Author Topic: BCA member demographics  (Read 5263 times)

Online PeteHall

  • Global Moderator
  • forum hero
  • *****
  • Posts: 2029
  • ChCC, GSS, SWCC, WCC, WCDG
BCA member demographics
« on: September 03, 2020, 10:11:57 am »
Administrator Comment Split this topic from statement by BCA chair

Thanks for sharing Phil, this is a really positive start and I wish you every success in achieving great things for the BCA.

A question if I may:
Our demographics are heavily stacked to an aging population.

Since the BCA has been collecting dates of birth, has this now been verified?

There has obviously been a lot of speculation that this was the case, and I'm not suggesting for a minute that we shouldn't be focusing on youth and development, just wondering if the BCA has managed to collect enough age data to be useful yet...
« Last Edit: September 08, 2020, 09:29:26 pm by Badlad »

Offline nearlywhite

  • obsessive maniac
  • ***
  • Posts: 419
Re: BCA member demographics
« Reply #1 on: September 03, 2020, 10:39:27 am »
Pages 24-27 of https://british-caving.org.uk/wiki3/lib/exe/fetch.php?media=about:documents:council_meetings:council_meeting_12th_october_2019_reports.pdf

these things are very hard to find and I'm looking at ways to improve that - again, should anyone want to volunteer... P&I etc etc

Rostam P&I Officer

Online 2xw

  • junky
  • ****
  • Posts: 816
  • YUCPC, SUSS
Re: BCA member demographics
« Reply #2 on: September 03, 2020, 10:46:46 am »
No mention of education in conservation. Maybe that should be included as well.

The previous C&A officer have done good jobs.

The entire C&A section of the website will be updated alongside a review of most documentation and this will be publicised under my tenure, if I am voted in to the position at the AGM.

I think conservation education is important too and I'm very keen to build on what the BCA already has in this regard.

Offline mikem

  • forum hero
  • *****
  • Posts: 4988
  • Mendip Caving Group
Re: BCA member demographics
« Reply #3 on: September 03, 2020, 11:11:49 am »
Although it is a bit difficult to vote for anyone who doesn't put their name on posts...  :-\

Offline JoshW

  • junky
  • ****
  • Posts: 824
  • YSS, WSCC, BCA Youth & Development, BCA Group Rep
Re: BCA member demographics
« Reply #4 on: September 03, 2020, 11:31:35 am »
Thanks for sharing Phil, this is a really positive start and I wish you every success in achieving great things for the BCA.

A question if I may:
Our demographics are heavily stacked to an aging population.

Since the BCA has been collecting dates of birth, has this now been verified?

There has obviously been a lot of speculation that this was the case, and I'm not suggesting for a minute that we shouldn't be focusing on youth and development, just wondering if the BCA has managed to collect enough age data to be useful yet...

I don't think the BCA has been collecting dates of birth for enough years to become statistically relevant (although someone more smarterer than me may beg to differ). Drawing conclusions over 2/3 years, particularly when it's a known problem that some will dip in and out of BCA membership is not conclusive.

This is something I know is on P&I's radar, and is most definitely on my radar.

Another issue that may present itself when analysing, is the success rate of responses of entering their year of birth, and I would urge that when completing BCA membership that people consider putting their year of birth so that any conclusions we draw are more statistically relevant.

Pretty sure this is something that will be discussed in the next council meeting, but great to see that there are people out there who support the collection of relevant data to ensure that BCA can review it's membership's diversity.
All views are my own and not that of the BCA or any clubs for which I'm a member of.

Offline mrodoc

  • forum hero
  • *****
  • Posts: 3223
    • Peter Glanvill's Webpage
Re: BCA member demographics
« Reply #5 on: September 03, 2020, 11:57:10 am »
The  BEC get everywhere!  :)

Offline Badlad

  • Administrator
  • forum hero
  • *****
  • Posts: 2345
Re: BCA member demographics
« Reply #6 on: September 03, 2020, 02:40:23 pm »
As the author of the age demographic reports for 2017, 18 &19 enough data was collected to be useful.  See the full reports via the link nearlywhite posted above for caveats etc.  I tried to encourage collection and analysis of more data and to make mandatory fields but BCA council decided to only collect Year of Birth on a voluntary basis.

