Boy Scouts Help Scoutmaster Survive Bear Attack

For many now seasoned wilderness adventurers, the foundation of their expansive wilderness knowledge can be traced back to time spent in the Boy Scouts. The Boy Scouts of America was founded in 1910 and has been, since then, helping shape young men into self-sufficient experts of the wild and everything that falls under that blanket term. While there are seemingly endless skills one can learn in the Scouts, helping your scoutmaster survive a bear attack is likely not going to become a merit badge anytime soon. Though this may be the case, helping a scoutmaster survive a bear attack is exactly what 3 New Jersey kids did.

Chris Petronino is the name of the scoutmaster, and when he and three Scouts were adventuring through Splitrock Reservoir they encountered a cave. Feeling adventurous, Petronino and his 3 companions, one of which was his son, decided to see what was lurking beyond the cave’s threshold. Barely 2 steps into the cave, an adult bear grabbed Petronino’s foot and dragged him further into the cave.

After being bit no less than 3 times in the leg and both shoulders, Petronino began fighting back with a rock hammer he fortunately had on his person. After striking the bear, Petronino removed his shirt and curled up in the fetal position. He then instructed the boys, who were standing just feet away, to leave and seek help. By way of a cellphone, the boys were able to call authorities and a helicopter was shortly thereafter dispatched.

Still on the phone with authorities, the boys were instructed to gather whatever food they could and place it outside the cave in hopes of luring the bear at. As planned, the bear was drawn to the food, emerged from the cave, and was subsequently scared off by a barking dog.

Petronino was eventually removed from the area, but not after spending more than an hour inside the cave. His exact condition is not known, but his father, in an interview with People, stated that his son was in poor shape and will require hours and hours of surgeries. In the wake of the attack, authorities praised the three young scouts for their quick-thinking and reactions. Though no Boy Scout chapter offers in-depth training on surviving bear attacks, I know one New Jersey troop who might begin doing exactly that.