GILMANTON, N.H. (AP) — After about two dozen Boy Scouts out camping were burned when lightning struck a nearby tree, most returned Tuesday to the leadership program that had had them out braving the elements on a remote New Hampshire hilltop.
Two Scouts were still at Concord Hospital as of mid-afternoon but were expected to rejoin the program later in the day, said Gerry Boyle, course director of the national youth leadership program.
None of the boys was hit directly by lightning in Monday's storm at Camp Bell, part of the Griswold Hidden Valley Scout Reservation in Gilmanton, a scout spokesman said.
The Scouts who returned to camp after their injuries were treated had no scarring or visible signs of their ordeal, Boyle said.
The giant pine that was struck was the only physical evidence of their close call. The tree had a visible scar running from its top to the ground, caused when the sap and water inside it boiled and split the tree open.
"When that bolt hit it shook the ground," said Boyle, who was under another tarp nearby. "Another 25 feet and it would have been a whole different story."
With about a 15-minute warning from their base camp, the Boy Scouts and their counselors hurriedly gathered under a tarp tied to trees to wait out the approaching storm. The torrential downpour hit first — just before 6 p.m. Monday — then a nearby flash of lightning.
The 31 gathered under the tarp were stunned by a booming clap of thunder that followed the lightning strike on the tree barely 30 feet away. Some began to feel burning, tingling sensations about 20 minutes later.
Spider-web like marks appeared on the arms and legs of some and a half dozen Scouts — ages 13-17 — were transported from the hilltop camping area to the base headquarters of the scout reservation, Boyle said.
Boyle suspects the lightening coursed down the 100-foot pine and into its root system, which stretched under the tarp where the Scouts were gathered.