By Mariano Castillo, CNN
(CNN) — Some might say that Scott Schreck ruined his family’s vacation, but he also redeemed himself.
The father’s wrong turn got his family lost in the Florida Everglades, but his outdoor skills helped steer rescuers to their location.
The Schreck family — Scott, Carrie and their three young boys — spent a night in the swampy wilderness Thursday in an ecosystem home to alligators, snakes and mosquitoes.
The five passengers had set out that day for a tour in the Everglades in a borrowed airboat, but a wrong turn placed them in an unplanned adventure.
The airboat became stuck in vegetation and couldn’t be turned around.
“This is the first time I’ve been out here, so obviously I’m a novice on this body of water. Not the thing to do,” Schreck told CNN affiliate WPLG.
Earlier, the Seville, Ohio, family had enjoyed a fun time fishing for bass and taking photos for alligators. Once they got stuck, leisure time turned to survival time.
The avid outdoorsman hacked down some cypress trees to make a lean-to.
“We had a whole bunch of life jackets. (We) put it on top to keep the rain off,” Schreck said.
It was a rainy and cold night, and the family — who were wearing only T-shirts and shorts — huddled close for warmth.
“It was kinda cold and wet, we didn’t really go to sleep at all, and there were lots of mosquitoes,” 9-year-old Luke Schreck told WPLG. “I was kind of scared. I didn’t know when we were going to get out.” His brothers are 7 and 3 years old.
When the Schrecks did not return from their trip on Thursday, concerned family members called the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Numerous local agencies aided in the search with airboats and aerial observation.
The dense vegetation and camouflage airboat that the Schrecks used made the rescue difficult, officials said.
“It’s like looking for a needle in a haystack,” Miami-Dade Fire Rescue spokesman Lt. Arnold Piedrahita Jr. told WPLG.
In addition to building the shelter, the Schrecks fired a flare into the night, and in the morning used air horns and whistles to make noise that ultimately led to their rescue.
“We weren’t able to see them, we were only able to hear them,” Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spokesman Jorge Pino told the affiliate.
The family was examined and released from a local hospital.
The next order of business, Luke Schreck said, was to get some sleep.
CNN’s Chuck Johnston contributed to this report.