We want you to feel totally comfortable with your decision to become part of the Mammoth Cave Restoration Group. In making your commitment to this ongoing project you will have many questions, hopefully you will find some of them answered below in the FAQ section of the site. For help with any of your unanswered questions, feel free to contact Brian Hunsaker, camp director.
Do I have to be an NSS member to participate?
What about physical condition and age?
Almost anyone can participate! No minimum caving experience or membership in any caving organization is required. There is no upper age limit, but participants should be in good physical condition so as not to be a danger to themselves or other volunteers. The conditions we will be working in are far from that the common tourist will encounter. It will be tiring conditions on both the young and old. Children as young as 12 years of age can participate. They must be closely supervised by responsible parents or guardians, and they need to be exceptional in their behavior and their ability to interact with adults however. If your child does not fit that model, you may want to wait a year or two before bringing them. You will need to complete and submit a parental consent form before a juvenile can work in the cave.
What is expected of me while at camp?
This is a work project and not your typical caving event. Please be ready to work as part of a team. You will not be required to work in conditions that are beyond your abilities/ skill/ experience. We will attempt to adapt the work to your interest and aspect that you excel in. It is important to note however some camps are limited in the variety of work conditions and at times can be difficult.
At times you will be visible to the public, therefore, all volunteers should be on their best behavior as they will represent the caving community and to some degree the (NPS) National Park Service. Since the work could at times be dangerous, strict attention and adherence to safety procedures are required. As guests of the NPS, it is important to follow the rules and regulations set by the park staff and camp director. The rules and regulations are set to protect both you the participant and the protected resources, both above and below ground. Any participant who fails to represent the group in a manner pleasing to the park or camp director will be ask to leave.
Where do I stay when participating as a volunteer?
All volunteers may stay at the Maple Springs Research Facility located at Mammoth Cave. The Research Facility is a complex placed in the remote section of the park on the far side of the Green River. At the complex there is a bunkhouse, main house, 4 Bathrooms, and a full kitchen for your use.
For those who want more privacy, you can camp at Maple Springs complex area also.
Volunteers are not required to stay on the park grounds during the weekend camps. For those who prefer private quarters, they may choose to stay in Cave City, an approx 15 minute drive to the park.
Where is Maple Springs located?
Maple Springs is located in the park on the north side of the Green River. When arriving at the park, take the Green River Ferry across the Green River, and continue until you see the sign indicating a left turn to Maple Springs. After turning left, the facility is on the right-hand side several hundred yards in. You can’t miss it. It’s the only thing out there. Keep in mind that the ferry closes at approx (remember approx) 9:50 PM (DUSK). If you arrive later, you will have to enter the park from the north entrance. You will need a good map of the park and the surrounding roads to find the way. Be prepared. It is a 45min to 1 hour drive around the park to Maple Springs.
What facilities are at Maple Springs?
Maple Springs is made up of four buildings. The bunkhouse is the first building on the left side of the driveway. The house on the right contains more beds. If arriving late at night, don’t look in the house for beds. They usually are the first to fill. Restrooms are located outside at the rear of the house. Two more restrooms are inside the house. All restrooms are uni-sex, so knock before entering. The kitchen building is directly behind the house. It is fully stocked with cookware, coffee pot, utensils, microwave, etc. They are all available for your use, but please clean up after yourself. Parking is behind the kitchen building in the very back of Maple Springs. A fourth building in the rear is not available for camp use.
Where do I eat?
During the weeklong camp in August, all meals are provided and paid for with a deposit required when you sign up. Lunch is provided each day at the cave entrance. The only food you will need to bring with you are snack items, if desired. Vegetarians or those with special diet needs must indicate those needs on their registration and contact the volunteer cooking staff when you get to camp. You may be required to assist in the preparation of any special meals.
During the weekend camps, all participants are responsible for their own meals. You may use the kitchen facilities at Maple Springs, or eat at local restaurants. We usually exit the cave for lunch each day. If we are working in the cave via the Historic Entrance, meals can be purchased at the snack bar or restaurant in the Visitor Center. If we are working near the Snowball dining room in the cave it may be possible to purchase lunch there. In some areas of the cave where we work, it will be necessary to prepare and bring lunch with you as there are no facilities nearby. Ask someone if you are not sure about your lunch plans. In the evening following work on Saturday, typically a group gathers at a eatery in Cave City or Glasgow, you can consider this in your choices.
Where do I go when arriving at camp?
The weeklong summer camp begins with dinner on Sunday night. You can arrive at Maple Springs any time Sunday. When arriving, introduce yourself to the camp director and claim a bed in the bunkhouse.
For the weekend camps, you may arrive at Maple Springs any time after 5 PM, Friday afternoon. Again, introduce yourself to the camp director, and find a bunk. If arriving late at night, it is not necessary to awake anybody, just find a place to sleep. Keep in mind that all bunks are first-come, first-served. If you arrive late, you may have to sleep on the floor. Be prepared. For those not staying at Maple Springs, we meet at 8:30 AM at the picnic area across the parking lot from the visitor center. It is partially hidden from view by the forest.
Where can I do laundry?
There is a small laundry at the camp store located near the Visitor Center open only during the day. There is a laundromat in Cave City 15 miles east of the park.
What gear will I need for this project?
All participants are required to wear a hard-hat with a light attached. You may use carbide. You should have backup lights also. Leather work gloves are required. The average garden variety are fine. There is a lot of walking involved. Although most of the walking is on old tourist trail, it is uneven, slick and possibly dangerous. Good hiking boots are a must. Old caving boots are a bad choice. There is no need for vertical gear. If you have a wetsuit, bring it to camp, however, the need for one is rare and only those who volunteer will get wet. Some volunteers carry water bottles and snacks.
Does weather have any effect on the work we do?
After completing the lengthy Echo River Project, we no longer are restricted on work efforts due to the water level of the Green River typically. The current projects ongoing at Mammoth Cave have no restrictions due to surface conditions generally. However it is important to note that should the conditions become hazardous on the surface, it typically will warrant a cancellation of the work below surface.
Please plan your trip and trip materials according to the season and weather conditions, should the work also warrant working on the surface. Rain gear is recommended in your items to bring to camp.
I heard that the camp reimburses volunteers for expenses. Is that still true?
No more reimbursements. This change was effective 2006.
What do I need to know about bringing my Scout Group?
Before signing up for Restoration Camps please contact Brian Hunsaker to discuss your situation on a case by case standpoint.