Project CAVES
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Project CAVES (Creative Adventures and Valuable Experiences through Spelunking) is a seven-day/six-night summer residential program that provides an authentic immersion in science outside of the classroom for gifted high-school students.  Activities will center around investigative studies in the areas of cave eco-systems, karst geology, bat populations, and hydrogeology.

DATES:  JUNE 12-18, 2016


Science is much more than a body of knowledge. It is a way of thinking. This is central to its success. Science invites us to let the facts in, even when they don’t conform to our preconceptions. It counsels us to carry alternative hypotheses in our heads and see which ones best match the facts. It urges on us a fine balance between no-holds-barred openness to new ideas, however heretical, and the most rigorous skeptical scrutiny of everything—new ideas and established wisdom. We need wide appreciation of this kind of thinking. It works. It’s an essential tool for a democracy in an age of change. Understanding of science is more central to our national security than half a dozen strategic weapons systems. The sub-mediocre performance of American youngsters in science and math, and the widespread adult ignorance and apathy about science and math, should sound an urgent alarm.

-Carl Sagan


Although high school science classrooms have been impacted with improved standards and regulations to help encourage rigor, book learning and structured labs have limitations. An authentic immersion in science outside of the classroom provides a unique life-changing experience involving in-depth curriculum and strategies that high-ability science students need.



Project C.A.V.E.S. is looking for responsible students who are currently in grades 9-11 with an aptitude and love for science!  Campers need to be comfortable with the outdoors, as they will be interact closely with nature.  Campers will be sleeping in tents!


 Applications for Project C.A.V.E.S will be an online process including:

1)      Student application including demographic information, medical information, significant accomplishments in the past two years (especially in the area of science), school/community service projects, and a student essay.

2)      Teacher recommendation requiring information such as evidence of student demonstrating high levels of thinking, maturity, self-discipline, creativity, and social skills.

3)      Counselor recommendation requiring information such as test scores, transcript, personal leadership skills, evidence of motivation and commitment to a task.





March 1, 2016    Online Application Process Open 

April 8, 2016      Applications and Forms Due to OUR Cooperative

April 29, 2016    Selection Results Emailed to Schools and Students

May 13, 2016     Accepted Students Registration Materials Due (Parent-Student Assurances Form and Medical Insurance Card)

June 12, 2016   Opening Day of Project CAVES

June 18, 2016   Parent Day/Project CAVES Closing



Please review all documents before applying. 

General Application Information

Student Forms

Teacher Forms

Counselor Forms

School Signatures Assurance Form

Packing List

Project CAVES Flyer



Tentative Agenda:


 June 12-15

Lodging will be at the Toney Bend facility near Rush, AR. Possible activities will include exploration of wild and commercial caves, monitoring of bat populations, geological hikes with emphasis on formation of geological features, team-building activities and evening presentations by researchers and scientists.

June 15-18

Lodging will be at the Steel Creek facility near Ponca, AR. Possible activities will include student-led investigations related to geological features, exploration of wild caves, geological hikes with emphasis on formation of geological features, team-building activities, activities led by researchers and scientists, and student-led presentations focusing on topics covered throughout the week.