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Showing posts from 2010

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

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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…

Zahne's First Caving Trip

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We started this trip as a beginner trip for all the new people who have been coming to our Grotto meetings to check us out. We want to give everyone an opportunity to get underground as soon as they can.
Eventually showing up in Sunday morning was Steve Paylor and his girl friend Debbie. This would be her first caving trip. Amos was there. Marcy was there with there with her 2 nephews, Josh and Even. This was Evans second caving trip. Josh has been caving for several years already. Paul McKenzie was there with his two kids, Connor and Amelia, who have caved a few times before too. I was there with my grandson, Zahne. This was his first caving trip.

By the time we drove there and changed and sorted out gear we entered Carnegie about 12:30. The entrance wasn’t too wet. Fairly normal for this cave. As we entered into the first passage there was more water than the last time we were there. The duck under wasn’t very high, just a puddle and the main room only had water to just below my kne…

Caving with Crew 456

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Mark this on the calendar. Although I was not the first one there, I was early to a rendezvous point for a caving trip. Molly was already there and Amos was pulling in right after me with Marci, Josh, and Mikey. We were headed out to central PA and meeting up with Andy Field. Meeting us at the cave was Crew 456.

Josh has been caving with us for a while. He has several caves on his resume. This was Mikey's second caving trip. He was excited to try this cave after an enjoyable trip to Wind Cave.

We arrived at the property about 11:30. The owners were there already. After our greetings and suiting up we all gathered in the "cave house" where we divided up into 2 groups, Crew 9 in one group and Crew 456 in the other. Crew 9 went to the Earth Room first. It's tight, but the reward is great. Very well decorated with formations and preserved. Then we headed out towards the bigger passages of the cave. There is a little climbing, and little squeezing, and a little chimneying…

Welcome Joey Fagan as the NSS YGLC Regional Coordinator for VAR

The NSS Youth Group Liaison Committee has been looking to fill volunteer positions of Regional Coordinator for each of the NSS Regions. Joey Fagan has stepped up to the plate and offered his extensive knowledge of caving and cavers in Virginia and West Virginia, Joey is also active and knowledgeable in both Boy and Girl Scouts.
Instead of telling you about Joey here, read his web page at http://www.caves.org/youth/var_rc.html .

Harmony Days 2010

Dragon Breath Grotto took the squeeze box to Harmony Days in Honey Brook, PA to promote the caving club. there was some interest and some brave souls who squeezed down rather small. Maybe they'll come join us in a real cave and see what it's really like.





Dragon Breath and Philly Grottos Go Caving

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I got to our usual McDonald’s that we meet and Amos and Andy were already there and finished their breakfast. A little while later Steve arrived, then Katy and Pete. As we were getting ready to pack up the cars Krista arrived, just in time. Don’t trust those online directions.
We divided into two vehicles and took off to meet up with Bill near the cave. Of course I’m running behind schedule and was about 15 minutes late. But we all did get together and got to the cave, suited up, and carefully walked through the rows of corn find the entrance to our adventure for the day.

No one had been there for about a year and a half. The “gate” was filled with all kinds of debris. There’s not enough room for more than one person to work in there. It took Bill about 20 minutes or so to clean out the entrance and unlock the gate. Then one at a time we slid down the tube into the cave.
Many years ago before I had a chance to get into this cave I heard someone describe it as “sporty”. I now know that…

Laurel Caverns Episode 1

A few years back, in a previous life when I was a Scoutmaster, I had finally talked our Troop into going on a wild cave trip. We went to Laurel Caverns in western Pennsylvania (http://www.laurelcaverns.com/). This is really the ideal first time trip for Scouts to experience a dark cave tour. They supply most of what you need including the guides and the cave. They also have other activities than the dark tour like Climbing and Geology Merit Badge. They also offer a few Girl Scout badges as well.
We took the three hour dark tour. I'm trying to condense all the video into a one or two short glimpse of the tour. By the way, the kids in this video are all grow up adults now.

Meet Crew 77 Vertical Caving Team

Venturing Crew 77 is out of Edmond, OK. They've been doing vertical caving for a while and have developed a pretty good program around it. Check out their video on YouTube.




