Anyone who reads this regularly has undoubtedly noticed very few posts lately. We’re still alive! In fact, we’re even still pretty active on this project, just not in very exciting ways. In the last couple weeks, probably 2/3 of our first book has been written or rewritten, maps have been remade, and we’ve made a new contact at The Cranbrooke Institute of Science and visited archives there, and at The Henry Ford just yesterday. Sounds exciting, doesn’t it? No, I didn’t think so. That’s why there aren’t many posts lately.
So with no posts about all our new discoveries in the field, I thought I’d post a bit about my experiences with another group very similar to this one, and some suggestions for anyone thinking of trying to start up a similar group.
I spent a few years with The Cave Research Foundation, until an injury made caving impossible. Unlike other caving groups, every, single CRF trip was a scientific caving trip. There was always an objective, always data to collect, always reports to file at the end of every trip. Everyone was a volunteer and everyone paid their own way to get to the cave, to buy their own gear, and even to pay their own expenses once there. People either came for one or two trips, or they stayed for years. CRF has been around since the late 1940’s, while The Haven Hill Project is just over a year old, but the exploration and discovery aspects are much the same.
With all the similarities, there’s one difference, which I wish I’d spotted much sooner, or at least known the impact of much sooner. In CRF, reports were written by every group that went into the cave every night. After getting up too early in the morning, caving for 12-16 hours, you’d come back to camp, get a shower, eat, and write your trip report before you went to bed. You’d do this two or three days in a row, usually.
With Haven Hill Project, we didn’t write the trip reports quickly enough. We didn’t know we needed to. We had the raw data, but not the final product. Instead of mixing 95% fun with 5% not-fun every trip, we ended up piling up most of that not-fun at the end. It’s actually slowed us down, too, since we’re now finding last-minute measurements we need to collect which could have been picked up with an extra ten minutes on another trip, but now it’s taking a few hours. It’s also a lot of stress I’m pretty sure we could all live without. Fortunately, I think we’re getting close to the end of that, nearly caught up on our writing, so maybe we’ll all survive this, if we get lucky.
So the suggestion for anyone else considering taking up a project like this is to definitely do it, but remember to make it at 95% fun for each and every trip, but don’t put off the 5% not-fun part. Write up your results quickly, even if not that very night. Go in assuming you’ll never make a cent on it, and probably won’t even break even, but if you pull together your data and write an hour or so after each trip, it won’t hurt nearly as much. That way, the project stays fun from start to finish. Something I wish I’d thought of a year ago.
Back to writing. The Pool, The Tennis Court, and The Toboggan Run await…