The Seven Mountains Scout Camp, which closed a resident camp early this week after several campers became ill, plans to reopen Sunday.
Jim Kennedy, the executive director of the Juniata Valley Council of the Boy Scouts of America, said in an email Thursday night to local Scout families that “a number of campers began experiencing symptoms of what we believe to be a stomach virus and were sent home for treatment.”
The council oversees the camp, a year-round facility in Potter Township.
After the camp’s leaders and medical staff immediately began carrying out camp health procedures, Kennedy said, the council “decided to voluntarily close camp for the remainder of the week to prevent any further spread of illness and to ensure that the following session of camp could continue without interruption.”
The resident camp closed Wednesday morning. It hosted Webelos Scouts, as will the next session that starts on Sunday.
Kennedy said in his email that the camp is working with county health officials to investigate the cause of the illness. The state Health Department did not return a call for comment.
The number of campers affected remains uncertain. Camp officials have said 20 to 30 Scouts reported flulike symptoms, including diarrhea and vomiting.
More than 100 children arrived at the camp Sunday and were scheduled to leave Thursday.
But Joe Clark, among others, thinks the total number of stricken Scouts was higher than camp estimates.
Clark, of State College, didn’t have children affected, but he said he knows of more than 20 ill campers, including ones from his neighbors’ families. Clark said his Scouting friends think as many as 100 people may have caught the bug because returning campers spread it to parents and siblings.
In one Webelos pack, he said, 13 of 15 children fell sick — three from the same family, along with their father. He declined to identify the pack or other campers.
Clark said camp leaders appear to be under-reporting the number of sick children.
“It just seems like they’re not being upfront with how bad it is,” he said.
Kennedy did not return a call seeking details about the outbreak and the camp’s response, but instead sent a short statement. Neither the Juniata Valley Council website nor the Seven Mountains Scout Camp Facebook page posted any information about the outbreak or possible refunds.
The Webelos camp fee is $275 per Scout, though families with two sons attending receive a small discount.
“After seeking recommendations from the Health Department and implementing those, we are preparing to reopen camp on Sunday for the next session of camp,” Kennedy’s statement said. “The safety and well-being of our participants, their families, and our staff are of paramount importance to the Juniata Valley Council and our goal is for all of our participants to have a camp season that is safe and enjoyable.”
Chris Rosenblum can be reached at 231-4620. Follow him on Twitter @CRosenblumNews