The Big Bat Cave and Big Ice Storm of 2007....
Pictures can be found at the end of this page. click on them to get a bigger picture.
Special thanks to Joe Schmidt and Les Becker Sr. Commanders from the West Plains Section and their outposts! They made this fellowship and one of their new boys just came last wed night to their Rangers for the first time and said I for sure am coming back....
50 Royal Rangers were projected to attend this years Big Bat Cave campout. As the weather forecast kept coming forth the ice started showing and the rain kept raining and the roads got slicker and the river got higher and the calls kept coming until we were down to 16 brave souls for Christ. Officially we the northern Morrisville, Oak Grove and Central outposts canceled at 1:30 pm due to safety reasons as the forecast became worse and worse and worse.... but a man was down at the cave dragging up firewood and was awaiting our arrival... rain or shine he would be there.
The decision by myself and a few other men and a couple CBC college students as well as 2 GMA'ers was made and our sons and we took off for the big bat cave. When we left Springfield the windshield had a 1/4" of ice on it. The streets were wet but not icy. Our destination was 45 miles away and away we went in two 4 wheel drive vehicles.
Just 10 miles from our destination we ran upon ice on the road and slowed down to a crawl. Then off on to the gravel muddy wet roads down across low water bridge to the property of the Big Bat Cave. Drove all the way down to the barbwire fence then unloaded and back packed in along the wet icy dark path along the river to the cave. There it was a BIG DARK HOLE in the side of the cliff with a flicker of a fire coming out of the front of it... aaaaaaaah.... we made it!
Not long after we got there and up loaded our packs and expressed our thankfulness for a nice campfire the other 2 outposts showed and we had a number of 16 there. All the while the sleet and ice kept falling.
After cooking all kinds of things around the campfire looking out over the river through the ice laden trees to the Osage Fork Gasconade river just 12 feet below the mouth of the cave there we sat looking out enjoying the fellowship and laughing at our expedition of adventure!
9:30 pm! Council Fire time! Commander Rob Batchman led the group to the back of the cave where he handed out candles to all there and he talked about this little light of mine and how the inviting Christ into ones life brings light into our life.... we had a inspiring time sang the song this little light of mine and each person shared what they were thankful for. Even in the back of this cave the Holy Spirit of God can bring light into a life. The rest of the night the boys explored and we fellowshipped at the campfire at the face of the cave. All night long Golden treasure boxes started to be found and the chests were brought back to Commander Jones with the instruction not to open them..... we would open them in the morning.
Two of us had setup our tents just inside the cave about 50 feet and through the night you could hear the crack and snap of tree limbs falling BIG ones! The stream in the cave when it got to the entrance made a 9 foot water fall and you could hear it. At 4 am I awoke to hear someone at the fire. I got up and found one of the expedition ranger boys at the fire enjoying a all night vigil at the camp fire. He was still at it when I got up at 7:30 am. It's something to spend some time in the quiet with just you and the fire... a time when God can speak to you.
The rest of the gang showed up and we cooked meals and ate all kinds of stuff and shared the warmth of the campfire. Then at 9:00 am we finished our search for the last of the 5 golden treasure chests and Commander Jones gave the morning devotion. Each boy was called to open his treasure chest to reveal the part of a treasure map rolled up like a scroll and then he got to pick out of the larger golden treasure chest a prize... pocket knife, snake bite kit, led flash light, mess kit utensils, candy and a few other items. We figured out the map each piece a scripture verse a nugget of truth and the graphic revealed the picture of a heart...that is where the real treasure is...when we invite Jesus into our heart!
Well the weather was expected to get worse the river had risen 8 feet and it was still raining.... we cleaned the cave of debris and packed back to our vehicles....after 15 minutes of scraping ice and warming up we headed towards home.... The low water bridge was impassable.... we went the other way a 20 mile extra way around....along the way Trees were down across the road...we could still pass but slowly.
70 miles later back at Springfield where we found most of the city out of electricity. Trees down everywhere. Roads impassable. Signal lights dead each intersection a 4 way stop... then we made it home!
As I dropped off the two extra boys and young men and gear to their homes they were covered in red clay mud from the cave.... aaaaaah! A grand trip!
I unloaded the jeep and gear and then cleaned up and took a nap. Wife said that is the dirtiest her Grand Cherokee Jeep had ever been... I prayed through for forgiveness and another GREAT adventure that we will all remember and grin about is written in the book!
Take them boys camping! Make it safe. Make it fun! Make it real! Make it happen!
Thanks for all you do each and every one of you for your dedication and godly work in Royal Rangers.
Mark Jones (a blessed man)
As you can see in the pictures some folk don't respect the law and have painted their names in this cave.... it's a shame to do that. We always leave the cave better than we found it.
More pictures will come in as the commanders send them in. Check back. We had a 1/2" of ice. I have to go to work and put up phone lines due to the ice storm.
It's all fun and it's important to keep it as a game. The part of the game is staying warm and comfy. We did just that!