Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Venturing Crew 851 Caving Trip


by Jeff and Katie Burt
 
Venturing is a co-ed, youth-run division of Boy Scouts, through which members have the opportunity to participate in a variety of high adventure activities. One such activity is the annual caving trip. Of course, for Crew 851, this does not involve your typical tourist-friendly cave with audio devices and hand rails. Instead, for a number of years, our adventurous bunch has preferred to crawl through damp, pitch-black tunnels and stumble through dusty caverns throughout MD and its surrounding states.

Thus, in the fall of 2016, Crew 851 embarked on yet another caving trip, this time, in the Cleversburg Sink Caves of Pennsylvania. After appropriate planning, involving permission form and tour plan creation, location selection, guide contacting, and gear briefing, our Crew was ready to go. So, on the morning of October 22nd, we drove to what, at first glance, appeared to be a deserted lot, featuring a disheveled garage and assorted debris. There, we met our experienced guides, who had led us on past trips, and together, we hiked a little ways to the hatched cave entrance. It is fortunate that our Crew members enjoy adventure, as our first challenges involved navigation down a few ladders with only the aid of our headlamps.

We then began exploring the often tight, steep, or muddy passageways under the direction of our guides. They led us to some remarkable spectacles such as the sand room and pipe organ, so that we could appreciate the cave’s naturally formed beauty. They also did a ‘lights off time,’ enabling us to experience true darkness.

A few hours in, we began our journey out of the cave, which was no less challenging or fun than the trip in. All the while, we practiced safety through our three points of contact and alternate sources of light. The adventurous youth often took alternate, more difficult routes, while some of the adults and first time cavers could opt for a less challenging options if they so desired. Therefore, it was a thrilling and incredibly fun experience for everyone.  Finally, we emerged from the underground wonder, covered, head-to-toe, in mud, but glad we had embarked on such an adventure nonetheless.


Questions?
If you want more information about taking youth groups caving, or you're just curious about what's involved with getting kids underground, visit the National Speleological Society - Youth Group Liaison Committee at www.caves.org/youth. Or you can email me directly at allenmaddox@youcave.org.

Thanks,
Allen


"Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but well placed footprint, kill nothing but time." - cavers' creed.




Monday, November 7, 2016

West Chester University Caving Trip

On November 5, 2016 I had the pleasure of taking the West Chester University E.A.R.T.H. Club on a caving trip. Two of them have caved with me before. But, for the other four, this was their first time caving.



 I was a little concerned when one of them said that she was a little claustrophobic. I explained that if there was anything they did not want to do, they have no obligation to do everything. There is always another way around in this cave. They all surprised me.

Not only did they go through every tight passage I could find, they climbed and squeezed spots most groups never attempt. As Michelle said, “They are fiercely brave.”

This was just a small group from the club. The idea was they would schedule more than one trip so everyone would have a chance at a great trip. If this is an indication of what the rest of the members are like, the next group should be awesome, too.

I’m hoping that they consider going on more challenging trips in the future. There is a lot they can look forward to seeing, and they all are capable cavers.

 Questions?

If you want more information about taking youth groups caving, or you're just curious about what's involved with getting kids underground, visit the National Speleological Society - Youth Group Liaison Committee at www.caves.org/youth. Or you can email me directly at allenmaddox@youcave.org.

Thanks,
Allen
"Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but well placed footprint, kill nothing but time." - cavers' creed.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Taking Troop 855 Caving

This past Spring I ran into Mike Rogers at the BSA NER Area 6 Phenomenon. I was there with the squeeze box promoting cave exploring to the Venturers. Mike was interested in taking his Boy Scout Troop caving.

After a while of playing tag with emails, we came up with July 1 as the day we would be taking members from Troop 855 caving in central Pennsylvania.

Troop 855 is a large Troop. The group that went was a small portion of the Troop. We’ll get the others underground at a later date. But these guys are going to take back some good stories from their day underground.

Want more proof? Here’s the video. Well, about 5 minutes of the three hour trip.


This is the premier of the new "Relax, the caver is here!" t-shirt. 
Just $24.95 and FREE SHIPPING

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

CAVING IS DIRTY BUSINESS

Project C.A.V.E.S. (Creative Adventures and Valuable Experiences through Spelunking) provided 18 high school students from across the state an authentic immersion in science outside of the classroom.  This seven day residential program for gifted science students was provided by a competitive grant from the Department of Education and hosted by the Ozarks Unlimited Resources (OUR) Cooperative on June 12-18.  Shelley Tomlinson, OUR Science Specialist and Sandra Johnson, OUR Gifted specialist worked together to secure the grant and administrate the program.  

