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    Guide to Safe Scouting;

    IX. Hazardous Sports and Activities


    Caving can be a hazardous activity when the proper equipment, skills, and judgment are not used. Trips that are led by adults inexperienced in caving and trips containing large numbers of persons compound the hazards already inherent in the activity and create a potentially dangerous situation.

    All caving, other than simple novice activities, should be limited to adults and young people 14 and older—members of Venturing crews and older Scouts in troops, and teams. "Simple novice activities" means commercially operated cave excursions.

    Units (teams, troops, crews) that include cave visits in their program, whether for one trip or many, must adhere to the two-deep leadership policy of the Boy Scouts of America (two registered adult leaders, or one adult and a parent of a youth member, one of whom must be 21 or older). These leaders must be responsible, mature adults who are constantly present with the group. One cave trip leader must be highly qualified through caving experience and must be thoroughly versed in all established safety practices, conservation measures, and courtesy to cave owners.

    In conformity with the BSA policy on the use of wilderness areas, all caving groups should be limited to 8 to 10 persons and two-deep leadership as required by the Boy Scouts of America for all trips or outings. Caving activities for larger groups should not be conducted. Each group should be organized to function independently, i.e., plan its own trips on different dates, provide its own transportation and food, and function as a separate and distinct group. The only exception to these rules may be trips to certain commercial caves where special provisions are made to furnish proper supervision by professional guides.

    Note: Caving trips have been incorporated in the BSA "Policy on Use of Wilderness Areas by Personnel of the BSA," with a cross reference to these guidelines. Copies of the wilderness area policy statement are available from High Adventure Programs, Boy Scouts of America, 1325 West Walnut Hill Lane, Irving, Texas 75015-2079.

    Any Venturing crew wishing to learn about cave rescue work or pursue that activity as a specialty must do so under the sponsorship and supervision of an adult cave rescue group affiliated with the National Speleological Society.

    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.

    The leaders and the individual members of the group must understand these basic practices and policies of caving, which are approved by the Boy Scouts of America and the National Speleological Society. In addition to understanding these tenets, every participant in a caving trip must agree, without reservation, to follow all of the specific guidelines contained in BSA's Caving publication, No. 19-102A.


    Any cave trip must include a fully qualified leader or adult assistants qualified to handle all problems that might arise. These leaders should have had experience as active participants in a competent caving group. They must realistically evaluate their own knowledge and experience and must never attempt to lead their group into a situation that is beyond their capability or the capability of any member of the group. The overall capability and pace of a caving group is always that of the least able member of that group, and no member of the group should ever be encouraged or permitted to attempt a potentially dangerous act that is beyond their ability solely because the remainder of the group has the necessary ability.

    The leaders must thoroughly comprehend that overwhelming difficulties may easily result from the problems of fatigue, improper or faulty equipment, emotional problems, physical limitations, or excessive eagerness or exuberance in members of the group. Additionally, they must realize that all of these individual problems are often interrelated and that the occurrence of any one of them can easily create a situation that will lead to or accentuate any or all of the others.

    The leaders must constantly remember that any obstacle overcome on the way into the cave will also have to be overcome on the way out, when the group is tired, when the initial enthusiasm of some of the group may have decreased, and when their alertness and physical abilities, as well of those of their group, is at the lowest.

    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 keep their group together at all times.

    All basic equipment such as clothing, shoes, lights, and spare parts for the lights, hard hats, and food should be appropriate for the cave being visited. It is the responsibility of the leader to ensure that all equipment is adequate and in good condition.

    The equipment and spares must never be makeshift or of questionable dependability. The highest standards developed by experienced cavers are to be met in all categories of equipment.

    The use and repair of each item must be understood and demonstrated by all of the party before entering the cave.

    Under no conditions should any member of the group be permitted to enter the cave if they do not have all of the required equipment in their possession. The sharing of any equipment, such as lights, between individuals must be prohibited.

    Except for groups composed entirely of experienced cavers, the cave to be visited must not require the use of ropes, ladders, or other climbing devices. The safe use of these aids requires extensive initial training and practice under controlled conditions above ground, never in a cave.

    Natural and fabricated hazards such as mud slopes, loose rocks, pits, deep water, complex routes, old ropes, wooden ladders, and the possibility of flooding are all dangers to some degree and must be approached with care and judgment. If it appears that an accident may still occur in spite of preventive measures, that area must be avoided entirely.

    The strength, endurance, and specific abilities of every member of the group must be evaluated in advance and nothing attempted that exceeds anyone's limitations. Climbing, crawling, and route finding are not necessarily inborn skills, and should be taught and tested before a cave trip is undertaken.

    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. Running, jumping, horseplay, and solo exploration must be prohibited—such foolhardy actions jeopardize not only the individual but also the entire group.

    Caves are often cold and damp, and hypothermia is a danger, especially on long trips or trips requiring wading or crawling in water. Try to dress for conditions to be met, stay as dry as possible. Leave the cave immediately if any member of the group shows signs of hypothermia such as uncontrollable shivering, slurred speech, or loss of coordination.

    Specific information about the caving trip must be left with a responsible person back home at time of departure. This should include location and length of time of trip, expected time of return, list of participants, and whom to contact for each trip member in case of emergency.

