New member, but experienced caver looking for serious grotto

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New member, but experienced caver looking for serious grotto

Postby Glo » Oct 17, 2010 7:03 pm

Hi,

I am an avid outdoorsman and Wildlife and Fisheries student. I am not new to caving, but I am very new to looking into caving information on the web and have been very disappointed. I completely understand and strongly agree with the idea of keeping cave locations a secret, however.. Most of the grotto websites I have seen make their groups seem more like a partying college fraternity than anyone who actually cares about the environment. I was wondering if anyone knows of any "more serious minded" grottos in the central or north alabama areas? I currently live in Birmingham and frequent the Sipsey Wilderness so any grottos between would be great. I also wouldn't mind just meeting a few individual cavers, sharing knowledge and maybe exploring together.

Thanks,
Brandon
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Re: New member, but experienced caver looking for serious gr

Postby Marduke » Oct 17, 2010 9:36 pm

There a number of grottos in your area. There is the Birmingham, Cullman, and Huntsville Grottos, with the Huntsville probably being the largest and most active.

I'm not sure what you by "party grottos". While fellowship and camaraderie are a necessary part of caving, organized groups are always serious and safety minded, since this hobby is inherently dangerous. The unsafe and unprofessional cavers will not be members of organized, respected grotto's.
Warning: Don't use this forum! Only armchair cavers and trolls reside here.
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Re: New member, but experienced caver looking for serious gr

Postby batrotter » Oct 18, 2010 6:13 am

Maybe you should join a conservancy instead of a grotto. Most grottoes are for more social interests whereas conservancies lean toward conservation efforts.
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Re: New member, but experienced caver looking for serious gr

Postby mgmills » Oct 18, 2010 9:24 am

Glo wrote:Hi,

I am an avid outdoorsman and Wildlife and Fisheries student. I am not new to caving, but I am very new to looking into caving information on the web and have been very disappointed. I completely understand and strongly agree with the idea of keeping cave locations a secret, however.. Most of the grotto websites I have seen make their groups seem more like a partying college fraternity than anyone who actually cares about the environment. I was wondering if anyone knows of any "more serious minded" grottos in the central or north alabama areas? I currently live in Birmingham and frequent the Sipsey Wilderness so any grottos between would be great. I also wouldn't mind just meeting a few individual cavers, sharing knowledge and maybe exploring together.

Thanks,
Brandon


Interesting comments Brandon. I belong to 5 grottos and all like to party but they are all loaded with responsible cavers. These 5 are discussed below.

I lived in B'ham for many years and was very active in the grotto there serving several terms as secretary and two as chairman of the grotto. Yes they like to party but there are alot of serious cavers there. A former NSS President is a very active member of the B'ham grotto. The B'ham grotto recently donated a huge sum to the SCCi and was recognized at the recent TAG Fall Cave-In for this donation. The grotto has donated to many conservation projects through the years I've been associated with them. (Been a member since 1994). They usually do one or two cave clean-ups annually and have participated and funded several gating projects to protect caves.

I'm also a member of Huntsville Grotto they are also, as was pointed out by another poster, a very active grotto. . . yes there is a contingent there who like to party but they are also good people.

Both B'ham and H'ville are very respectful of the caves and conservation. Both grottos have members who are very active in NSS activities and in activities related to the Southeastern Cave Conservancy (please check their website http://www.scci.org )

Several members of both grottos are also members of the Sewanee Mountain Grotto based in Sewanee TN but many members are from places like Atlanta, H'ville (area) and some from B'ham as well. I live in Sewanee so I am a member of SMG. This grotto also donates money to conservation projects and participates in/organizes clean-ups. They too recently donated a large sum to the SCCi and also to a non-caving related venture to save Fiery Gizzard Trail and nature area. SMG also has a group who is very into cave surveying. Be warned however that SMG also has some member who really like to "throw down" and "party".

I also belong to Dogwood City Grotto (DCG) in Atlanta. They throw the biggest annual caving party each year on the weekend before Columbus Day (known as the TAG Fall Cave-In but referred to as many as just TAG). Annual attendance is over 1000 cavers. They issue grants for conservation and survey projects each year using the proceeds from the Cave-In. . . but many of their members love to "party".

My other grotto is Meremec Valley Grotto (St Louis MO area) . . . a bit far to participate regularly but a great group of conservation minded individuals and cavers many of who love to party. My husband and I are members because he used to live in MO.

All grottos have sub-groups. . . you just have to go and meet people and find your "niche"
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New member, but experienced caver looking for serious grotto

Postby NZcaver » Oct 18, 2010 11:06 am

Welcome to the forum, Brandon. I hope you find what you're looking for.

batrotter wrote:Maybe you should join a conservancy instead of a grotto. Most grottoes are for more social interests whereas conservancies lean toward conservation efforts.

The can be true in varying degrees, depending on the grotto. Some grottos are more structured (or "serious") than others, but a lot of the same people are also involved with conservancies. Both organizations not only coexist, they also compliment each other despite their different roles.

