Friday, December 18, 2015

Colonial Coast Cavers

If high adventure is what you seek, you can find it in Girl Scouts. Just ask the Colonial Coast Cavers, a group of local Girl Scout teens and volunteers who make a bi-annual trek to the hills of West Virginia to explore the underground world at Organ Cave. For some, it may be daunting to even enter a cave, but for the Colonial Coast Cavers, it’s a fun and challenging adventure.

In early October, the group of cavers met at Girl Scout Camp Skimino in Williamsburg to take part in activities on the ropes course. Through this experience, they built trust, cooperation and teamwork before testing their physical, and sometimes mental, limits in the cave. Two weeks later, the caravan of cavers left Chesapeake on a Thursday afternoon and made their five hour journey west. After arriving in Greenbrier County, West Virginia, they spent the night in an old schoolhouse near the entrance of Organ Cave. On Friday and Saturday, the caving group spent most of their time on a spelunking adventure.

Inside the cave, girls experienced narrow, winding passageways and muddy trails. They crawled over and under rocks and squeezed through small gaps with only their headlamps lighting the way.

“Caving provides a unique set of challenges for the girls,” Theresa Wiggs, a Girl Scout volunteer who leads the caving trips, said. “It is very rewarding to see the girls come together and overcome those challenges. They help each other and go beyond what they think they are capable of doing on their own.”

This trip was no exception. The group came upon a tall wall that reached just a foot or so below the ceiling of the cave. There was a narrow opening to the side, but it was not large enough for people to pass through. Determined, several of the girls worked together to figure out how to climb over the wall and found the passage that continued through the cave. Then, they helped the rest of the group navigate the passage.

“On the way back out of the cave, the girl who experienced the hardest time going over the wall the first time was the one who helped me navigate back out over the wall,” Wiggs said. “She showed so much confidence. I couldn’t have been more proud of these girls.”

Organ Cave is a National Natural Landmark and inside, girls saw geological wonders, including stalactites and stalagmites, and learned about how they formed. The cave is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and the girls learned about the fossils that have been discovered in the cave, as well as the important role that the cave played in the Civil War as soldiers mined the gave for saltpeter to make gunpowder.

The Colonial Coast Cavers have been taking girls to explore caves in West Virginia since 1977. In January, the group will be hosting Cracks, Crevices and Crawlways, an indoor caving event, at Girl Scout Camp Skimino. They will also be taking a spring trip to Organ Cave. 

For more information about the Colonial Coast Cavers or joining Girl Scouts, visit