Six Louisiana Boy Scouts and their two troop leaders have returned home after being stranded in the Ouachita National Forest in Arkansas by high water for two days.
A Tuesday morning reunion with their parents was an answer to prayer for members of the St. Edmund's Catholic Church in Lafayette, La.
The group began a 26-mile journey on April 28 and were supposed to return home Sunday, May 1. But the hike was stopped by bad weather, not far from where flash floods killed 20 campers last summer.
"Instead of a shin deep creek that we had experienced earlier in the week, just a day before as a matter of fact, we were now looking at a 200-yard wide raging river with downed trees," explained Scoutmaster Jeff Robinson
The scouts and their two leaders were trapped.
"We got rained on. There was wind involved, but we got out of that. Got a fire started even though it rained. We dried out our wood. Just do what we had to do," said Jamarcus Labostrie, one of the scouts.
It was a real-life test of their scouting survival skills and Scout Blake Dugas said they passed.
"We had a fire. We made jambalaya and some bread," he noted.
"Everyone stuck together. Everyone kept each other's spirits up. Our morale stayed up. We weren't whining. We just stayed together as a troop," Labostrie added.
Two Arkansas National Guard helicopter pilots took to the sky late Monday night to search for the scouts. They used an infrared detector and spotted the troop in the darkness early Tuesday morning.
"I actually jumped out of my tent and started waving my arms in the air. I started going crazy. I was like -- Oh yeah! Time to get out of here!," recalled Labostrie.
The helicopter was unable to land so the rescuers dropped down a bag filled with food, supplies, and walkie-talkies.
"The next morning at six o'clock, we heard the scoutmaster saying, 'Get up! Pack your stuff up. We're getting a ride out of here,'" Dugas said.
Just before daybreak on Tuesday, the pilots returned and rescued the group and gave the boys their very first helicopter ride all the way home.