Sunday, February 8, 2015

Gretchen Hartman: A Strong Leader & Teacher of Leaders


Re-blogged with permission from Extrodinary Women Leaders in Speology http://extraordinarywls.blogspot.com/




Besides being an impressive caver, Hartman recently earned the Venturing Silver Award from Venturing Crew 363 after chartering Ephrata’s Our Mother of Perpetual Help Church and serving as president of Crew 363 for two years. As president, she has been hailed for increasing membership of her crew. Her scouting experience has included being the first female youth in the Pennsylvania Dutch Council to attend National Youth Leadership Training. She also has served on the staff at Bashore Scout Reservation as an open-water lifeguard, teaching Boy Scouts the skills for canoeing, kayaking, and rowing merit badges.
SOURCES
Image: Allen Maddox




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. I’d enjoy hearing from you.


Subscribe to our newsletter Join me on Twitter @youcave. Check us out on Face Book and Google+. And share us with your friends. If you ask a question in the comment section I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.

Thanks,
Allen


“Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but well placed footsteps, kill nothing but time.” – cavers’ creed

National Speleological Society Youth Group Liaison Committee. The youth group’s connection to caves and caving.


Sunday, February 1, 2015

Women Cavers: Extraordinary Women Leaders in Speleology - Katrina Berry Leader & Environmentalist

Katrina Berry is a 20 year old college student who has been caving with the NSS youth program for 2 years. In this short time she has shown to be a very strong leader and organizer. She attend her first MAR event and is known as a dependable resource by members of the Philadelphia Grotto. Berry has planned and ran her own trip of 12 Scouts and leaders to caving in West Virginia. She is working and studying to become an Environmentalist. "I have no doubt she will be doing this [accomplishing in an Environmental career] soon. She is currently helping me plan several other future trips, at least one of which will be outside of the USA. Her leadership is exemplary." says Allen Maddox, NSS Youth Liaison Committee Chairperson.
SOURCES
http://www.youcave.org/
Image: Allen Maddox

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Venturing in Sharps Cave West Virginia

We still love Pennsylvania caves, but we wanted to see something really different. We wanted to see a big cave with big rooms and big passages. We also wanted to see a waterfall, inside a cave. We also wanted a weekend to hang out, our second favorite activity.

We found a Scout Camp that was within driving distance of the cave. Made our reservation and took a long weekend off for a 5 hour drive. Yes, it was far drive, but it was well worth it. The cabins were great, the food was great, and the company was fantastic.
Enjoy the video and the pictures.
http://youtu.be/x2xmQKrWcAk



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. I’d enjoy hearing from you.


Subscribe to our newsletter Join me on Twitter @youcave. Check us out on Face Book and Google+. And share us with your friends. If you ask a question in the comment section I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.

Thanks,
Allen


“Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but well placed footsteps, kill nothing but time.” – cavers’ creed

National Speleological Society Youth Group Liaison Committee. The youth group’s connection to caves and caving.


Sunday, January 18, 2015

Alex Diamond is a Youth Leader in Caving


Alex Diamond is a recipient of the Venturing Silver Award from the co-ed division of Boy Scouts Venturing Crew 23 - the 15th recipient of the award in 17 years! Diamond has been in the Venturing program since 2010. Before then, she was a founding member of Crew 56 where she served as vice president for two terms and became crew president. In 2011, Diamond became a certified “Leave No Trace” trainer, and she has served on the staff of Horseshoe Scout Reservation’s Camp Ware for the past three years, where she most recently taught outdoor skills to Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts.
Besides this, 18 year old Diamond has been caving with the NSS youth program, for about 4 years. Not only is she a strong caver, but she has planned, organized and carried out her own caving trips and plans on doing more. She has taught different skills at the National Youth Leaders Training course.
"She is also in high demand as an instructor and organizer for Scouting projects throughout Chester County Council. Because she is such a strong caver, certified in Wilderness First and and CPR, she is my choice to sweep any of my trips. I have no hesitation of putting my life in her hands.” says Allen Maddox, NSS Youth Liaison Committee Chairperson.
Way to go Alex. Thank you for being an Extraordinary Woman caver. Thank you also NSS Youth Liaison Committee for supporting young women to become leaders in caving!
SOURCES
Image: http://townlively.com/local-youth-wins-venturing-silver-award/
http://www.youcave.org/
Image2: Allen Maddox
Reprinted with permission of;
Women Cavers: Extraordinary Women Leaders in Speleology
www.ewls.org

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. I’d enjoy hearing from you.