The OUR Cooperative partnered with the National Park Service to provide a week of unforgettable learning experiences.  Buffalo National River Aquatic Ecologist Faron Usrey worked closely with the OUR staff to provide the facilities, caving equipment and access needed for a phenomenal experience. The students were housed at two Buffalo River ranger station locations including Toney Bend, near the Rush community, and Steel Creek, near Ponca.  


The location of the OUR Cooperative region provided the ideal physical geography for a summer cave camp.  The area is full of various wild and commercial caves with a rich history.  The campers were able to experience Back ‘O Beyond Cave, Willis Cave, Mud Cave, Indian Rock House, Lost Valley and a special designed tour of Blanchard Springs Caverns.  A key component in the success of the camp came from the leadership of a local cave expert, Chester Beck.    Mr. Beck began his fascination and love of caving when he attended Project CAVES camp as a student when Academic Enrichment for Gifted in Summer (AEGIS) Programs were first funded in the 1980s.   


This camp was designed to immerse students in advanced scientific concepts and research.  Through each day’s activities, student experienced the joy of discovery that is central to being a scientist.  Project C.A.V.E.S. incorporated professional and graduate students from branches of science into the week’s experiences to expose student to the interrelatedness and range of science fields.   Each day included activities out in the field and back at base camp.  Activities included investigative studies in the areas of cave eco-systems, karst geology, bat populations, and hydrogeology.   Instructors included Nathan Windel, Deer High School Science Instructor, Kenya Windel, Deer High School Literacy Teacher, and Jennifer Usrey, North Arkansas College Science Instructor.  For one session, the Arkansas Geological Survey provided a crew of teachers led by Angela and Sandra Chandler that led the students through a series of hands-on activities and a guided hike that focused on past environmental conditions that created the rock formations we see today. 


Students were selected to participate based on a competitive process including a student application and essay, teacher recommendation, administrator/counselor recommendation, as well as current transcript.  Eighteen students, nine female and nine male, participated representing the following districts:  Cabot, Fayetteville, Deer, Pulaski County, Genoa, Little Rock, Farmington, North Little Rock, Riverside, Jonesboro, Yellville-Summit, Berryville, Strong-Huttig, and Camden Fairview. The week was filled with many activities and assignments that challenged the students mentally, physically and socially.  The end result was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for all involved.
  Journal writing was part of the camp and provided great insight into the students’ views of the week.  One student wrote “One of the best experiences I have ever had.”  Another wrote “I can honestly say that I have never had an educational experience like this.  The people, instructors, and events have really changed my life.”  


The National Park Service sent a videographer, Weston Docktor, to spend the week with Project C.A.V.E.S. and create a video highlighting the partnership with the Buffalo River National Park Service.  The video will be posted on the Explore Nature Facebook page in late August (https://www.facebook.com/NatureNPS/?ref=br_rs).  


Academic Enrichment for Gifted in the Summer (AEGIS) was first introduced through ACT 3 of 1983 providing provisions and funding.  AEGIS programs were provided for many years serving hundreds of high-ability students with great success until funding was cut in 2001.  After a renewed interest and push at the legislative level, AEGIS was reintroduced during the 2015 session, but was dependent on the funding.  Limited funds were made available for Summer 2016, and Project C.A.V.E.S. was the only program funded.  


“The OUR Cooperative was extremely excited to receive the grant monies to provide such a unique opportunity for students across the state.  I believe that teachers and students alike were blessed by the experience.  Our hope is that funding will be increased and services continued for many years to come,” shared Sandra Johnson, OUR Gifted Specialist.  Students left Project C.A.V.E.S. having experienced science that is attainable, amazing and literally all around us, even under us! 

Visit Our Store

T-Shirts

https://youcave.store/collections/t-shirts
T-Shirts are made and printed in the U.S.A. When you purchase these products you will help kids stimulate curiosity, promote self-confidence, grow in a social environment, become a team leader, and learn about their environment; all by getting them involved with cave exploring. 









Questions?

If you want more information about taking youth groups caving, or you're just curious about what's involved with getting kids underground, visit the National Speleological Society - Youth Group Liaison Committee at www.caves.org/youth. Or you can email me directly at allenmaddox@youcave.org.

Cave Safely, Cave Softly, Cave Often,
Allen
allenmaddox@youcave.org

"Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but well placed footprint, kill nothing but time." - cavers' creed.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

September Newsletter 2016


Blog Post from August 2016

Setting Up A Cave Exploring Display Table

http://www.youcave.org/2016/08/setting-up-cave-exploring-display-table.html
This past year I was invited to a few events, held by other organizations, to set up a display and talk about why I take kids caving. As much as I enjoy it, I was not really prepared. I had some brochures and a few pictures and props, but nothing that made my display stand out in a room full of other displays.




