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Caving Organizations

While caving is usually done in small groups, there are many benefits to belonging to an organized caving group. Most caving organizations provide resources such as newsletters and libraries, activities such as regular meetings and regional caving events, and opportunities to join other cavers on trips and projects. These organizations are usually the best place to meet experienced cavers who can provide information on cave locations and training in basic and advanced caving techniques.

National Organizations

Logo: National Speleological Society (NSS)

In the United States the National Speleological Society (NSS) was founded for the purpose of advancing the study, conservation, exploration, and knowledge of caves. The NSS is made up of individual members who are usually involved with local NSS affiliated grottos (clubs) and regional organizations. An annual convention is held each summer in different parts of the United States.

Local & Regional Groups

Local and regional groups sponsor trips, offer training, teach and practice cave conservation, and generally provide a framework for enjoying and studying caves. The NSS has a list of affiliated caving clubs (referred to as grottos) organized by state that you can use to find an organization in your area.

For example, in the immediate Baltimore-Washington area there are two active NSS grottos and a large independent cave club that work together on many projects:

Logo: Baltimore Grotto

Baltimore Grotto is the Baltimore, Maryland area chapter of the National Speleological Society (NSS), dedicated to the exploration, study and conservation of caves. The grotto meets the first Wednesday of each month in Catonsville, Maryland.

Logo: DC Grotto

The District of Columbia Grotto (DC Grotto), a local chapter of the National Speleological Society (NSS), is dedicated to the exploration, study and conservation of caves. DC Grotto meets the third Tuesday of each month in Silver Spring, Maryland.

Logo: Potomac Speleological Club (PSC)

The second largest independent organization of cavers in the United States, the Potomac Speleological Club (PSC) is dedicated to caving, conservation and the science of Speleology. The PSC meets on the second and fourth Mondays of each month in Arlington, Virginia.


Special Interest Groups

The caving community has many specific interest groups focusing on such topics as photography, conservation, vertical caving, geology, cave diving, and surveying and cartography, and many more. Several of these groups, which are frequently part of larger organizations like the NSS, publish newsletters and sponsor periodic meetings. Other groups are focused on exploration and documentation of caves and karst in a specific area or conservation of specific caves or resources. A sampling of such groups are listed below:

Icon: Caving helmet and lamp  

NSS Sections - The NSS has sections relating to a wide range of specialized interests such as Communications and Electronics, Digging, Geology and Geography, Paleontology, Spelean History, Vertical Caving.

Icon: Caving helmet and lamp  

State and Regional Surveys - Some surveys focus on documentation of caves and karst at the state level. Examples of state surveys are the Virginia Speleological Survey and the West Virginia Speleological Survey. Other surveys may focus on a specific project area, such as the Germany Valley Karst Survey, which works exclusively in West Virginia's Germany Valley, and various county surveys which contribute to the state surveys.

Icon: Caving helmet and lamp  

Project Groups - There are many groups, usually rather informal in nature, oriented toward a particular type of project, cave system or activity. The Gangsta Mappers, devoted to mapping of caves, is one example of this type of group.

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  Copyright 2002-2004, Bob Robins
  Last Updated: August 9, 2005