Updates to BSA Caving Documents

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Updates to BSA Caving Documents

Postby amaddox » Mar 9, 2011 9:14 pm

The Guide to Safe Scouting has changed the section on caving. They've taking a lot out and referred to their Caving Policies document which has also been updated. I think it's a bit clearer and up to date. Thanks to all the folks who made this happen. :banana: :banana_yay:
So check it out
Guide to Safe Scouting - Caving http://www.scouting.org/scoutsource/HealthandSafety/GSS/gss08.aspx#b
Caving: A Policy Statement and Guidelines on Caving Prepared by the Youth Groups Liaison Committee of the National Speleological Society and the Boy Scouts of America. http://www.caves.org/youth/19-102B.pdf :cave softly:

Any thoughts on these????
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Re: Updates to BSA Caving Documents

Postby Teresa » Mar 12, 2011 8:33 pm

amaddox wrote:The Guide to Safe Scouting has changed the section on caving. They've taking a lot out and referred to their Caving Policies document which has also been updated. I think it's a bit clearer and up to date. Thanks to all the folks who made this happen. :banana: :banana_yay:
So check it out
Guide to Safe Scouting - Caving http://www.scouting.org/scoutsource/HealthandSafety/GSS/gss08.aspx#b
Caving: A Policy Statement and Guidelines on Caving Prepared by the Youth Groups Liaison Committee of the National Speleological Society and the Boy Scouts of America. http://www.caves.org/youth/19-102B.pdf :cave softly:

Any thoughts on these????


The Caving policy and statement is way too negative, and paints all caving as too dangerous an activity for anyone to try. I think 14 is also way too late to try to interest someone in wild caving for the first time, since it basically excludes boys the normal age of Boy Scouts. While caving is probably not appropriate for Cub Scouts, and underground ropework probably not suitable for younger Scouts, I see no reason to wait that long for an easy walking to crawling wild cave without hazards. I went in my own first wild cave at age 10 on a Girl Scout trip; had it been deferred to 14, (high school) I probably would have never gone.

I realize the lawyers are the reason for many of these regs...too sad.
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Re: Updates to BSA Caving Documents

Postby botkin02 » Mar 12, 2011 9:07 pm

I spoke with a Scoutmaster yesterday about the age cutoff. He said it's a way of keeping the older boys involved in boy scouts. The way he saw it, caving was something the boys could look forward to as they matured and gained other skills... sort of a rite of passage, though I still think that the age is too high.
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Re: Updates to BSA Caving Documents

Postby wyandottecaver » Mar 13, 2011 1:05 pm

im sure that sounds nice. The reality is that except for a very few very motivated groups, once kids are in their first or second year of HS they bail. Nobody is gonna stay in scouts just to go caving if they havent been allowed to cave beforehand. I mean girls trump frogs at a certain point in every boys life.

I am an Eagle scout, and when I was in Boy Scouts we actually did and learned stuff. Sometimes we were uncomfortable, and sometimes there was a real risk of injury...thus we paid attention to the lessons! The BSA of today is a gutted shell designed to extract dues and eliminate lawsuits. It does still teach important lessons and skills, but the idea of self reliance and woodscraft it was built on has been forgotten. As for vertical caving, the whole approach BSA takes to ropework in general is one designed to discourage it's use and it actually increases risks in many real world situations.

Overall I think the Caving Guide is an example of BSA philosophy. It gives great advice and information about an outdoor activity...they just don't want you to actually try it cause some obese gameboy junkie with a litigious father might find out that nature can be scary.
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Re: Updates to BSA Caving Documents

Postby Mudduck » Mar 13, 2011 7:54 pm

Wyandottecaver well said. I'm a 12 year scoutmaster and I'm here to tell anyone that bsa policies are way off base. Our troop has always been outlaws with respect to things like this.
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Re: Updates to BSA Caving Documents

Postby nathanroser » Mar 28, 2011 9:15 am

I didn't get around to earning Eagle Scout, but I stayed with my troop until I finished high school and one thing everyone always looked forward to was our annual Laurel Caverns trip. Sure it wasn't true wild caving but we did the guided trip in the lower unlit section where we all got to crawl around and get dirty. I'll probably go and see if I can convince some people in my old troop if we could do some wild trips in the WV panhandle or even in Maryland.
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Re: Updates to BSA Caving Documents

Postby Gizmologist » Apr 6, 2011 1:51 pm

The Caving policy and statement is way too negative, and paints all caving as too dangerous an activity for anyone to try.

