Vertical Caving With Scouts

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Vertical Caving With Scouts

Postby amaddox » Jul 3, 2015 3:11 pm

I'm looking to see if anyone has had success with taking Scouts, specifically a Venturing Crew' vertical caving. How did you go about training? Did you get underground? What did the kids think about going vertical?
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Re: Vertical Caving With Scouts

Postby Caving Guru » Jul 3, 2015 7:35 pm

Well, I haven't taken Scouts vertical caving but I have taken campers (ages 9-15) during the summer vertical caving. We have taken them to Whiting's Neck Cave and Hundred Holes which are both in the panhandle of West Virginia. For both of these caves, the kids were on belay. For Whiting's Neck, the kids were just lowered down to the bottom on belay and for Hundred Holes a cable ladder was used to climb up and down while on belay. Hundred Holes is done each week at the end of the week for the camp program and has been pretty successful. The drop is not that long so the kids are usually fine with the height. The time that we took the kids to Whiting's Neck Cave last summer was the only time that we took them during the summer. You might say that it wasn't very successful since it was a one time thing. Some of the campers didn't want to go down the drop because they were scared of the height so they waited at the top. We also had more staff than usual for this trip. I would say that if these kids of yours plan on doing vertical, they should probably stick to the short drops with cable ladder and belay unless they are able to afford buying their own vertical caving system which I doubt most of them would be able to afford.
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Re: Vertical Caving With Scouts

Postby Grandpa Caver » Jul 4, 2015 7:47 am

I can relate our one experience with taking a Venture Crew on a vertical cave trip. Fortunately the Crew were able to get several practice sessions at a training camp near their home base in the weeks prior to our trip. The day before our trip we had another practice with them in a barn. This gave them a chance to become familiar with the loaner equipment they would be using and we were able to instruct them in change over and emergency procedures. In short, the trip went very well and the Crew all agreed it was a great experience however...the Crew also felt too much effort and time was required for a few hours actually caving. We as caver/leaders were also unable to meet BSA requirements as instructors. In the end we all concluded the experience was a good one but we agreed it would not become a regular feature of their annual trips. For us as leaders, complying with BSA guidelines and requirements for any "rope work" was prohibitive to future trips. I always like to enhance the Venture Crews caving experience so the next year we had the Crew use a compass and topo to find the cave on their own. This year they will be aiding the grotto in a very ambitious sinkhole cleanup on a cave owners property.
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Re: Vertical Caving With Scouts

Postby amaddox » Jul 4, 2015 9:14 am

Grandpa Caver wrote:I can relate our one experience with taking a Venture Crew on a vertical cave trip. Fortunately the Crew were able to get several practice sessions at a training camp near their home base in the weeks prior to our trip. The day before our trip we had another practice with them in a barn. This gave them a chance to become familiar with the loaner equipment they would be using and we were able to instruct them in change over and emergency procedures. In short, the trip went very well and the Crew all agreed it was a great experience however...the Crew also felt too much effort and time was required for a few hours actually caving. We as caver/leaders were also unable to meet BSA requirements as instructors. In the end we all concluded the experience was a good one but we agreed it would not become a regular feature of their annual trips. For us as leaders, complying with BSA guidelines and requirements for any "rope work" was prohibitive to future trips. I always like to enhance the Venture Crews caving experience so the next year we had the Crew use a compass and topo to find the cave on their own. This year they will be aiding the grotto in a very ambitious sinkhole cleanup on a cave owners property.

The amount of effort for one trip is one of my concerns. The vertical trip would have to be very much worth while. I'll have to look into that aspect.
Thanks for your input. Very helpful.
Allen
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Re: Vertical Caving With Scouts

Postby amaddox » Jul 4, 2015 9:18 am

Caving Guru wrote:Well, I haven't taken Scouts vertical caving but I have taken campers (ages 9-15) during the summer vertical caving. We have taken them to Whiting's Neck Cave and Hundred Holes which are both in the panhandle of West Virginia. For both of these caves, the kids were on belay. For Whiting's Neck, the kids were just lowered down to the bottom on belay and for Hundred Holes a cable ladder was used to climb up and down while on belay. Hundred Holes is done each week at the end of the week for the camp program and has been pretty successful. The drop is not that long so the kids are usually fine with the height. The time that we took the kids to Whiting's Neck Cave last summer was the only time that we took them during the summer. You might say that it wasn't very successful since it was a one time thing. Some of the campers didn't want to go down the drop because they were scared of the height so they waited at the top. We also had more staff than usual for this trip. I would say that if these kids of yours plan on doing vertical, they should probably stick to the short drops with cable ladder and belay unless they are able to afford buying their own vertical caving system which I doubt most of them would be able to afford.

I was also thinking of using Whitings Neck. And I thought about using the cable ladder on belay as well. I'm not familiar with Hundred Holes. I'll look into that. Thanks for the lead.

Allen
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Re: Vertical Caving With Scouts

Postby Caving Guru » Jul 4, 2015 9:31 am

Hundred Holes is actually used a lot by the Scouts. There is a local Scout troop that has their meetings on the property where Hundred Holes is.
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Re: Vertical Caving With Scouts

Postby spider » Jul 4, 2015 10:24 am

In the 70s we took some 43 Girl Scouts through Whiting's Neck using a cable ladder and belay. We had no problems except managing the traffic (several other groups showed up that day. It was like an anthill).
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Re: Vertical Caving With Scouts

Postby amaddox » Jul 4, 2015 12:52 pm

spider wrote:In the 70s we took some 43 Girl Scouts through Whiting's Neck using a cable ladder and belay. We had no problems except managing the traffic (several other groups showed up that day. It was like an anthill).

Ant hill. What a good visual.
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Re: Vertical Caving With Scouts

Postby buddyh » Nov 27, 2015 7:00 pm

I do two or three vertical trips a year with Scouts. They have to be over 14 per the Scouting regulations. It is always nicest to do a ground school first. If you can spend a day Climbing and Rappelling is even better. Remember also that per the regs you must have another instructor and possibly three instructors as the count goes up. If you do this, here are a couple of caveats. One, time will double or even triple depending on their physical abilities. What normally takes an hour can take three instead. Tell your point of contact not to expect you back till double your planned exit and then call them when the last person is out. Two, have a haul system alternative. Some folks can't climb more than a step ladder. When you do it, they really enjoy the adventure. They Own it, Claim it, and Get Bragging rights. So much more than chasing a ball around.
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