Q. When & where does the York Grotto meet?
A. We meet at 7:30 p.m. on the last Tuesday of each month, except for July (annual cave trip meeting), August (annual picnic) and December (annual holiday party), in a private room at John’s Diner, located at 146 Sheraton Drive in New Cumberland, Pa. Many of us come an hour or so early to eat (the menu is diverse and delicious and there is a bountiful salad bar) and discuss caving. Each meeting starts with a program related to caves, caving, conservation or the outdoors.
Q. Where can I find the closest cave to ____________?
Or, How do I get to ____________ cave?
Or, I was in ____________ cave 20 years ago and would like to go back. Will you please send me directions to it?
Or, Where are all the caves in ____________ County?
A. Responsible cavers will never reveal the locations of caves without meeting you first. By attending a York Grotto meeting at John’s Diner you will encounter experts who are qualified to introduce you to caving at a skill level equal to your competency.
Q. Why is information regarding caves proving so hard to find?
A. There are two major reasons for this:
- Caves are a delicate resource. They have scientific, educational, recreational and scenic value. In order to preserve them cavers are hesitant to disclose their knowledge about them.
- Caves can be very dangerous. The same cavers who guard the locations of the resource are the ones who have to go in (with county emergency personnel) to rescue poorly informed and ill equipped spelunkers who are just having some fun.
As a result, a fine balance must be drawn. The caving community is careful about releasing information that would make these beautiful and hazardous resources available to the innocent public. Vandalism is a serious problem. Cave formations do not regenerate like trees. Once destroyed they are lost forever. The consequences behind disseminating information about caves could be harmful to both the caves and the curious. The practice of shielding these treasures can be compared to putting age and height restrictions on a scary amusement park ride.
Q. Why won’t cavers tell me about caves over the internet?
A. No prudent caver will supply you with information about caves via the internet, or without meeting you personally. That’s because we are interested in protecting both you and the caves.
Q. What equipment will I need to go caving?
A. A hardhat or rock climbing helmet with an attachable light (essential). Leather palmed gloves. Lug sole boots. Coveralls or durable clothing in layers to preserve heat. A pack to hold extra lights (Ex. flashlights, chemical light sticks, candles with matches) and other supplies such as spare batteries and bulbs, gorp or high energy snacks, water, hand line, maps, glasses, compass, camera, and etc.
Q. What is the NSS?
A. The NSS is the National Speleological Society. It is the professional caving organization in the United States and can be found online at caves.org. The York Grotto is one of about 200 Internal Organizations or chapters of the NSS.
Q. Is there an age level for caving with the York Grotto?
A. Yes, there is. Individuals should be at least 18 years of age to go caving with us, or 16, if they are accompanied by a parent, or legal guardian. The only other exception is for the Boy Scouts of America. This organization has worked out an agreement with the National Speleological Society, for Venture scouts who are at least 14 years of age. They may go caving with the York Grotto, if they are accompanied by at least two adult leaders and follow the guidelines and protocols set up for them by the BSA & the NSS. Interested scout leaders must attend a York Grotto meeting to present their request.
Q. What is The Rule of Three?
A. It is a safety catch phrase. Cavers always carry at least 3 sources of light; tell 3 different people where they are going and when they are expected to reappear; use 3 points of contact, when climbing; take 3 people on a cave exploration trip.
Q. Does the York Grotto provide tours of caves for interested individuals?
A.The York Grotto does not participate in any pay for caving activities. If people are interested in caving, we suggest that they attend a meeting, or two, observe the programs, meet the members and figure out for themselves whether this activity is suitable for them. There are plenty of commercial caves in Pennsylvania that do provide tours on a pay as you go basis. Any of them, like Indian Echo Caverns in Hummelstown, Pa., would be a good start for the amateur who wishes to become more informed about caves.
Q. What is the difference between a caver and a spelunker?
A. Cavers rescue spelunkers.