Our hearts and prayers go out to the many families affected, both directly and indirectly by the two horrific tragedies in the northeast recently, both of which involved children. Words cannot adequately express the many thoughts that run through a parent’s head in such situations and the agony one goes through over the thought of their child similarly affected.
As a military veteran and the father of three Eagle Scouts, the youngest of whom was on campus during the Virginia Tech shooting, there is nothing I take more seriously than the safety and security of the youth entrusted to our care during the 2013 National Scout Jamboree. I, my staff and a dedicated group of volunteers and professionals have been focused on the joint issues of safety and security since jamboree planning began more than three years ago. We recognized then that the change in venue from Fort A.P. Hill to the Summit as well as the new program model for the jamboree provided unusual challenges in both areas.
The governor of West Virginia has likewise made a clear statement regarding the importance of these two areas in his issuance of an executive order directed toward ensuring the safety and security of the Scouts attending the jamboree. His actions have mobilized a network of support elements.
In the area of safety, we have gone to great lengths to conduct risk analyses of the various activities being offered at the jamboree and to ensure safety protocols are in place to minimize the chance of injury. We have also assembled an extensive team of health care professionals to staff the jamboree. This team, together with healthcare support from the local community, West Virginia National Guard, and Department of Defense, makes up an on-site layered response capability that will provide support throughout the jamboree.
As to the issue of security, while we do not speak openly about our security arrangements for what I hope would be obvious reasons, I can share that as a national event our security procedures involve a coordinated effort among federal state and local homeland security and law enforcement personnel. A joint task force to coordinate both Department of Defense and West Virginia National Guard assets supporting the jamboree is in place and will be present throughout the event to respond to emergencies. The West Virginia Division of Homeland Security is also providing support and coordination with other federal, state and local law enforcement, public health and emergency management agencies.
I can assure you that we take very seriously the safety and security of the youth attending the jamboree. That will remain a priority as we approach the opening day of the jamboree in less than three months and will continue through the departure of the last staff member.
Yours in Scouting,