Spelunking through the largest caves in Pennsylvania

Laurel Caverns illuminates its caverns with colorful lights. Photos courtesy of laurecaverns.com

By Daniel Shapiro
Jambar Contributor

The Andrews Student Recreation and Wellness Center is offering a one-day caving trip to Laurel Caverns in Farmington, Pennsylvania on April 20.

The trip will take five students. Any Youngstown State University student can apply to go. 

Thomas Worsham, coordinator for Adventure Recreation at Campus Rec, said there is no exact itinerary yet, but the background of the trip is set in stone.

“Once you sign up for the trip, about a week ahead of time, your trip leaders will reach out to you about a pre-trip meeting, date, that you’ll discuss the departure times for that trip, as well as any other information you may need for it,” Worsham said. 

Laurel Caverns is the largest cave system in Pennsylvania. Its labyrinth is four miles long. According to Laurel Caverns’ website, if classified as a sandstone cave, Laurel Caverns is the largest sandstone cave in the world. 

The cave is also home to the largest bat hibernaculum in the northeastern United States. 

Worsham said students will explore multiple parts of Laurel Caverns. 

“We’ll go through the lit portions of the cave that is designed for easy walking and touring and going to the unlit portions with a guide to take us through some of the deeper sections of the cave and have a really cool experience,” Worsham said. 

For Worsham, Laurel Caverns was the best destination for the Campus Rec caving trip.

“Several of my student trip leaders were interested in setting up a caving program, and so with their help and some research and the internet, [we found] a cave that was going to be accessible to us, especially for beginners, and also open early enough in the year to fit it in the academic year,” Worsham said. 

Those going on the trip will need some required pieces of safety equipment for caving. 

“Everyone going on the trip will be required to have ankle high boots with laces, as well as at least one light source, and the Adventure Recreation program can supply an additional light source,” Worsham said. “I would also say that any clothes you don’t mind getting dirty, and possibly ruined with going through the cave would be ideal for the trip.” 

Because spots are limited for the trip, students will be added to a waitlist in case of a drop after the spots are filled. 

Ryan McNicholas, director of Campus Recreation, said it’s important for the Rec to host adventure trips.

“It is valuable for students to get involved and meet other students to make new friends, hear about other experiences and share their perspectives as well. Our trips allow students to gain those experiences off campus and at places they may have never traveled,” McNicholas said.

Worsham said Adventure Rec adds such trips throughout the fall and spring semesters.

“Adventure Recreation tries to add one overnight trip a month throughout the school year, as well as all kinds of either day trips or on-campus programs in the evening to help students get excited about Adventure Recreation,” Worsham said.

To sign up for the trip, students can visit the Rec’s website

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