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Calling all adventure enthusiasts and curious explorers!

The 2023 National Speleological Society Convention is just around the corner, and this year, they’re opening their doors to the public with the Public Education Pass (PEP). From June 26th to 30th, Davis and Elkins College will be buzzing with excitement as residents get a chance to dive into the captivating world of caves. With a wide range of activities and displays, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

So, what exactly is the PEP? Well, it’s your golden ticket to experience the convention during the daytime hours from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. You’ll have access to all the exciting happenings at D&E, providing a unique opportunity to learn about cave science, conservation, history, and exploration. The PEP operates on a “look and learn” basis, allowing you to soak up knowledge and have a blast at the same time.

Pick up your PEP at the Elkins Depot Welcome Center – they will be available daily on a first-come, first-served basis!

Now, let’s take a closer look at the areas and activities that await you:

McDonnell Center

• Vendor Area (all week)
• Vertical Equipment Devices Display (Monday–Thursday)
• Cartography Salon (all week)
• CaveSim (all week outside the McDonnell Center)

Myles Center Senate Commons

• Opening Ceremony (Monday, 8:15 a.m. outside the McDonnell Center)
• Conservancy Tables (all week)
• Other Salons and Displays (all week)

Harper-McNeely Auditorium

• Showcase Exploration Sessions: West Virginia, United States, International, and Geology (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday)
• Luminary Speakers (Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday: 12:30–1:30 p.m.)
• Thai Rescue Presentation (Tuesday, 9 p.m.)
• Awards Salon Shows (Thursday, 5:30 p.m. or 7:30 p.m.: Auditorium Balcony)

Special Events & Areas of Interest

Opening Ceremony
Please join us for a brief welcoming ceremony to kick off the convention. Society leaders will be
joined by local community leaders to welcome Society members and guests to Elkins and Randolph

Many cave gear vendors have traveled from all over the United States to showcase their products
and to let you browse before you buy. Equipment, books, clothing, speleo-memorabilia, whatever you
want, you can find it here.

Vertical Equipment Devices Display
Don’t miss Gary Storrick’s display of over 3,000 superb, standard, silly, and stupid examples of
ascenders, descenders, belayers, and miscellaneous devices for caving, climbing, canyoneering,
industrial, military, police, and rescue use and abuse. Gary has a website dedicated to his massive
collection at http://www.verticalmuseum.com. It’s well worth a visit.

Cartography Salon
See world-class cave maps displayed in the balcony of the McDonnell Center.

Come explore CaveSim, located outside the McDonnell Center. The mobile cave is free for
convention attendees and the public to explore, and is open from 9 AM – 5 PM, Monday – Friday. If
you’ve seen CaveSim before, check out what they’ve added (which includes air conditioning!).
CaveSim comes to you all the way from Colorado, and contains 60 feet of surveyed passage filled
with stalactites, stalagmites, and many other speleothems, along with cave paintings, artifacts, and
cave critters. They have loaner helmets, lights, and pads and you’re invited to explore the cave while
trying to avoid touching the cave formations, artifacts, and critters. The CaveSim computer system
tracks your interactions with the cave, and you can check your soft caving score on the computer
after your trip. Other activities are also available, including vertical caving, squeezebox, cave rescue
practice with sked, and more. You’re also welcome to come by and just watch, or hear about all of the
conservation education that they’ve done with CaveSim in the last year.

Conservancy Displays
Several cave conservancies have displays set up in the salon area in Myles Atrium. Please stop by
and see what these groups are doing to promote cave conservation and research, and to keep caves
open for the caving community.

Old Cavin’ Haven Display
Old Cavin’ Haven is an exhibit about historic cave exploration in Randolph County, West Virginia. The
exhibit recognizes the remarkable contributions of cavers to the body of cave knowledge in the area.
Old Cavin’ Haven shares the history of some of our area’s notable caves and their explorers with
NSS Convention 2023 visitors.

Enter Old Cavin’ Haven by upright walk-in or crawl-through entry. The backdrops for the information
presented are whimsically painted, “decorated” cave walls. A highlight of Old Cavin’ Haven’s walls is
the hand-painted mural of the upstream entrance to the Sinks of Gandy by Alice-Gervais Sabatino.
Gaze at this mural visible through the window on the right as you enter the Myles Center from the
rear parking lot.

West Virginia Exploration
West Virginia is home to 12 caves over 10 miles in length, two of which are over 50 miles. Talks
during this session will mostly emphasize the exploration of some of these systems, including geology
and hydrology. Come learn what makes West Virginia caving unique and listen to the distinct
challenges of the state’s project caving scene.

U.S. Exploration Session
The U.S. Exploration Session presents exploration and survey in caves and karst of the U.S.
International Exploration Session
The International Exploration Session features presentations on exploration, mapping, and studying
caves outside of the U.S. Past presentations have featured caves from all over the world, including
Central America, Asia, Europe, the Caribbean, South Pacific, and more!

The Geology and Geography Session includes a variety of topics on caves and karst including karst
hydrogeology, speleogenesis, cave morphologies, cave meteorology, geochemistry, and cave
inventory and monitoring and geological education.

Luminary Speakers
Each year the NSS selects 3 cavers to give extended presentations. These pioneering cave
explorers, karst scientists, and longtime NSS members have lifetimes of caving accomplishments.
Come hear the stories of the early history of the NSS – the stories of jaw dropping discoveries – the
stories of scientific and technological advancements … all from those who were there and did it.

Thailand Cave Rescue Presentation
Rick Stanton is a British cave diver who was intimately involved with the famous 2018 rescue of
13 kids from a flooded cave in Thailand. He was the person who first located the group and then
planned and assembled the rescue team. This talk will include items of specific interest to cavers,
such as pumping and water diversion activities.
Rick wrote a book, Aquanaut, about the rescue and there will be book signing on Wednesday from
12:30 to 2:00 p.m. at Speleobooks in the vendor area.

Thursday Evening Salon Awards Show (Photo Salon)
The Thursday evening program provides a venue to celebrate art and caves. Each of the NSS Salons
displays photos of their top winners. The Salon Awards Show includes the Ballad Salon winner and
runner-up songs, the Multimedia Salon winner in full, excerpts from Video Salon Accepted for Show
entries, and is the only time Photo Salon images are presented during the convention, enhanced by

The 5:30 p.m. Salon Awards Show “Dress Rehearsal” is for those who prefer their cave art in a quiet
venue. It contains the same elements as the regular show, but without award and salon chair
presentations. The award winners will be announced. It should run for about 90 minutes.


Remember, there’s a limit of 50 Public Education Passes per day, so make sure to secure yours early. Get ready for an unforgettable experience as you dive into the fascinating realm of caves and explore the wonders that lie beneath our feet.

Mark your calendars, gather your friends and family, and embark on a thrilling adventure at the 2023 NSS Convention. Stop by the Elkins Depot Welcome Center to receive your day passes.  It’s time to make lasting memories and ignite your passion for exploration. See you there!