An overnight search for a missing Camp Courageous camper has a happy ending in eastern Iowa’s Jones County. A 13-year-old boy, who is autistic, went missing from the camp near Monticello at 7:15 last night.
Charlie Becker, the camp’s director, says the boy was found safe around 8:30 this morning. The camper was located near the Maquoketa River.
“It is incredibly fortunate,” Becker says. “We received a phone call from the Iowa Autism Society and they were mentioning a lot of times individuals who have autism have a liking towards water.” Camp Courageous offers year round recreational and respite services for children with special needs.
About 70 children with autism are at the camp this week. Around 200 people from various agencies helped in the search for the boy.
“They had a plane out here this morning…I don’t know all the facts, but I think it was a key element in finding the camper,” Becker says.
The boy was walking and appears to be “fine,” according to Becker, but he was taken to a hospital for evaluation. Becker says the boy disappeared while walking on a trail with two counselors. The child wandered overnight and Jones County, like much of the state, was hit with severe storms.
“I’ve been hear 34 years and we’ve never had anything like this,” Becker says. “You never know, it’s kind of like any little children…I’ve had that situation where your heart goes up in your mouth when you have your child right in front of you, then you turn your back for two seconds and they’re gone. Things like that just happen so quickly.”
The boy is “nonverbal,” so Becker says camp staff will probably not be able to find out where the boy spent the night after he fled.