Who to Choose

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Who to Choose

Postby amaddox » Sep 19, 2015 1:11 pm

I'm looking for opinions on this. For youth groups, what makes a good cave guide??
I have some ideas. I'm looking for your's.
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Re: Who to Choose

Postby msharitt » Sep 21, 2015 8:53 am

I by no means am an expert but I can put in my two cents. Assuming I'm understanding the question and also that this is for a "wild" cave guide.

When I lead groups this is what is most important I feel

1.Safety, This may be vertical safety or even horizontal. There are many safe ways to cave. It's important to make youth groups feel safe when climbing over rocks and teaching them what to look for and what is considered safe. Maybe it's something as simple as showing them they need to test the sturdiness/slipperiness of a rock before taking a large step or knowing how to safely do a changeover on rope. I think safety is similar for all caves, with added safety depending on temperature, water, vertical. This is also as simple as having all your proper gear on, helmets, gloves and so on.

2. Being knowledgeable, no matter what age I take I get lots of questions about caving. The geology and history. For some that may be all they are interested in. Also knowing about preservation and teaching why we don't wear the same muddy clothes and gear to other caves about WNS. Why we can't touch certain areas in TR and other caves.

3. Confidence, I think you have to have. I may take my friends to a cave I've never been to. But if it's a group that's younger or hasn't been. I play it safe. In my area safe is Tumbling rock. Great formations, plenty of room to crawl and walk. but also I know it very well. At any point with a group they need to know that you're comfortable. That doesn't mean stopping for 20 minutes to figure out if you should've taken that left or not. They will be more comfortable if you are confident.

4.Understanding there limits. Obviously we aren't taking 5 year olds into pits. But something I am careful not to overlook is how strenuous something can be. Even at 10-12, they have lots of energy but climbing take a lot out of you.

I'm sure there are more but that's what came to me first thing. There are probably even more important ones, But maybe later in the day when I'm more awake I'll edit if need be.
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Re: Who to Choose

Postby amaddox » Sep 22, 2015 2:06 pm

These are some great insights. I think they all are important. If you do have other ideas, please post them.
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Re: Who to Choose

Postby spider » Sep 22, 2015 4:18 pm

Make sure they have a good time if you ever want to see them again.
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Re: Who to Choose

Postby Phil Winkler » Sep 22, 2015 4:58 pm

Mike, an excellent summary of what is needed or desired.
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Re: Who to Choose

Postby amaddox » Sep 23, 2015 6:42 am

spider wrote:Make sure they have a good time if you ever want to see them again.

This is very good too. Do you have anything specific you do to insure this?
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Re: Who to Choose

Postby msharitt » Sep 23, 2015 8:28 am

I know this wasn't directed at me, but I think peaking interest is a large part of ensuring new and young people have a good time.

Myself and my friends and I'm sure many here, will crawl in a muddy hole for miles just to find nothing at the end. After all that we still are excited and want to go back because we just love the activity and sport of it.

On top of simplicity I think newcomers have to be in awe. Find an easy cave that has some great formations, great history behind it or the ecology is above average. Then they'll want to explore other caves hoping they see something similar. You can tell them that not all caves are this magnificent. But it gives them something to look forward to. If you take someone young just to look at mud and rocks they may lose interest.
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Re: Who to Choose

Postby spider » Sep 23, 2015 8:32 am

Let them lead, check out stuff, see where passages go, etc. Someone who knows the cave can nudge them in various directions, but my experience has been that folks have more fun "exploring" on their own, even if it means not getting to some places in the cave. Who knows? They might find something that has been overlooked by everyone else ("everyone knows" that lead doesn't go anywhere).
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Re: Who to Choose

Postby amaddox » Sep 23, 2015 11:56 am

msharitt wrote:....... If you take someone young just to look at mud and rocks they may lose interest.

This is so true..
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Re: Who to Choose

Postby amaddox » Sep 23, 2015 11:59 am

spider wrote:Let them lead, check out stuff, see where passages go, etc. Someone who knows the cave can nudge them in various directions, but my experience has been that folks have more fun "exploring" on their own, even if it means not getting to some places in the cave. Who knows? They might find something that has been overlooked by everyone else ("everyone knows" that lead doesn't go anywhere).

