This Document is intended to provide Scouts and parents with information to make caving a safe and enjoyable experience. The document is broken into 4 major topics, with a check list at the end. Each sub-title has quick links, allowing you to jump directly to them, &/or back up to the top <here>. Lastly there is a "Printer Friendly" equipment check list, this is a separate document that contains just the equipment list - fits on one page.
Layer 1: Since the boys will definitely get wet, it is best to make the first layer (closest to skin) some sort of moisture-wicking fabric, especially for the upper body. The best choice contains polypropylene (polypro) or some similar synthetic material. Most sporting goods departments and outdoor stores (Wal-Mart, Uncle Sam’s, Boot Camp, etc.) carry polypro thermal tops. (By the way, Boot Camp gives a discount to scouts.) Polypro leg wear is recommended but optional. Polypro can also be used for cool campouts. For the legs, the boys can alternatively use cotton long-johns if they don’t use polypro. Cotton is NOT recommended for the upper body first layer, especially due to the boy’s small body mass.
Shorts. Wear shorts over the long
johns/under the blue jeans. When
the boys emerge from the cave, they will need to strip down to the shorts in
order to change into dry clothes before getting into vehicles.
There are no changing facilities at the cave. If they wear a pair of loose shorts under the rest, this
makes the process easier.
Loose fitting cotton will work OK. Jeans
and long-sleeved sweatshirts will do fine.
(Optional). A pair of used
coveralls from Salvation Army or Goodwill, worn over everything else, works
really well. Preferably button
down, or with a good quality zipper. These
can also be used on cool weather campouts.
Knee Pads and Gloves; both are required
Cheap knee protection worn over the other layers will protect the
kneecaps and the clothing. Cheap
cloth gloves will protect hands and cave formations.
Elbow pads are optional, but recommended.
The boys will need to bring a change of clothes for after caving, including socks, shoes pants shirts, coat, and hat. The boys should bring large, heavy duty plastic trash bags to hold their wet, muddy caving clothes in the vehicles for the trip back to camp Mihaska.
The risks associated with the type of caving activity that we will be doing are not that much different than the risks associated with hiking. The main sources of injury are those associated with falling down (such as twisting an ankle, minor bruises, etc.), and hypothermia (getting too cold).
There are a number of ways to move through a cave,
depending on circumstances. They
Running: Never, Never, Never.
Walking: (Needs no explanation).
Crouch: Kind of like a duck walk.
Use when too low to walk, but not worth trying to crawl.
Bear Crawl: Hands and feet, no knees used.
Not used too often.
Crawl: On knees.
Used most in lower passages.
Belly Crawl: For those really low passages, can be
done on belly or on side/hip.
Squeeze: Tight space, usually a narrow space
requiring turning sideways.
Each group will move through a cave with a designated
leader and designated trailer (last person).
Periodically, the leader will wait for the group to re-assemble,
especially when the passage splits. The
leader will mark the path not taken. A
verbal count-off will be conducted to verify that no member of the group is
When moving through the cave, try to keep your head
up and stay balanced. Periodically
look back where you have been, and realize that when you come out, the cave
passage looks very different from when you came in.
Every member of the cave will need to bring an adequate water supply, and sufficient high-energy snacks for the activity.
The caving environment is fragile. There are a number of activities that must be avoided. Specifically, do not disturb the animal life within the cave. Winter is bat hibernation time, and if they are disturbed it threatens their ability to survive the winter. Some bats, such as the Indiana Brown Bat are on the federal endangered species list.
Do not touch flowstone formation formations with
muddy hands or gloves.
Do not break off any formations, and do not remove
any formations that are already broken off.
Leave the cave better than you found it.
Pick up any trash left behind by careless cavers.
Geology of Caves
There are a number of geologic formations that can be found in caves. Keep an eye out for stalactites (hanging from the ceiling), stalagmites (coming up from the ground), columns, draperies (looks like sheets made of stone hanging from the ceiling), and brimstone dams
Biospeology (A Fancy Word for Cave Life)
There are 3 categories of cave life that we can watch for.
· There are animals that cannot normally survive outside of the cave they are usually white or possess little pigmentation and are sometime without eyes, such as cave salamanders and cave crickets.
animals that can spend part of their lives inside the cave, but can also live
outside the cave in similar places, such as bats.
animals that can live in the cave entrances such as frogs, certain insects, and
The recommended procedure for cleaning up the muddy clothes is as follows:
Helmet with adjustable chin strap.
Marked with name to avoid confusion. Primary light source attached to
Two (2) backup light sources. Test all battery operated lights. New batteries in all lights
source, plus 2 complete sets of replacement batteries for each light source.
Day pack or Fannie Pack sufficient to carry all equipment, must be
able to secure so that stuff won’t fall out when crawling.
Cheap knee pads and gloves. Mark name on each. Muddy
gloves are pretty much indistinguishable.
ü Adequate layers of clothing (clothing will get wet and probably mud stained) try to use wool, synthetics or synthetic blends for layers closest to body. Try to avoid cotton; when wet, it draws body heat away:
Cheap boots for boys
age 14 and over (Little Scott Cave); either cheap boots or old high-top tennis shoes for boys
under 14 (Lone Hill Onyx Cave)
ü A complete change of clothes for after the caving, including clean gloves, coat, and clean shoes
ü Two (2) large, heavy duty plastic bags. Mark name on outside with masking tape.
One or two quarts in rugged containers..
Definitely two quarts for sure for the boys 14 or over, who are going to
Little Scott Cave.
Snack. Some sort of high-energy
bars, granola, etc.
ü Sleeping bag/pillow, towels, washrag, soap, shampoo, toothpaste, etc. for cleaning up afterwards at the dormitory at camp Mihaska.
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