Some of the headlines stats were that the median age was consistently 50.  This means that for 2019 half the BCA membership were born before 1970.  18% of the membership are over 65 in all three years.  More people were over 60 (27%) than under 30 (20%).  The age structure hasn't changed over the three years the data has been looked at.

In any interpretation of the data it is key to encourage more young people into the sport.

Thanks to those who helped provide and analyse the data.
« Last Edit: September 03, 2020, 04:39:45 pm by Badlad, Reason: changed 65 to 60 as written in error »

Offline Fishes

  • obsessive maniac
  • ***
  • Posts: 335
Re: BCA member demographics
« Reply #7 on: September 03, 2020, 05:14:45 pm »
Fwiw I wonder whether BCA can improve it's progressive nature by expelling from membership anyone who opposes change. Just a thought.

I'm hoping this is not really serious. BCA needs to represent all cavers and not just those who consider themselves progressive. Sometimes changes should be opposed and at other times they should be embraced.

Offline kay

  • Not a
  • forum hero
  • *****
  • Posts: 2766
Re: BCA member demographics
« Reply #8 on: September 03, 2020, 09:17:41 pm »

I don't think the BCA has been collecting dates of birth for enough years to become statistically relevant (although someone more smarterer than me may beg to differ). Drawing conclusions over 2/3 years, particularly when it's a known problem that some will dip in and out of BCA membership is not conclusive.



One year's data would be enough to see whether the age structure of cavers was the same as the age structure of the country as a whole. Taking a quick snapshot using ONS data; plus www.statista.com for median; and Badlad's post for the caving figures:

The median age of cavers at 50 is considerably larger than the median age of the population (40) = although one would expect it to be slightly larger because the caving population is truncated at the bottom end.  18% of cavers are over 65 - same as the general population.

But this probably isn't the right question. Caving is an activity requiring a certain level of physical fitness and agility. It might be more relevant to compare the age structure with that of, say, climbers. I can't find BMC age structure. But I did find an age structure for runners (1) which suggests that just under 3% of runners are over 65, and 25% are under 30 compared with 20% of cavers. So this does suggest an older age structure for caving than for running.

You'd need several years data to see whether the problem was getting worse or better.

(1) http://www.neilbaxter.org/2018/11/15/running-demographics-in-detail/

Offline Pegasus

  • NCC
  • Administrator
  • forum hero
  • *****
  • Posts: 2912
Re: BCA member demographics
« Reply #9 on: September 03, 2020, 09:28:24 pm »
BCA should employ more people, even if only part time - there's plenty of money in the pot and if it worked and more funds were needed, put up membership by a pound or two.

BCA rely too heavily on volunteers - some roles take a huge amount of work - Secretary for example.  I would also suggest paying for a marketing role - the promotion of caving and BCA could easily be a full time job....and no I'm not applying or thinking of myself here.  Am pretty disillusioned with the whole thing at the moment so taking some time out to lick my wounds.




Offline mikem

  • forum hero
  • *****
  • Posts: 4988
  • Mendip Caving Group
Re: BCA member demographics
« Reply #10 on: September 03, 2020, 11:05:24 pm »
The age data for runners isn't taken from a governing body, but from a national survey, so average won't necessarily be similar anyway (it starts at 14 years & has an initial peak before 20). The chart of age v gender of different activities is interesting though - mountaineering comes in at c.36 years old (which is probably less than the average from BMC, as they also include walkers).

Offline Stuart France

  • obsessive maniac
  • ***
  • Posts: 301
Re: BCA member demographics
« Reply #11 on: September 03, 2020, 11:08:37 pm »
I am quite encouraged by the whole thing at the moment, and certainly not “disillusioned”.

BCA has had a couple of really effective and focused 2-hour council meetings by Zoom over the summer, ably chaired by Phil even while he is still finding his feet in this job.  This is totally different in character to the divisive all-day face-to-face time-wasting quarterly meetings prior.

