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Showing posts from 2012

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…

What Did You Do This Year?

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The Youth Group Liaison Committee is part of the outreach and education program of the National Speleological Society. What did you do in 2012?


• Have you taken kids caving this year?

• Has your Grotto taken any kids caving this year?

• Do you know someone who has or continues to take kids caving?

We would like to hear from you. Tell us your stories. Let us know your joys and pains.
Please send any stories, trip reports or pictures to nssyouth@caves.org.

Please forward this through your caving and youth organization contacts.If you haven't already, please subscribe to YOUCave to get all the posts sent to your email inbox. Your email address will never be sold or distributed.Feel free to comment below. I try to answer all coments.

Thanks,
Allen
"Take nothing but picture, leave nothing but well place footprints, kill nothing but time." - caver's creed

PA Dutch Venturing Roundtable

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I’ve been asked a couple times to give a talk about caving at a Venturing Roundtable for the Pennsylvania Dutch Council, BSA. I finally got it on my schedule without conflicts. As it was only a 45 minute drive I should have done a talk for them sooner. Damian and Gretchen came along to help me out and learn more about these cave talks.


The challenge is that each talk is different. Each is catered to the specific group I’m talking to and their interests. I don’t usually know all this until I see them and start talking. Some of the material I plan on getting across is the same for all groups. Safety, biology, geology, LNT, land owner relationship are the basic topics. How much I cover on each and other topics depends on the group’s interests. If I see eyes glazing over I change topics and go onto something more active. If they start asking specific questions, I spend more time on that subject.

These folks have their Venturing Roundtable then break off for a Venturing Officers Association …

After You've Caved a Mile in His Boots, Then You Can...

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Phillip Rykwalder wrote an excellent article on "Cave Now" about BOOTS (http://cavenow.com/?p=1446). He says that when asked what to wear when caving his first answer is "boots".

Good Answer.
I've not thought about that as the number one answer until now. After all when we take Scouts and other youth groups caving we supply helmets and lights. The rest of the gear they must supply themselves. So he's saying not worry about the helmet and light, I'm taking care of and worrying about that. Here's your number one concern for personal safety equipment. BOOTS!!

What He Said!!
He goes on to explain, "The correct footwear can literally save you underground. Boots offer great traction to save you from spills, slips and falls - and the wrong footwear leaves you more prone to all of the above. Caves are full of mud, loose rocks and crumbly dirt that are properly dealt with by footwear with deep, open lugs and a firm (but compliant) sole. Overly soft shoes (…

I ‘m a Dirty Boy

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I was looking through my notes and realized I never told you all about my adventure with Troop 8 from Downingtown, PA (http://hopewelltroop8.com/) Yeah, I know. Troop 8 meets in Gutheriesville at the Township Building, but more people know Downingtown, PA. Or do they???

The Cave Talk
I was invited to go talk to them at one of Troop 8’s meetings. All my gear and other stuff I had to carry up to the second floor, but it was worth it. These guys were great to be around. They asked questions and put up with my talk about cave geology and biology. They just wanted the adventure and get underground. That’s normal for this age group.
The Cave
We went to one of our favorite caves and distributed helmets and lights and suited up. Heading inside and up to the first room they soon understood what I was talking about when I told them to maintain three points of contact. We divided into smaller groups and headed on into different parts of the cave.

The guys in my group you could tell had done high …

Girl Scouts in Service to the Lewis and Clark Caverns

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This article was originally posted on the Caving News on 11/7/12. This is re-posted with permission.


A local Girl Scout troop recently ventured underground to help clean up Montana’s Lewis and Clark Caverns.
Lewis and Clark Caverns, the main attraction of a state park of the same name, have been open for tourists off and on for more than a century. During the years lint from thousands of visitors has accumulated inside the cave.
Comprised of clothing fibers, hair, dead skin cells, dust, and other foreign objects, the build up of lint negatively impact the cave environment by interfering with formation growth, and adding an artificial food source for cave life.
Equipped with toothbrushes, dustpans, brushes and garbage bags the Girl Scouts worked meticulously removing the unnatural deposits.
"It was so satisfying to me to look up from my own meticulous work and see the headlamps of our troop scattered about this amazing place, all intent on their chosen area," - Ann Brooks, G…