It's fair to say that as organizations, conservancies are focussed on caves whereas most grottos are more about caving. Caving is generally a group (and therefore social) activity. Personally I have connections with half a dozen grottos and a couple of conservancies. The grottos range from the more social "let's-go-caving-and-have-fun" type to the more structured "let's-talk-policies-and-cave-management" type, although the two frequently overlap. In my experience, many cavers happily play both sides of the field.
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Re: New member, but experienced caver looking for serious gr

Postby graveleye » Oct 18, 2010 11:17 am

mgmills wrote:I also belong to Dogwood City Grotto (DCG) in Atlanta. They throw the biggest annual caving party each year on the weekend before Columbus Day (known as the TAG Fall Cave-In but referred to as many as just TAG). Annual attendance is over 1000 cavers. They issue grants for conservation and survey projects each year using the proceeds from the Cave-In. . . but many of their members love to "party".



sure we like to party... we throw a good one too, once a year! But that certainly isn't what it's all about.
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Re: New member, but experienced caver looking for serious gr

Postby mgmills » Oct 18, 2010 11:41 am

NZcaver wrote:It's fair to say that as organizations, conservancies are focussed on caves whereas most grottos are more about caving. Caving is generally a group (and therefore social) activity. Personally I have connections with half a dozen grottos and a couple of conservancies. The grottos range from the more social "let's-go-caving-and-have-fun" type to the more structured "let's-talk-policies-and-cave-management" type, although the two frequently overlap. In my experience, many cavers happily play both sides of the field.



The Southeastern Cave Conservancy guys are very into cave management but they sure can "throw down and party" as well.

To the OP . . . . go to a few meetings and meet different folks. . . I'm sure you will find your niche.
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Re: New member, but experienced caver looking for serious gr

Postby mgmills » Oct 18, 2010 11:44 am

graveleye wrote:
mgmills wrote:I also belong to Dogwood City Grotto (DCG) in Atlanta. They throw the biggest annual caving party each year on the weekend before Columbus Day (known as the TAG Fall Cave-In but referred to as many as just TAG). Annual attendance is over 1000 cavers. They issue grants for conservation and survey projects each year using the proceeds from the Cave-In. . . but many of their members love to "party".



sure we like to party... we throw a good one too, once a year! But that certainly isn't what it's all about.


Graveleye . . . I didn't mean to imply DCG only partied. . . but in every grotto I belong to (all 5 of them) there are some folks who "live to party."

My point to "Glo" was that you have to get involved and go to meetings to find people who are a "fit" for your individual personality. In any large group you will find multiple small groups.
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Re: New member, but experienced caver looking for serious gr

Postby Glo » Oct 19, 2010 1:21 pm

Thanks everyone for the replies. After reading everyone's post I understand a little better to not judge a grotto just by their website. The reason I felt like that to begin with is because one local grotto's website has tons of pictures of people partying and maybe 2 pictures of a cave and I guess it left an impression on me that most are more about a party than caving. However, after reading your post I see I need to look deeper and actually meet some of these groups.

My girlfriend and I are leaving out tomorrow for a 3 day trip to one of my favorite caving areas hoping to find a new one or two. When we get back Saturday I'll probably start contacting some grottos. Thanks again all!
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Re: New member, but experienced caver looking for serious gr

Postby mgmills » Oct 19, 2010 3:55 pm

Glo wrote:Thanks everyone for the replies. After reading everyone's post I understand a little better to not judge a grotto just by their website. The reason I felt like that to begin with is because one local grotto's website has tons of pictures of people partying and maybe 2 pictures of a cave and I guess it left an impression on me that most are more about a party than caving. However, after reading your post I see I need to look deeper and actually meet some of these groups.

My girlfriend and I are leaving out tomorrow for a 3 day trip to one of my favorite caving areas hoping to find a new one or two. When we get back Saturday I'll probably start contacting some grottos. Thanks again all!



Maybe there are more party pictures than cave pictures because it is harder to take a good cave picture. Also, I can't count the number of times I took my camera on a cave trip and never unpacked it because it was just too much trouble.

Also, there are a lot of cavers who are really into partying after the cave trips are done.

Your comments though might be a wake up call for some grottoes about the image they are projecting on their websites.
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Re: New member, but experienced caver looking for serious gr

Postby self-deleted_user » Oct 19, 2010 6:52 pm

Also, it can be hard to recognize people all geared up. If the purpose of the photos is to be like "this is Amy! This is Sam! This is Devon! This is Ken!" then photos of more party/social/gettogethers are going to be a lot easier.

I like the social part of caving, makes it so much more fun, and honestly, for me, I feel better knowing people a bit because it makes it easier for me to trust them if I need help inside a cave. I always have more fun caving too when I'm with friends I know because I know they have my back both above and below ground :) The more time spent around people the more I feel good about trusting them and jazz, or, the more I can realize maybe this particular person isn't someone I'd be comfortable with. I have met a few people in the later category and I don't want to cave with them ever again.