Subscribe to our newsletter Join me on Twitter @youcave. Check us out on Face Book and Google+. And share us with your friends. If you ask a question in the comment section I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.

Thanks,
Allen


“Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but well placed footsteps, kill nothing but time.” – cavers’ creed

National Speleological Society Youth Group Liaison Committee. The youth group’s connection to caves and caving.


Sunday, November 30, 2014

CAVING WEST VIRGINIA – UNDERGROUND ADVENTURE! With Calvary Temple Youth

November 17, 2014
Group Meeting Room

I was trying hard not to chuckle as I heard the familiar complaints: “Dude, that is not my foot!” and “I am pretty sure there is no way out of here!” I was perched in a small tunnel opening in the lowest chamber of a cave that we take the Calvary Temple youth group into. We were 100 feet underground about two hours from Calvary Temple in Sterling Virginia (link).
I was trying to be quiet so that I don’t give away my position. Caving Pancake room Even more than the rappelling, chimneying, navigating the pancake room, or lunch, I enjoy the “lights out” challenge the most. The kids are taken to a “safe” passageway in the cave where there are no cliffs or otherwise dangerous drops and then they must turn of their lights, choose a leader and proceed to find me hidden in the tunnel. The roughly 50 yard journey only takes about three minutes with the use of a light but in the chaos of total darkness it can take 20 to 40 minutes.

Lunch Underground
Now if you are imagining a large cave with a flat floor like the mountain guru of the comic strips would live in, than you are mistaken. If you have ever been spelunking in one of the fine limestone caves near the Potomac river in West Virginia you know that they are damp and slippery. The caves in this area rarely have a room or tunnel with little or no slope. The ground water that makes it into the cave is full of very fine sediment that produces super slippery, sticky mud.

When we begin the “lights out” challenge it is fascinating to hear who in the group is chosen to lead. Then the group must establish commands and orders to follow in the dark. The first commands are rather humorous. Directions like “Look over here” and “see where I put my foot” are useless. Those commands are quickly mocked because in a cave without any source of light you cannot see your hand or anything even if it is one inch in front of your face. This is also a good time to remind the youth of the darkness and loneliness of hell and how much Father loves us to keep us from eternal darkness (follow this link to see how to avoid hell). It reminds me of Matthew 6:23 that says that if your light be darkness how great is that darkness. Matthew 15:14 also comes to mind about leaving them alone for they are the blind leading the blind. I could hear the blind trying to lead the blind.
Rigging for a long descent

For a while everybody talks at once, giving their opinion of where they should go or what my last instructions may have been. Some of the teams over the years have been very disciplined, purposing to hold hands and let the leader be the only one speaking. These teams usually succeed rather quickly. The leader then fans out feeling around the cold damp walls for where the next opening in the tunnel may be. Since you are climbing up over sections of rock in the tunnel that could be eight feet tall, the team must work to together to hoist each other up over the obstacles. Tunnels will open into rooms where they must decide, by feel, which is the passage out to the next tunnel.
Caving Tunnel

The trickiest part of the challenge is when they get to the last room. The tunnel that I am hiding in is up in the corner of the room and is difficult to find. It gets very narrow so I have had some leaders get within a couple of feet of my face and turn around because they couldn't tell that it was the way out. It is at this point that they usually get quite frustrated and want to each express their distrust of the leader. The good leaders, of which we have had many, usually stop the group from talking and begin to get quiet.

One of the fascinating things that happens when you lose your sense of sight is that other senses begin to heighten. Your sense of hearing increases. You can feel subtle things, like the slightest breeze. Good leaders stop and listen for the sound of my breathing or the steady dripping of water coming from the large cavern at the opening where I hide. Some have even felt the slight air moving from the tunnel to the large outer chamber.

Jim and I getting our bearings
It is a big relief when they finally reach my boot or touch my leg and I turn my light on.
The team had to organize, communicate, and move through a complex obstacle in a very unfamiliar environment. It is one of the best activities to build teamwork that I have been a part of.
My wife Kimberly and I with some of the gang


Throughout their journey they have had to trust and help each other every step of the way. They have had to learn how to advance between two cave walls where there is no floor by wedging their bodies between the two walls with their feet on one side and their back on the other, a practice called chimneying. Each member of the group has had to trust the one going before him to direct him to hand and foot holds. The person behind him must be ready to support him should he fall.


