Caves are fascinating to kids…. which is visiting caves is such a great summer field trip to take as part of your summer camp at home. I am not sure if it is the dark, the cool, or being underground… or even the wonder of how the cave was discovered and what might have lived there. My kids love seeing the stalactites and stalagmites… especially in places where they have merged together into columns. But the best part of visiting a cave is when you are fortunate enough to get a great tour guide- one who makes the history and the facts of the cavern come alive for the listener.
Please note here that this stalagmite was purposely enclosed in a way to allow guests to touch it and take pictures with it. While walking through caves you should always stay on the designated footpath and not touch the walls or any cave formations. Oils from your skin will be deposited onto the surface of the cave and will alter the natural growth process.
Our fascination began two years ago when we visited Howe Caverns in upstate New York. Our tour began with an elevator ride down, down, down to 150 feet below the Earth's surface. Howe Caverns is a good-sized set of connected rooms, and the guide gave us an excellent overview of how it was discovered and what they know about the cave. The guided tour included a ride on a boat on the underground river… what a cool experience!
Howe Caverns includes plenty of narrow winding passageways which the kids found to be thrilling… especially when they looked up and could see the narrow corridor continuing above them!
This week we visited the Lost River Cavern in Hellertown, PA while we were playing tourist at the nearby Crayola Factory Experience (and truly my kids loved the cave tour more!). This cave is a smaller “system” consisting of only 5 chambers, and is a “baby cave” at about only 250,000 years old. (The Howe Caverns are around 6 million years old!)
As a child I had the chance to visit Mammoth Cave in Kentucky- the world's longest cave system with more than 392 miles of interconnected passageways! I hope to visit again some day with my kids- they would love it!
One of the things that cracks me up about every cave I have ever been to….. they all have a wedding chapel inside! It feels a little creepy to me (and not the least bit romantic) to be married in a cool, damp and dark place!
If you are interested in checking out some caves that are close to you….Wikipedia has a full list of caves by state.
If you enjoyed this idea for a field trip for your summer camp at home… here are a few more ideas:
- Visit The Dinosaur Place
- Family camping!
- Visit an outdoor sculpture garden
- Check out a science center
- Plan a trip to a zoo or aquarium