Caving needs an effective national body, and BCA is better being reformed than replaced.  Some who have been so destructive in the past have now departed the scene and we can put all that behind us. There is no need for any public inquiries into who did what.

BCA council needs more new people to join it and contribute their time and skills into areas for which they feel most able, or simply in the more general role of representing cavers at large or their regions or clubs and creating positivity right across the board in the process.  This could be you or someone you know who just needs the encouragement and re-assurance to step up and do it.

BCA Exec is now composed of either brand new people or relatively fresh pairs of hands. They have a massive and important voluntary job to do in turning the BCA around and we should support their generous efforts, along with those longer-standing council members who are quite clearly just as committed to obtaining positive outcomes for British caving.


Offline TheBitterEnd

  • forum hero
  • *****
  • Posts: 1613
  • KCC
    • KCC - Join an active club
Re: BCA member demographics
« Reply #12 on: September 03, 2020, 11:22:07 pm »
I have thought for a while that even though it shouldn't be necessary it sounds like a Code of Conduct for council members if not all members would be a good idea. To take a committee position or possibly even speak at a meeting people would have to agree to the code of conduct and can be kicked out for breaching it's terms, no if's no but's.

Also on the age thing, I and numerous people I know returned to caving after a long break due to family and career commitments. Obviously youth development is vital but I'm not convinced that raw demographics  tell the whole story. A few years ago I and one or two others from our club put a lot of effort into developing new-comers and the only people who stuck with it were people who had caved previously and come back to it. It indicates to me that it is very much restricted to a "special"  ;) group and recruiting people who are not already so inclined is unlikely to work.
'Never argue with a fool, onlookers may not be able to tell the difference.' — Mark Twain

Offline mikem

  • forum hero
  • *****
  • Posts: 4988
  • Mendip Caving Group
Re: BCA member demographics
« Reply #13 on: September 03, 2020, 11:43:38 pm »
British Canoeing membership average is in the 41 to 50 age range, despite having 3% in the 0 to 10 years (presumably cancelled out by similar numbers in 71 to 80) bracket.

One of the BMC factsheets has data from 2003 suggesting the mountaineering figure quoted above was comparable with their membership - 80% were between 19 & 45 years old (with the average being between 30 & 45)!
« Last Edit: September 03, 2020, 11:55:44 pm by mikem »

Offline JoshW

  • junky
  • ****
  • Posts: 824
  • YSS, WSCC, BCA Youth & Development, BCA Group Rep
Re: BCA member demographics
« Reply #14 on: September 04, 2020, 12:09:14 am »

I don't think the BCA has been collecting dates of birth for enough years to become statistically relevant (although someone more smarterer than me may beg to differ). Drawing conclusions over 2/3 years, particularly when it's a known problem that some will dip in and out of BCA membership is not conclusive.



One year's data would be enough to see whether the age structure of cavers was the same as the age structure of the country as a whole. Taking a quick snapshot using ONS data; plus www.statista.com for median; and Badlad's post for the caving figures:

The median age of cavers at 50 is considerably larger than the median age of the population (40) = although one would expect it to be slightly larger because the caving population is truncated at the bottom end.  18% of cavers are over 65 - same as the general population.

But this probably isn't the right question. Caving is an activity requiring a certain level of physical fitness and agility. It might be more relevant to compare the age structure with that of, say, climbers. I can't find BMC age structure. But I did find an age structure for runners (1) which suggests that just under 3% of runners are over 65, and 25% are under 30 compared with 20% of cavers. So this does suggest an older age structure for caving than for running.

You'd need several years data to see whether the problem was getting worse or better.

(1) http://www.neilbaxter.org/2018/11/15/running-demographics-in-detail/

In my opinion a more interesting conclusion with regarding to age is not, are cavers accurately representing the nation, but is the average age (or split of ages) of cavers increasing over a period of time I.e. is the influx of young people keeping up with the  aging of members. Having an average age of 50 now might be 10 years younger than 5 years ago for instance and therefore progress is being made. Alternatively an average age younger than that of the nation but increasing is not a strong sign of longevity. Not to dismiss the idea of the age split of cavers representing the nations split, I think this is something that indicates that caving is accessible for all age groups (potentially).

