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Woo Whoo Ranger!  January 20th - 21st 60 Royal Rangers from 8 outposts campout

once again in the big bat cave!  Weather was lows in the 22 degrees and highs

at 40 degrees and mainly overcast with an occasional mist of rain.


Friday a group went in early to cut down dead wood into 12" logs.  A stack was

setup and left for boys to use a splitting mall to make firewood.  The rest of the logs were piled close to the fire by the mouth of the cave.  After all the cutting and hauling we kindled a fire and rested and ate a bit.


Soon the rappelling rope was tied off to 2 trees up above the mouth of the cave and the guy that ties the rope goes down was me.  I have been teaching this skill to our Expedition Ranger Group so this was fresh in my mind and we had sure anchor.  After I did the rappel and coached the boys on the commands for rappelling I just had to go down again.  It's only about 45' or so and a easy climb back up to the top.  One of the 21 year old young men had never rappelled. He had done some climbing on on indoor gyms and wanted to rappel.  While we were at the bottom with camera's I was questioning him on his relationship with the Lord. It's a good time to review your status...before going off a rock ledge.


He got to the edge and chickened out. So we gave him the general round of chicken talk and left it alone...we were not to harsh..just some small razzing.  After James went down the other young man said..I am doing that. So I went up with him and talked him down over the cliff.  He made it and was very animated about his success.  He was the man!  He had faced his fear and won.  Over the course of the campout I went 3 times and the other two young men went 20 times it seemed.  They had a good time.


Around 4:00 pm Rob Batchman our Council Fire speaker and my backpacking bud showed up with a skull and a 70 pound pack.  We did the right thing and stuck the skull on top of a stick standing right by the trail and then put a candle on top of it..."Welcome to the BIG BAT CAVE!  We lashed up a tripod and hung some steak over strings and smoked it up into some fine jerky that we ate on Saturday lunch.


As the evening set in the 8 church groups of Royal Rangers came in and at 9:00 pm we were gathering for the nights council fire.  It takes a herd dog to get them folks rounded up and by 9:30 we started the service by going over facts about the earth, caves and what caves were used for in history.  Each person was given a candle to wasn't easy lighting these candles.  They were cut down to 3" long with a band saw and only 1/3 of them had a wick sticking out... as we made our way to the back of the cave on the main level you could hear

the boys and the leaders talking and carrying's quite the flashlights, no headlamps...just  you and your candle...


With everyone sitting down we talked about how that candle represented your life. Some of you were fast starters and got along quickly with no problem..while others had to struggle to get things going.  When your candle goes out...did you turn to another that had his light on?  As you go through life you will find times when your spiritual candle may grow dim or out..remember with God's help turn to someone that has their light on for Christ and get your spiritual candle relit.


Rob Batchman brought in a true story about a father and his sons 9 and 11 year olds that went caving and were lost in a cave for 4 days.  It was a great story and Rob tied it into our cave when that father and son's lost their light he had the candles in our cave go out... He shared some spiritual things of God and the Bible and in the darkness of that cave the Gospel of Jesus Christ was shared.  I won't tell the rest of it.. you can ask the guys that went...


The rest of the night the boys explored the cave and searched for golden treasure chests.  5 were

found that night and 3 the next morning.  Each boy brought the treasure chest to commander Jones

who then recorded their name and church and told them they would get to open it in the morning

at the morning devotion. 


Breakfast was on..I could hear someone chopping wood at about 5:30 am about 60 feet away from

where I was sleeping... (my dad had told me...if you let them boys use that mall they will bust

the handle out of it...he was right they did..and I felt it was worth it to have boys learning

things like splitting wood some have never done it.)  I am one up on them...that mall is getting a

fiberglass handle next year if the Lord tarries..those boys...and I will be



Boys and men and young men were busy cooking around fires.  We had 4 fires going and with 60

there it was a good thing.  We burnt up all that good hardwood and made a lot of memories around

that fire.


President Obama showed up campaigning here is the link to that on youtube.



It was 12:30 and people were still hanging out around that cave so we put the fires out and

ran everyone off...(nicely)  The cave was cleaned up.  The men and boys had a great time and

God was glorified.


Johnnie Barnes, the founder of Royal Rangers, wrote a article in the Dispatch in 1981 about

 "WHY CAMPING"  he explained in detail why boys and men need to experience real life

outdoor situations where they experience, weather, hot, cold, rain, storms.  Where they get

hungry, thirsty and have to work to get to the goal.  He said in 1981 that our youth had gotten

soft and needed a challenge that builds character and leadership.  His words are even more true

today.  Take those boys out of their comfort zone and watch them grow as real leaders and men of

character and develop outdoor skills.  They will be changed for the good because of it. 

Here is a thread on Ranger Chat that shows these articles.

Mark Jones