Why I joined the NSS

Caves and caving, beginning caving, joining the NSS, etc.

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Postby Mark620 » Sep 28, 2005 9:17 am

I joined the NSS because I wanted to.
The people whom I cave with (they are all NSS members)
could care less if I joined the NSS...
they did not encourage or discourage it.

Some of us are mmbers of a local grotto..most are not.
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Postby Wayne Harrison » Sep 28, 2005 9:31 am

I joined the NSS in the late 70s a few years after I started caving. I was poor then and could only afford Grotto dues. I joined the NSS when I had the money. I wasn't pressured to join by the Grotto, although it was suggested.

I joined to become part of a national organization of cavers, to get the publications from Society and to feel like I was a part of something larger. I never noticed any attempt by the NSS to stop me from "doing my thing" and have had all positive experiences with the organization since I joined.

I mostly cave with close friends and never really got into the whole camaraderie thing (I attended my first NSS convention this past July). When I cave with friends, I don't ask if they are NSS members, BTW, but most of them are as I see them in the directory.

I am proud of being an NSS member to the point of wearing the NSS patch on my coveralls and having an NSS sticker on my vehicle.

It seems as though the NSS wants to be the control point for every cave-related activity in the US - to the point of interfering with activities that are non-NSS but could benefit caving in general.


I am curious by this statement and would ask Cindy to provide some examples of this, since I am not aware of it.
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Why I joined the NSS

Postby Espeleologa » Sep 28, 2005 10:19 am

I joined a grotto because I wanted to get involved in caving........all aspects of caving. I am still learning to survey (or trying to) because I want to make whatever small contribution I can make to the caving society.

When I go caving, no one checks if I have a NSS ID to make sure I am a member (although, as Wayne, I cave with friends and with my boyfriend, a caver for 20+ years and NSS member). We all are a lovely bunch of coconuts! :wink:

I was not "pressured" to join the NSS by my grotto or my boyfriend in any way, but our NSS representative mentioned here and there that it would be a good idea to join. Still, the decision was mine. It's all about caves and cavers.

I joined the NSS (like I joined the MSS) to support the joint efforts of fellow cavers in finding/mapping/conserving caves and their ecology and, as added bonus, to get the NSS News.
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Postby Cindy Heazlit » Sep 28, 2005 3:59 pm

Wayne Harrison wrote:
Cindy Heazlit wrote:It seems as though the NSS wants to be the control point for every cave-related activity in the US - to the point of interfering with activities that are non-NSS but could benefit caving in general.


I am curious by this statement and would ask Cindy to provide some examples of this, since I am not aware of it.


Sure thing!

1) The US cavers discussion board. Initially, this was a practice DB when the old DB administrator changed the software for the NSS. Some interested individuals played around with some alternate software, just for grins. That was months and months and months ago. When the NSS DB went down, these same individuals sent out some e-mails that an alternate DB was available. Multiple BOG members then sent out e-mails that the new DB wasn't the official NSS DB. I found this interesting, as the alternate DB in no way advertised that it was an NSS DB. And since the NSS DB wasn't available, I'm not sure what the problem was/is.

2) I hate to bring this up again, but... cave rescue. I have taught cave rescue both in the NCRC and outside of it. Yet the regional NCRC staff threatened some of my helpers (who have now left the NSS), scheduled NCRC sessions the same weekend as my training, and had little talks with people so they wouldn't help with the training. Why? I'm very competent at what I do, and it benefits cavers in general. Yet an official NSS committee has continued to interfere.

3) I have heard more than one BOG member complain to me about the Cave Research Foundation. They seem offended that the CRF has activities outside the NSS. Like, who cares? Does it matter if the biggest cave was explored under the CRF instead of the NSS? Ironically, the CRF is a member of the NSS, and most of the CRF leaders are NSS members.

I know that because of NSS interference with my own activities, I've withdrawn from the NSS. I no longer give them my time, I quit giving them money. Several others have similar stories.
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Postby Wayne Harrison » Sep 28, 2005 5:03 pm

Re: #1 on your list. I can't speak for the "multiple BOG members" who sent out notices about the new discussion board, but I can tell you why they may have been concerned.

