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. You depend on the rest of your Crew, as they depend on you, to be safe. Everybody has a job to do. Everybody is responsible for everyone else. It’s an activity to be shared with others, as friendships grow strong when you face challenges together.
Caving is one of those activities that, with the proper guidance, you can go and do as a once in a life time activity with your Crew and have stories to tell for a long time. But if the caving bug bites you can never get enough. You look for any reason to put on your helmet and headlamp and poke around in the dark and the mud.
Those Venturers who are looking to do more than just a single tour can join or form a caving specific Venturing Crew. Those who have one in your Council are lucky. A little bit of paperwork and you're on board for a great adventure.
How do you find out if there’s a Caving specific Venturing Crew in your Council? Contact your Council’s Venturing Commissioner. Go to http://www.scouting.org/LocalCouncilLocator.aspx and punch in your Zip Code. Look for the phone numbers it gives you and give them a call. If you don’t get the answer your looking for right away, keep asking who’s in charge of Venturing in your Council. They’ll get you pointed in the right direction.
If you find one, go to a meeting and see who they are. Do they go caving often? Where do they go caving? Do they do other activities? Do they have equipment you can borrow before you make the plunge and buy your own gear? What is the cost of joining and what is expected of you after you join?
So now your part of a caving specific Venturing Crew, what else do you need to know? One good place to look is the National Speleological Society’s Youth Group Liaison web page at www.caves.org/youth. There is a link to a page that is specifically for BSA Troops and Venturing Crews at http://www.caves.org/youth/bsa_caving.shtml. From that page there are links to other important documents like the “Guide to Safe Scouting” caving section and the latest revision of “Caving: A Policy Statement and Guidelines on Caving Prepared by the Youth Groups Liaison Committee of the National Speleological Society and the Boy Scouts of America”. I’d like to go into a little more detail what in these documents and their importance, but I’m going to save that for another time.
And now that you are part of a caving Venturing Crew I’d like to know more about your Crew. Where are you located and what caving you have and are planning on doing? If you’ve run into a snag in you plans or you are going along smoothly, I’d like to hear from you. Please contact me, Allen Maddox, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
But you don’t have a caving Venturing Crew in your Council? Well, let’s put one together. The next article in this series will be on just that. Putting together a caving Venturing Crew.
Cave Softly, Cave Safely, Cave Often,
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