The Crew 77 caving program has been going on for about 7 years. We have explored small caves in Oklahoma, and have graduated to major caving expeditions to the Carlsbad Caverns area over spring break for the past several years. The vertical caving is a direct offshoot to our BSA rock climbing program. It combines the Single Rope Techniques we learn in climbing, and put them in a different and darker context.
We will typically have horizontal caving opportunities for younger crew members and scouts. These will have hiking and navigation opportunities in addition to very scenic and geologically important caves. Training will include trips to Oklahoma caves such as Culp Cave and the Selman Cave System in northwest Oklahoma. Professor Dr. John Bowen is our contact/liaison with UCO for access to the Selman Caves…

Encore: Dragon Breath Grotto at Hershey Cave 11-18-07

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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.
========================================================================================The Dragon Breath Grotto (www.dragonbreathgrotto.org) is an Independent Youth Grotto for young men and women 14 y/o (or13 and graduated the 8th grade) to 21 y/o. This was the first official caving trip for this grotto. Most of the members have caved in one form or another before, but this was the first trip as a group. The members from Dragon Breath that were there were Paul S., John L., Dan W., and Dan G. Members of the Philadelphia Grotto who were along were Amos, Marci, Steve Gadd, and myself (Allen) who is registered in both grottos.

It was in the low thirties and slight drizzle outside as we were suiting up to go inside the cave. We were looking forward to the relatively warmer fifty-five degree cave temperature. The newer guys did well with…

Encore: Corker Hill and Frustration Pit with Chester County Council VOA 2-25-06

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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.
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Kim’s Venturing Crew had caved with Philly Grotto before. While talking with her she told me she would like to talk to and set up a caving trip for the Venturers Officers Association. She spent considerable time and effort talking to the VOA and setting up this trip for them to Frustration Pit and Corker Hill. Their plan was to meet Philly Grotto at the Morgantown McDonald’s on Saturday morning.
I’d like to say the usual were there, but we were missing a few. Steve, Hanna, Paul, and I were there. I was able to borrow an extended cab truck from a friend so we could all ride together in relative comfort. The VOA was ready to go when I got there. They had a couple people drop out at the last minute, but we still had a good group. We loaded all the …

Dragon Breath Grotto Caving in Central Pennsylvania 5-23-10

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It’s been over a year and a half since I’ve been underground. We have some new blood in the Crew and they are ready to go,op6 too. We met up at the McDonald’s at Morgantown. Pete, Katie, Steve, and Andy were there before me. Marcy, Matt, and Andrew showed up just after I got there.
Pete’s been on two caving trips with us. Katie caved with another group once. This is the first for Matt and Andrew. Along to help out was Mindy, Steve, Andy, Ed, and Marcy, so we were well covered.

We arrived at the cave around 11 and were underground by 11:30. Took a moment to get our eyes adjusted then went to the first room. From here on in we pushed all the tight squeezes we could find. Did a little bloudering and scrambling, too. I think we covered almost every part of that cave. Over all it was over four hours and everyone was whipped by the end.
There was lots of mud on this trip. With all the rain we’ve been having and all the snow over the winter, the water table is a little high. Normally things…

Encore: Big V Day 2007

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Big V Day was an event, held by Chester County Council, BSA, that was open to the public and FREE. At this event there were several different activities that people could try. These activities were focused for the interest of High School and College aged young men and women.
I was there to promote caving, and in particular Dragon Breath Grotto, which has recently been chartered. Amos brought the Philly Grotto Squeeze box and I had set up a “dark” obstacle course. Terry was over at the C.O.P.E. Course demonstrating vertical caving skills.


In the begining a few people just walked by looking at the squeeze box kind of puzzled. I was able to talk a couple people into try it set up high at 12 inches. Once they got the knack of it, there was a continuous line to try it one more notch lower.


By the middle of the afternoon I had to take off, but we did have a three way tie for six inches. Here's a video of one of the those.


Most people did seem to enjoy it and most who tried were challenge…

NSS Youth Group Liaison Committee Regional Coordinators

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The purpose of an NSS Youth Regional Coordinator is to provide informational assistance to cavers, grottos, and youth group leaders so they may conduct safe and appropriate cave-related experiences. In addition to caving trips, these experiences may include presentations on ethics, geology, biology, techniques, and safety, as well as other topics of speleology.


Regional Coordinators:
adhere to all guidelines, policies, and requirements of the National Speleological Society (NSS). adhere to all guidelines, policies, and requirements of the appropriate youth group organization. treat all youth groups with equal consideration. make themselves available to grottos within their region, to assist them in working with youth groups. make themselves available to youth groups within their region, to assist them in conducting safe caving trips and learning about caves. promote responsible caving practices for youth groups. promote responsible caving practices by grottos and cavers when working wi…

BoG Candidate's reply on Youth Group Liaison Committee

The elections for the National Speleological Society Board of Governors is coming up. I sent an open letter to all the candidates asking them for their views on the role of the NSS Youth Group Liaison Committee and how they would support it if elected to the BoG. You an see in other post the reply from John Hoffelt, Bill Putman, Herman Miller, Jay Clark, and Gary Bush.

