Youth Groups and Caving

Many cavers began their caving careers as part of a youth group (e.g. scouting groups, church groups, schools, etc.) and some continue to be involved with these groups, providing training and leadership for caving and other activities. Unfortunately very few youth groups interested in organizing a caving trip will find they have such resources within their own organization.

Some national organizations may provide specific guidance for their leaders on conducting caving and other outdoor activites, such as the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) Publication 19-102A. Many other groups, however, do not have any such formal guidance.

Local caving clubs often receive requests from youth groups for assistance, but many are either not set up to handle such requests or do not have the resources to respond to all the groups that might contact them. At the same time, many cavers who might otherwise be willing to help hesitate due to concerns about liability or a previous bad experience. Contacting a local caving club is not a bad idea, just don't expect them to provide a leader and itinerary for the trip you have already scheduled for next weekend!

In response to the general shortage of information and assistance available to youth group leaders, the NSS has established a Youth Groups Liaison Committee to help address some of these issues. They are working to establish a network of regional youth caving coordinators and have produced several useful publications that are available from the Youth Group Caving page on the National Speleological Society web site. These include:

Information for Youth Group Leaders and Parents - Compiled by the NSS Youth Groups Liaison Committee, this publication addresses the dangers and risks of caving, selection of a qualified guide, and a variety of before, during and after trip considerations when planning a trip.
Caving Equipment: A Discussion forYouth Group Leaders and Parents - This publication by the Youth Groups Liaison Committee describes the basic individual and group equipment required for a safe and comfortable trip. There is also a companion Equipment Checklist.
Legal Issues and General Information for the Experienced Caver - This publication by the Youth Groups Liaison Committee is written for experienced cavers who want to take youth groups caving. It highlights some considerations for organizing a trip as well as potential problems when working with youth groups.
A Guide to Responsible Caving - This NSS publication, while not written specifically for youth groups, provides a valuable perspective for anyone planning a caving trip. It's focuses on how to preserve the cave environment, strengthen caver-landowner relations, and make your visit to a cave a safe one.
Other resources - such as listings of wild cave tours and sightseeing trips available to youth groups in different areas of the country, and video and slide programs that are available from the NSS.