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Can Boy Scouts sleep overnight in a cave?

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Years ago BSA had a ban on Scouts sleeping overnight in caves. I've read through all I can find in BSA policy and I've yet to confirm if this ban is still in place.

 

Can anyone give me direction on this?

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Welcome to the campfire.

I just read through the G2SS and saw no such prohibition.

We have taken the troop several times on a wild cave trip in Tennessee in which they sleep overnight. Either we drag and push duffels with our sleeping gear into the cave and leave them at a convenient spot or we stash our gear nearer the opening. The trip in the cave is 4-6 hours of strenuous activity, crawling and squeezing through holes and slits that are narrow enough to jam your helmet if you turn your head the wrong way...also your body if you're overweight. It's a great workout and the boys absolutely love it. I just did it with my daughter (without the overnight) and had a great time in such crawls as "49 cent squeeze", the "birth canal", and "the mail slot". Let me know if you're interested. She's pumped and ready to go again.(This message has been edited by packsaddle)

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Hi donedds,

 

I am unaware of any such rule ever being in place. If you look at the restricted activities in the Guide to Safe Scouting you will not find camping in caves listed.

 

That doesn't mean it can't have its risks. Anytime you go into a cave you should have a trained caver with you. Each person should have multiple light sources, water, food, proper clothing, helmet, map, etc.

 

You need to be aware of weather forcasts (many caves flood easily), and the physical abilities of the participants.

 

But if you prepare well you can find this to be an excellent adventure, and one the scouts will always remember.

 

Good luck and have a safe, fun time.

 

Bob White

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Thought I'd like to chime in on this as I've been a caver for many years as well as an NSS member, and as such teach my Scouts in that fashion.

 

Bob White is correct in his safety considerations with regards to sleeping in caves. Cavers will often sleep in caves as well, however my point is the following. What are the effects on the cave? Caves are the ultimate in n

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Eagle Cave in Southwestern Wisconsin has been hosting Scout groups for over 30 years. I remember camping there myself as a scout, and still receive periodic information from them.

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as another Scouter/Caver and member of the National Speleological Society, i'll add another note.

 

G2SS policy on *wild caving* has already been stated. one should refer to "Cave Exploring by Scout and Explorer Groups", which is a policy statement prepared by the Youth Groups Liaison Committee of the NSS and approved by the BSA, for further information.

 

if one is talking about camping in a *show cave*, which offers "wild trips", Scouts have been taking such tours for years. there is little risk to the cave or the youth themselves.

 

if one is talking about camping in a *wild cave*, that is an entirely different issue. wild caves are full of delicate biota (many that are endangered species). a Troop of Scouts, slugging equipment thru a cave, is a real threat to the biota in this environment. Cavers themselves seldom sleep in caves, unless part of survey teams or long-term exploration teams. issues of food, personal sanitation, hypothermia, conservation, and "No Trace" issues make camping underground difficult at best.

 

G2SS states caving should be kept to "simple novice activities". effectively camping underground while not damaging biota or the cave environment is not such an activity.

 

while this is only my humble opinion, Scouts should camp in campgrounds, and go caving in caves.

 

judging by your location, i would recommend that you contact the Louisville Grotto of the NSS for more information about taking Scouts caving in your area.

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donedds, I know of several troops in the Louisville/So Indiana area (Kentuckiana for those from around here) that camp in some of the caves in the area. These are programs put on by the owners of the caves. I know that some of the caves have stopped offering this due to the impact to the caves (mostly due to fires and human waste). I've never done it, but everyone I've known that did it said it was fun.

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Thanks for all of the feedback. I've had my District Executive check on this also and he says there is no rule. My experiences as I Scoutmaster were from the 80's and there was a rule then... however it doesn't seem to be a problem now... and I guess it won't be a problem now...

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We do it with this troop but only for certain caves. There are good reasons not to sleep overnight in a cave: safety, environmental awareness, comfort, etc. If it is possible to exit and sleep in a tent, I will take that option any time personally. The boys, for some reason, like to sleep soaked in mud and grime. Go figure.

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As others have said, I would be very relunctant to camp overnight in a cave, unless it was a show cave that offered an organized program for cave camping.

 

I know of three options for commercial cave camping, one of which is in your area just to the north.

 

Blue Springs Caverns has an overnight program.

http://www.bluespringcaverns.com/Overnight.html

 

Cumberland Caverns in Tennessee has an overnight program.

http://www.cumberlandcaverns.com/Overnight%20Spelunking%20Tours.htm

 

Eagle Cave in Wisconsin has an overnight program.

http://www.eagle-cave.net/eagle%20cave%20web/pages/incave.htm

 

These are all programs that are catered to Scouting groups. My troop has done overnight cave camping and it is something unique and fun.

 

There are many great caving adventures in your part of the country. We mostly camp above ground and just visit caves during the day.

 

Another fun organized caving event your troop might enjoy in the Crawl-a-thon at Carter Caves State Park in Kentucky, January 28-30, 2005.

 

Here is a website on the Crawl-a-thon...

http://www.crawlathon.com/

 

Our Troop 33 Caving Page is...

http://www.geocities.com/Yosemite/9857/caving.htm

 

Good luck to you.

 

YIS,

Cliff Golden

Scoutmaster Troop 33

DeKalb, Illinois

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