Three Stitches Later

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A Little History With Crew 94
I had met some of the members ofVenturing Crew 94 when we all went to Phenomenon 2012 this pastspring. Some of us from Dragon Breath Grotto Venturing Crew 9, andVenturing Crew 23, along with Venturing Crew 94 went there with theSqueeze Box to promote caving to other Venturing Crews. You can checkout that trip report and pictures here.
Over the summer Our Crew and Crew 94did a geocaching trip in Center City Philadelphia. Again over the summer when I went tothe Chester County Council Powder Horn to talk about the VenturingCave Exploring Elective I ran into a few of my friends from Crew 94again. Christen attended one of my sessions there and decided thatCrew 94 needed to do an actual caving trip. So I was a littlesurprised when Salina, who I had not met before, contacted me about acaving trip.
The Cave Talk
A week or so ago Damian and I went to aCrew 94 meeting to talk about caving and what to expect and how toprepare for it. Like most of these talks we had fu…

AT FIRST, THERE WAS NOTHING BUT DARKNESS. THEN, I TURNED ON MY HEADLIGHT.

Two years ago, I was introduced to a WORLD that was right below my feet, but that I had never seen.  Sure, I knew a good bit about cameras, lights, and framing shots, but nothing prepared me for what I discovered about filmmaking and the beauty of nature underground. Towards the end of my junior year in college, I knew that I wanted to make a film about caves, and about three cavers from totally different backgrounds. My director Jennifer Bird, my gaffer/1st A.C. Taylor Jenkins, and I began to work on an ambitious endeavor that would become a journey that would change our lives forever

This is just a snip from the blog. Please follow the link for the full story and find the time to donate to help this happen.

Thanks,
Allen

Caving With Scouts, Never a Dull Moment

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Brenda Shultheis is our guest blogger this week. She explains what she and her husband John do, "John and I are members of the NSS, Eastern Indiana Grotto, Indiana Karst Conservancy, and Indiana Speleological Survey. We’ve been caving since the late 80’s. We do everything from taking kids and scouts caving to exploring and surveying one of the longest caves in the US Binkley’s Cave to conservation projects and cave clean ups. We love to share our passion for caving with new cavers in hopes of inspiring a new generation of cavers. That’s John and Brenda in a nut shell and you’ll never see one without the other."


Caving Trip With BSA Troop 303
I always say caving with scouts, never a dull moment, always a great time. This trip was no different. We met a 10 am at Lowes parking lot. It would be five cavers and fifteen scouts and their parents. Not a bad caver to newbie ratio.
After bathroom breaks and a few minutes getting to know everyone. We all got loaded up and headed to the c…

Boy Scout trip with the York Grotto, March 17th, 2012

This is a guest post from Christopher Edenbo. Chris is the Chair and Youth Group Liaison for the York Grotto in Pennsylvania.. Chris works at the Diakon Wilderness Center, a part of Diakon Youth Services, which has been a leading provider of specialized services for children and youths from across Pennsylvania. Primarily serving at-risk youths referred by county juvenile probation departments or children and youth services.
Don’t miss a single installment of Youth Opportunities Underground. Enter your email and we’ll do the rest. Please leave a comment, visit us on Face Book and share this with your frineds,

Thanks,
Allen

On Monday, March 5th, 2012 I attended a Troop meeting for Boy Scout Troop 196 of Hampden Township. At the meeting I introduced myself to the scouts, gave a show-and-tell of cave gear, told some stories, and then let them try their hand at the squeeze box. All of this was to help them prepare for today’s trip.


I met the group early this morning, Saturday: Saint Patrick’s …

Sharing One of My Favorite Caves With My Grandsons

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A Little Background History

There is a pair of caves on a property that we use to go to regularly. Because of their beauty and the fun trips we had they were very special to me. A few weeks after the last trip there many years ago one of our Grotto members had driven by and there was a “No Trespassing” sign posted with a chain across the drive. The property had been sold and the new owners didn’t want anyone on the property any more.


Several years had gone by with some negotiation with the land owner and a tentative Memorandum of Understanding was being considered. Then the land owner sold that piece of property to a farmer and new negotiations had start up.

We Have A Caving Trip

Almost five and a half years later and we have a tentative permission to enter the property and the two caves that I’ve missed exploring and sharing. Jumping at the chance I secured a date and received permission to enter. I invited a few of my friends from Philly Grotto and Dragon Breath Grotto plus a couple peo…

Don’t Be This Guy

“This Guy”

I received an email this morning from a caver friend from another Grotto in our Region. Apparently he had to make the tough decision to cancel a trip for a Boy Scout Troop because he didn’t feel comfortable with what “This Guy” was trying to get his Grotto to agree to as part of a caving trip they were planning to take in a week. “This Guy” was trying to get around the Guide to Safe Scouting section on caving and the BSA Caving Policies.