The US Cavers Board did not originally go by that name. It was called the NSS Members Forum. Emails were sent out after the NSS Web site crashed that said the NSS Members Forum could be used as a "substitute" for NSS communications. I think there was concern in that regard as the NSS had no control over the forum that was promoted that way. That's just my personal take on it.

I didn't see the NSS response as any different from what you would expect if, say, the Red Cross (also a non-profit) was confronted by a group of people who say they have a "Red Cross Members Forum" and it could be used as a substitute for Red Cross communications.

Here is a copy of the notice that showed up on the Colorado Caver's Board:

There is a substitute forum that is available to be used for communication until the NSS website Discussion Board is functional again.

Anyone interested can use the forum listed below as a substitute for NSS communications if they would like.

http://nssmembersforum.proboards28.com/


While I applaud the volunteers who quickly worked on the board while the NSS forum was down, I think the wording of the title and the notices that were posted could be confusing to some.

As for #2 and #3 on your list, anyone else with knowledge about those issues can jump in here.
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Postby mgmills » Sep 28, 2005 5:14 pm

Cindy Heazlit wrote:1) The US cavers discussion board. Initially, this was a practice DB when the old DB administrator changed the software for the NSS. Some interested individuals played around with some alternate software, just for grins. That was months and months and months ago. When the NSS DB went down, these same individuals sent out some e-mails that an alternate DB was available. Multiple BOG members then sent out e-mails that the new DB wasn't the official NSS DB. I found this interesting, as the alternate DB in no way advertised that it was an NSS DB. And since the NSS DB wasn't available, I'm not sure what the problem was/is.


It is a matter of perspective, I suppose. :? As a director who was involved in sending one of the e-mails Cindy mentions I can't refrain from posting a response here.

The original announcement was for "The NSS Members Forum" not the "US Cavers Forum." Calling it "NSS Members Forum" to me implies that it is "official". The announcement sent out for the forum said the forum was a substitute forum that was available to be used for communication until the NSS website Discussion Board became functional again.

The name of the forum and wording of the statement were the problem. Had the original statement given the history that Cindy supplies here and had the forum had the current name I don't think there would have been any issue at all.

The announcement did not state that work was ongoing to try to restore the NSS site, blah, blah, blah. BTW, my reply was to Tag-Net, a regional mailing list. and was in digest #3988. I am not going to post it here but if anyone wants to have more information you may contact me directly (my contact info is all here).
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Postby mgmills » Sep 28, 2005 5:52 pm

Cindy Heazlit3 wrote: I have heard more than one BOG member complain to me about the Cave Research Foundation. They seem offended that the CRF has activities outside the NSS. Like, who cares? Does it matter if the biggest cave was explored under the CRF instead of the NSS? Ironically, the CRF is a member of the NSS, and most of the CRF leaders are NSS members.


For the record - I've never heard a BOG member say anything negative about the CRF since I've been a director. Maybe I just haven't talked to the right people.

From what I see BOG members appreciate the efforts of other entities that work on projects that benefit caves. Everyone of us may not agree 100 % with how they do things but we still appreciate the fact that they are doing something. :)

Again, like I said in my earlier post, I guess it is a matter of perspective.
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Postby Cheryl Jones » Sep 28, 2005 7:42 pm

Cindy Heazlit wrote:It seems as though the NSS wants to be the control point for every cave-related activity in the US - to the point of interfering with activities that are non-NSS but could benefit caving in general.

3) I have heard more than one BOG member complain to me about the Cave Research Foundation. They seem offended that the CRF has activities outside the NSS. Like, who cares? Does it matter if the biggest cave was explored under the CRF instead of the NSS? Ironically, the CRF is a member of the NSS, and most of the CRF leaders are NSS members.


I don't want to take us off on a wild side track from the main thread topic, so please everyone keep talking about why you joined the NSS!

However I thought it was important to respond to Cindy's statements.

