Membership Information

How to join the Blue Ridge Grotto and what's required


Welcome to the BRG

Membership agreement sample


The Blue Ridge Grotto (BRG) is a chapter of the National Speleological Society (NSS), and has been in existence since 1969. The purpose of the grotto is: "To encourage and promote the study and science of speleology; to promote the preservation, conservation and exploration of caves; to coordinate the efforts of the members; to facilitate the communication of speleological information; to encourage fellowship among those interested in spelunking (caving); and to promote safety".

Blue Ridge Grotto members promote cave conservation and cave safety. We work hard to foster and maintain good landowner relations by always asking permission before going caving, and by honoring all cave closures. We are involved in exploration, survey, vertical caving, cave cleanups and other cave conservation work, cave photography, outreaches to scout troops, science classes, and civic groups. Several BRG members are also trained in NCRC techniques and are on 24-hour call for cave rescues.

Caves are sensitive and can be easily harmed. Most caves are owned by someone and as such we must be sensitive to the landowners' wishes. For this reason, the Blue Ridge Grotto does not freely give out directions to caves or cave maps.

Now that you know a little bit about us, attend a BRG meeting, meet some of the members, go on a grotto trip, and check us out! You may even want to become a member of the Blue Ridge Grotto. If so, the procedure is shown below:

  A) Attend BRG meetings and meet the cavers.  
  B) Go on appropriate grotto trips! You need to have the trip leader's OK when you sign up for the trip to make sure that your capabilities are up to the type of cave trip. This way, BRG members get to know you, and you get to know the cavers in the BRG.  
  C) After two or three trips, you will have a better feel for the grotto. If you decide to apply for membership in BRG, you will have to:  
    1) Write a letter of your intent to join BRG. This written application shall include a signed statement that you agree to practice and promote cave conservation and safety.  
    2) Find a regular BRG member to sponsor you. This member, by agreeing to sponsor you, indicates that he or she can vouch for you being an asset to BRG and the caving community. Your sponsor will (unless you desire to) read your letter of intent to the members at the monthly BRG meeting, and propose you for membership in BRG. Another regular BRG member must second this proposal. The vote on your membership will be tabled until the following meeting.  
  D) At the next BRG meeting, a vote will be taken on your membership application.  
  E) Once you are voted in as a member of BRG, you will have to sign a membership agreement and pay your dues. In return, you will receive copies of your membership agreement, the BRG membership list, the Grotto constitution, a membership card specifying your type of membership, a year's subscription of the Carbide Dump, and many more intangibles - like being able to learn from the wealth of knowledge that makes up the cavers of BRG, special updates from the VAR and the NSS, safety and conservation training, and lots of other goodies, too.  
  F) If for some reason you are unable to begin the membership process but want to keep in touch with BRG, you can apply in writing and pay a subscriber's rate for the grotto newsletter, the Carbide Dump. This ensures that you will continue finding out what BRG is up to, and once you have completed your requirements for membership in BRG, your subscriber rate will automatically convert into your dues.  

We hope this explains a little about Blue Ridge Grotto philosophies and procedures. Remember, caves are fragile, nonrenewable natural resources and need everyone's protection, so Leave nothing but footprints, Take nothing but pictures, and Waste nothing but time (Caver's motto). Whatever you do, please Cave Softly & Safely!



Membership Agreement Sample

In addition to writing your letter of intent, and the other requirements listed above,
you must sign and date a membership agreement in order to become a member of the
Blue Ridge Grotto, which is detailed below. Your sponsor
also needs to sign this agreement

 I understand that the purpose of Blue Ridge Grotto is to encourage and promote the study and science of speleology; to promote the preservation, conservation, and exploration of caves; to encourage fellowship among those interested in caving; and to promote safety in caving.

 Likewise, I support the conservation goals of the National Speleological Society.  Caves are a fragile, nonrenewable resource and have unique scientific, recreational, and scenic values.  These values are endangered by both carelessness and intentional vandalism; these values, once gone, cannot be recovered.  The responsibility for protecting caves must be assumed by myself and others who study and enjoy them.

 As a member of the Blue Ridge Grotto, I will:

  • Acquire and use a good quality helmet, a helmet-mounted primary light source, and other required safety equipment.
  • Practice safe caving techniques
  • Never enter a cave while under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Promote good relations with cave owners.
  • Honor all cave closures.
  • Provide information concerning acts of cave vandalism to the proper authorities.
  • Oppose the illegal collection and/or sale of speleothems.
  • Whenever possible, promote public awareness of laws concerning cave conservation and the protection of groundwater resources.
  • Protect caves from vandalism by not giving their location or other information to the public and/or poorly equipped, non-conservation minded cave explorers.
  • Practice cave conservation by "caving softly" - removing all trash, limiting marking to a few, small, removable survey signs, and exercising extreme care not to break, mar, or soil formations, tamper with artifacts, disturb cave life forms, or unnecessarily increase the number of paths through an area.

 I hereby agree to uphold the rules and ethics of the Blue Ridge Grotto of the National Speleological Society. 

I understand that failure to abide by these rules may result in the revocation of Grotto membership with no refund of dues paid.


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