Quick thinking saves Minnesota Boy Scouts troop from storm

- The Boy Scouts motto is "Be Prepared". That preparation came in handy when straight line winds hit a campsite near McGregor, Minn. about 120 miles north of the Twin Cities, during the same summer storm that killed two campers in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area last week.

Every other year, Boy Scouts from Troop 714 in Spring Lake Park descend on Boot Lake to work on their merit badges and improve their rank.

But some of those scouts may not have survived a summer storm if it were not for the quick thinking and quicker actions of their chaperones.

"I think it's a combination of luck and the training we give our adults and our scouts," Scoutmaster Erik Hendrickson said.

About two dozen Boy Scouts and five adults were sleeping in their tents across the cove from the main camp last Wednesday night when one of the chaperones got up in the middle of the night and realized a thunderstorm was coming their way.

Within seconds of evacuating their tents, 60 to 70 mile per hour winds hit their campsite, as the scouts made the quarter-mile hike back to the shelter at base camp in the dark, with the sound of trees snapping all around them.

"I've been in storms before and that was the strongest storm I've ever been outside for," Hendrickson said. "There were scouts we were helping over trees, under trees, around trees."

When a couple of the adults went back the next day, they found the campsite in shambles with at least two trees toppled onto several tents.

Scout leaders believe if they had not left when they did, their troop would have had a tragedy.

"My heart tells me we would have had some deaths. We would have had numerous injuries. I don't like to think about it but it would've been catastrophic," Hendrickson said.

Afterwards, the scouts cut their week-long visit short, but first they had to clear a path on the road out of camp.
Hendrickson believes their split-second decision made the difference between life and death.

"Within seconds of pulling all those scouts out, the first tree feel on tents. it was a matter of seconds," Hendrickson said.

Troop 714 is still tallying up how much of their equipment was damaged or destroyed by the storm.

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