Behind the Scenes of YOUCave

As some of you know, YOUCave is growing. What was once was a hobby blog has been becoming a full blow movement. What is the goal? For now it is to become a sustainable nonprofit on a mission.

Mission
To engage youth in unique underground discoveries that are coordinated to safely provide heightened sensory experiences and challenging physical and mental opportunities that build confidence, courage, and perseverance.

Vision
To provide groups and organizations our resources to strengthen their youth programing with cave exploring opportunities that promote environmental and cave conservation.

Values
Providing youth safe, fun, intentional and educational caving opportunities regardless of financial means.

What do you think?


Popular Post on Facebook in August

Caving with Troop 855

https://www.facebook.com/YOUCave.org/photos/?tab=album&album_id=1083415555080403
This was a great group of first timers. They were a small sample from a very large Troop.









Setting Up The Display Table

https://www.facebook.com/YOUCave.org/videos/1085483244873634/
I have done a few events in the past where a display table that attracts people would have been useful. There will be more of these events and I want to be ready. 








Visit Our Store

T-Shirts

https://youcave.store/collections/t-shirts
T-Shirts are made and printed in the U.S.A. When you purchase these products you will help kids stimulate curiosity, promote self-confidence, grow in a social environment, become a team leader, and learn about their environment; all by getting them involved with cave exploring. 








Questions?

If you want more information about taking youth groups caving, or you're just curious about what's involved with getting kids underground, visit the National Speleological Society - Youth Group Liaison Committee at www.caves.org/youth. Or you can email me directly at allenmaddox@youcave.org.

Cave Safely, Cave Softly, Cave Often,
Allen
allenmaddox@youcave.org

"Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but well placed footprint, kill nothing but time." - cavers' creed.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Behind the Scenes of YOUCave

As some of you know, YOUCave is growing. What was once was a hobby blog has been becoming a full blow movement. What is the goal? For now it is to become a sustainable nonprofit on a mission.

Mission

To engage youth in unique underground discoveries that are coordinated to safely provide heightened sensory experiences and challenging physical and mental opportunities that build confidence, courage, and perseverance.

Vision

To provide groups and organizations our resources to strengthen their youth programing with cave exploring opportunities that promote environmental and cave conservation.

Values

Providing youth safe, fun, intentional and educational caving opportunities regardless of financial means.

What do you think?

 Questions?


If you want more information about taking youth groups caving, or you're just curious about what's involved with getting kids underground, visit the National Speleological Society - Youth Group Liaison Committee at www.caves.org/youth. Or you can email me directly at allenmaddox@youcave.org.

Cave Safely, Cave Softly, Cave Often,
Allen
allenmaddox@youcave.org

"Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but well placed footprint, kill nothing but time." - cavers' creed.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Setting Up A Cave Exploring Display Table

2016 Earth Day at West Chester University
Sales and marketing are dirty words for most people. But, when it’s something you love to do it’s a joy. I enjoy spreading the word about how easy and fun it is to take kids caving.

This past year I was invited to a few events, held by other organizations, to set up a display and talk about why I take kids caving. As much as I enjoy it, I was not really prepared. I had some brochures and a few pictures and props, but nothing that made my display stand out in a room full of other displays.

I posted on Facebook my dilemma and asked for help and suggestions. As usual, my friends didn’t let me down. There were many fantastic ideas. So many that I cannot incorporate all of them right now. I have been able to use a good number of them. In the future I’ll be adding more of them.

I did a dry run to see what I have and set up the display table at home. I had to call in an expert designer to help me, my granddaughter Trinity. She has a much better sense of what looks good than I do.

Please don’t stop making suggestions now. I have a lot more events coming up this year and want to improve and changes things up every time. I’d also like to customize the display to the audience that is holding the event. Please keep the ideas flowing.

And if you know of an event, no matter the venue or location, please let me know. I’m always looking for more people to talk to about getting kids underground.

 Questions?

If you want more information about taking youth groups caving, or you're just curious about what's involved with getting kids underground, visit the National Speleological Society - Youth Group Liaison Committee at www.caves.org/youth. Or you can email me directly at allenmaddox@youcave.org.


Cave Safely, Cave Softly, Cave Often,

Allen
allenmaddox@youcave.org

"Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but well placed footprint, kill nothing but time." - cavers' creed.