Campers, counselors get lost in a cold, dark swamp

PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. - It was a scary, but short ordeal for sleep away campers Wednesday night when they got lost in the Corbett Wildlife Management Area.

The 60,000-acre area is an enormous swamp in northwestern Palm Beach County.

The campers are part of Florida Fish and Wildlife's Everglades Youth Conservation Camp.

They were with counselors who became disoriented after dark.

"It was pitch black. Absolutely no lights and it was so cloudy which made it darker," camp director Janice Kerber said.

The group of six campers and two counselors were standing in ankle deep water.

"We don't think of hypothermia in South Florida. But when they get cold change of body temperature can cause hypothermia and that was my main concern," Kerber said.

Kerber says the counselors did the right thing by staying put and calling for help.

Kerber called the sheriff's office and firefighters which is the camp's protocol.

The director also took off on a swamp buggy looking for the lost group. She says she located them within 45 minutes because the counselor was able to use his cell phone and also was shining a flashlight.

"It was a little nerve-racking at first, but we definitely had them secured and back in place. All the kids were in good spirits," Kerber said.

Kerber says the children were checked out by paramedics and all were in good health.

"Sometimes things happen and it was totally an accident, but my top priority is the safety of our campers," Kerber said.

The director says all the children wanted to stay at camp and even asked the staff to allow them to camp outside the following night.



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