28 November 2008

What I did at the 2nd BSRC - II - Sunday

Sunday 15 June

On Sunday we had the established annual Nationwide Cave Rescue Drill. The scenario involved an injury in the "Acropolis" part of the Maara Cave, which is a little further in than the end of the tourist route. SELAS had a slightly lower turnout than at other rescue drills, and some of the Greek clubs chose not to send their rescuers to the drill at all. I did not have the pleasure of participating as I was stuck in the camp secretariat, but as far as I know, everything went well (despite the "victim" needing to pass water continuously - probably the result of being in a wetsuit for so many hours).

In the evening we had the first video presentations and enjoyed the first showing of SPOK's the educational film called, "Emilios, Sophia and the cave". Eva Kamilaki introduced the video and talked about the work being done on education by her club, SPOK in Crete. The presentations continued every night until the end of the camp. The subjects covered exploration in all corners of the world from Mexico to China and Indonesia. The many videos with biospeleological subjects were especially interesting especially those from Karstic springs in Hungary and Serbia. The fireside music and dancing ran concurrently with the presentations and then continued well into the night.

The camp fire started each night

Balkan bagpipes!

Lefteris and Eva watch the presentations

The area where the presentations were made

What I did at the 2nd BSRC - I


The Balkan Speleo Reunion Camp is organised annually by the Balkan Speleo Union (BSU). It all started last year in Trigrad, Bulgaria and it was there that the organisation of the second Balkan Speleo Reunion Camp was awarded to Greece. The Hellenic Federation of Speleology (of which SELAS is a founding member), undertook the organisation of the camp on account of the fact that it is the only secondary level speleo body in Greece. It was decided that the camp should take place in Drama, a prefecture with very much caving interest. The dates for the camp - 13 to 22 June were perfect for the Greek participants as they included the three-day weekend of pentecost. Drama is a long long way away, though - let's not joke around about that. It is a huge journey to set off on the 630km for Drama. Despite this, we made the journey, we knackered ourselves on the drive, but we enjoyed it and it was worth it.

The schedule included: opening ceremony on Saturday 14th June, National Cave Rescue Drill on Sunday 15 June, General Assembly of the Balkan Speleological Union (BSU) on Monday 16 June and then various excursions to show caves and wild caves in the area - to the impressive Maara, to Alistrati, to Chionotrypa, to Maroneia and to the caves of Sidirokastro. There was a coach organised for most of these trips.

My club - SELAS had one of the largest presences from the Greek side - with about 15 of our members making the trek up to Drama - a good proportion of the 90 Greeks in total who were present. Most of those present (130) were from the neighbouring Bulgaria - only about 15km down the road, whereas there was also a large number of people from Romania and Turkey with one participant each from Cyprus, Hungary and the Ukraine. These last three are not members of BSU but some cavers from these countries were interested and had come anyway.

It was very interesting to meet cavers from other Balkan countries and cavers of all ages - there were high-school kids from Romania and white-haired septuagenarians from Bulgaria and all points in between. There were scientist speleologists and researchers (geologists, biologists) as well as the "hard core" explorers, cavers who have been involved in the exploration of some of the deepest caves in the world. The nightly meetings around the camp fire helped greatly in getting to know eachother as there was plenty of music and plenty of freely flowing liquids distilled in all corners of the Balkans from whatever fruits one has handy… after a few sips from one of these not even the Slavic shepherd bagpipes could get in the way of a good time.

In the evenings we all had an opportunity to watch presentations made by the camp participants - mainly in video format. There were short films from far off places like China and Indonesia but also from closer to home - each one showing videos from his homeland. There were also stalls set up by each of the countries with books, posters and informational material.

The opening ceremony featured a speech by the representative of the Speaker of the Greek Parliament, representatives of local self government at regional, prefectural and municipal levels as well as the Ministry of Culture (Ephorate of Paleontology and Speleology of Northern Greece). After the speeches of the national representatives of the members of the BSU, the Second Balkan Speleo Reunion Camp was declared open and we had an opportunity to enjoy the tasty treats prepared by the woman's collective of Prosotsani, a gift from the mayor. There followed music and dancing.

Brief video - how to get to Prosotsani.