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.