The days at camp are warm, bright, and beautiful. The Greenbrier River sparkles in the sunlight. Clouds float above inspiring dreams. Hikes around the grounds reveal remarkable vistas, fauna, and flora. Who would ever want to leave such a wonderful place behind?
Wild Women, that’s who!
They’re the adventuresome campers and counselors who are leaving the beauty and comfort of camp to get out of the sun, into a cool, pitch black world full of its own splendor and mystery.
After some years without caving trips, Camp Alleghany for Girls has brought spelunking back to camp — and it’s better than ever!
Greenbrier County is a mecca of caving in West Virginia, boasting some of the longest caves in the United States, decorated with dazzling formations, brisk streams, and inhabited by unique cave life. “Show caves” nearby offer a stroll through the underworld with spectacular formations along well-lit walkways equipped with hand rails and stairs, and a gift shop awaiting in the daylight.
Commercial caves are amazing, but as you can imagine, ‘Ghany Girls want a little more adventure.
A land down under
A short drive north of camp, on four different trips over the course of the summer, our camp girls explore a wild cave on a through-trip, descending in one entrance, exiting at another.
A geared up with safety helmets, lights, and a map of the cave, they embark on an amazing adventure through the underground.
Walking through a stream they see stalactites coming off the ceiling and cave coral covering the walls. Cave millipedes, crickets, crawfish, salamanders, and frogs lurk in the darkness, waiting to be discovered. Crawlways and canyon traverses test our physical abilities — collapsing and expanding both time (how long it takes) and literal physical spaces (squished and expanded) — and bring out amazing teamwork in the girls.
Upon exiting, these modern camper-spelunkers have proven ready to go back to the start and do it again!
The response to caving this summer (with more trips to come) resoundingly affirms that caving is incredibly rewarding to our campers. They reflect on the new experiences, the challenges overcome, and the support they offered each other in a new and foreign environment.
A transforming experience
Campers push their boundaries in total dark, and face fears of claustrophobia. The hardest parts of the cave are the ones they most remember — and the ones that are transformative to their senses of self. Caving truly is a growth experience.
Milan Kundera wrote that,
“Memories are scattered all over the immense world, and it takes voyaging to find them and make them leave their refuge.”
‘Ghany Girls are voyaging below, making deeply personal discoveries, and unearthing memories that will last them a lifetime.
The call of the wild beckons. What better way to fulfill camp’s mission of, “naturally inspiring growth through honor, loyalty, and friendship,” than to get down into the earth itself as a team, test our mettle, and surface again that much more bonded, united, and inspired for the next adventure?
— Casey Tucker, Program Director, Camp Alleghany for Girls