Saturday, December 3, 2011

Caving with Venturing Crew 23 from Downingtown, PA

This trip was being planned since the summer. It seemed like the best time was "Black Friday". Everyone would be home from college and we'll some of us would rather be underground that fighting the crowds.
Enjoy..

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Intro to BSA Caving

Debbie Spoon is the Chair for the Caving Committee of the Utah Parks Council, BSA. She is also the Vice Chairman of the Timpanogos Grotto as well as a member of Utah County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue. She was tasked by the Utah Parks Council with devising a way to introduce Boy Scouts of America Volunteer Leaders to safe and ethical caving. Following the current BSA training platforms this was approached as a web instruction that the individual leader would view.
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This was not intended to teach the leaders to be qualified cave guides, but introduce them to the issues and suggestions to planning a safe, ethical, and fun caving activity for their Troop, Team, or Crew. After they view this and decide that they would still like to take their BSA Unit caving they must go through some more training that is being devised by the Utah Parks Council Caving Committee.
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While it’s only required for BSA leaders in Utah, I think it would be helpful to all BSA leaders. It is also good for cavers to view to help them to be familiar with BSA policies and understand what the BSA Leader is facing and can use help with while planning their caving activity.
Here’s the link;
http://utahscouts.org/openrosters/DocDownload.aspx?id=96853
What do you think??

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Caving with Brandywine Valley Association Summer Camp Adventures High and Low

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Brandywine Valley Association has a very good summer camp program for kids of all ages. Each week is a different theme for different age groups. This was the “Adventures High and Low” week and we took them caving for one of those days. We don’t usually take this age group caving, but BVA always seems to attract kids that are exceptional when it comes to a sense of adventure and curiosity. They did visit a commercial cave earlier in the week. It gave them an understanding of the basics of caves and caving. But they were eager to try a little wild caving.
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Amos, Keri, and I met them at their campsite early on Friday morning. They were all dressed and in the van and ready to go. When we got there we got all the helmets and lights out and distributed. We talked a little about what to expect and the basic safety rules of caving. We walked up the trail to the main entrance and they enjoyed the cool air breathing out of the cave. After one more helmet and light check they divided themselves into two groups. Amos led one and I led the other. We proceeded in and went in two directions.
In my groups were six kids, one councilor, and Keri was sweeping to make sure no one was left behind. Without going into too much detail on the cave we saw just about every part of it. These kids did all kinds of squeezing and climbing. They adventured into every place they could. A few of them kept asking to do the chimney. It was getting late, but they kept bugging me so we went to one of the other entrances so they could do the chimney passage. Even the ones who were hesitant did it and did it well.

They seemed to enjoy the trip. They were all tired and were probably going to sleep well that night. I hope the last side trip didn’t get them home too late.
Again another great group of kids from BVA went caving with us. Maybe some of them will come back next year. Maybe we made a good impression on most of them and they look us up when they are old enough to join Philly Grotto. The rest of the pictures can be found here. Enjoy...

Sunday, July 31, 2011

DBG Does the Ps

It started off as a good idea. We hadn’t been to the P Caves in over 2 years and wanted to get back there. The idea was a good beginner cave to invite a few new people on. As it turned out a few people had to back out at the last minute but we had enough to make it a Dragon Breath Grotto trip.
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Steve has been there a few times before and knew the place real well. Amos has been there a few times as well. I was only there once before. Mindy, Andy, and other Andy have not been there and were excited about checking it out. Three youths along for the day were Alex, Jayden, and Will. Alex and Jayden were newbies and this was Will’s 4th caving trip.
Steve thought it would be good to do Python Pit first. It’s a physical and sporty cave with a lot to see. There is a bit of climbing. Everyone did really well with the climbing, at least better than I did. It was real wet in the back and muddy everywhere else. We were in there at lease two hours poking around and trying to see as much as we could.
Next was the Persistence – Platter cave system. Getting too the next cave was a little challenging in that even though it was around 40 degrees, the wind was kicking at about 30 + MPH. Being wet and muddy was not good in the wind. But we got there and inside as quick as we could.
It was even wetter and muddier than the first cave. The rewards for this were some beautiful formations. We were cold but full of OOOs and AAAAAs.
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Some were getting too cold so we opted to get them out while the others continued on. The wind was picking up a little and the wind chill must have been around 10 degrees or below. Getting changed quickly with all that mud we brought back was a challenge. But everyone was finally in dry cloths and warming up.
All that exercise and cold weather does build up your appetite. We usually go for pizza afterwards, but Steve had the idea of stopping at Red Robin up nearer to Carlisle. It gave us time in the car with heaters on full blast to warm up. By the time we got there my fingers and toes where thawed out again and we were all hungry. I was very happy that even as a party of 8 they were able to seat us quickly and got us plenty of fluids and food.
Other than the wind dropping the wind chill to the single digits it was a great trip. Got to try this cave system again in the summer when getting wet is not a big deal. There are a few other spots on the property we’d like to poke into and didn’t have time. Next time.
Here's more pictures to check out.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Westtown School Caving Trip