I have yet to get our senior pastor, Pastor Star R. Scott (click here for link) into the cave. I hope to get him in there one of these days. This is one of the best youth events of the year. It is an unforgettable experience. It teaches teamwork, causes one to learn how to function in a completely foreign environment, and builds community. It is not uncommon to speak to kids that were in my youth group many years ago, who have kids of their own who testify that if they could get through the cave they could do anything!

Reprinted with permission; https://calvarytempleyouth.wordpress.com/2014/11/17/caving-west-virginia-underground-adventure/

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. I’d enjoy hearing from you.


Subscribe to our newsletter Join me on Twitter @youcave. Check us out on Face Book and Google+. And share us with your friends. If you ask a question in the comment section I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.

Thanks,
Allen


“Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but well placed footsteps, kill nothing but time.” – cavers’ creed

National Speleological Society Youth Group Liaison Committee. The youth group’s connection to caves and caving.


Sunday, November 23, 2014

Crew 363 Lock In

Crew 363 has been doing the Lock In for 3 years and used the Squeeze Box for 2 of those to help them recruit and show how much fun their Crew is. This year I stayed to help.
For those who don’t know what a Squeeze Box is, it’s a tool that cavers use to see how small of a space they can get into, and out of again. It’s also a lot of fun to play with and the kids enjoy this as much as adults do. Probably more. They try to beat each other’s record and try to beat their own previous smallest squeeze.














The one thing I forgot about with Lock Ins is that nobody really sleeps. It was tough to keep up with them.

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. I’d enjoy hearing from you.


Subscribe to our newsletter Join me on Twitter @youcave. Check us out on Face Book and Google+. And share us with your friends. If you ask a question in the comment section I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.

Thanks,
Allen


“Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but well placed footsteps, kill nothing but time.” – cavers’ creed

National Speleological Society Youth Group Liaison Committee. The youth group’s connection to caves and caving.


Monday, November 3, 2014

Argenta Cave Trip Report

June 14, 2014
Troop 214 from Helena, Montana participated in a caving trip to the Argenta Cave in Southwest Montana. This trip was the end goal of the Venture Patrol that began last year with a presentation on caving from Vern Bowden, a member of the National Speleological Society, an introductory trip to the Dragon’s Breath Lava Tube in Idaho, several training sessions to practice rappels and vertical rope climbs.
The trip to Argenta started with mapping the location on the USGS quad map with coordinates provided by Vern. Most caves are no longer shown on quad maps due to vandalism. It is recommended to contact the local Grotto to find out more about caves in your area and to enlist a caving guide to assist with training, cave etiquette, and proper cleaning procedures to limit the risk of diseases to bats.
The two hour trip brought the Patrol to a primitive campground after seeing elk, deer, jack rabbits, and a bald eagle. Bear scat was evident in the area and numerous wildflowers were in bloom. It was estimated that snow must have left the site about two weeks prior to our arrival. The patrol unloaded, setup camp and then had a great game of bocci ball to pass the time away. It appeared that we might get rained on, but the storm clouds passed us by. Since the snow was melting at higher elevation, a local creek was running high. A few hundred feet away from the cave entrance, the creek disappeared into the ground.
Vern and his son Anthony (affectionately known as Crunch) arrived at the site about 8am and rigged the ropes, a primary and a backup, at the entrance to the cave. The Patrol finished breakfast, donned caving harnesses & helmets, checked for three sources of light with backup batteries, water, pee bottles, first aid, and snacks. The Patrol members checked each other’s harnesses and we arrived at the entrance to the cave.
The entrance to the cave has a perimeter wooden fence that served as a boundary. Crunch entered the cave first with a cry of “On Rope” and Vern remained behind to ensure that each scout was properly harnessed and gave the proper commands. The descent to the cave is estimated to be about a 40 foot drop. The first part was near vertical with ice clinging to the rocks, making for a slippery rappel. The last 15 feet was pure vertical with no wall to brace your feet on. While scouts were descending on either 8-rings or ATC’s, Vern commented on the ferns that grow around the cave entrance. This is fairly common at the entrances to caves that breathe, helping to maintain a somewhat constant air temperature year round. We used 11 mm pit rope for this and one of the ATC’s could not be used due to the very stiff nature of the rope. This rope is much stiffer than static rope and much stiffer than dynamic rope used by climbers.
When all of the scouts finished their rappels, we proceeded into the darkness. We climbed down a rocky path and observed ice goblins (stalagmites made of ice). Deeper in the cave, Anthony setup another rope to assist with another climb down. This rope was left behind to help us climb back up on the way out. Vern and his family have been to this cave many times in the past and seemed to know their way around extremely well. Vern and Crunch have been to caves all over the country and have found and mapped new caves.
The Patrol took a photo by a large pipe organ formation. Names were seen all over the cave. This is not what we do today as it takes away from the cave. The cave is a unique environment and we leave nothing behind except our footprints. Older signatures from as far back as the 1860’s were observed written in the soot from carbide lamps. Long before batteries lit the way.
We turned our lights off at one point in the trip and made sounds like a cave animal. Thankfully, no answers came back. We did keep out eyes open for bats, but none were seen.
Most of the cave was tall enough to stand in, but to access some locations, we had to get on our hands and knees, and then on our bellies. The Mousehole was one of these locations. To get there, you had to wiggle on your belly backwards for about 20 feet. The Mousehole seemed to be only 12” wide but must have been larger. It is actually 6”x18”. Crunch and Daniel were the only ones able to enter the chamber beyond the hole. Crunch commented that someone appeared to have been working in the chamber as it now goes back another 8 feet from the last time he was there.
Moving though the caves, Vern commented on stalactites that were destroyed by vandalism. It will take hundreds of years to regrow these unique structures that hang from the ceiling. Crunch showed us how the calcite deposits would glow from lights. It would be difficult if you had to rely on the light provided by others in some of the tight crawl spaces.