This is the excitement of discovery. I live through each newbies eyes as they see for new what I see all the time.
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Re: Who to Choose

Postby Grandpa Caver » Sep 23, 2015 9:22 pm

A good leader is:
Sure the group is prepared and knows of anyone's limitations.
Able to designate roles in a group.
Prepared to take charge in any emergency. Be it spent batteries to an injury.
Able to let the group explore and have fun.
A teacher and role model!
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Re: Who to Choose

Postby ohiocaver » Oct 1, 2015 9:54 am

True all. Take it very slow at the entrance. Remember, you're there for the newbies to have a good time. And it all is new to them. You don't need to prove how much faster or more agile you are than them (that's a given...you're the leader). Since you know the cave, you know which passages you can allow a newbie to "lead" and explore. Some are into the physicality of caving. Some like critters. Some like geology. Have an experienced caver along who can walk someone out who does not like being underground...while the rest of the group goes on to explore. I've seen a lot of cave exit trips, done slowly, help a person acclimitize to being underground. Stop frequently. Set a modest goal going in (like the "Big Room") and, if the group's doing well then go deeper into the cave. But plan the time ahead. Remember, the goal is to have the newbies come back next time for another trip - not to simply check off "caving" on their tick list.
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Re: Who to Choose

Postby Caving Guru » Oct 1, 2015 11:25 am

msharitt wrote:On top of simplicity I think newcomers have to be in awe. Find an easy cave that has some great formations, great history behind it or the ecology is above average. Then they'll want to explore other caves hoping they see something similar. You can tell them that not all caves are this magnificent. But it gives them something to look forward to. If you take someone young just to look at mud and rocks they may lose interest.


I definitely agree with this. My first wild cave was Sinnett-Thorn Cave in Pendleton County, West Virginia with my church group when I was about 12 and I was totally hooked on caving during and after that trip. I kept on wanting to go caving again after that because I thought there were other caves like that. Little did I know at the time, though, that Sinnett-Thorn is a one of a kind, premier cave. Sinnett-Thorn Cave is still one of my favorite caves.

And then again I went on a trip to a cave where there was a lot of crawling and another group was coming out as we were coming in and as one of the people on the other trip was coming out, they were saying that it was their first cave trip and that never again would they go caving again. In their mind, they believed that the average cave would be like that.

The first cave trip that you go on really is make or break. It gets you hooked on caving or makes you never want to go caving again.
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Re: Who to Choose

Postby amaddox » Oct 17, 2015 5:46 pm

You guys have come up with some great points and stories to back them up This is great information. All of you rock. :cavingrocks:

Allen
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Re: Who to Choose

Postby buddyh » Nov 26, 2015 9:48 pm

Some comments on letting them lead. But first, I am a Scout leader that leads Scouts on caving trips as a Pay to Cave. I would do it for free but the insurance, gear and Scouting regulations is more than I can completely bear financially. I follow the Scouting regulations. I will discuss one of these here. Leading or more precisely, letting a Scout take point. First I find the ages of the Scouts. This is important to comply with the regs. I then apologize to the Scouts that are under 14 years old and explain that the Scouting regs prohibit them from leading. The young ones accept this with an uhg or a darn but they don't complain. When the opportunity to allow Scouts to lead is acceptable, it is encouraged. I ask for a volunteer and several jump at the opportunity. Then the selected volunteer is told to get their buddy. Remember Scouting uses the Buddy System for almost everything. Thanking them, they are told that they are now Spider Bait. Nearly everyone now wants to be Spider Bait and find Shelob's Lair, think J.R.R.Tolkien. Now we rotate teams and give everyone old enough a chance to be Spider Bait. Having had Scouts return for more adventure 1,2 or 3 three trips later, they often remember the thrill of being spider bait or now being old enough to be Spider Bait.

Of course when things get dicey, I take the lead. Remember the first and second goals are Safety and Safety.

It is all about the fun.
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