I guess to me, a serious grotto is one that knows how to play and have fun :grin: If the folks can have fun and get along well above ground, then it seems likely that below ground they are a nice fun cooperative group, which is the kind of peeps I like :)
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Re: New member, but experienced caver looking for serious gr

Postby trogman » Oct 20, 2010 9:43 am

I have some personal experience in this area that I would like to share: My wife and I have been loosely affiliated with a local grotto for years. Neither of us drinks regularly, and we never use illegal drugs, so we don’t generally hang out with folks that do. A few years ago, we were invited to go on a grotto outing which included a campout, and then a caving trip the next day. We decided to attend, but as the evening wore on, we felt more and more out of place amongst the drunkenness that was on display. Then, when the joints were fired up, we decided to excuse ourselves and went to our tent.
The next morning, we thought that perhaps the partying had subsided, and a more serious mindset would prevail. But as we headed off into the woods to find the cave, we noticed several of the folks again passing around a joint. We never found the cave that they were looking for, and I am unsure how much of the pot they had smoked. But I haven’t done much more caving with these folks, because the events of that day left a bad taste in my mouth. In the first place, caving is an inherently dangerous activity already, and the vertical element adds even more danger. (The cave we were looking for was a multi-drop pit). Secondly, if for some reason there had been a bust, there is a possibility that we may have been locked up with the rest of the pot smokers.
I guess the bottom line for me is that, while I don’t have a problem with people having a drink or two after a caving trip, or maybe the night before. But when it comes to total drunkenness, and especially when the illegal drugs are brought out, that’s where I draw the line. And to combine any on these things with caving is, in my opinion, very unsafe and irresponsible. Call me a prude if you like, but I think it is possible to have fun without involving drugs or excessive use of alcohol.

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Re: New member, but experienced caver looking for serious gr

Postby NZcaver » Oct 20, 2010 4:55 pm

trogman wrote:I guess the bottom line for me is that, while I don’t have a problem with people having a drink or two after a caving trip, or maybe the night before. But when it comes to total drunkenness, and especially when the illegal drugs are brought out, that’s where I draw the line. And to combine any on these things with caving is, in my opinion, very unsafe and irresponsible. Call me a prude if you like, but I think it is possible to have fun without involving drugs or excessive use of alcohol.

I completely agree. Prudish or not, I find this behavior despicable. Fortunately *almost* all cavers I've ever hung out with have the smarts not to mix recreational substances with caving activities. "What happens in the woods" at conventions and campouts applies to the woods, not to caves. Thankfully in most areas irresponsibility like you describe seems to be the exception, rather than the rule.
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Re: New member, but experienced caver looking for serious gr

Postby Anonymous_Coward » Oct 21, 2010 9:31 am

Glo wrote:Most of the grotto websites I have seen make their groups seem more like a partying college fraternity than anyone who actually cares about the environment. I was wondering if anyone knows of any "more serious minded" grottos in the central or north alabama areas?


Well, first of all... The lamest grotto party is still more fun than any college fraternity. Also, sorry that the partying on the websites turned you off. Martha is right, maybe grottos should pay more attention to their online image.

However, I think you will find that in many cases the hardest, most serious cavers are often the hardest, most serious partiers! This is not always the case, and you certainly don't have to party to be a serious caver, but the two often go hand in hand.

Also, to all on this board, do not be too quick to judge. As long as you are safe, and care about caves, I will cave or party with you anytime! As you start to cave and hang out with the broader caving community, tolerance and inclusiveness will go a long way. The caving community is made up of people with very diverse lifestyles and extra-curricular activities. I have sometimes been shocked to find out what some other caving friends are into in their personal lives. But when it comes to choosing caving partners, it is much more important to judge folks on their caving skills, conservation mindset, and safety ethic than how much they like to drink or what they do on their own time. If you see something going on on a cave trip that you are not happy with, then speak up! The folks you are with will either respect your views, or they are not worth caving with. Just going away mad will not accomplish anything.

To reiterate what Martha said, there will always be small groups within the larger group. One of those groups will be for you. Just don't close your mind to other people's mindsets. You will miss out on a lot of good friends and cave trips (and parties) if you do.
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Re: New member, but experienced caver looking for serious gr

Postby CaverScott » Oct 22, 2010 8:14 pm

Glo - I cave mostly with Birmingham Grotto so the caving photos can be attributed to them. :kewl:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/caverscott/sets/


warning, I go on alot of geocaching trips so there are many sets of those photos, just check out the obvious cave trip photo sets. :cavingrocks: Our meeting is the first thurday of each month at the Hoover Library. We have a pre-meeting dinner BS session at Jim& Nicks off Oxmoor and I65. Come on down. :cave softly: The meetings are no party, that is for sure....
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