We climbed up to the “Lake” by climbing up about 12 feet to a ledge and then climbing up another 10 feet or so. We crawled on our hands and knees to the “Lake” where we crossed while attempting to stay dry. The “Lake” is a puddle that is about three feet wide and around 6-9” deep. There is no way around the “Lake”, so we had to go over the top of it. Most of us got wet. Right after that was another small crawlspace that required you to wiggle on your belly to get through.
This opened up to a larger chamber. Coming out was a lot easier that going in, simply because you knew that you could do it. This was described as being a little larger than a birth canal. A caver’s terminology.




One part of the cave had old spikes hammered into the wall with a rope hanging down. Daniel and Brandon each made it to the first ledge and then guided back down with words from Ed, an experienced mountaineer.
Other small holes were accessed and smiles were evidenced on all, including Mark and Jake. “This is fun” was heard from more than one scout as well including Logan who had nothing but happy thoughts.
In all we learned new skills, overcame our fears, and pushed ourselves to places that we never thought we would go. Lots of encouragement was shared all day and this helped us to continue on. No one was pushed into places that they did not want to go.
We arrived back at the entrance and put on the ascending part of the harness. Most of us used the Frog system to ascend, and two used the ladder system. The Frog system is typical for cavers, and is comprised of a chest mounted Croll and a hand ascender with a foot loop. The ladder system is mostly used by mountaineers and climbers and uses two hand ascenders and a foot strap. Individually, we climbed vertically up the rope for about 15 feet where we met a ledge where the rope held tight to the rocks. To get past the ledge, we had to detach the hand ascender and reattach it to the rope past the ledge. We continued up past the ice towards the light and near the end we were able to climb without the use of the ropes. Safety was adhered to at all times and no one was injured.
A group photo was taken at the end. In all we were in the cave for about 6 hours at a constant 41 degrees. If you asked any of us how long, we wouldn’t know if it had not been for watches. I’m not really sure if time stood still while we were gone or if it sped up. The outside world was foreign for only a few seconds while we readjusted to the warmth and the light of the sun. Even though it was obscured by clouds and a slight snowfall.
The Boy Scouts are fortunate to have members like Vern and Anthony who are willing to share their experiences with us. We will preserve the caves like we preserve our memories. Leave only footprints.


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. I’d enjoy hearing from you.


Subscribe to our newsletter Join me on Twitter @youcave. Check us out on Face Book and Google+. And share us with your friends. If you ask a question in the comment section I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.

Thanks,
Allen


“Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but well placed footsteps, kill nothing but time.” – cavers’ creed

National Speleological Society Youth Group Liaison Committee. The youth group’s connection to caves and caving.