I went and did a “cave talk” at Westtown School. They were very receptive to what I had to tell them and the idea of an adventure underground. There were probably 11 people at the cave talk. That's a good indication of how many people are going to show up for the trip. They said they had 15 people in all sign up. In my experience usually only 60% of the sign ups actually show up for the trip.
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We met them the morning of the trip at a rest stop along the way. Watching the kids at the rest stop I mentioned to the schools leaders that it looked like a good turn out. That's when they told me a last minute change in numbers. Instead of 15 people they had 16. WOW. Ok, so we did a little scramble and made sure everyone had their head covered and enough lights.
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After we were suited up and in the cave we divided into 3 groups of varying levels of abilities. Even though I had the group that was suppose to be the lower end, they did every squeeze and crawl we came across without a blink or hesitation. I even heard some laughs along the way.
I'm not going into go into a lot of detail. There's a mess of pictures and video to look at to see for yourself how they did. Check them out and enjoy the trip.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Caving with Friends

There are some great benefits from doing what I do. One is I get to meet some great people who I get to share my passion for caves and caving with. Another is with the pictures and videos I take I get relive it over again and share my fun with other friends. The last trip was no exception. But I’m starting to have to make tough decisions. How do you edit 4 hours of fun into a few minutes of video? So, OK, here are 2 videos from that last trip.
The first was a spontaneous light saber battle in the cave.


The other is a squeeze in this cave we call the “Wishing Well”. When you get into it you’re wishing you weren’t. 
 

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

DBG caving with Troop 76 4-2-11

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Saturday morning Linsey met me, Amos, and Steve at our normal McDonald’s meeting place with 2 new people. Emerson and Keri were going on their first caving trip with Dragon Breath Grotto. We’re going to meet Troop 76 at the rest stop before we get off the interstate to collect everybody.
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I stopped by one of their Troop meeting and talked to the kids and adults about gear, caves, bats, and answered a few questions. They seemed ready to go.
The Troop had 7 boys and 5 adults caving that day. We got to the property, suited up, got everybody helmets and lights and headed into the cave. Inside the entrance we had our review of the rules and double checked all the gear. Then we headed to the first big room where we divided into groups to go exploring.
Steve took Linsey, Emerson, and Keri in one group. We wanted to see how the new guys will do underground. Then the adults for Troop 76 divided their guys up according to age and ability. Amos took the more ambitious group and I took the younger guys.
I didn’t want to wear my guys out, so we limited our trip to about two and half hours. They did good with what I threw at them. I went back in to find Amos and his group. They were starting to wind down, too. They were out about 45 minutes after the first group.
Amos and I went back into find Steve and his group. They were still going strong and having a good time. Found out they were playing hide and seek with us and spent time hiding in the dark to avoid running into the other two groups.

Luckily Amos and I were there to see Keri and Linsey try one more squeeze. They did really well at it. By the time we exited it was about four and a half to five hours in the cave.
Everyone was tired and hungry so we changed and headed out to a dinner and had a small feast and headed home.
Emerson and Keri did really well. They seemed have an natural ability to moving underground. Their enthusiasm was unmatched as well. We’ll be seeing them soon. Need to take another Troop caving in a few weeks and they will be helpful with that trip.

For more pictures go to http://www.flickr.com/photos/trailsitter/sets/72157626438023646/
For more video see:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oo1xpAhs2Kc
and
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xVsoD6pst9s

Visit Dragon Breath Grotto at www.dragonbreathgrotto.org

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Changes to BSA Caving Document

There have been some changes to the caving policies document that all Units of the Boy Scouts of America use. The document in it's entirety can be found on the NSS web sites at http://www.caves.org/youth/19-102B.pdf. Just to highlight the major changes (but these may not be all the changes). If you are a BSA Leader or taking some Scouts caving, please read and understand this document. It's important to the caves, the caving community, and the image that BSA portrays as responsible cavers.


