EUSTIS, Fla. — Rescuers on Sunday found a Boy Scout troop, missing overnight while on a canoe trip along a creek in central Florida, after one of the boys' parents tracked them down using a cell phone.
Lt. Cecil Garrett of the Lake County Sheriff's Office told Reuters the authorities then picked up the 10 boys, ages 11 to 17, and two adult scoutmasters, and drove them to safety.
"We've located the boys and returned them to their parents," Garrett said. "Everyone's fine."
Delayed by high water and fallen trees that choked the creek, the Scouts from Palm Bay, Fla., failed to reach their rendezvous point by nightfall, camping out instead in a cold rain, without any shelter or protection from the elements.
They carried no food, sleeping bags or warm clothing to protect them from nighttime temperatures that dropped into the low 40s.
"The boys were dressed for a one-day canoe event. They were all wet and cold when we found them. They'd been in and out of the water," Garrett said. "We got them blankets and took them to their parents.
The troop was reported missing about 7:30 p.m. EST on Saturday after failing to arrive at a checkpoint three hours earlier.
A helicopter searched the heavily forested area and boats from both the starting and ending points of their route converged near the middle of the creek without discovering any sign of the troop or their canoes.
"One of the scoutmasters told me the boys who don't have their wilderness badge yet will be getting it," Garrett said.