While I understand the conundrum, I think that the restriction of "novice caving" to commercial show caves (which I'd argue isn't even "caving") is way too strict and effectively puts "real" caving off-limits to most troops. Long gone are the days when most troops had 20-30 active kids. I've been a Scout leader for over 20 years now and today most troops in our area have a dozen or fewer scouts. My troop have seven active youth members. Four of them are under 14. Most troops aren't going to devote time, energy, and money for a trip that only a handful of kids can go on if the whole troop can't participate. So the oft used "by restricting it to older kids we'll help keep them active" argument isn't of much practical use.

It would have been nice to have "novice caving experience" defined more as meeting the following criteria:
- A well established cave known widely to area cavers and thought of as a "beginner" cave.
- Normally not last more than 4 hours.
- Only require a mixture of simple crawling and walking.
- No rope work, no free climbing, no ladders.
- No likelihood of immersion in water.
- No body squeezes.
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Re: Updates to BSA Caving Documents

Postby Marlatt » Apr 6, 2011 6:04 pm

Perhaps too-strict adherence to the letter of the law is part of the problem. Our troop is running about 35 or 40 kids right now, and we've implemented a cap at 50 (more than that makes logistics too difficult, imho, and kids tend to get lost in the crowd). Over the past several years, we've included a variety of caving experiences:

Fulford Cave (CO; 4 times)
Horsethief (WY/MT; once)
Carlsbad (NM, commerical tour)
Parks Ranch (NM)
Cottonwood (NM)
DC Jester (OK)
Wind (SD, commercial tour)
Jewel (SD, commercial tour)

In addition, my younger son did a clean-up of a local party cave (Fault) as part of his Eagle project, and had a dozen-or-so scouts involved over a couple weekends.

I understand the need for conservative guidelines, in this day and age, but one has to use your own judgment as well.

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Re: Updates to BSA Caving Documents

Postby Stridergdm » Oct 18, 2011 11:29 pm

I have to admit, when I looked at the BSA regulations the other night, I was surprised at how high the cut-off was for wild-caving.

I definitely think it's too high.
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Re: Updates to BSA Caving Documents

Postby buddyh » Oct 22, 2011 12:55 am

Let me give My Opinion on the rules as they have evolved over the years and how they stand currently.

I.A. All caving, other than simple novice activities,
should be limited to adults and young people
14 and older—members of Venturing crews
or Learning for Life Explorer posts, and older
Scouts in troops and teams. “Simple novice
activities” means commercially operated
cave excursions
“Simple novice activities” means commercially operated cave excursions," This is dependent on the definition of Commercial. This may be defined as "suitable or fit for a wide, popular market"

(http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/commercial) Using this, a cave that has historically and or routinely been used to introduce novices to caving is an acceptable cave and activity for the under

14 group. That does not mean that all of the cave is acceptable. Two examples in the Mid Atlantic would be Wind Cave near Lancaster, PA and Whitingsneck near Martinsburg, WV. Both have

been used by thousands as a first introduction to caving. And yet not all sections are acceptable for novices. Thus keep the novices in the novice sections. Keep the non novice sections for the "14

and older" once they have adequate experience and training. Of course you have to decide for yourself and them what is adequate experience and training all the while keeping in mind the wide

range of ages and abilities.

II.C.Except for groups composed entirely of
experienced cavers, the cave to be visited
must not require the use of ropes, cables,
ladders, or other climbing devices. The safe
use of these aids requires extensive training
and practice under controlled conditions
above ground, never in a cave.
Here only non novices may participate. However they have not defined "experienced cavers." They have also not defined what "extensive training" consist of. Else where in Scouting Regulations,

Climb on Safely, to lead a climbing trip requires 10 (ten) hours of training. So I propose taking the Scouts out Rock Climbing in preparation for Vertical Caving. Have the Scouts and Leaders use

the same equipment that they will use underground. No where does is require the use of a Victory Tower or similar installation. Remember though that the use of a rack is strictly prohibited, unless

used for training purposes prior to participating in, can you guess, ... caving.


Other points and opinions.
A. Younger Scouts can still go caving but they can not lead. They may participate in Vertical caving with adequate training in caving and vertical caving.
B. If you really want to give the Scouts and Leaders a challenge, just have them use a cable ladder. Always good for a round of laughs and tears. It is interesting that even it there is an easier way

the almost always choose the more challenging cable ladder.
C. Carefully explain that your job as there Guide is to challenge, scare and work them. They almost always remember you for what you shared.
D Always explain the Scouting Rules, Land Owner Rules, Caver Rules and of course your rules.
E. Always make them understand the four goals of the adventure.
1. SAFETY
2. SAFETY
3. FUN
4. Learn something.
F. Keep the Vertical Caving Adventures for the !14 and up group. It is a nice carrot but more than that it really excites the group.
G. At some point in the cave, usually after a difficult squeeze, ask the scouts how they would transport an injured caver back out. This really drives home the importance of the first two goals.
H. Remember the rules are going to be in ambiguous terms and pseudo legalese to protect the organization from litigation.

