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Powder Horn 2018

Broad Creek Scout Reservation, in Maryland, hosted a Powder Horn two weekends in May 2018. A Powder Horn is a training course for Boy Scout and Venturing Leaders on how to run high adventure activities. Sounds interesting? Look here for more information.

They needed someone to run a cave exploring session for them. A mutual friend introduced us around the end of April and we started seeing if we could make this work on such a short notice. 

Meg Hutchins, from the Baltimore Area Council, BSA, had a good idea what was needed, which was a big help. All other Powder Horns I’ve done in the past were classroom style. Meg wanted to actually take Scout Leaders into a cave and experience what caving was all about. I really like this idea. Okay, so it’s another excuse to get underground, but it’s so much easier to experience what it’s about than see slides and listen to me talk. This was going to be fun.

The cave we settled on is not my first choice. It gets a lot of “party traffic”, or as us cavers call them, SPELUNKERS. It’s a shame such a fun word to say has evolved into a derogatory term.

We meet up pretty close to our scheduled time, which is really good for me. Yes, I’m usually late. I passed out all the gear they would need and we started out hike up the hillside to find the entrance of our destination. As I mentioned this cave does get a bit of traffic through it. When we arrived there was another group just leaving the cave. They were not as well equipped as we were, but they seemed to do okay.

Just as a foot note, the month before there was a cave rescue at this cave. I wasn’t sure of all the details of what happened and why. 

This cave is notorious for being a little cooler than other Pennsylvania caves. Today it seemed extra cold. Plus with all the rain we’d been having there were no dry rooms or passages in the cave. Everywhere we went water was continuously dripping from the ceiling soaking everyone within an hour of being in there.

Because everyone was soaked and cold we didn’t stay as long as I usually do. Hypothermia was a concern and I’d rather be safe and have folks ready to go caving again than miserable and never wanting to see another hole in the ground. Besides, I did achieve my goal and give them a good experience they could take back to their Troops and Crews.
I did leave them with plenty of information and links to help them take their Crews and Troops caving. I’ll include all that information here for you as well.

National Speleological Society - Youth Group Liaison Committee,
Guide to Safe Scouting section on caving,

My website, Youth Opportunities Underground - YOUCave
YOUCave - Come Caving With Us,

Social Media:
YOUCave Facebook page,

Boy Scouts of America Guidelines for Caving

One of the greatest obstacles Scout Leaders have when choosing an activity is how to do the activity they know nothing, or very little, about. They often ask, “How do I take my Scouts caving?”

A caving trip is educational; no doubt about it, but it should also be fun and memorable. And for the Scout Leaders it should be easy to pull off. This is my goal with every trip I guide. Understanding all the rules is the key to doing that.

These three episodes I try to explain what all the rules are for caving with Boy Scout and Venturers. The first episode I cover the Guide to Safe Scouting section on caving. The second episode I talk about the first four points of the new Cave Safely, Cave Softly guidelines for caving with Boy Scouts. The third episode I talk about the final four points of the guide.

Altogether this should be a comprehensive explanation of all the Boy Scouts of America caving guidelines and how I use them as a cave guide.

Let me plug my resources into your program.

  • I provide essential safety equipment for the day. I can provide other equipment that your Girl Scouts and Leaders may find convenient.
  • I have resources that most commercial outfitters don’t have, such as relationships with land owners and managers to get permission to enter wild caves on private properties. Yes, “caves”. If your Troop has been on a beginner trip with me already and want to try something a little more challenging, that can be arranged easily.
  • I have been taking Scouts cave exploring for many years and have developed a reputation of leading a fun, challenging, educational, and safe trip. Check out my Facebook Page and blog for stories and pictures of my adventures.
  • I have FBI and Pennsylvania State clearances for child abuse prevention. I also have First Aid and CPR/AED with Child CPR.
  • I take plenty of pictures and video for your Troop to share with your families and friends (it’s the only way they will believe what you really did).
  • I also know the best pizza places for dinner after the caving trip.

Make your Troop awesome with caving as part of your program. Make my resources part of your Troop’s program.
Send me an email at to start a conversation about taking your Troop caving.

Cave Safely, Cave Softly, Cave Often,
Allen Maddox
Youth Opportunities Underground - Founder

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