Old Version
New Version
NA
Important Things to Know
Cavers live by this creed:
Take nothing but pictures,
Leave nothing but footprints,
Kill nothing but time.
Safety-conscious cavers always:
• Wear a helmet with a chinstrap
• Have a headlamp on the helmet
• Have two other working lights in their
pack as backups
• Wear protective clothing and gloves
General Caving Policy
5. All Scout groups are required to have an approved tour permit for trips of all kinds. Cave activities are included under that plan. National tour permits are required for a trip of 500 miles or more; local permits are issued to cover shorter trips.
E. All Scout groups are required to have an
approved tour plan for all trips. Cave activities
are included under that plan.
Cave Safely
  • The leaders must have adequate first aid training and ability, and a comprehensive knowledge of the practices to follow in the event of an accident.
• The leaders must have adequate first-aid
training and ability, and a comprehensive
knowledge of the practices to follow in the
event of an accident. Wilderness First Aid
training is recommended for at least one
member of the group.
12. Not only the leaders, but every person on a cave trip should be aware of the necessity to constantly observe the whereabouts and potential problems of other members of the group and be ready to provide any assistance necessary.
F. Every person on a cave trip should be aware
of the necessity to constantly observe the
whereabouts and potential problems of other
members of the group and be ready to
provide any assistance necessary. The BSA
buddy system must be used.
Cave Conservation
19. Bats and all other forms of cave life must never be disturbed nor removed from the cave for any purpose. Many species of cave life are rare and have been brought to the verge of extinction by collectors and vandals. During the winter months, hibernating bats should be left strictly alone. Awakened too often, they will use up their winter’s store of fuel and die of starvation before summer. Most bats are extremely beneficial as insect eaters and should never be harmed. Some caves have been designed as special bat habitats and closed to entry for all or a part of each year.
C. Bats and all other forms of cave life must
never be disturbed nor removed from the
cave for any purpose. Many species of cave
life are rare and have been brought to the
verge of extinction by collectors and vandals.
During the winter months, hibernating bats
should never be disturbed. Awakened too
often, they will use up their winter’s store
of fuel and die of starvation before summer.
Most bats are extremely beneficial as insect
eaters and should never be harmed. Some
caves have been designated as special bat
habitats and closed to entry for all or a part
of each year.
White Nose Syndrome is killing many bats
throughout the United States. Before going
caving, contact local wildlife experts and ask
about the presence of White Nose Syndrome.
23. Spent carbide should be removed in suitable containers, never dumped in the cave. Once removed from the cave, it should be deposited in roadside trashcans or similar locations, never dumped on the ground. Spent carbide is toxic and will cause sickness and death when eaten by animals. Farm livestock in particular is often harmed this way. An inexpensive plastic bag is ideal for carrying carbide waste safely and easily. Spent carbide still emits a certain amount of acetylene gas and severe burns can result from accidental ignition. Some cavers prefer to use spare bottoms filled with fresh carbide for their carbide lamps, removing and capping the spent one and installing a fresh one as necessary. Never leave used batteries in a cave, either. Pack out everything taken into a cave.
G. Never leave used batteries in a cave, either.
Pack out everything taken into a cave.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Caving with Troop 106

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December is a tough time of the year to organize a caving trip. Holiday parties and family gatherings take precedence. But it does make a nice brake and distraction from finals, school, and work.
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Steve, Amos, and I were there from Dragon Breath Grotto to take members of Troop 106 from Paoli caving. We meet them at a rest stop in central Pennsylvania. They had originally predicted 16 members going but had dwindled down to eight hardy souls to brave the cold weather today.
When we arrived at the cave we suited up and distributed the helmets and headlamps. We entered the gate and talked a little about the cave and what to expect. They divided themselves into two groups. Amos lead one group and Steve lead the other as they headed into different parts of the cave.
It also happened that there was a group from Franklin County Grotto there that day as well. They were taking a couple new cavers in as well. We crossed paths every once in a while, but for the most part the groups were separated by sight and sound.
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After a few hours and few from Steve’s group wanted to take a short break and get something to eat. This is usually the sign of the end of the trip. But a few from this group wanted to go back in again. Amos’s group had exited the cave earlier and some from that group had re-entered as well. Eventually we all met up and poked in some areas that we don’t usually look into. These guys were curious and patient enough to want to explore.
When you’re underground time tends to get away from you and as usual we realized it was 4:30 and we had better start heading out.

All in all we were underground almost 5 hours. These last diehards were energetic and wanted to get their fill of caving. I think they did. They were a great group of kids and I hope to see them underground again someday.

For more pictures of this trip go here.