Posts Tagged ‘spelunking’

The first time the Boy Scouts of Troop 68 went spelunking at Eagle Cave in Wisconsin they had a great time. So it was not a surprise that we scheduled another trip to the cave a few years later. (Pictures of the trip can be seen on our troop website HERE.)

This time the troop “camped” toward the back of the cave. It was a nice area, with very little traffic that went by us. The cave ceiling was a little low, causing some of the boys to crawl to their sleeping bags. At least our area was dry. unlike the troop a little further down the cave which had plastic over their gear and bags to protect it from the moisture dripping from the ceiling.

As noon on Saturday approached, I was outside near the dining hall. The boys would soon be arriving for lunch. In fact, dozens of boys from other troops were already gathering. I spotted a couple Scouts from my troop running toward me with a look of concern on their faces. “Mike’s hurt!” they told me between gulps of air. “His head is all bloody.” Of course, as a scoutmaster all sorts of possibilities went through my mind. I understood that a head injury could be pretty serious, and hoped that the boys were exaggerating.

As I made my way to the cave I caught site of a few boys leading Mike toward me. His hair was a bloody mess. Several lines of blood had trickled down his face. My first thought was, “Wow, that is a lot of blood.” But then I noticed that he was not bleeding anymore, and that the blood on his face was already drying. After a quick look at the top of his head I could see the injury was very minor and had already clotted. He seemed to be fine, just shaken up a little.

Since we were near the dining hall I walked in and asked for a first aid kit. To my surprise, they did not have one. I asked for something to clean the blood off Mike and they handed me several white dish towels. I could not help but think that for a place that sees hundreds of campers each weekend they were totally unprepared for accidents.

As I walked with Mike up to the shower house I noticed that many of the campers had lined up in front of the dining hall. I could guess what would be the topic of conversation at many of the tables during this meal.

It took a few of those towels to get Mike cleaned up.The wound was the size of the tip of a ballpoint pen. Mike said that he had stood up to fast in a low ceiling portion of the cave and hit his head on the ceiling. One of the little pointy bumps on the ceiling had caused the injury. Knowing how slimy the cave ceiling was, I decided we should take him into town and have a doctor look it over to prevent any infection. One of the fathers joined us. The doctor cleaned it, sealed it with a drop of a crazy-glue like substance, and sent us on our way.

By this time we had missed lunch in the dining hall so we stopped at Pizza Hut for something to eat. Mike later declared this as one of the best parts of the weekend. I was happy that everything and everyone turned out fine.

The second time that Melrose Troop 68 spent a weekend at Eagle Caves in southern Wisconsin, we had a crew of seventeen Boy Scouts and six adults. This time we “camped” at one of the higher levels toward the back of the cave, instead of near the entrance like we did four years earlier.

The Boy Scouts were off exploring the cave Saturday morning, leaving the adults in their “site” with nothing to do for a moment. Someone made a comment that we should pull a prank on the Scouts. A few ideas were tossed around and we finally decided that we would tell the boys to be careful and check themselves and each other for “cave ticks”. Wood ticks are a natural part of Minnesota camping so we thought we could easily get the boys to believe in cave ticks.

When the boys gathered for lunch we warned them about the cave ticks. It was a little hard to keep a straight face but we did it. I could tell the older boys were skeptical right away, but the younger boys seemed to accept it. The adults waited to see how this would play out.

During the course of the day most of the boys figured out we were joking or just plain forgot about the ticks. A few of the younger boys were a little worried at first and asked a few questions. We explained that they were similar to wood ticks and about the same size. There was nothing to worry about. Just pick them off if you find any.

The best part of the prank came Sunday morning as we sat down at the breakfast table in the dining hall. By then, nearly everyone had figured out the joke, except for two younger Scouts who were checking each other’s heads, looking for those ticks. After snapping a quick picture I started giggling, as did the rest of the adults. We then told them the truth about the cave ticks. After everyone got a laugh, including the two boys, we finished breakfast and moved on to pack up our gear for the long ride home.

If you would like to see a few pictures from the trip go to

The first time the Boy Scouts of Troop 68 scheduled a trip to southern Wisconsin to spend a weekend at Eagle Caves we had one young Scout who was very excited about going spelunking. In fact, after a month about hearing him talk about nothing except spelunking we finally had to turn down his excitement a bit because it was getting on everyone’s nerves.

Eagle Caves is a large privately owned cave. Scouts and youth groups can make arrangements to spend the weekend camping in and exploring the cave. Campgrounds, a shower house, and a dining hall are all located on the site. We visited the cave during the winter months so we chose to stay inside the cave, along with a couple dozen other troops.

Due to the seven hour trip from Melrose to Eagle caves we did not arrive until after 11:00 Friday evening. The staff placed us just inside the entrance to the cave. The entrance had a door to keep the cave at a constant year round temperature.

After breakfast in the dining hall Saturday morning, the boys began their spelunking experience. The cave was quite large and they were many nooks, crannies, and tunnels to explore. The main areas of the cave were large and easy to walk through. Other areas, especially the tunnels, could be so small that you would crawl on your belly to get into them. It did not take long for the boys’ clothes to be covered in cave dirt and slim.

Jeff, the father of one of the boys, and I were relaxing in the cave when his son and another Scout ran up to us. They were excited about a tunnel they found and they wanted us to follow them and explore it. Okay, we were game.

The tunnel entrance was small, like crawling on your hands and knees small. The boys charged into the tunnel, leaving Jeff and me to follow. We were starting to have second thoughts but we got down to the floor and followed them. Soon, we were flat on our bellies creeping through the shrinking tunnel. We could hear the squeals of delight ahead of us. The tunnel finally opened into a small area in with Jeff and I could stand at an angle, but the tunnel continued through another small opening.

As we stood there in that tight little area, I had a completely random thought. “What if an earthquake would happen?” I asked Jeff. That was the last straw. We were done. We could back on our bellies and shimmied our way back out of the tunnel.

Jeff and I did not explore anymore tight tunnels that weekend, but the boys had a great time.