NATURAL BRIDGE CAVERNS HOSTS EDUCATIONAL
“KARST KAMP” FOR AREA CHILDREN
Event Celebrates Third Annual National Caves and Karst Day on June 6, 2019
SAN ANTONIO, TX (June 6, 2019) —Natural Bridge Caverns joins cave enthusiasts from around the world to increase awareness about the importance of caves and karst landscapes. Celebrated as part of the International Day of Caves & the Subterranean World, June 6 is now officially recognized in the United States as National Caves & Karst Day.
On Thursday, June 6, Natural Bridge Caverns will host more than 100 children from Communities In Schools for “Karst Kamp,” a hands-on, interactive day of age-appropriate activity stations to teach the importance of caves and karst. Natural Bridge Caverns’ caving team members including co-owners and brothers, Brad and Travis Wuest, will show children the latest in caving gear and will demonstrate rope ascending and descending techniques. Children will learn how to tie some of the essential knots used in caving and will experience firsthand what it’s like crawling though narrow passageways in a simulated crawling passage. This specially made “cave squeeze box” enables kids and cavers to test their skills and see how tight of a crawlway they can squeeze through.
Local and regional partners including The University of Texas at San Antonio Center for Archaeological Research (CAR), The Edwards Aquifer Authority, and Bat Conservation International are participating. Each will have areas set up to showcase some of the most important aspects of conservation, caves, and karst.
Cave explorer, Orion Knox, Jr. will sign autographs on official cavern maps, replicas of the detailed cave survey he created almost 60 years ago after he found a small crawlway that led to the discovery of Natural Bridge Caverns. After visiting each Kamp station, children will be treated to the popular Discovery Tour to experience firsthand what the subterranean world is like.
“Show caves worldwide are embracing their role of protecting and preserving caves and providing a place for people to learn about these unique natural, cultural and historical resources. Show caves also play another important role in nature tourism and sustainable development, providing jobs and helping the economy of their regions,” said Brad Wuest, president, owner and operator of Natural Bridge Caverns and current president of the International Show Caves Association.
Karst is a landscape that’s typically characterized by sinkholes, caves, springs, aquifers, and rocky hills like our Texas Hill Country. The landscape and sinkhole at Natural Bridge Caverns and the Caverns themselves are excellent examples of karst. Caves and karst are rich in resources, including 175 different minerals, a few of which have only been found in caves. Forty percent of the drinking water in the U.S. comes from karst aquifers.
“Caves are repositories of pre-history,” stated Travis Wuest, vice president of Natural Bridge Caverns. “Some caves are rich in paleontology with fossils and the bones of prehistoric animals. During an excavation by UTSA’s Center for Archaeological Research, projectile points and stone tools dating back at least 10,000 years were found on the property earning us the distinction of being listed in the National Register of Historic Places for the site’s archaeological significance.”
There are many benefits to spending time in a cave. It’s quality family time, making memories during summer vacations. It can spark a child’s interest in science that could shape their future. Spending time in nature can boost mental and physical well-being, improve concentration, increase energy, reduce stress and lower blood pressure and heart rates. Paired with exercise, such as hiking to or in a cave, these results are maximized.
ABOUT NATURAL BRIDGE CAVERNS
On March 27, 1960, four college students; Orion Knox Jr., Preston Knodell Jr., Al Brandt and Joe Cantu from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio began an underground exploration that ultimately would reveal the largest cavern system in Texas. After hearing of an incredible 60-foot natural limestone bridge, which later became the caverns’ namesake, the students asked landowner Clara Wuest if they could investigate what laid beneath their family’s ranch. On the cavers’ fourth expedition they uncovered a long, narrow crawlspace that ultimately opened into two miles of virgin caverns. Today, their discovery is recognized as one of the world’s premier show caverns.
Natural Bridge Caverns, located in San Antonio, Texas, is owned and operated by the Wuest family, is a designated State Historical Site, a National Natural Landmark and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.