MANILA, Daggett County — Jared Ropelato's family just doesn't want to let go of him.
"I'm happier than I've ever been because I think I was as scared as I'd ever been," said Dawn Ropelato, Jared’s mother, “He's fine. He fell in a river this morning and was wet, but he's still dirty."
Jared, who lives in Hooper, was camping with his Boy Scout troop near Spirit Lake in Daggett County when he got lost Friday afternoon. A search group on ATVs found the 12-year-old Saturday morning about 8:40 a.m. in the Long's Peak area several miles from his camp.
Jared was dirty because he did everything right during a long night alone in the woods. Once he realized he didn't know where he was, he stopped and built a shelter. As night set in, he buried himself in dirt to keep warm. He learned it all from being a Boy Scout.
"When we went to Scout camp last year, they taught us how to build a lean-to and how to stay warm," Jared said.
His parents said all along he had the skills to rough it, but were still worried when he wasn't found Friday night. Hundreds of volunteers went to Daggett County to look for him Saturday morning.
“As soon as we heard the he was missing, within a few minutes, everybody was calling us and asking what they could do to help,” said Kevin Ropelato, Jared’s older brother.
Daggett County Sheriff Jerry Jorgensen said searchers with dogs and some of Jared's clothing to provide a scent were the first people out. Law enforcement officers and volunteers numbering about 200 followed on foot, horseback and ATVs.
“There is some rough terrain out there, but we had every grid square covered," Jorgensen said.
The searcher who found Jared identified himself only as Nathan, a member of a search party from Idaho Falls. He said his group stopped at a lookout off a trail.
"We had a feeling to stop there. We yelled out his name and he responded. We ran to him and got him and he was in good spirits and came back here," Nathan said. "I about fainted when he responded. It was amazing."
"I was just glad I could hear them, and they could hear me," Jared said.
Emergency medical workers checked Jared over and gave him a clean bill of health.
After her son was found, the Scout's mom thanked all of the people who helped in the search. "They found him so fast because of everybody here," Dawn Ropelato said.
Jared's biggest scare came when he encountered a bull moose, she said.
"He did everything right last night," she said. "We said he was smart, and he's smart."
Asked if he would go camping again after his overnight ordeal, Jared simply said "yeah."