout leader said her cubs were gutted: “This is more than a year’s work and cost us €13,000. We had to do the usual stuff, go out, beg and do fundraisers.”

Scout groups questioned why no contingency plan was in place because of the bad weather conditions.

Camp chief, Christy McCann, said: “The safety and welfare of our young members is our number one priority and with poor weather forecast and parts of the site already quite wet, we feel this is the right decision to take.”

Full refunds are being given to scouts turned away.

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