The Guide to Safe Scouting and BSA Caving Policies

The Guide to Safe Scouting and the BSA Caving Policies are there for a reason. This helps the Unit Leader understand what is considered safe and acceptable for them to do with the youth he or she is responsible for.
Every time this comes up I think about what it would be like to tell a parent that their child has been injured, even worst, won’t be coming home. I think about how I’m going to explain to a litigator while on trial why I knowingly didn’t adhere to the Guide to Safe Scouting and an …

Cavers in the making

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"Dave and Tracy Jackson are cavers and NSS members, and we build cave simulators in our free time. We love introducing kids and adults to real caving (and to many other outdoor activities). We do lots of free outreach to the public with CaveSim, and we hope you get to crawl through soon!"


This is Dave's post number 5 on CaveSim. It expresses the need to get CaveSim on the road to outreach to people.
http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/813491856/cavesim-at-nss-caving-convention-2012/posts/214486

Visit the CaveSim site, make a pledge or donation, make a comment, and subscribe to learn more.

Thanks,
Allen

Trip to Bear Cave with Scout Troop 186 (Birdville) from Natrona Heights

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This is a guest post by Steve Kovack who is a long time member of Loyalhanna Grotto.
Please leave a comment, share this post, and subscribe to this blog. Enjoy the pics...
Thanks,
Allen




The weather was predicted to be low 90’s with a 40% chance of thundershowers, but the morning dawned hazy but cloudy and at 9am it was only 72 degrees. We met near our Troop meeting area in Natrona Heights at 8:15 and drove to Blairsville, only stopping for a brief stocking up at the famous Sheetz in New Alexandria where Steelers kicker Jeff Reed had his misunderstanding with the towel dispenser. We stocked up on Corn Nuts and hit the road, arriving in the parking area at 9:20. There were no other visitors today and I had the Scouts retrieve the log book and sign us in. We noticed that there have not been many visitors in June other than a group called “Outbound Adventures” who have visited about once a week. Jason checked out the information board and noted that each of the four pamphlet boxes seemed to h…

The Phenomenon Part 2: The Caving Trip

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This is a continuation from The Phenomenon Part 1: A Day With the Squeeze Box posted a few weeks ago.

I wanted to do something special on this trip for the kids who decided to go with me to the Phenomenon.
Being as we’re in Virginia I thought it would be nice to explore a cave that we haven’t been in before. Well ahead of time I tapped my network of cavers to ask around if anyone in VA would be interested in taking us to a beginner cave.

Eagerly the call was answered by Tom Tucker, Ellie Florance, and Earl and Cheryl Suitor from Front Royal Grotto in Virginia.

We made arrangements to meet them at the Skyline Caverns parking lot and explore Allen’s Cave which is just next to the commercial cave.

Man did it rain Saturday evening and through the night. Nothing washed away, but I did find I have a leak in my tent that needs to be patched. Sleeping was a little uncomfortable. Instead of a good night’s sleep I’ll can it a really good nap.

Just like the day before everyone was getting up o…

4th & 5th graders dig CaveSim

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"Dave and Tracy Jackson are cavers and NSS members, and we build cave simulators in our free time. We love introducing kids and adults to real caving (and to many other outdoor activities). We do lots of free outreach to the public with CaveSim, and we hope you get to crawl through soon!"


This is Dave's post number 3 on CaveSim. It expresses the need to get CaveSim on the road to outreach to people.
http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/813491856/cavesim-at-nss-caving-convention-2012/posts/206218

Visit the CaveSim site, make a pledge or donation, make a comment, and subscribe to learn more.

Thanks,
Allen

The Phenomenon Part 1: A Day With the Squeeze Box

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It started off as a simple idea.
The Chester County Council VOA wanted to take the Squeeze Box to the North East Area 6 Venturing Phenomenon to promote caving as an activity they like to do. What could be more fun? Getting to talk to a mess of kids about how much I enjoy crawling in the mud in a hole in the ground.

Actually this is quite flattering. Some of these kids I took caving like it as much as I do. So they invited me along on their Area 6 activity to help them with this project. The shout went out to other Crews to see who wanted to go.