For those that don't know me. I have been in Scouting over 20 years. And since 1996 lead countless training sessions for Caving and Rock Climbing trips for Troops in my area. The area ranges

from Southern Pa to Northern VA and WV. I perform this education under the name of Hi Ventures or www.hiventures.com.


That is enough for now. Rip it to shred but keep the topic hot. Your opinion might be needed someday, somewhere, by someone, for some reason.

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Re: Updates to BSA Caving Documents

Postby amaddox » Oct 23, 2011 9:02 am

Buddy,

I agree with your interpretation. Well thought out and explained.
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Re: Updates to BSA Caving Documents

Postby buddyh » Oct 23, 2011 6:36 pm

Thank you Allen,

The explanation has been bouncing around in the caverns between my ears for a long time. The trick was getting it out and finding an evening to write it down. The point is, if an accident were to occur, to be able to prove that the trip met the guidance provided by BSA policy and no negligence occurred.

I want to make it publicly known that I am neither a lawyer or judge and the posting is my opinion and interpretation. I suggest everyone leading trips for BSA groups and other groups perform due diligence and research the matter for themselves. I also want to point out that laws and regulations vary form jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Please be careful and do not accept my interpretation as fact. It is my opinion.

Please rip it to shreds. Present your opinions and offer counter points, pros and cons. Let us hear from you.

Enjoy,
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Re: Updates to BSA Caving Documents

Postby wyandottecaver » Oct 25, 2011 4:51 pm

" Commercially operated cave excursions" can certainly be interpreted many ways. However, I wouldn't want to try yours in court. The key isnt commercial, but commercially operated...i.e. somebody else taking your money....i.e. somebody else *liable* for injuries.

I find it hard to envision a reasonable interpretation of "commercially operated caving excursions" that would not include an established commercial cave tour or paid guide service. Just my 2 cents.
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Re: Updates to BSA Caving Documents

Postby buddyh » Oct 25, 2011 8:38 pm

Fantastic, feed back.

Colleges, schools, clubs and other organizations all accept and even require payments to participate in trips into caves similar as cited. Since I lead, Guide the trip it therefore becomes a guided trip.

I have challenged other leaders that have pointed to a cave and said have fun. I explain the rules and explain their liabilities. Some head the lesson, some ignore it and others get defensive thinking I am attacking them. When it comes to safety of youth, I defend them as best I can.

Unfortunately I am not rich and can not fully finance caving trips and rock climbing trips with out charging. If I make up half the cost each year, I feel it is worth the burden. The insurance alone cost a bundle and increases every year. I wish the smiles would pay the bills. The smiles do make me richer though.

I think I will ask a few lawyers what what they think. I wish I still knew a judge. Of course with out by a high court any interpretation may not stand and of course as stated earlier the jurisdiction is also important. Another point, the public consensus has weight also. Your opinion is part of the public consensus. That is the nice thing about our court system and government, we the public have a say.

Now somebody else chime in. Any one out there a lawyer of Judge?
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Re: Updates to BSA Caving Documents

Postby Stridergdm » Oct 25, 2011 10:58 pm

buddyh wrote:Fantastic, feed back.

Colleges, schools, clubs and other organizations all accept and even require payments to participate in trips into caves similar as cited. Since I lead, Guide the trip it therefore becomes a guided trip.



That may make it a guided trip but does not make it a commercial cave.

And once you accept money like that, you are assuming a HUGE liability (and depending on the jurisdiction, without licensing may be violating the law.)
buddyh wrote:I have challenged other leaders that have pointed to a cave and said have fun. I explain the rules and explain their liabilities. Some head the lesson, some ignore it and others get defensive thinking I am attacking them. When it comes to safety of youth, I defend them as best I can.

Unfortunately I am not rich and can not fully finance caving trips and rock climbing trips with out charging. If I make up half the cost each year, I feel it is worth the burden. The insurance alone cost a bundle and increases every year. I wish the smiles would pay the bills. The smiles do make me richer though.

I think I will ask a few lawyers what what they think. I wish I still knew a judge. Of course with out by a high court any interpretation may not stand and of course as stated earlier the jurisdiction is also important. Another point, the public consensus has weight also. Your opinion is part of the public consensus. That is the nice thing about our court system and government, we the public have a say.

Now somebody else chime in. Any one out there a lawyer of Judge?
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