Boy Scouts do many things, they go camping, cook out, tie knots, do archery, hike, learn first aid, and so much more. ConnJam is a three day event that comes around every three years during which the scouts can do all of these things in one place with other scouts from around the state.
Orange has hosted three consecutive ConnJams at the Orange Fairgrounds during the past decade without incident, but this year the boys can go to school with an exciting tale to tell.
Saturday, May 12, was family fun day when parents and siblings could join the scouts, watch the activities, and experience the world of boy scouting.
At 12:15 p.m. the town green was a flurry of activity with a community tag sale going on. Shoppers browsed through the treasures at each of the tables oblivious to what was happening just down the road.
Townspeople could hear the sirens from police cars and ambulances screaming by their homes. One news wire announced that "tent collapses, multiple casualties in Orange."
Paul, a scout's father visiting for the day, was a little too close for comfort when the winds hit.
"I was having lunch (near the pavilion) when the wind picked up paper plates were flying around in a circular motion and when I realized what was happening I grabbed my son and we ran over to the Community Center for cover," he said. "The big tent was lifted straight up and then twisted and crashed down. At the same time the bounce house pulled up and was dragged over. Then we watched as the wind picked up a couple of small tents going toward the barn and then it was over."
Paul and his son went back across the driveway to see what they could do to help those who were inside the tent.
Eric, a scout leader had never seen anything like this before. He first noticed the treetops start whipping around, then things flying through the air.
"I saw the tent go down, people running in all directions, the EMS workers were here very quickly tending to the injured," he said. "Everyone came together, but it was terrifying."
Lou Salute, Scout Executive for the CT Yankee Council spoke to Patch on the field moments after the accident, stating that six people were hurt and four were brought to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries.
But during a press conference with television news stations an hour later, after gathering more information, he said there were 10 injuries, six sent to the hospital and four treated on site.
He praised the Stratford EMS and Explorers who are trained in first aid for their immediate response, the police and other volunteers as well as the scouts who jumped in to help where needed.
"Scouts are prepared for life, and we had all of these scouts (more than 2,000) here having fun and doing activities but when an emergency strikes they're prepared to help," he said. "EMS took the lead, the police were here, and the scouts helped look for any damage further down the line and it was quite a thing to see."