Membership Guidelines

MEMBERSHIP GUIDELINES OF THE EVANSVILLE METROPOLITAN GROTTO OF THE NATIONAL SPELEOLOGICAL SOCIETY

Article II of the Constitution of the Evansville Metropolitan Grotto of the National Speleological Society states as follows:

The purpose of this organization shall be to promote an active association of individuals who are interested in cave exploration, to cultivate caving skills, to teach and encourage safety, and to promote and demonstrate conservation of the cave environment.

These words clearly define our purpose as an organization. The purpose of these guidelines is to set forth general guidelines for individual members of the Evansville Metropolitan Grotto of the National Speleological Society so that we, as individual members, can fulfill the corporate purpose of the Evansville Metropolitan Grotto of the National Speleological Society.

Safety

Perhaps teaching and encouraging safe caving techniques should be thought of as the primary purpose of our organization as without safe caving techniques we can accomplish little as organized cavers and do great damage, not only to ourselves, but to cavers in general by limiting our access to caves owned by liability conscious cave owners. Each caver must understand that caves are dangerous places and that caving is an Inherently dangerous sport.

1. Each caver is primarily responsible for their own safety. Each caver should know their own limits and stay within them.

2. Each caver should familiarize themselves with the cave in advance of the cave trip to the extent possible to determine whether or not they are adequately prepared for the trip and should go along. A caver who is not adequately prepared or who does not have proper equipment for the cave can become a burden to the entire party and threaten the safety of the entire party.

3. Each caver should be prepared with his own equipment and should not rely on other cavers to provide for him. At a minimum, each caver should provide the following equipment: a hard hat with chin strap, helmet mounted light, two independent back up light sources, gloves, sturdy footwear, coveralls or rugged outer clothing, food and water. While this is not an exhaustive list and may not be sufficient for some caves, this is the minimum equipment that each individual caver should provide for himself or herself.

4. Each caver must take responsibility to insure that they are not overextended at any time. If a person feels that they are too tired to continue safely into the cave and still be able to exit safely on their own, he or she should notify the trip leader at once so that an appropriate response can be made. Likewise, if you encounter an obstacle such as a climb or deep water which you do not believe you can overcome safely, inform the group and, by no means, attempt a maneuver which you do not believe you can execute confidently and safely.
Drugs, alcohol and caving do not mix. No caver should embark on a cave trip while under the influence of alcohol or any other drug as this could endanger not only the safety of the affected caver but of the entire group. Likewise, cavers should not drive under the influence of alcohol or other drugs.

Conservation Of The Cave Environment

Clearly, caving is unique in that we alter the environment of the cave simply by entering it. No impact caving is an ideal which may never be reached but we should all strive to minimize our impact on the cave and its fragile cave environment through conservative caving techniques.
1. Each caver should remove from the cave everything that he or she takes into it. Absolutely nothing such as batteries, food wrappers or discarded equipment should be left behind in a cave.

2. Each caver should attempt to make a positive contribution to the cave environment by removing litter from the cave to the extent possible on each trip. Organized cavers should contribute to clean ups and work days to restore caves which have been vandalized. Caution should be exercised where materials, drawings, signatures, etc. may have historic or archaeological significance. If in doubt, consult someone with more expertise before removing or otherwise disturbing such things.

3. Each caver should take responsibility to insure that he or she does not disclose the location of a cave to persons who may vandalize a cave.

4. No caver should ever remove a speleothem from a cave, even broken or dislodged ones, because doing so not only shows disrespect for the cave environment but may also encourage others to vandalize existing cave
formations.

5. Each caver should be aware of the living creatures within the cave and make every effort to protect them. Bats, salamanders and insects should be left undisturbed to the extent possible. Hibernating bats should not be disturbed if at all possible. Caves known to house hibernating bats should be considered off limits during hibernation.

Cave Exploration

Although every caver is motivated to practice their sport by differing factors, the desire to explore caves and, perhaps, go places that few if any people have ever gone before is a motivating factor which seems to be shared by all cavers.

1. Each caver should always bear in mind that the cave belongs to the person who owns the land in which it is located. There is, therefore, no cave which "no one owns." Even caves on public property are subject to state or federal control.

2. Each caver should make every attempt to learn the identity of the cave owner and obtain his or her permission to enter the cave before doing so. Each caver should attempt to determine that they are in compliance with any applicable state or federal restrictions before entering a cave on publicly owned property.
No caver should ever attempt to force a gate or enter a cave after having been denied access by the landowner.

4. Cave exploration and cave conservation are sometimes competing concerns. A caver may, for example, be faced with the choice of destroying a speleothem in order to clear a passage for further exploration. Preservation of the cave environment should override the needs of cave exploration.

Other Caving Considerations

No matter how experienced they may be, each caver can continue to cultivate their own caving skills as well as those of other cavers and thereby make their own caving activities and those of the grotto more productive, interesting and safe.

1. Each caver should be willing to share his or her caving experience with lesser experienced cavers.

2. On caving trips, more experienced cavers should circulate among the less experienced members of the group to observe their technique and make suggestions to improve their caving skills.

3. When carpooling during grotto trips, the riders should contribute fairly toward the cost of fuel and tolls. Riders should also bring extra clothes and shoes to change into after the cave trips so that they will not track mud and dirt into the cars.

4. While on trips, drivers are expected to obey the highway laws and will not leave their riders without mutual agreement. Likewise, riders are not to unduly delay their drivers. If possible drivers and their riders should stay generally together during the cave trip or have a clearly defined meeting place and time.

5. Children or pets on cave trips are the responsibility of the accompanying adults. Some cave trips are not appropriate for children or pets. Always ask first.

6. Applicants shall be at least 16 years of age; they shall have attended one regular grotto meeting and two grotto trips; and their membership shall be approved by a two-thirds vote of the grotto members present at a regular meeting.