Showing posts from October, 2009

Caving With Girl Scouts of Eastern Pennsylvania Council 11-18-18

Yes, they were at it again. This time there were two new Troops to introduce to caving. Eastern PA Council set this one up at the same time as the one in October. This trip originally had sixteen people, but one Troop backed out at the last minute. It’s a shame because they missed a very good time with these girls. Maybe they’ll come out again when they can. We have been having a tremendous amount of rain and unprecedented snowfall for this time of year. As a result the cave actually had a good bit of water in it.

I like to use this cave for beginner trips because it is stable. But I’ve never seen this much water in this cave. Parts that usually have a little sticky mud had water over the top of my thigh. I choose to avoid the lower parts of the cave. For most of the girls this was their first wild caving trip. I didn’t want to take any chances with them and I didn’t want anyone cold and miserable. But they all got very muddy, and had a blast. How could I tell? Watch the video. L…

BSA Caving: Guide to Safe Scouting Section on Caving

General Policy

Caving can be a hazardous activity when the proper equipment, skills, and judgment are not used. Trips that are led by adults inexperienced in caving and trips containing large numbers of persons compound the hazards already inherent in the activity and create a potentially dangerous situation.

1. All caving, other than simple novice activities, should be limited to adults and young people 14 and older—members of Venturing crews and older Scouts in troops, and teams. "Simple novice activities" means commercially operated cave excursions.
2. Units (teams, troops, crews) that include cave visits in their program, whether for one trip or many, must adhere to the two-deep leadership policy of the Boy Scouts of America (two registered adult leaders, or one adult and a parent of a youth member, one of whom must be 21 or older). These leaders must be responsible, mature adults who are constantly present with the group. One cave trip leader must be highly qualified throu…

Part 3, The Program – Cave Exploring Elective for the Ranger Award – Learning About Caves and Caving.

One of the easiest ways to start looking at developing a program for a caving focused Venturing Crew is to look at the Caving Elective for the Venturing Ranger Award. It’s broken down into several sections. Doing this will help you develop your knowledge of caves and caving. Not just the geology, but the biology and history as well. It will help you understand what is safe and unsafe to do while caving. It will help you understand the need to be a steward to caves and karsts environments and all that live in around them.

If you’ve done what was described in Parts 1 and 2 of this series, and you sent me an email abut your Crew or potential Crew, and you asked for help and/or information, you have already done the first requirement. If you haven’t, send an email to I also recommend going to the NSS brochures web page ( and download the available brochures and order a few of the ones that there are hard copies for. Get enough t…

Caving Specific Venturing Crews: Part 2 Creating a Caving Venturing Crew

Part 1 of this series was an intro to caving focused Venturing Crews and how to join one in your BSA Council. But what if there is not one one in your Council. Are you just out of luck?
Those who can't find a Venturing Crew with a specialty registration 1020 Spelunking / Caving still can form one with a little Internet research and the desire and passion to get underground.
How do you go about forming a caving specialty Venturing Crew? There is no one single good way. You have a few options. I’ll try to outline a few different directions you can try.
But first you need to talk to your friends. See if there is an interest among them to form a Crew to do this type of adventure on a regular basis. You’ll need at least five youth members to form your Crew. You may have to go outside your current circle of frineds to find people interested. Check with your Council's Venturing volunteer. It could be a Venturing District Commissioner, VOA (Venturing Officers Association) Advisor, or o…

Encore: Tempel University Geology Club Caving Trip 11-22-08

Since Geocities is closing down, I have to move all my trip reports. They are in a sort of blog form, so I'll be moving them over here, one at a time.
This is another trip that's been months in the making. The original idea of taking the Temple University Geology Club was Allison Deratzian's. Allison is a member of Philly Grotto and teaches geology at Temple University. We coordinated with Dr. Laura Toran and between all of us came up with a plan to get the geology students underground. There were some administrative challenges, but you'll have this with any organization, but it was all very worth while.
We finally met up with Dr. Toran and the students Saturday morning about 11:00 AM at a rest stop along I-81. It was very cold and windy that morning. Wind chills felt like in the 20's. But we made introductions and played follow the leader to the cave.
When we arrived we got ready for caving …

Caving Specific Venturing Crews: Part 1

In my opinion, Venturing and caving are a good fit. Caving involves a good bit of crawling, climbing, and squeezing. Put on top of that a cave is an absolutely dark environment. There are spaces that are just big enough to squeeze your helmet through and rooms so large your light doesn’t shine on the walls or ceiling. There are is mud so sticky it pulls your boots off, yet so slippery it’s a challenge to stay on you feet. There are pits so deep and black you can’t see the bottom. There are caves with rivers running through them and waterfalls. Caving is physically and mentally a challenging adventure.
There is a lot of beauty in the natural formation in a cave. Stalactites, stalagmites, helectites, rimstone dams, and crystals form on every surface. If you look close you can find fossils that have been embedded for millions of years. There can be standing pools of water so clear you have to look twice to make them out, or so murky you can’t see past the surface.

Caving is a team sport. Y…