Caving Merit Badge

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Caving Merit Badge

Postby amaddox » Oct 7, 2005 10:35 am

I did a little homework on this topic.
At one point in time, beginning the '70s and ending in the '80s, a Council could have a specific/special Merit Badge that could only be earned in their Council. This was phased in the late '80s. It's a shame, because it's a good idea IMHO.
Up until this past year or two there was a Caving Activity Pin for Venture Patrols (not to be confused with Venturing Crews) and Varsity Teams. The Teams can still earn the Activity Pins and I think Caving is still one of them, but not positive on that point. Venture Patrols (which are Patrols within a Boy Scout Troop) no long earn these Activity Pins.

There was discussion on a BSA "Cave On Safely" certification similar to "Climb On Safely" and "Safety Afloat" and "Safe Swim Defense". I understand that it's still on the table and inactive discussion right now. My interpretation (not fact) of all this is that BSA would like to have caving be "age appropriate" activity for 14 y/o and up.

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Postby cave rat » Oct 12, 2005 6:52 am

I am in the process of approaching the National Office in Texas about approving a Certified BSA Caving Merit Badge. I have several Scoutmasters that I work with that are willing to form a Task Force to write a book.

If it is done right, it could be a good badge to earn. Caving has been a favorite of the Boy Scouts for years and I think it is time to finally have a Badge.
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Re: Caving Merit Badge

Postby buddyh » Dec 8, 2009 7:52 pm

4 years later and still no badge. Why don't we write the pamphlet including the requirements.
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Re: Caving Merit Badge

Postby rebelfirefighter » Dec 8, 2009 9:07 pm

I remember when I was in scouts way back that we did the wild tour at the Lost Sea in Sweetwater, Tn. We had a blast doing the tour and spending the night in the cave. I believe we got a patch. I would have definitely wanted to get a Caving Merit Badge if there had been one. Whats it take to make a pamplet and requirements?
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Re: Caving Merit Badge

Postby rebelfirefighter » Dec 8, 2009 9:18 pm

This is BSA's current policy on Caving from scounting.org


Caving
General Policy

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.

1.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.
2.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.
3.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.
4.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.
5.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.
6.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.
Cave Safety
7.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.
8.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.
9.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.
10.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.
11.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.
12.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.
13.Running, jumping, horseplay, and solo exploration must be prohibited—such foolhardy actions jeopardize not only the individual but also the entire group.
14.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.
15.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.
16.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


Varsity Scoutscan earn a caving activity pin so I see no reason why there shouldn't be a merit badge for it.
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Re: Caving Merit Badge

Postby Mudduck » Dec 8, 2009 10:01 pm

There is no question as to whether of not it should be a merit badge(nationally). The council specific badges stink if you live in Mississippi. Most of Pushamataha area council has never seen a cave(wild that is) much less to take the time to create a local badge. I can't blame them in a way. Most troops I know tend to stay close to home with council campouts and the like. The only time most really venture out is when prepping for "Philmont". My troop is kind of an outlaw. We do summer camp and one camporee a year. Every other monthly campout is held at least a hundred miles away. Granted we're a small troop with only 2 patrols but regardless they are very disappointed at the lack of a merit badge. Speaking of cave safety and training(another topic in this forum) did any of you guys catch Boys Life a few issues back. they did a story on a group in Missouri I believe that went canoeing and caving. the cave photos had the guys depicted as caving with a headlamp and swim shorts. you'd think they'd cut those pics in editing.
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Re: Caving Merit Badge

Postby buddyh » Dec 9, 2009 8:57 pm

I've been pondering this for several years. I believe the problems of having a merit badge and the reasons the BSA have not signed on for one is two fold. One is the risk of having a scout pursuing it as an individual and the possible liability. The second would be making it possible for a scout of any age to earn the badge without actually going caving which may be next to impossible in many parts of the country. The requirement must have a weasel to allow earning a merit badge without going underground.
If written correctly, tested a few times to make sure the goals, both the scouts' and the caving community's are met it could then be presented to the BSA Leadership. A draft of the requirements and pamphlet content should be developed in the event the BSA gives the NSS a go ahead or asks for guidance .
A scout of any age. Since scouts range in age from 10 1/2 to 18 years of age. No scout should be eliminated due to age.
Not having to go caving. A scout needs to be able to earn the merit badge in where caves are not present. And of course we can't forget the handicapped.

