- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
They might not have earned a patch for it, but hundreds of area Girl Scouts learned about the dangers of heat Friday when rising temperatures caused many Scouts to become ill during a camp held at a Benedict farm.
Nine girls were transported to area hospitals Friday when some of the nearly 200 campers from Camp Bay Breeze, a day camp held this year at Serenity Farm in Benedict, became ill from the heat.
Benedict volunteer firefighters responded to the farm for a service call received at 12:08 p.m. today.
Temperatures reached near 100 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.
Billy White, captain of the Benedict Volunteer Fire Department, said, based on the initial call, his crew was expecting a few kids participating at an event on the farm.
On arrival, White said there were hundreds of campers and as his crew attempted to cool them down with a hose and assist those who were not feeling well, he quickly saw that more and more campers were being affected by the heat.
Benedict responders called for additional emergency personnel and began setting up a triage station on the farm.
About 15 emergency units from Benedict, Hughesville, Prince Frederick, Waldorf and Charles County Emergency Services responded after Benedict gave word that the incident was bigger than expected.
Eight girls were transported to Calvert Memorial Hospital and one was transported to Civista Medical Center, according to information from Charles County spokeswoman Crystal Hunt. Those transported were between ages 9 and 15, and the camp served campers 6 to 15.
Emergency personnel continued to triage girls at the farm and then moved the campers and staff from the farm to the Benedict volunteer fire station, where campers and staff were able to cool off in the air-conditioned station.
White said while there was an option of taking shelter in a barn at the farm and blowing fans, “all you are doing is blowing hot air on them.”
Campers were bused to the firehouse, where parents were contacted, and later either bused home or picked up.
Jennifer White, known as “Bones” by campers, is the camp nurse for Camp Bay Breeze and made the initial call for help when she noticed some girls were showing signs of heat-related illness.
“As much as we were encouraging they drink water, the heat just got to them,” she said.
White said emergency responders did a wonderful job: “We couldn’t ask for anything better.”
John Filer, chief of Emergency Medical Services for Charles County, said the first responders did a great job of recognizing that the situation was bigger than initially reported and acting fast to bring in additional help.
About two hours after the initial call campers were still hanging out at the firehouse, eating s’mores, singing songs and seemingly making the best of the emergency.
“We sing songs to keep them [campers] calm so that they don’t freak out. ... If you’re having a good time, you can’t be sick,” said Maggie “Magpie” Dean, 17, a camp aide.
Maggie said the ordeal was scary, but “you have to keep your composure around little kids.”
Lauren Nordquist, 12, recalled the events of earlier in the afternoon while sitting at the fire station.
“At first everyone was fine and then people started getting really hot,” she said.
Lauren said firefighters sprayed hoses to cool campers down, but then more girls were getting hot so they called for ambulances.
That’s about when Lauren and her sister, Erin, 14, said things started to get weird.
The girls said campers tried to stay calm and that the firefighters did a good job of taking care of everyone.
Erin said she worries this might have a negative impact on younger campers in that they might not want to come back to camp.
She said she would encourage camp even though the heat event happened because “I’ve been here 12 years and this has never happened.”
Bay Breeze camp director Charron “C-Turtle” Dean said everyone, including campers, staff and emergency workers, did a great job.
The National Weather Service has issued another excessive heat watch June 30, according to information from Charles County government.
The Charles County commissioners remind residents that the following public buildings will be open during regular business hours for use by residents as cooling centers during the extreme heat:
Capital Clubhouse (9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday) at 3033 Waldorf Marketplace in Waldorf.
Charles County Public Library (all branches open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday) at La Plata Branch at 2 Garrett Ave. in La Plata; P.D. Brown Memorial Branch at 50 Village St. in Waldorf; and Potomac Branch at 3225 Ruth B. Swann Drive in Indian Head.
Outdoor pools (Saturday and Sunday) at La Plata High School (noon to 6 p.m.); McDonough High School (noon to 5 p.m.); and Thomas Stone High School (noon to 6 p.m.)
Indoor pools (noon to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday) at North Point High School and Henry E. Lackey High School. Fees for indoor and outdoor pools are $5 for people 13 and older; $4 for youth ages 2 to 12 and seniors; and free for children younger than 2.