Caving is a sport that I thoroughly enjoy doing with kids and adults. When you’re in a cave exploring its vast tunnels, huge rooms and yes, rivers and waterfalls; it can be overwhelming. Personally, I refer to it as mountaineering in reverse. Of course, it all depends on the cave’s level of difficulty. Some caves are very easy and require very little effort. Other caves are extremely technical and may require you to spend the night for proper exploration. For most people, there are many caves around the country, that you can call and make a reservation to attend. Most of the time they will offer different levels of exploration; being from the most basic tour all the way to what I would consider a wild cave tour (of course with the safety of a guide).
Without a doubt, caving is quite fun and enjoyable with our youth and can be rather adventurous. As always we must remember to keep things safe and fun. Most of the caves I explore with other trained adults are quite technical and involve ropes, rappelling, and scrambling. There is no room for error when you’re exploring such caves. One mistake can cause injury or death. Proper training and supervision is a must. Not to worry, there are many caves that require much less commitment. But remember this is still a sport with inherent risk.
I have explored a handful of caves with children ranging from 3 years old to 10 years old. I’ve seen and experienced kids rappelling, climbing up a rope, and exploring caves to the best of their ability. Every time I witness their natural drive to climb and explore new things, it brings such joy to me and reminds me of how much they are capable of, once given the proper guidance from us. My wife and I have taken our daughter caving on a couple trips now with great success. Summer is willing to give it her all so long as she has her Frozen headlamp, her my little pony handheld light and bike helmet.
Our first experience was Mt Saint Helens at the Ape Caves, which is a lava tube that extends over two miles underground at 43 degrees. I thought for sure Summer would not be comfortable with the temperature but this didn’t even begin to slow her down. She loved exploring around and climbing through holes.
Her second caving experience was in Georgia and Alabama, during an annual caving and climbing family trip. There was an abundance of kids on this trip so Summer had her pick of caving buddies. Once again, I was a proud father, to witness my daughter push her limits and enjoy doing it. We managed to accomplish two caves with the kids and they even went back to re-explore Tumbling Rock later in the week. When we were in Tumbling Rock my daughter exercised her ability to control me with a couple soft words and a smile. Her words were simple and effective, “daddy, carry me I’m tired” and because I was so proud of her, there was no hesitation in picking her up, to carry out of the cave.
If caving sounds like it’s something you and your family would enjoy trying; here are some resources to help plan your trip; please contact us at outbound tribe for more information and I will do my very best to help guide you in planning your adventure. Also, check out our page on how to get started.
http://www.scci.org/ (This is the main organization for exploring any caves in the southeast)
https://caves.org/ (This is the main organization for exploring caves all over the country)