Several requirements could come from climbing merit badge. Others from the Venture requirements. Substitutes for caving are the harder ones. The trick will be to get a similar or equivalent experience or knowledge.

One topic ripe for inclusion is the environmental fragility of karst areas. What are some other thoughts on requirements?

Of course the badge would would have to have the black bat on a gold background.
:bat sticker:
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Re: Caving Merit Badge

Postby cavedoc » Dec 10, 2009 1:22 pm

So I haven't been involved with Scouting since I was 18 and aged out but I support the organization and its goals (mostly). But it seems like what makes BSA good is that it gets kids away from their computer monitors and out DOING things. How can you have get a caving merit badge and never set foot underground? When I got a wilderness survival badge I had to sleep out in the woods in a shelter I constructed. It was part of the attraction of doing it. I think I would be embarrased to wear a caving badge if I never caved or a climbing badge if I never climbed. It doesn't need to be a tough cave or a tough climb, and it probably ought not be, but to never have done it at all? That cheapens it. I worked hard at the badges I got and wasn't cut any breaks. I wore them proudly.

Now there ought to be a way for a boy with a disability to get through the ranks with some accomodation, but that doesn't mean every single badge has to be earnable by every person with every disability. BSA is about learning about life and life is not like that. And not having caves around is not far off from not having a qualified person to sign off on whatever badge is wanted. Not every badge is available to every person. This is life. But the badges serve a purpose of exposing kids to new places,ideas, and activities in a hands on way. It's not about writing a report after looking at Wikipedia.

I'm not a Scout leader so maybe I'm speaking out of turn here. And kudos to all of you who are. I will encourage my sons to participate when they are of an age and will help out at that time. But I want them to get away from the computer screen and into the field. I hope BSA still allows that.
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Re: Caving Merit Badge

Postby Phil Winkler » Dec 10, 2009 1:53 pm

Bill,

I saw that issue of Boys Life you mention and it is really odd how it happened.

I haven't seen an issue of it since sometime in the 50s when I was a scout. By mistake, our mailman left that issue in our mailbox when it should have been delivered to a house on the next block. So I leafed thru and saw the article. Then, being a nice guy, I walked over to the house to take them their magazine and introduced myself. I also said if he (the scout) wanted any info on caves, etc. to give me a call and I'd point him in the right direction of Commander Cody's Cave Club and the NSS.

What a coincidence!
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Re: Caving Merit Badge

Postby Mudduck » Dec 10, 2009 3:13 pm

Phil Winkler wrote:I haven't seen an issue of it since sometime in the 50s when I was a scout. By mistake, our mailman left that issue in our mailbox when it should have been delivered to a house on the next block. So I leafed thru and saw the article. Then, being a nice guy, I walked over to the house to take them their magazine and introduced myself. I also said if he (the scout) wanted any info on caves, etc. to give me a call and I'd point him in the right direction of Commander Cody's Cave Club and the NSS.

What a coincidence!