BOG members are free to have their own opinions of course (which is what keeps the Board an interesting place!), and when they speak, they don't necessarily represent the NSS. In my last 8 years of attending Board meetings and some NSS Executive Committee meetings, I don't recall the Board or the EC having a discussion about the CRF in particular, and when CRF came up as part of another conversation it was not done in a negative way. We even have a joint CRF-NSS Memorandum of Understanding with the Bureau of Land Management.

In contrast to the CRF, the NSS does not explore and map caves -- that is not our mission. So to somehow conclude that the Society would have an issue with CRF's work in Mammoth is unfounded, and pretty silly. Besides, NSS members are on the CRF teams in Mammoth.

It is unfair to reach a conclusion about the "official" attitude of the NSS by using the personal opinions of a couple of NSS members who were serving on the Board at the time. In the same way, the actions and opinions of a few NSS members can't be used to establish the position or opinion of the full NSS.

Your three examples did not explain how the NSS wants to control every cave-related activity "to the point of interfering with activities that are non-NSS but could benefit caving in general." What activities has the NSS interfered with to the detriment of caving? What are we trying to unnecessarily control? I must be missing something.

Are you only referring to your ongoing issues with the Western Region of the NCRC? I know you've had some bad experiences with the group, know your trials of trying to have the Board do something about it, and I have heard other sides of the issue. The tangled web of personalities, problems, politics, and finger pointing over the years has been a sad state of affairs, and I'm really sorry it has been so tough on you. I've heard your rescue courses are very good. I do wish there was a way I could undo all the problems and hard feelings with a magic wand, for I think that is the only way things could ever be made right at this point. I'm sorry that your experience with NCRC turned you against the whole NSS.

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Postby mgmills » Sep 28, 2005 8:04 pm

Cheryl Jones wrote:I don't want to take us off on a wild side track from the main thread topic, so please everyone keep talking about why you joined the NSS!


Thanks Cheryl for redirecting us - I joined the NSS because when I joined my first grotto in 1994 they told me I should. Being a nurse and member of many other organizations because it was "expected" of me I never thought to question whether or not I should join. I just sent in my check.

Why did I stay? Because I enjoy caves and cavers. I attended my first convention in 1998 and found out more about the NSS. Basically I stay because although I don't always agree 100% with the way the NSS is run (even though I am a director) I agree with most of what is done and I think the NSS is a overall good organization. Not perfect, but what organization is perfect?

BTW, I really am a joiner - right now I maintain memberships in 5 grottos in 4 states.
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Postby Plethodon » Sep 28, 2005 10:11 pm

:lol: :shock: :lol:
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Postby Cheryl Jones » Sep 28, 2005 11:18 pm

That blurb gives an overview of what our members do, and what the NSS accomplishes through our members.

NSS Inc does not organize caving projects, and we have no claims to our members' survey data. We don't even have a database of cave locations. Exploration, survey, and other projects may be what some of our members live for, but it is not how the NSS as an organization strives to fulfill its purpose.

In contrast, one of the main ways the CRF accomplishes its goals is through its cave projects. That was the difference I wanted to explain -- even if Mammoth was just discovered today, the NSS would not organize a project to survey it. That CRF might is not an issue for us.

Our constitution states : The purpose of this Society shall be to promote interest in and to advance in any and all ways the study and science of speleology, the protection of caves and their natural contents, and to promote fellowship among those interested therein. http://www.caves.org/nss-business/bog/n ... ution.html

Clear as cave mud? I didn't mean my post to be "fightin' words"! Just simply stating the differences in our two organizations as a rumor killing ploy. :waving:

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Postby Cindy Heazlit » Sep 29, 2005 12:06 am

Cheryl Jones wrote:BOG members are free to have their own opinions of course (which is what keeps the Board an interesting place!), and when they speak, they don't necessarily represent the NSS.

(snip...)

It is unfair to reach a conclusion about the "official" attitude of the NSS by using the personal opinions of a couple of NSS members who were serving on the Board at the time. In the same way, the actions and opinions of a few NSS members can't be used to establish the position or opinion of the full NSS.


For reference, the CRF statement was said to me at the dinner after a BOG meeting we both went to. So it was within the context of a BOG weekend! Several BOG members present agreed with the statement. And of course, some disagreed. I don't say it was an NSS position. But it was said by a BOG member that was representing the NSS at the time. I see a difference between Cheryl Jones posting on this board, Vs Cheryl Jones posting on this board as a director. The same with those BOG members.

