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New Member Frequently Asked Questions

So, how does all of this work?

First, we should talk about the organizations. The National Speleological Society is our parent organization. The individual clubs in regions or cities are known as "Grottoes". There are also conservancies, such as the Southeastern Cave Conservancy, Inc. (SCCi) which own and manage some caves, of which most cavers are also members.

After you become a member, you can learn more about equipment and techniques by going on grotto caving trips. You will learn how to navigate the underground, and discover what works best for you in terms of gear. Your new caving buddies will be glad to make recommendations for clothing, knee pads (they are not all the same!) helmets, headlamps, packs, and more. After several trips, you will learn about more caves to visit, and you'll gain the confidence to visit them safely and responsibly with your own team of friends. Hopefully you will return the favor and teach other new cavers what you have learned.

Our caving community is like a big family, and there are many aspects to learn about. It's one of the few sports where you can meet many of the original explorers and the people who developed the technology to explore and document these places. The Dogwood City Grotto is your gateway into the underground, and all that goes with it.

What is TAG?

TAG is an acronym for Tennessee, Alabama, and Georgia. The term was adopted long ago, and is a description of our southeastern region. The southeastern US has the highest concentration of caves in the continental US, as well as many of the largest cave systems. While it is does roll off of the tongue well, it does leave out a few other states that have lots of caves, like Florida and Kentucky. Sorry guys, no slight intended!

Do you really call yourselves "Spelunkers"?

No. We refer to our sport as "Caving", and we are proud to call ourselves CAVERS! 

Why not just tell me some caves I can visit?

Caves are easily damaged environments. People who are new to caving may not realize this, and may do things to damage them, such as leaving trash or human waste, or even spray-painting on the walls to help navigate, or just to prove they were there. We believe that these places are special, and deserve protection. Keeping them as secret as we can has been the best way we know to protect them. We do our best not to advertise caves and locations on the internet and social media, so that they remain "on the downlow". There is much more to caving than simply knowing where the caves are. Most caves in the southeastern US are privately owned. Our community works hard to keep privately owned caves open for cavers, and we welcome you to be a part of that.

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