On April 19th, Blake Wright and I organized an unforgettable camping and caving adventure for a group of enthusiastic Tennesee State University students. The weekend began with our arrival at the Land Between the Lakes Forest Recreation Area, where we set up camp in a mix of tents and cozy cabins. Just an hour and a half outside campus, this National Forest Site set the perfect backdrop for our adventure.

The highlight of our trip was an exploration of Mammoth Cave National Park. We were fortunate to have Jerry Bransford as our guide. Jerry is a descendant of one of the three notable enslaved African cave guides who played a significant role in the cave’s history. His stories and insights provided a deeply enriching experience, allowing us to learn about the cave’s history and geology from a unique perspective.

Throughout the weekend, students engaged in various activities and discussions that fostered a strong sense of connection to Mammoth Cave. The knowledge shared by Jerry Bransford and the hands-on exploration of the cave’s vast and intricate system left many of us feeling inspired and empowered. One student even remarked, “This is the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen!”

We are grateful to National Park Trust and HBCUs Outside for making this adventure possible. Their support helped create an educational and memorable experience for all participants. Additionally, a special thank you goes to Gregory Backpacks for their generous contribution, which was a big hit among the students.

This weekend was more than just a camping trip; it was a journey into history, geology, and self-discovery. The experiences and knowledge gained will stay with us for a lifetime, reminding us of the incredible connections we have to the natural world and the importance of preserving it for future generations.

Thank you to everyone who made this weekend such a remarkable success! We look forward to many more adventures like this one.