A GROUP of Sydney scouts undertaking their Queen's Scouts Award on the South Coast have got more than they bargained for from the experience.
Three of the five member group who were undertaking a four-day trek to The Castle, as the final adventure component of the award, when they were trapped by a rising and fast flowing Yadboro River, in the Budawang National Park, west of Milton.
The Ulladulla State Emergency Service Flood Rescue Team performed a swift water rescue near the Long Gully Campground, taking the three stranded scouts, two boys and one girl, one-by-one across the swollen river.
It was a first for the scouts and also a first for the Ulladulla Flood Rescue Team in using the Arc Angel inflatable boat in a fast flowing river rescue situation.
Ulladulla SES Commander Tracy Provest praised the "composure, safe and smart decision making by the youngsters", who decided to set up camp overnight instead of attempting to cross the river, which had risen after recent heavy thunderstorms and rain in the area.
"Our simple message in any flood situation is 'It's Flooded Forget It'," Ms Provest said.
"Hats off to these youngsters, they were all aged 16-17 and they made the right decision to set up camp."
Hats off to these youngsters, they were all aged 16-17 and they made the right decision to set up camp. They demonstrated some cool heads and I can't praise them highly enough for the smart decisions they made.Ulladulla SES Commander Tracy Provest
The trio cramming into a one-person tent for the night.
"I can't praise the kids highly enough for the smart decisions they made," Ms Provest said.
Despite a lack of radio and mobile telephone coverage in the area, the alarm was raised Thursday morning by concerned parents.
"A number of the parents and the scout leader were staying at Long Gully, the car park/camping area for access to The Castle and although concerned they weren't worried about the children, having faith in their abilities," she said.
A 000 call to NSW Police saw the Ulladulla SES unit mobilised.
"Initially it was reported that there was a tree across the road," Ms Provest said.
"We activated a chainsaw team from our Batemans Bay unit and they travelled up the Western Distributor Road, which is access into the camping area from the west, while two teams from Ulladulla, including the Flood Rescue Team, were also deployed."
After assessing the situation the Flood Rescue Team, headed up by Bill Frazer with the assistance of Gary Smith, decided to use the Arc Angel device.
After traversing the river, the pair brought back the scouts' three backpacks first to ensure the inflatable boat plan worked safely.
Then, one-by-one, the three scouts were taken back across the fast flowing river to safety and back to their parents.
"It was a great outcome and a great exercise for us," Ms Provest said.
"While we have used the Arc Angel before in still water situations, helping with evacuations and flood rescues at Lake Conjola last February, this was the first time we have used the craft in a fast flowing river.
"And it passed with flying colours as did our team. Bill has undertaken a number of such rescues up in the Lismore area but hasn't experienced them down here, and it was his first in the Budawangs, while it was Garry's first flood rescue experience.
"We had a rather large thunderstorm Wednesday - it dumped around 130mm at Porters Creek Dam, so we knew the river would be rising.
"They [the scouts] were well out on their trek before the weather came in.
The simple message in any flood situation is 'It's Flooded Forget It'.Ulladulla SES Commander Tracy Provest
"But in a lead up to this trek they have all done more than 400 hours of bushwalking and camping.
"To achieve their Queen's Scout Award they have to plan and execute this trek all by themselves and they did that and passed with flying colours and their decision to stay on the flooded side of the creek was all part of their training.
"They demonstrated some cool heads.
"It was a great example of people making smart decisions - just in the time our crews were at the river it rose another 40 centimetres and was flowing very quickly."
It proved to be a special day for Matt, the last scout to be safely rescued, it was his birthday and in a touching moment, as he was returned to shore and alighted from the rescue craft, those assembled broke into a rendition of "happy birthday".
The rescue operation was completed around lunchtime.
With more wet weather forecast for the area, the SES crews advised other campers at the site to either leave, via the eastern access or the Western Distributor, or risk being isolated by the rising waters in the area.
"Remember 'If It's Flooded Forget It' ...... just like these scouts!" Ms Provest said.