Woohoo! Spring VAR!

May 19-21, 2023

Thorn Springs Campground,

Franklin, WV



Spring VAR 2023 is scheduled for May 19-21, 2023 at Thorn Springs Campground near Franklin, WV, hosted by the Battlefield Area Troglodyte Society (BATS). All details are subject to change as more information become available. Check back often for updates!


May 19-21, 2023


We are renting Thorn Springs Park, down to where the bath houses are. Tent camping will be behind the cabins. If anyone wants to camp in the woods, that will cost extra. RVs must contact Thorn Springs directly to pay the extra $30 per night (304-358-7737)


  • Sorry, pre-registration is now CLOSED. 
  • At the Door:
    • Saturday dinner not guaranteed, but we will try to order extra meals
      • Adults $35
      • Kids 6–16: $22
      • Under 6 Free


Pre-registration is now closed. Please pay on-site with cash or check.

Onsite Registration:

Opens at noon, Friday, May 19.


  • RV with Full Hookups: $30/night. Pay Thorn Springs directly.
  • Cabin Rental: $5/person/night extra. Stove, fridge, showers. Bring your
    sleeping bag and towels. Each cabin sleeps 8–12.
  • Tent camping included—set up behind buildings



Tommy Carpenter will DJ on Friday night. He might be persuaded to do so again on Saturday night. Be sure to let him know what songs you want to hear!

Caver Beverages:

Be discreet! It's BYOB. Be discreet!


Well-behaved dogs ON LEASH at all times will be allowed. You must be at the other end of the leash. You MUST clean up after your pet--bring poop bags and take them with you when you go home.


There are many caves within a short drive and a couple within walking distance.

Earl Suitor, manager of the NSS Cave Preserve at Trout Rocks, has cordoned off cave trips to Trout Cave for up to 40 people over the weekend. He or Cheryl Suitor will bring the forms to VAR for folks to sign up for trips.

Terry McClanathan will lead a 6-person trip to Elkhorn Mountain Cave.

Sign up for one trip when you pre-register. Onsite sign-ups will be first come, first served Friday night after 10. Please respect the trip leaders’ limits on cavers who can go on their trips.

Nearby Commercial Caves:

Wild Caves:

  • Hamilton Cave - Miles Drake will station himself near the Slab Room, guide people back to the Airblower, and give talks on the geology of Hamilton Cave.
  • New Trout Cave
  • Trout Cave
  • Kee Cave
  • McCoys Mill Cave (walking distance from camp!)

We could really use some volunteers to lead guided trips to caves in the area. If you are familiar and willing enough, please contact Meredith Hall Weberg.

Conservation Project:

  • Earl Suitor agreed to come up with a conservation project at Trout Rocks for the VAR Conservation Committee. It will likely consist of small tasks that need to be done, like fence mending, trail clearing, touching up the paint on the kiosk, and possibly graffiti cleaning in the caves. It will likely last only 3 or 4 hours. He will get a list of "chores" and tools needed a couple of weeks ahead of the event.

Don’t want to get down and dirty? Don’t blame you; there is so much to do above-ground!

Don't want to leave the campground?

Cheryl Suitor will offer a "Paint With Cheryl" class on Saturday afternoon, from 3 to 5 Saturday afternoon. She has a limit of 15 and the cost will be $20. Contact Cheryl directly to reserve your space and pay via PayPal. Use “Friends and Family” so neither of you incurs a fee. See flyer for details.

Cheryl Suitor is also going to have some bat paintings for sale. Please take a look at this talented painter’s work!

Tommy Carpenter is planning to do a T-shirt painting thingy. Bring your own T-shirt and he will supply cloth paint, brushes, and stencils. He did this at the last VAR at this site and it was a hit.

Southeastern Cave Conservancy, Inc. will have a display set up. You may learn about how SCCi saves caves and join their efforts by making a financial donation.


  • SophiReapTress will be on site with cave suits, bags, and wonderful wearable art
  • Cheryl Suitor will have paintings for sale

Saturday Night:

As of March 22, we are finalizing the dinner menu with High’s Restaurant—a caver favorite!—in Monterrey, Virginia. We’ll let you know when we know. We plan to start serving dinner at 6 p.m., so y’all should have plenty of time to go caving, get back, grab your chair and a favorite beverage, and still make it to the food line.

We will have some door prizes - must be present to win. BMS Rescue (Carroll Bassett) has donated a “long-frame double hyper-bar micro rack.” So far we are in the collecting stage for possible door prizes, but if you want to donate something, we’ll be glad to take it provided it’s in decent shape and somewhat related to caving. We have a Gone Cavin' card game and a WVCC mug too. Who knows what else we might have to give away?

Speaker: Bruce Fries (West Virginia Association of Cave Studies (WVACS)) will talk about the Discovery and Exploration of Burntwood Cave, which is located in Greenbrier County, West Virginia, 3 miles southwest of the southernmost entrance to the Friars Hole Cave System. This program will cover the decade-long project to open up the cave, the breakthrough during the 2012 NSS Convention, and the ongoing project to dig a new entrance to avoid the dangers of the Worm Way, which floods to the ceiling with less than 1 inch of rain.

DJ: Tommy Carpenter will DJ on Friday night. He might be persuaded to do so again on Saturday night. Be sure to let him know what songs you want to hear!

Sunday Morning:

VAR business meeting: 9 a.m. Grottos be sure to assign representatives to attend!