Duke of Edinburgh participants explore Warsaw Caves

On the first weekend of November, participants in the Duke of Edinburgh programme descended on the Warsaw Caves Conservation Area to partake in the activity known as cave exploration. The participants were led by associate faculty member Nick Babiuk, who guided them through the more than 800 metres of caves. Cave exploring, or caving, is the recreational companion of speleology, which is the scientific study of natural caves.

Students explored the series of seven caves, one of which has a year-round glacier in its depths, and were able to study the fossils of shellfish, plants, snails and even a giant dragonfly in the limestone ceiling of one cave which was lined with beautiful phosphorescent moss.

Located just outside of Peterborough, the Warsaw Caves are actually 10,000-year-old river systems created when the last of the glacial meltwalters surged down the Indian River on the way to Lake Iroquois. The level of the glacial spillway was at least 14 metres above that of the present water level and flowed powerfully through the crevices in the limestone bedrock. Gradually, large underground stream channels and caves were formed.

The Duke of Edinburgh Award programme was first established in 1956 and the Canadian programme began in 1963. The programme is open to young Canadians between the ages of 14 and 25, with more than 30,000 participants currently involved nationwide. The three levels of the programme - bronze, silver and gold - each require specific levels of time commitment to activities in four areas: community service, expeditions, hobbies or vocational skills and physical recreation. The goal of the programme is to help young people develop a sense of responsibility to themselves and to their communities.