Cheryl Jones wrote:Your three examples did not explain how the NSS wants to control every cave-related activity "to the point of interfering with activities that are non-NSS but could benefit caving in general." What activities has the NSS interfered with to the detriment of caving? What are we trying to unnecessarily control? I must be missing something.

Are you only referring to your ongoing issues with the Western Region of the NCRC?


Yes, that is one of them.

Cheryl Jones wrote:I know you've had some bad experiences with the group, know your trials of trying to have the Board do something about it, and I have heard other sides of the issue. The tangled web of personalities, problems, politics, and finger pointing over the years has been a sad state of affairs, and I'm really sorry it has been so tough on you. I've heard your rescue courses are very good. I do wish there was a way I could undo all the problems and hard feelings with a magic wand, for I think that is the only way things could ever be made right at this point. I'm sorry that your experience with NCRC turned you against the whole NSS.

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Cheryl, My experience with the NCRC did not turn me against the NSS. It was the BOGs refusal to address the issue, and its refusal to take responsibility for the damage caused by the NSS that turned me against the organization. I felt badly betrayed, especially after I've given so much to the organization. I expected fairness and accountability. I was further alienated when I took up one of your personal challenge to help the NSS by volunteering further. I did so. The NSS was quite happy to use my work. They then kicked me off the team (without even so much as a notice that I'd been "fired"). I still haven't received any answers to my questions on what happened.

My rescue work has suffered harm as a result of NSS actions. The caving community has permanently lost some excellent vertical/cave rescue instructors. The self rescue work I was developing has been harmed by NSS/NCRC actions. The NSS still hasn't fixed the situation, or even admitted that harm was done. The new NCRC coordinator was the one that created the class that conflicted with mine. So I can't see the issue as fixed.

Do you really want to undo the harm? I suggest for a first step trying to win back those two helpers that left caving because of the politics they received at the hands of NCRC staff. I'll be happy to give you the names.

For a second step, try revamping the internal structure of the NCRC so that it actually represents the region it is supposed to serve. For example, have the coordinators chosen by the region. Get some direct accountability in there.

Back on track...

I joined the NSS because my boyfriend at the time convinced me it was a good thing to do, and it promoted cave conservation. I became a life member because people like Fred Wefer and Dave Luckins listened to what I had to say, and actually encouraged me to develop some of my ideas for caving. And I stopped helping the NSS after above.
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Postby kvart » Sep 29, 2005 7:24 am

Cindy Heazlit wrote:I've withdrawn from the NSS.......


Cindy Heazlit wrote: I became a life member because.......


How does one un-become a life member.......do they pro-rate the fee and reimburse you for un-used years?


Just curious......


BTW......like others have stated, I joined the NSS in '91 because the grotto I had joined said it was the "thing" to do............I am still a member because I cant wait to see what happens next!

FRY MAH HIDE!:kaver:
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The NSS has a second family

Postby CaverScott » Sep 29, 2005 7:51 am

After my first cave trip with the Florida Speleological Society in September, 1978 :shock: I scrimped up the bucks to join as a student. Within six years or so I had saved enough to join as a Life Member. Back then, allowing for interest, I calculated I had to live to 42 to make it pay off. Well, it appears I made a great financial investment after all. :lol:


Why did I join? .... It was simply the "right" thing to do. As I moved around the country, I would base my decision on the Members Manual information regarding active grottos. I had found my second family!
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Postby kvart » Sep 29, 2005 8:11 am

Scott......I see you have changed your avatar again.......speaking of the current pic you use as an avatar.........before Convention 2005, Martha and I made a trip to Huntsville to check out the facilities for recycling. After that, having never been to the NSS office, I had to go. Upon entering the office, on the back wall were big pics of all the past NSS Prezs.....all dressed up in suits and ties.........except one!

Are we ever going to see you dressed up in a suit?

Except of couse the shinny pin stripped pimp outfit you wear at parties......HAHAHAHHA!

FRY MAH HIDE!


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