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Nesquehoning, PA - Poconos Rafting Trip Temporarily Strands Girls From Catskills Jewish Summer Camp

Published on: August 14, 2018 04:56 PM
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This rescue boat was among the emergency personnel called out during rescue efforts as part of an hourslong search in the turbulent waters of the Lehigh River Monday night. (Courtesy THE TIMES NEWS)This rescue boat was among the emergency personnel called out during rescue efforts as part of an hourslong search in the turbulent waters of the Lehigh River Monday night. (Courtesy THE TIMES NEWS)

Nesquehoning, PA - A group of girls from a Bais Yaakov summer camp had a real adventure yesterday on a Poconos rafting trip when the fast-moving waters of the Lehigh River stranded approximately 35 boaters.

The girls were from Camp Sviva, located in Woodbourne, New York.

Stephen Bretzik, general manager of Whitewater Rafting Adventures in Nesquehoning, Pennsylvania said that his outfit ran two river trips yesterday, including the group of over 200 girls.  All of the rafts were accompanied by guides in kayaks, said Bretzik.


The girls were all given an orientation before they went out on the river at Jim Thorpe on their four mile trip to Lehighton.

“Most of the girls made it from the start until the takeout location but a few missed the takeout and had to go another four miles south to Bowmanston to the next location,” said Bretzik.  “There were a few rafts that got stuck and they had guides with them at all time.”

Bretzik said that his team had the situation completely under control although rescue workers were called in by a bystander who called 911.  The Pennsylvania State Police, water crews from several nearby counties, dive teams and helicopters all responded to the scene, reported Times New Online.

It took some time to count up all of the campers, leading some to speculate that there were still individuals on the river, but Bretzik said that there was never any concern that anyone was missing.  One girl sustained a minor injury and was taken to a nearby hospital where she was treated and released.

Currents in the Lehigh River are faster than usual because of recent rains and a scheduled water release from a nearby dam on Sunday may have also attributed to the increased speed of the water. 

Bretzik said that the camp had been scheduled to go down the river earlier in the season, but that the trip was pushed off because of unsafe water conditions. Having been on the river with the camp for the duration of the trip, Bretzik said that he was confident that everything was handled well yesterday.

Bretzik praised the girls for their behavior saying that he has dealt with the camp in the past and looks forward to future trips with them.

“They were so sweet,” said Bretzik. “I know things didn’t go exactly as planned but they were real troopers. I dealt with every raft at one time or another during the day yesterday and they were all just great kids.”

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 Aug 14, 2018 at 10:36 PM fineshemker Says:

Very irresponsible of the camp, I'm a rafter/ kayaker and the Lehigh is class 3 at this water level and you need a tremendous amount of upper body strength to run the rapids at this level, glad only one person was hurt it could have been worse, shame on the camp


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