Even though I posted this invitation to comment on Cave Chat and emailed each candidate individually, I have not, as of the time of writing this post, heard from;
John LaMar Cole 35457RE
Debra Young 44886RE
Dr. Dean Wiseman 32690RL

I hope this has helped members understand the candidates position on youth groups and caving and will help you in your decision for electing the next Board of Governors of the National Speleological Society.

BoG Candidate Wm. Gary Bush's reply on Youth Group Liaison Committee

The elections for the National Speleological Society Board of Governors is coming up. I sent an open letter to all the candidates asking them for their views on the role of the NSS Youth Group Liaison Committee and how they would support it if elected to the BoG. I'm posting their replies in no particular order.

Your question about the Youth Group Liaison Committee’s role has special interest to me. One of your predecessors in the Chair position was my good friend, Jack Hissong. Jack passed away this past January. He had a very strong interest in working with and training youth groups in responsible caving. No doubt, his long association and efforts with the Boy Scouts fed his passion for the topic. Jack started the Youth Group training in the Greater Cincinnati Group and expanded its scope to lead scores of scout and youth group trips every year. Many were combined on matching weekends, so we could accommodate more groups. Jack recognized that the youth groups would be turni…

BoG Candidate Jay Clark's reply on Youth Group Liaison Committee

The elections for the National Speleological Society Board of Governors is coming up. I sent an open letter to all the candidates asking them for their views on the role of the NSS Youth Group Liaison Committee and how they would support it if elected to the BoG. I'm posting their replies in no particular order.

I see education and conservation as 2 of our main goals. Education starts at a young age and never ends. Proper education teaches conservation. Many youth groups have misconceptions about caves and the critters therein- that may have seen the descent and think there are creatures who reside there. I am in favor of starting cave education and conservation at a young age. I am the preserve manager for Tumbling Rock cave for the SCCi and we seen a great deal of traffic from young groups. I and the other manager work with each group to teach them about the cave and cave life. I am also in favor of trying to recruit new members from the ranks of weekend cavers who are not affil…

BoG Candidate Herman Miller's reply on Youth Group Liaison Committee

The elections for the National Speleological Society Board of Governors is coming up. I sent an open letter to all the candidates asking them for their views on the role of the NSS Youth Group Liaison Committee and how they would support it if elected to the BoG. I'm posting their replies in no particular order.

I feel that educating and involving our youth is paramount to our goals in the NSS and even having a Youth Group Liaison Committee (YGLC) should hint at such. I believe the YGLC should offer direction and advisement to the local grottoes whom ultimately either involve local youth or don't. At a national level I feel the YGLC could offer a voice to other organizations whose primary purpose is in getting our youth outside and away from the . If elected I would like to offer further support to both the YGLC and the JSS as I have already stated I feel our youth is our key to future success of the NSS and of our goals.
Herman Miller NSS# 55273SU BOG Candidate 2010

BoG Candidate Bill Putman's reply on Youth Group Liaison Committee

The elections for the National Speleological Society Board of Governors is coming up. I sent an open letter to all the candidates asking them for their views on the role of the NSS Youth Group Liaison Committee and how they would support it if elected to the BoG. I'm posting their replies in no particular order.

I believe the YGLC is a critical component of the NSS outreach efforts. I began my caving career as a Boy Scout, and we had no input or guidance form the NSS. We managed, but we could have been safer, better equipped, and more conservation=oriented if we had had some guidance. The YGLC has waxed and waned in effectiveness over the years. Overall, however, we have come a long, long way. Bill Steele knows all about that, since he has been an executive with BSA. Many good volunteers have made this progress possible. There are also many other groups that need our guidance - schools, churches, and summer camps, for example, often feature caving trips in the summer months.

It is …

BoG Candidate John Hoffelt's reply on Youth Group Liaison Committee

The elections for the National Speleological Society Board of Governors is coming up. I sent an open letter to all the candidates asking them for their views on the role of the NSS Youth Group Liaison Committee and how they would support it if elected to the BoG. I'm posting their replies in no particular order.

I do thank you for your contact and concern for support to youth groups. As for all organizations, the future of the NSS lies with the youth and upcoming generations; otherwise, we stagnate, grow old, and wither away. It is critical that we support parents and group leaders that are interested in showing youth proper and safe cave techniques and appropriate conservation ethics. Literally, the efforts we expend and invest today are the dividends and future we reap tomorrow. These dividends, if invested wisely in our youth, will reap benefits far beyond yours and my tenure in the organization.

The NSS should continue to provide information and local contacts to youth grou…

The North East Region 6 Venturing Quest 2010 Caving Demonstration

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It actually turned out to be a pleasant day. A little chilly, especially in the morning, but the sun stayed out and warmed up a little in the afternoon.