Trends need to be tracked over time, and so data needs to be taken every year from here on and looked at as the big picture’
All views are my own and not that of the BCA or any clubs for which I'm a member of.

Offline pwhole

  • forum hero
  • *****
  • Posts: 3161
  • TSG, DCA, PDMHS
    • Phil Wolstenholme website
Re: BCA member demographics
« Reply #15 on: September 04, 2020, 01:21:09 am »
I didn't get into caving until relatively late, age-wise, and was definitelyh not attracted to the idea of a caving club when I was a student, as my lifestyle was definitely not congruent with organised activity - though I don't honestly think there was one anyway at what was then Sheffield Polytechnic - now Sheffield Hallam. I do remember a lot of beards at the Fresher's Week exhibition hall and ran away and didn't come back. I was doing an art degree on a different campus so we tended to keep away from that sort of thing. I was certainly interested in caves, but not the idea of doing it as a 'recreation' - though I did have plenty of fun. To be honest I had to be dragged into a club even when I did take it up full-time, though I'm glad I did, as it's enabled me to keep it going almost full-time since, and improved my social life too - I admit it.

Most of the interested queries we've had at the club recently have been of the post-student bracket, so it may not be so much an age issue as we think - maybe it's more a case of stressing the relevance of underground exploration to modern life than specifically targeting the most energetic in the population, who may not have yet developed the patience required to keep it up long-term?

Offline Cap'n Chris

  • forum hero
  • *****
  • Posts: 12458
Re: BCA member demographics
« Reply #16 on: September 04, 2020, 06:58:38 am »
.. BCA needs to represent all cavers and not just those who consider themselves progressive.

History has indicated that this is an impossible fantasy.

Offline mikem

  • forum hero
  • *****
  • Posts: 4988
  • Mendip Caving Group
Re: BCA member demographics
« Reply #17 on: September 04, 2020, 07:21:39 am »
It also needs to be viewed in relation to the total size of the membership, as it's quite a small organisation, the average will be affected by the fact that more diggers (particularly) are carrying on later into life than was the case 20 years ago. If membership is shrinking at the same time as getting older, it's a problem. If it's maintaining numbers then not so much.

From the meeting minutes, I'm not too surprised that DIMs average slightly older than CIMs, as most members come into the BCA through joining a club, whilst older diggers don't necessarily require the backing of a club, they do want the insurance.

Also, what is the split of different age groups on green or orange cards...?
« Last Edit: September 04, 2020, 07:45:27 am by mikem »

Offline kay

  • Not a
  • forum hero
  • *****
  • Posts: 2766
Re: BCA member demographics
« Reply #18 on: September 04, 2020, 07:47:36 am »
- maybe it's more a case of stressing the relevance of underground exploration to modern life

An interesting comment ... what precisely do you mean by this?

Offline nearlywhite

  • obsessive maniac
  • ***
  • Posts: 419
Re: BCA member demographics
« Reply #19 on: September 04, 2020, 08:03:22 am »
It also needs to be viewed in relation to the total size of the membership, as it's quite a small organisation, the average will be affected by the fact that more diggers (particularly) are carrying on later into life than was the case 20 years ago. If membership is shrinking at the same time as getting older, it's a problem. If it's maintaining numbers then not so much.

From the meeting minutes, I'm not too surprised that DIMs average slightly older than CIMs, as most members come into the BCA through joining a club, whilst older diggers don't necessarily require the backing of a club, they do want the insurance.

Also, what is the split of different age groups on green or orange cards...?

Don't know... But it is potentially something we could look into.

