Prank backfires at Baptist camp

Officials weren’t laughing when a practical joke by some teenagers attending a church youth camp sent five people to the hospital and tied up a county hazardous materials unit for more than two hours last Tuesday night.

By Bob Allen

Five people were taken to a hospital and multiple medical units were dispatched to a Maryland Baptist campground in a hazardous materials incident that resulted from a prank.

The July 23 incident at Camp Wo-Me-To near Jarrettsville, Md., began with a call at 10:10 p.m. to the Harford County Department of Emergency Services reporting that a 16-year-old had suffered “an apparent allergic reaction” to an odor in one of the camp cabins and that others experienced “burning eyes and respiratory problems.”

campwometo-signThe county Hazmat team was dispatched to the scene and found more than a dozen people had been affected by odors in two cabins at the camp owned by the Baptist Woman’s Missionary Union of Maryland/Delaware.

An investigation found that deer spray and a novelty product called “Liquid Ass” had been sprayed into two of the camp’s 15 cabins as a practical joke.

On its Facebook page the Harford Fire & EMS Association reported that four juveniles and one adult were taken to local hospitals with non-life threatening symptoms, one adult was treated and released at the scene and 15 others were decontaminated.

Multiple medical units from Harford County and neighboring York County, Pa., came to the scene, where the Hazmat team remained on the scene for two hours.

The incident occurred during the 30th annual Chesapeake Youth Council camp sponsored by the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Annunciation in Baltimore July 22-26.

“As you may have heard in the local news, there was a hazmat situation at camp around 10 p.m. on Tuesday,” the CYC reported on Facebook. “Everyone is fine; the campers are all safe in their cabins. The affected area has been cleaned and sterilized.”

Melody Knox, interim WMU director for Maryland/Delaware WMU, said both cabins were deemed safe after being ventilated.

“The campers involved in the incident have slept in and will soon resume their normal schedule,” Knox told the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware newspaper Baptist Life July 24.

“Liquid Ass” is marketed as “an overwhelming, stinky, funny prank product” that is laboratory tested and safe.

A U.S. Department of Labor Safety Materials Data Sheet describes it as a “colorless clear liquid with objectionable odor” with “no hazardous ingredients known to be present.”

The ingredients are a trade secret, but the government lab found “traces of food enzymes, organic acids, several elements from minerals and amino acids.”

An FAQ section on the manufacturer’s website suggests responses when the recipient “can’t take a joke.”

Located on 150 acres 25 miles northeast of Baltimore, Camp Wo-Me-To was dedicated in 1952 as a place to prepare future missionaries, teachers, preachers and church workers. The name Wo-Me-To, a contraction of “women and men of tomorrow,” was adopted in 1953.