The Big Bat Cave campout of 2009 had 74 presigned up campers from 8 different Churches! Wow the most souls we have had signed up before the big batcave campout ever! We had another dozen that wanted to go but if all that had signed up to go came we wouldn't have room in the back of the cave if the weather was really really cold.
As usual. Big Ice storm hit about 5 days before the event and some of our preregistered campers got the jitters and stayed home. Others were powerless at home so they were busy hauling in wood to the fireplaces and looking longingly down the road for the power company lineman to restore their electric services.
Friday at 9:00 a team headed out from 2 churches to clear the path along the river of fallen trees and briars and to cut up some great firewood. With the storm it was a mixed blessing. Boys were out of school for snow days and Home Schoolers are always flexible to attend these events. So we had about 12 there to clear the path. After some work we had a raging fire at the face of the cave and had a late lunch. It's a site to behold looking out from that BIG cave entrance over looking the frozen Osage Fork River just 30 feet away and then into a BIG meadow. The only thing you could hear was the trickle of the water where it hit a drop in stream bed level and a small rapid occurred. What a rare prize to behold.
While sitting around the fire a possibles idea hit. How about a big nice chair with a back rest from a couple of those big chunks of tree. So down the trail we went firing up the chainsaws and carving out chairs and hauling up some of that wood from the BIG Trees we cleared. When the BIG pile of fire wood was about 4 foot tall we estimated we had enough. We brought out the materials for a bow drill fire and several of the boys and young men cranked away on a bow drill fire.
A return trip to Church to pickup the other 14 members of our outing was made. We filled up the van and the truck and headed out. What a blessing to have men that will give of their time to take these boys and young men on a adventure of a life time. Cave camping is one of those times that the boys will at some time or another recall and talk to their friends about.
At 6:45 p.m. we meet another group at the Conway exit and they followed us to the Big Bat Cave Campout! The roads were fine. The drive down the lane to the pasture was a little bit of a challenge as it was still snow covered. The last van up was to make it to the top of the hill and then walk back and secure the gate. They never showed up. So after our group was back at the cave entrance a 1/4 mile away along the river we returned back to the 4 wheel drive and found our fellow brothers in Christ a little frustrated after making 7 attempts up the hill. So after some coaching we had them over the hill and heading out on foot with packs on to the Big Bat Cave! (A little ice and snow just makes things more exciting).
Wow the path had frozen and it was pretty slick. The handrail we had made out of a fallen tree and some saw dust made a very sloped trail in one place passable. What a blessing to have Bridge Builders go ahead to make the path easier! At the face of the Big Bat Cave the big campfire was raging. The smoke was following the most beautiful folk around and the rest of us just soaked up the heat of the fire as it danced to sooth our spirits.
At council fire we all met at the face of the cave around the fire. We went over cave rules and common sense rules and "NO Walking on the ICE on the RIVER rules" and a bit about our earth and caves that were used in the Bible. Then the group was asked to form a single file line and hand made candles were given to each person. The person delivering the council fire lit his candle from the campfire then in turn the commanders lit their candles and then went to their boys to light their candles. The boys were told this candle is a representation of your life as we journey to the back of the cave. Some of you will have a easy time getting your candles to go. Others will be a slow starter and will have a harder time getting through life. As we walked to the back of the cave the boys were instructed to be quiet and then in the back of the cave we gather 63 souls in that pit. The light of our candles lit up that room and the boys were told as they grow at times their light for Christ will be bright and people will see that and at other times their light may go out..when it gets to that point find another person that has their light on for Christ and get your candle relit.
As the group lit that cave up with their candles we to as Christians are a light in this world. Then that half put out your candles. The other half then it was just down to two candles. Every one was sitting down and asked to stay put. We would be putting out the last candle and it would be pitch black dark in the cave. I told the boys we would be in the dark for a couple of minutes but we would relight the candles and not be scared. They were told to be quiet and not fear. Then the last candle was out. Hell was talked about. Separation from God and how the Holy Ghost can still find you in this dark ole cave.
I told the boys and young men and men their how easy it was to know that one could be sure they were going to Heaven. If they had questions to talk to their Commanders or me about it.
The council fire concluded with wax all over everyone's fingers and we all setup camp for the night. Some went up in to the upper rooms where it was nice and warm. Others setup at the cave entrance... I warned them it would be cold.. GRIN!
As always the best part of camping is the time around the campfire. Cooking, talking, listening. Just a time to slow down and relax. A time to share and listen. A time to cook and eat. A time to get smoked up and feel really dirty. GRIN! A time to ponder how good it will be to go home and have the blessings of our home.
After a ice forming night. I laid their and listen to the tromp, tromp, tromp of boys and men moving in and around the cave. 8:00 a.m. I could smell and hear the frying of bacon and the laughter of Christian brothers having a great time spending time with their boys and fellow Royal Rangers.
The morning met with all kinds of cooking going on. Pancakes, bacon, trial mix, bagels, Danish rolls. Hot Chocolate, Coffee. Yum.
9:30 morning devotion. All gathered around the fire and 4 of the 5 treasure chests had been found with one still left in the cave... Commander took the boys back in for one more search. A few minutes later they returned with the last treasure chest. Those boys that found the treasure chests opened them up in front of the group to reveal a treasure map. The boys and young men picked out of the Bigger Golden Treasure Chest and most got a new pocket knife. The rest of the group got a golden bell as a souvenir. The treasure map was laid out and it had the shape of a heart on it and in that shape was the salvation scriptures we use in Royal Rangers to lead folk to Christ.
The little golden bell was a reminder for them to pray for folk to be saved. Bell was to remind them to Believe on Jesus and avoid Hell. As I closed the devotion I reminded the boys. The devil knows who Jesus is and most of the world knows who Jesus is. However if you haven't invited him in to your heart and believe in Him and what He has done for us at the Cross then its time to do so and know that your going to Heaven.
We all headed back to the vans around noon and after a little more fun getting the vans up the snow covered lane we were all heading home with boys covered with mud, tired and yet a bit better for it. It was so good to get home and hit that hot bath.
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