The membership stagnating as it gets older would indicate a narrowing of the base of the pyramid. Having large generations in any population can cause issues, batons not being passed, old administrative structures that were built to work with far more people etc. It's not just the BCA, and we need to be more prescient about which areas need shoring up and which need evolution as they become unsustainable. We need to help all those people in caving that keep clubs and huts running, the library, expeditions etc

That's a lot of words for: We need to have a look and data is one way to do that.

If you happen to be interested in this topic please do message me as P&I are always looking for volunteers

Offline mikem

  • forum hero
  • *****
  • Posts: 4988
  • Mendip Caving Group
Re: BCA member demographics
« Reply #20 on: September 04, 2020, 08:29:58 am »
Indeed (to your main paragraph), but if more older cavers are also remaining as social club members nowadays, then they are skewing the statistics, whilst the average age of active cavers "may" be maintaining itself (or even getting younger, so total numbers are also important as well as percentages).
« Last Edit: September 04, 2020, 08:47:12 am by mikem »

Offline Pitlamp

  • forum hero
  • *****
  • Posts: 6216
Re: BCA member demographics
« Reply #21 on: September 04, 2020, 08:35:28 am »
Firstly, thanks to Phil for taking the time to articulate your thoughts in the original post.

But a lot of it paints a rather gloomier picture of BCA than my own experience suggests, as an ordinary caver. I feel BCA serves me very well. You've obviously thought long and hard about the aspects which would benefit from attention but let's not forget all the good things about the Association. It's such a shame that some officers have not found it possible to agree on some things but this does not mean that caving is in a mess. All the usual activities go on as normal; loads of folk enjoy trips in our magnificent caves and new stuff continues to be discovered.

We shouldn't forget that there is much to celebrate about BCA . If we could all be a little bit more "glass half full" people I suspect at least some of the problems may seem less unsurmountable.

I should add that I find it very encouraging that we have such a dynamic person filling this role; thank you Phil for your commitment.

Online PeteHall

  • Global Moderator
  • forum hero
  • *****
  • Posts: 2029
  • ChCC, GSS, SWCC, WCC, WCDG
Re: BCA member demographics
« Reply #22 on: September 04, 2020, 08:38:18 am »
It also needs to be viewed in relation to the total size of the membership, as it's quite a small organisation, the average will be affected by the fact that more diggers (particularly) are carrying on later into life than was the case 20 years ago. If membership is shrinking at the same time as getting older, it's a problem. If it's maintaining numbers then not so much.

I was thinking similar. If people are living longer, staying fitter and continuing caving later, that is a great thing! So an increasing number of older cavers should be celebrated  :beer2:

We just need to make sure we have an influx of younger cavers to accompany this.  :)

Offline mikem

  • forum hero
  • *****
  • Posts: 4988
  • Mendip Caving Group
Re: BCA member demographics
« Reply #23 on: September 04, 2020, 08:50:10 am »
It would be interesting to compare the percentage of new members each year as well, which must be possible, as they are assigned their own membership number. A small total could be skewed by previous members rejoining after a gap, as I'm not sure what controls are in place to reidentify them - especially in case of switch between clubs

Offline JoshW

  • junky
  • ****
  • Posts: 824
  • YSS, WSCC, BCA Youth & Development, BCA Group Rep
Re: BCA member demographics
« Reply #24 on: September 04, 2020, 09:36:52 am »
It also needs to be viewed in relation to the total size of the membership, as it's quite a small organisation, the average will be affected by the fact that more diggers (particularly) are carrying on later into life than was the case 20 years ago. If membership is shrinking at the same time as getting older, it's a problem. If it's maintaining numbers then not so much.

I was thinking similar. If people are living longer, staying fitter and continuing caving later, that is a great thing! So an increasing number of older cavers should be celebrated  :beer2:

We just need to make sure we have an influx of younger cavers to accompany this.  :)

Which comes back to needing to continually be taking this information in and analysing it, it's all about trends  :beer2:

On that note, I think I saw somewhere that the P&I working group are looking for volunteers..
All views are my own and not that of the BCA or any clubs for which I'm a member of.

 

Main Menu

Forum Home Help Search
SimplePortal 2.3.5 © 2008-2012, SimplePortal