Ask Cavers: Which is the Best Wild Cave Tour?
Caving News asked cavers what their favorite “wild cave tour” is. For those Youth Group Leaders looking to try your first wild cave trip this may be a good resource to check out to see what others think of these commercial wild cave trips.
The commercial wild cave trip is an excellent choice for a first caving trip. They are easy to plan because they are already set up with guides and gear. These are usually in some of the best caves to see and experience. After all, that’s why they commercialize them. They have their own set of rules which are usually very easy to abide by. And sometimes they even have several trips of varying difficulty depending on age and/or ability.
Some thing to keep in mind when planning one of these commercial wild cave trips is to plan well in advance. Sometimes they are not open year round to protect hibernating bats. Sometimes the best weekends book up early. Either way start planning a year ahead of time. And ask the cave operator when you should make reservations by.
Review the rules of the cave with everyone going on the trip. If they want you to use their equipment, use their equipment. If they say no bags, then they mean no bags. If there is an age cut off, stick to it with no exceptions.
Get their mandatory equipment list and stick to it with no exceptions. I’ve had kids and parents say, “but what if I have a ….” or “ .. but I don’t have a ….”. If they ask for boots that cover the ankle, get boots that cover the ankle or don’t go. You don’t want to be waiting to start the tour and have someone called out because they are not properly dressed.
What about the non-cavers in your group?
Find out what other facilities they have. Sometimes they have camping and eating facilities that are great for your group. Get all the details and ask for their suggestions. They’ve done this before and know what to expect.
Find out if they have activities that others not participating in the wild cave tour can do. Some kids just don’t like caving, but they may like hiking or geology or some other activity provided by the commercial cave. Some commercial caves even offer advancement opportunities for Scouts and other youth organizations.
Brag about your conquest..
After you have done your wild cave trip, come on back and post your opinion. Let other group leaders know what you thought both good and bad. Be specific in telling what you expected and what happened and if you would recommend this trip for another group like yours.
Take plenty of pictures and post them. Sharing your experience with family and friends is a great way to show off how much fun you really had.
Where do you find a commercial wild cave tour? The National Speleological Society Youth Group Liaison Committee has a web page for that http://www.caves.org/youth/Map.shtml. You can also ask other youth organizations in your area.
So go forth, plan, and get underground.
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“Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but well placed footsteps, kill nothing but time.” – cavers’ creed