Ranger Award Medal

Ranger Award Elective Requirements

Cave Exploring
Cave Exploration

These requirements became effective on June 1, 2014.

To see the requirements without the changes highlighted, Click here.

To see the previous requirements, Click here.

  1. Cave Exploration
    1. 1. Learn about caving
      1. a. Write the National Speleological Society (NSS) to request information about caving and information about caves and cavers near you.
      2. b. Learn about the different types of caves.
      3. c. Learn about caving courtesy, caving do's and don'ts, and what the BSA policy is on cave exploring.
      4. d. Read at least one book about caving.
    2. 2. Knots
      1. a. Learn the following knots used in caving:
        • Endline knots:
          • bowline,
          • figure eight,
          • figure eight on a bight
        • Midline knots:
          • bowline on a bight, and
          • butterfly
        • Joiner knots:
          • water knot,
          • fisherman,
          • figure eight on bend
        • Ascending knots:
          • Prusik knot
      2. b. Teach these knots to your crew, another crew, a Cub Scout or Boy Scout group unit, or another group.
    3. 3. Ropes
      1. a. Learn about the different types of ropes available for climbing and caving and explain the uses of each and the characteristics of each.
      2. b. Learn proper climbing rope care. Know and practice proper coding and storage.
      3. c. Know how to keep proper records on climbing rope and how to inspect it for wear and damage. Know when to retire a rope.
      4. d. Using the knowledge acquired above, make a tabletop display or a presentation for your crew, another crew, a Cub Scout or Boy Scout group unit, or another group.
    4. 4. Rappelling and belaying
      1. a. Demonstrate that you know how to properly and safely rappel a distance of at least 30 feet.
      2. b. Demonstrate that you know how to ascend a rope using mechanical ascenders or Prusik or other ascending knots. Ascend at least 30 feet.
      3. c. Know and explain the differences, advantages, and disadvantages of single rope (SRT) and double rope (DRT) for rappelling and belaying.
    5. 5. Outfitting
      1. a. Visit a sporting goods store or NSS-affiliated organization or have them make a presentation to your crew so you can learn about personal caving gear, including helmets, light sources, backup lighting sources, clothing, boots, cave packs, etc.
      2. b. Find out what the American National Standards Institute requirements are for helmets.
    6. 6. First aid
      1. a. Make a list of what you need in your personal cave pack. Include your personal first aid kit and cave survival gear.
      2. b. Learn what crew equipment is, including a first aid kit, caving ropes, and ascending equipment.
      3. c. Help make a first aid kit for your crew or group and demonstrate that you can keep it up.
      4. d. Demonstrate to your crew, another crew, a Cub Scout or Boy Scout group unit, or another group how to construct both a personal and crew first aid kit.
    7. 7. Caves
      1. a. Learn about the many types of cave formations.
      2. b. Make a tabletop display or presentation on cave formations and caving conservation for your crew, another crew, a Cub Scout or Boy Scout group unit, or another group. Include practices such as proper carbide removal; care of walls, ceiling, and formations; and principles of Leave No Trace.
    8. 8. Find a cave you would like to visit; get permission to enter it; make a trip plan including cave location, a list of participants, expected time in the cave, expected date and time of return, and an emergency contact; and then go in the cave, led by a qualified caver.
    9. 9. From a cave expert, learn about natural and fabricated hazards such as mudslides, loose rocks, pits, deep water, critters, complex routes, wooden ladders, and flooding.
    10. 10. Maps
      1. a. Using a three-dimensional cave map, learn what the standard map symbols represent.
      2. b. Using the knowledge above, make a tabletop display or presentation for your crew, another crew, a Cub Scout or Boy Scout group unit, or another group.

Cave Safety

Caves can be dangerous if you are not properly trained or equipped. Here are some cave safety tips:

  1. Join an experienced group for proper training and safe caving.
  2. Never go caving alone. At least three cavers are a minimum.
  3. Always carry three sources of light.
  4. Don't attempt caves beyond your ability.
  5. Use proper gear, including a properly fitted helmet and suitable clothes.
  6. Leave word with family or friends about your trip plan, including cave location and expected return time.
  7. Always use the safer alternative when you have an option.

Source: Venturing Awards and Requirements (34784 - SKU 618767) and

Page updated on: November 28, 2017

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