    A record of every cave trip will provide valuable assistance to new leaders and cavers alike. Full records of all caving accidents will provide the basis for a guide to the development of a safe caving program. A complete report of any accident, regardless of severity, should be sent to the Safety Committee of the National Speleological Society, Cave Avenue, Huntsville, AL 35810. Serious accidents should also be reported to the director of Health and Safety Service of the Boy Scouts of America.

    Resource: Caving, No. 19-102B

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    Desoto Caverns
    Rickwood Caverns State Park
    Russell Cave National Monument

    Blanchard Springs Cave

    Black Chasm
    Boyden Cavern
    California Caverns
    Lake Shasta Cave
    Moaning Cave

    Cave of the Winds

    Florida Caverns State Park

    Illinois Caverns

    Bluesprings Caverns
    Buddha Cave
    Marengo Cave
    Squire Boone Cave
    Sullivan Cave
    Twin Cave & Donaldson Cave
    Wyandotte Cave

    Maquoketa Caves State Park

    Carter Caves State Park
    Hidden River Cave
    Lost River Cave
    Crystal Onyx Cave
    Diamond Caverns Cave
    Kentucky Caverns
    Mammoth Cave
    Onyx Cave

    Mystery Cave
    Niagara Cave

    Bluff Dwellers Cave
    Bridal Cave
    Cathedral Cave
    Devil's Ice Box
    Fisher Cave
    Meramec Caverns
    Mystic Caverns
    Onondaga Cave
    Ozark Caverns
    Talking Rocks Cave

    Lewis & Clark Caverns State Park

    Carlsbad Caverns
    Timpanogos Cave National Monument

    Howe Caverns

    Lehman Cave

    Indian Caverns
    Ohio Caverns
    Olentangy Indian Caverns

    Oregon Caves National Park
    Sea Lion Caves

    Laurel Caverns

    Beautiful Rushmore Cave
    Black Hills Caverns
    Jewel Cave National Monument
    Wind Cave National Park

    Bristol Caverns
    Cumberland Caverns
    Dunbar Cave State Park
    Ruby Falls

    Inner Space Cavern
    Longhorn Cavern State Park
    Natural Bridge Caverns

    Luray Caverns

    Lost World Caverns
    Seneca Caverns

    Cave of the Mounds
    Crystal Cave
    Eagle Cave

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    Alt.Caving FAQs

    Answers to frequently asked caving questions.

    American Cave Conservation Association

    Dedicated to conserving America's caves and karstlands.

    American Caving Museum

    Great museum dedicated the history and science of caves.

    Bob & Bob Caving Equipment

    Largest U.S. supplier of caving equipment.

    Cave Page

    Great source of information and links from down under.

    Cave Safety

    Great tips for visiting caves and a cave safety checklist.


    Annual event held at Carter Caves State Park, Kentucky.

    Caves in the USA and Canada

    Another source listing of caves.

    GORP Caving Page

    Another source listing cave links.

    Karst Sports

    Source for caving equipment.

    Missouri Caving Pages

    Great information and links for caving in Missouri.

    NSS USA Long Caves List

    Caves Over One Mile Long.

    National Speleological Society

    Home Page for the NSS.

    National Speleological Society Discussion Page

    Important discussions about caving that you should review.

    Speleo Link Page

    Hundreds of great links from around the world.

    Speleology Servers on the Web

    Extremely comprehensive list of Web resources for caving.

    U.S. Show Caves Directory

    A listing of show caves in the United States.

    Virtual Cave

    Information about cave formations.

    What to do if an Injury Occurs While Caving

    Information for emergency procedures while caving.

    Yahoo Caving Home Page

    A comprehensive list of links.

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    SOME OF TROOP 33's


    - Mammoth Cave National Park; Kentucky
    - Crystal Lake Cave; Iowa


    - Maquoketa Caves State Park; Iowa


    - Maquoketa Caves State Park; Iowa


    - Maquoketa Caves State Park; Iowa


    - Maquoketa Caves State Park; Iowa


    - Maquoketa Caves State Park; Iowa


    - Crystal Cave; Missouri
    - Onanadaga Cave State Park; Missouri
    - Maquoketa Caves State Park; Iowa


    - Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky
    - Twin Cave, Indiana
    - Wyandotte Cave State Recreation Area, Indiana


    - Jewel Cave National Monument, South Dakota


    - Illinois Caverns State Park, Illinois
    - Maquoketa Caves State Park, Iowa


    - Maquoketa Caves State Park, Iowa


    - Maquoketa Caves State Park, Iowa


    - Lem Rock Cave, Alabama
    - Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky


    - Eagle Cave, Wisconsin


    - Eagle Cave, Wisconsin
    - Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky
    - Maquoketa Caves State Park, Iowa


    - Eagle Cave, Wisconsin
    - Maquoketa Caves State Park, Iowa


    - Eagle Cave, Wisconsin
    - Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky
    - Maquoketa Caves State Park, Iowa


    - Lewis & Clark Cavern State Park, Montana
    - Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky
    - Wind Cave National Park, South Dakota


    - Cave of the Mounds, Wisconsin
    - Eagle Cave, Wisconsin
    - Onondaga Cave State Park, Missouri


    - Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky


    - Meramec Caverns, Missouri


    - Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky

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    Cliff Golden



    TROOP 33
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