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A group of educators from across the country who were investigating "expeditionary learning'' while whitewater rafting on the Colorado River this month rescued a man who had been stranded in the wilderness for 20 days.

On March 9, the group found John Thomas, who had lost his canoe in the rapids and been wandering alone since Feb. 20, in the Cataract Canyon in southeastern Utah.

Scott Gill, the mathematics and science coordinator for the Dubuque, Iowa, public schools, was scouting the rapids ahead when he spotted Mr. Thomas stumbling across a sandbar. The man was disoriented and near death.

Patrice Lambert, the director of health services for the Dubuque schools, began first aid while others in the group, which also included educators from Boston, Denver, New York, and Portland, Me., canoed 40 miles of dangerous rapids to seek help.

Those who remained with Mr. Thomas built bonfires and monitored his condition.

The firm Expeditionary Learning, which co-sponsored the trip with Outward Bound, won a grant from the New American Schools Development Corporation last summer to begin expeditionary learning programs in five districts.

The rafting group was learning firsthand about the educational concept, which stresses teamwork and expeditions in addition to classroom work.

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