This year it was at Horseshoe Scout Reservation which is part of Chester County Council, BSA. Back in the old days when I was a Scoutmaster, this is where our Troop went to summer camp. This weekend it was transformed to accommodate over 400 Venturers and their leaders. The theme for the weekend was “Monty Python and the Holy Grail”. There were a lot of activities for these high school aged people to do from a climbing wall, zip line, Velcro walk, rang shooting, cooking and a mess of other things to my little old caving demo. Of course I loaded up the squeeze box along with the “cave in a box”, my laptop, and brochures from the National Speleological Society and Bats Conservancy International.

As usual the squeeze box became a hit and the competition for the smallest squeeze was in full swing. Not to bore you with all the details here…

Vertical Caving Skills

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OK, so you’ve done a few wild caves. Belly crawled in the mud, squeezed through the keyholes, chimneyed horizontal cracks. What’s next?
Vertical Caving adds a whole new dimension to the sport. You’ve seen those drops. Twenty or 30 feet or more. There are no handholds to climb in and out. But if you could climb a rope, that would work. You’re going to leave your rock climbing skills behind and join in a new group of “pit bouncers”.
Vertical Caving is where you rappel down a on a rope and climb back on a rope. There’s special equipment and skills needed to do this safely and efficiently. While there are some BSA Climbing Instructors and Climbing Directors that are vertical cavers and they can teach you these skills, generally it is better to find and join a Grotto (local chapter of the National Speleological Society) that has a strong vertical training and practice program. They will teach you what you need to know and will give you opportunities to practice and hone these skills above …

BSA Climbing Instructor Course

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Anyone who is 18 y/o or older and getting involved with BSA Troops and Crews caving should consider taking the BSA Climbing and Rappelling Instructor Course. I know what you’re thinking; climbing and caving are two different activities. And I’ll add that they are similar and I’d like to explain my thoughts on this.
Those of you who have done wild cave trips understand that there is a fare bit of crawling and squeezing into cracks and holes. There is also a fair amount of scrambling over breakdown, climbing over boulders, and chimining through cracks. In climbing terms this may resemble “bouldering”. Bouldering occurs where you need to spot someone who is not climbing more than shoulder high. There is no need for a belay while doing this. Sometimes you’ll be faced with having to belay someone who is climbing higher than you can safely spot them. When belaying you must to be anchored so you don’t get pulled off balance and fall yourself.
The BSA Climbing Instructors Course teaches you …

NSS Youth Group Liaison Regional Coordinator for NCA and OVR

The National Speleological Society Youth Group Liaison Committee (http://www.caves.org/youth) is connecting this generation of cave explorers and the next through youth groups seeking to include the sciences and arts of speleology and cave exploration in their program, by involving the Regional Coordinators, partners, associates, and Grottos.

We are developing the position of Regional Coordinator. There is an opening for a Regional Coordinator in the Ohio Valley Region and the Northwest Caving Association. This person will connect safe and ethical cavers and youth groups together. You can read what a Regional Coordinator does and does not do on our web site at http://www.caves.org/youth/coordinatorguidlines.shtml .

If you are, or know a person who cares for the quality of youth group programs. They may be cavers that are already involved with programs such as Boy Scouts, Girls Scouts, Boys and Girls Club, 4-H, Awanna, and others. I'd like to strongly encouraging each NSS Region to m…

New Mexico has a new Regional Coordinator

Deanna Younger is the new Regional Coordinator for the Southwestern Region of the NSS Youth Group Liaison Committee. Deanna has a lot of enthusiasm when it comes to caving as well as helping youth organizations with their caving program. Got questions about getting your youth group underground in New Mexico, check out http://www.caves.org/youth/swr_rc.shtml.

The Mega Crystals of Naica Mine: Big Pics : Discovery News

OK, so there's no youth groups involved in this, but what a magnificant cave to see and the pictures are great. Take and look and enjoy.

The Mega Crystals of Naica Mine: Big Pics : Discovery News

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Let's Move

This sounds like we need to get more kids out caving :-)


http://letsmove.gov/

"Childhood obesity or excess weight threatens the healthy future of one third of American children. We spend $150 billion every year to treat obesity-related conditions, and that number is growing.

Obesity rates tripled in the past 30 years, a trend that means, for the first time in our history, American children may face a shorter expected lifespan than their parents........."

WNS in Pennsylvania

This is from a local station and is a very well done story about White Nose Symdrome in Pennsylvania. Please take the 20 minutes and watch it.

How Ropes Are Made

http://bluewaterropes.blogspot.com/2010/01/how-ropes-are-made-bluewater-hq.html
When you have a chance, check out this blog on how ropes are made by Blue Water Ropes. Pretty cool.