Once we got our final head count our contingent Crew was made up of Catie McEntee, Allison McEntee,and Elsye Mark from Crew 23 of Downingtown, PA; Katrina Berry, Liane LaPorte, Emily Giacomucci, Christine Nguyen, Barb Grover and Bill LaPorte from Crew 94 of Peonixville, PA; and Martha Giammusso, Steven Rhoads, Damian Paterno, and myself, Allen Maddox from Crew 9 of Honey Brook, PA.

The VOA set this all up. I didn’t have to do much. Drive and s…

Caving From 8 ‘til Midnight. Work Be Damned.

This is a guest post from Christopher Edenbo. Chris is the Chair and Youth Group Liaison for the York Grotto in Pennsylvania.. Chris works at the Diakon Wilderness Center, a part of Diakon Youth Services, which has been a leading provider of specialized services for children and youths from across Pennsylvania. Primarily serving at-risk youths referred by county juvenile probation departments or children and youth services. Please subscribe to not miss any issues of YOUCave, leave a comment, and share with your friends.Thanks,
Allen
Monday, March 19, 2012

Chris Edenbo, Nathan MacLane, Matt Steiman, Daniel Grover, Heather Livingston

Matt contacted me some weeks ago saying that he had some workers around the Dickinson College Farm who were interested in caving. He wanted to take them to “that cave by 81” that Franklin County Grotto folks had taken him to some years ago. After asking a few questions I figured out that he was talking about Peiper Cave. So we began the process of narrowi…

Caving with Troop 1

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Troop 1 from Wayne, PA has the claim to be the oldest continuously chartered Boy Scout Troop in the US. There’s a lot of rich history with this Troop. Check out their web page for more information about them http://www.paoli1.org/index.html.

We started planning this trip back in July of 2011. Yes it does take time to coordinate a bunch of volunteers with the Troop’s schedule, but we did it. Finally agreeing on a date we planned on meeting near the cave that Saturday morning. The Troop leaders wanted to make this a special trip, and since we can’t take all of the 55 members of the Troop, they decided to make it an activity for the Color Patrol. This Patrol has the distinction of taking responsibility of the flags and banners for Troop 1. The members from the Color Patrol meeting us that Saturday morning are Doug Miller (adult), Jack Zambinski, Zack Kravitz, Luke Ditton, Ross Cochran (adult) and Clay Cochran.
We arrived at the designated parking place for the cave where Andy and Will w…

CaveSim Teach your children well

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"Dave and Tracy Jackson are cavers and NSS members, and we build cave simulators in our free time. We love introducing kids and adults to real caving (and to many other outdoor activities). We do lots of free outreach to the public with CaveSim, and we hope you get to crawl through soon!"


This is Dave's post number 6 on CaveSim. It expresses the need to get CaveSim on the road to outreach to people.
http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/813491856/cavesim-at-nss-caving-convention-2012/posts/226110

Visit the CaveSim site, make a pledge or donation, make a comment, and subscribe to learn more.

Thanks,
Allen

Caving Levels the Gender Playing Field

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Somewhere around 2002 I started helping to guide caving trips for Boy Scouts through the Philadelphia Grotto. With my history as a Scoutmaster I had experience dealing with Scouting issues. I just needed to develop my caving chops, and my friends in Philly Grotto where helping me do that. After a couple years and some very successful caving trips with the Boy Scouts one of the women in the Grotto asked, “Why don’t you take Girl Scouts caving?” The only answer I had was, “Because they don’t ask.” I had to look into this some more.
Generally, caving at this point is a male dominated activity. There are some women in the grotto, but it is mostly guys. Maybe that has something to do with it. I went on line and looked around for local Girl Scout Troops that I might be able to talk to about this. HHmmm, that’s not that easy to do. I asked everyone I knew to ask around for an introduction to someone involved with the Girl Scouts. Apparently there’s a mistrust of some old guys saying, “Hey, …

Caving with Westtown School

I met up with Amos, Andy, Marcy, Hanna, and Dave at McDonald’s. The day started out sunny but rain is in the forecast. It wasn’t long till the rain started and the driving was a little less than ideal. Along the way Hillary called and said she’d be meeting us there.


We met up with Michael and the rest of the Westtown gang at a rest stop along the way. We talked a little and introduced ourselves to everyone and they introduced themselves to us. A few of them had been on our trip last year and one had done a little caving up in New York. But most had never been underground before and were looking forward to trying this.

When we got to the cave it was still raining though not as hard. It was enough to make getting changed a little miserable. We suited up and we all met up in the cave entrance where it was just a little drier, we did a check of helmets and headlamps and all the light came on. Onward through the entrance and the first little squeeze. This is always great to see how the new…