Many kids are drawn to spelunking, or the exploration of caves, because the chance to creep around in dark spaces promises adventure and excitement. Once you're a seasoned spelunker, you can take off for a weeklong adventure camping away from the sun. Safety and equipment are two areas in which kids need special consideration before they head underground.
All spelunkers need waterproof boots, a helmet with an electric light, gloves, a waterproof jumpsuit, and a carabiner that connects the rope to the suit or a harness over the suit. For kids, it's important to size the helmet correctly so that it doesn't slip down and prevent clear vision. Once the chin strap is buckled, the wearer should be able to fit two fingers between it and his neck easily.
Spelunk in a Group
Spelunkers should stay in groups of at least four. This way each caver has a buddy, and if someone gets hurt, her buddy can stay with her while the other two go and find assistance. If you're moving in a larger group, make sure that there are no stragglers -- keep the pace accessible for everyone. Make sure that someone who didn't go with you knows what time you're planning on returning, so he can get help if necessary.
Be Aware of Your Location
It's important to remember where you are in a cave system -- and where you've been. Stack some rocks near things you'll remember seeing, such as funny patterns of cracks or memorable stalagmites. If you enter a chamber that has mud higher on the walls than you are, you could be at risk if a flood comes through. So be aware that if it's raining or a river is nearby, you need to be ready for oncoming water.
Finding a Family Friendly Cave
You'll want to stay away from extreme conditions, such as cold or mud (remember the exposure to flooding). Vancouver Island in British Columbia is one spelunking destination that families have reviewed positively. The interaction of weather and rock formations can lead to colorful scenery that kids will remember.
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