It was day four, just past the midpoint; but this high adventure trip to the Boundary Waters was just getting started and this evening would test a Kansas troop’s strength and ability. The group of nine Scouts and leaders from Troop 487 in Olathe, KS had just left Thomas Lake in Minnesota for the day and were setting up camp. The weather was growing cold and the thick air blew through camp coating everything in a soft mist. Soon a voice called out to one of the troop’s leaders, "Mr. Keller, we need the first aid kit." Mr. Keller didn't think anything of it, after all, needing the first aid kit usually meant someone needed a band aid or the bug bite relief ointment. More frantically the Scouts called out again, "Mr. Keller, we need the first aid kit NOW!". Mr. Keller looked up and saw another adult leader on the ground, on the rocky point at the front of their campsite, his ankle bent inwards 45 degrees.
Just then the Scouts sprang into action. They treated him for shock and administered pain medication. The Scouts then cut down two trees and constructed a stretcher to transport the leader. The group did what they could with the limited resources offered by the small first aid kit. They had rented a satellite phone at the beginning of the trip and were able to call 911 and provide paramedics their exact location. However, the dispatcher informed them that due to the weather, they were unable to send anyone to their location until morning.
The Scouts decided they would have to prepare their leader for the long sleepless night he had ahead of him. Once he was ready, they used the stretcher they made and carried him off the rock face about 4-5 feet down and into his tent where he remained until the next day.
In the morning, the Scouts made a signal fire and using a brightly colored shirt, flagged down the rescue plane. The leader was flown to Ely, Minnesota and later to Duluth where doctors performed surgery and inserted two metal rods through his heel.
Despite near tragedy, the group was eventually able to finish their high adventure excursion without incident and learned the true meaning of “Be Prepared” in the process.