Thats IS a coincidence. I would'nt go as far to say I was disturbed by the article but the photos definately did'nt not support BSA guidelines towards caving or even basic caving safety. I intend to bring this to the attention of the editors of Boys Life at some point probably after our Tumbling Rock trip this weekend. If my pics turn out decent and I get approval from the SCCI I'd like to submit an article about our upcoming trip. If nothing else maybe it will undo some of the example set by those photos.
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Re: Caving Merit Badge

Postby NZcaver » Dec 10, 2009 4:50 pm

Just a thought. Scouting is an international organization, and caving is enjoyed by scouts in many countries. I'm pretty sure there are 'caving merit badges' (or equivalent) issued in other countries, so that might be something to look into for more ideas. :shrug:
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Re: Caving Merit Badge

Postby wyandottecaver » Dec 10, 2009 8:17 pm

Buddy,

I'll start with the caution....I'm not sure, but the "bat sticker" image may be copywrited...again I'm not sure.
In my opinion the BSA has fallen far from when I earned my Eagle. Scouts were taught to be Scouts in the historical sense. Individually self sufficient and mentally prepared to act as a team. But I digress...

The most practical compromise may be a "Cave Conservation" badge. This would allow both optional active use of the resources to educate scouts about cave environments and engage in activities like trips and/or clean ups, and more passive requirements like watching various available (and excellent) videos or tests over various literature. Possible extra options include completion of a Project Underground workshop or attending a NSS Convention. You could have a long list of various acceptable activities that were weighted with various point values and earning the badge needed X points. Thus folks with different local conditions could all earn the badge even if it wasn't in exactly the same way.
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Re: Caving Merit Badge

Postby amaddox » Dec 10, 2009 8:28 pm

wyandottecaver wrote:Buddy,

I'll start with the caution....I'm not sure, but the "bat sticker" image may be copywrited...again I'm not sure.
In my opinion the BSA has fallen far from when I earned my Eagle. Scouts were taught to be Scouts in the historical sense. Individually self sufficient and mentally prepared to act as a team. But I digress...

The most practical compromise may be a "Cave Conservation" badge. This would allow both optional active use of the resources to educate scouts about cave environments and engage in activities like trips and/or clean ups, and more passive requirements like watching various available (and excellent) videos or tests over various literature. Possible extra options include completion of a Project Underground workshop or attending a NSS Convention. You could have a long list of various acceptable activities that were weighted with various point values and earning the badge needed X points. Thus folks with different local conditions could all earn the badge even if it wasn't in exactly the same way.

I like this idea.
Also maybe one of the requirements is to have read, understand, and abide by the Caving Policy by the BSA and NSS.
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Re: Caving Merit Badge

Postby buddyh » Dec 11, 2009 8:43 pm

I would like to see a badge on the sash. However the NSS might consider a cave conservation award. But that would never be recognized by the BSA as qualifying for rank advancement. The thing to remember is that a merit badge represents not an expert, but knowledge and some kind of participation. Participation could be contacting a grotto and a written report as with Pulp and Paper or Law merit badges. I'm sure we are intelligent, experienced and diverse enough to come up with a set of requirements that would demonstrate that the scout has an understanding of caves, caving, their importance, conservations and what would be required to participate in caving. As cavers we all want to get underground. Are we still cavers when we are sitting on the porch in a rocking chair too old and stiff to go underground?

Did you know that when climbing, use of a rack for rappelling is prohibited however when caving or practicing to go caving a rack is permissible.

As for getting youth from in front of a computer, absolutely. One of the biggest issues to overcome with today's youth is getting them to lead. From early on they are chauffeured form activity to activity all the while being told what to do, how to do it and when to do it. Gone are the days of pick up games and hiking to the favored fishing spot miles from home. And being gone all day while on your own with friends. Kids are rarely out of a parent's view now a days. We have a hard time getting them to think beyond the recreation council activities.

If the bat logo is copy written, could it be licensed? Who would know the answer?

More of your thoughts please.
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Re: Caving Merit Badge

Postby wyandottecaver » Dec 11, 2009 9:06 pm

An excellent book called "free range kids" details the trend to raise kids in a bubble....

The BSA's rules for rope work often seem designed to create accidents....

Good luck with the Merit Badge. Then again your time may be better spent by taking kids on non-BSA trips to caves where possible rather than swimming upstream in a outdated beauracracy...
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