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Boy Scouts Survive Flash Flood on Camping Trip

posted Aug 30, 2008, 10:09 AM by Boy Scout Troop 856   [ updated Aug 30, 2008, 10:10 AM by Boy Scout Troop 856 ]
"During the night you could hear like just trees and rocks falling," said Boy Scout Colin Muench.

"It was pretty creepy."

It was also pretty scary, for 13-year-old Colin and the five other New Jersey Scouts who found themselves stranded in an Arizona canyon during a flash flood in mid-August.

But thanks to their troop leaders, their own smarts and some very helpful Native American rangers, the Scouts made it home alive.

Their ordeal began during a camping trip at Arizona's Grand Canyon.

On August 15th, the Scouts and their adult leaders decided to camp at Havasu Falls.

But the next day, a park ranger told them to move to higher ground, because of the possibility of a flash flood.

So they moved.

Saturday night, they say, they went to bed, anticipating another day of hiking on Sunday.

But those plans changed early Sunday morning.

The Scouts say other campers woke them up around 1a.m.

The reason?

A flood was coming through the canyon where they were sleeping. And they had to move fast!

They made it to another campground, where they spent several nervous hours.

But their ordeal wasn't over.

The waters were still rising.

Suddenly, their new campground was under water.

The Scouts and their leaders say they had to climb into trees to keep from getting swept away.

And they had to do it in pitch black darkness.

"It was really, really scary, because you couldn't see anything," said one of the Scouts, 13-year-old Avery Walker, at a news conference back home in Maplewood, New Jersey on August 21st.

The Scouts estimate they were in the trees for only 15 minutes.

But it must have felt like hours.

"We did a lot of praying," said Colin's father, Dr. Kevin Muench, in an interview with ABC News. Dr. Muench was one of the grownups who came along on the trip.

"I told the boys it's OK to be scared," Dr. Muench continued, "But we're going to be OK."

By this point, several Native Americans from the Havasupai tribe had arrived on the scene. The Havasupai live in the area where the flood happened.

The Native Americans alerted the Scouts and the other campers that the water was going down slightly.

At that point, the Scouts and their leaders quickly climbed down from the trees and waded through the shallower part of the water. Dr. Muench says some of the smaller Scouts got piggyback rides from some of the other campers.

But their ordeal still wasn't over.

In order to get out of the canyon, they had to climb up a cliff.

The Scouts say the Native Americans rigged ropes at the top of the cliff, so they and everyone else could climb to safety.

Dr. Muench told ABC the cliff was 70 feet high.

But everyone made it to the top.

"The American Indians helped us a whole lot," Avery told Phoenix TV station KNXV. "Without them, we'd still be there."

Finally, a Black Hawk helicopter flew in and flew the Scouts and their troop leaders out of the area.

The Scouts found that part of the rescue to be particularly cool.

"If I had to ride the helicopter, I would do it over and over and over again," said 12-year-old Ryan Morey, at the news conference after they all got home.

Looking back, Colin says he learned from the whole experience.

"I probably learned a lot of stuff like how to survive a real dangerous situation," he said at the news conference. "It was exciting, because nothing like this has happened to me before."

What did Avery think about their experience?

"I (now) have stories to tell my children," he said.