Author Topic: Child friendly caving clubs  (Read 2456 times)

Offline Katie

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Child friendly caving clubs
« on: September 06, 2021, 11:27:18 am »
Hi all,
I have been contacted in my role with BCA by a lady who has an 8 year old daughter who is mad about all things underground.
She is looking caving club in the Peak area they can both join to get caving!
They live on the East side of the Peak.
Any caving clubs that currently have a number of children involved or are very child friendly?
Let me have your recommendations please and I will pass them on!

(I have already pointed her at new to caving.com and mentioned commercial caving as a good route to have a go and work out if it is an adventure they want to pursue further)

Offline Jenny P

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Re: Child friendly caving clubs
« Reply #1 on: September 06, 2021, 07:18:31 pm »
It is possible for under 16's to join a caving club but ONLY if their parent or guardian accompanies them on every caving trip.  This means that any club which is willing to take children under 16 caving has to ensure that the parent or guardian of the child is sufficiently competent to accompany a caving trip led by more experienced cavers.  This does create problems for a child whose parents are not interested in caving themselves.  BCA has a Child Protection Officer who can advise further on this.

Note that it is different for Local Authority or commercial outdoor adventure centres which have qualified staff and child protection precautions in place - they can take children caving.  The Peak Instructed Caving Afilliation (PICA) may be able to offer help or advice.

If Katie PM's me I can provide information about a club which may be able to help, given the limitations above.


Offline Katie

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Re: Child friendly caving clubs
« Reply #2 on: September 06, 2021, 09:09:41 pm »
Thanks Jenny, I will pm you!
I have already advised her that if she goes down the caving club route she will need to be happy to cave with her daughter.

Offline JoshW

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Re: Child friendly caving clubs
« Reply #3 on: September 06, 2021, 10:48:44 pm »
HiKatie and Jenny,

I’m currently out and so cannot respond fully, however the information Jenny has posted is just not correct. I will respond in full tomorrow with more accurate information in line with the BCAs safeguarding guidelines.

Thanks
Josh
BCA Youth&Development officer
All views are my own and not that of the BCA or any clubs for which I'm a member of.

Offline Jenny P

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Re: Child friendly caving clubs
« Reply #4 on: September 07, 2021, 12:30:08 am »
If Josh has updated information I would like to see it because that's what my club has been working to and we were under the impression that it complied with the BCXA Safeguarding Guidelines.  I know it's a problem and we are doing our best to ensure that youngsters can go caving safely.

BCA does have a Child Protection Officer so I will also contact him for his take on thsi issue.  Presumably the Safeguarding Guidelines will be on the BCA website?

Offline Jenny P

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Re: Child friendly caving clubs
« Reply #5 on: September 07, 2021, 01:35:28 am »
I have checked the BCA Safeguarding Guidelines and the BCA Good Practice Guidelines, both on the BCA website, and my comments were based on what I would expect to be the most usual club situation.  In other words this is what I would expect from most clubs which do not specifically encourage children to go caving but are happy to take them caving if their parents are also involved.  So my response was aimed at the case Katie raised: "... looking [for a] caving club in the Peak area they can both join to get caving ...".  So I agree it isn't strictly true to say that clubs could take children caving "ONLY" if they were accompanied by a parent or giuardian.

Children may also be involved in caving if they are part of a youth-based organisation, such as Scouts, where they are not expected to be accompanied by parents.  In addition there are a number of Local Authority and independent Activity Centres which take children caving.  However, in cases like this there is reliance on the organisers to take special precautions and to vet their personnel in a way which you would not expect an ordinary caving club to do. 

There are some caving clubs which specialise in taking young people caving unaccompanied by a parent or guardian but these clubs are not common and I don't know of one in the Peak area.  If Josh does know of a club like this in the Peak it would be useful to know about it.

Offline JoshW

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Re: Child friendly caving clubs
« Reply #6 on: September 07, 2021, 11:55:31 am »
Hi Jenny,

The BCA guidelines state that there is no limit to an age that somebody can join a caving club and join trips.

One possibility as you've stated (and are possibly correct is the most common way), is that parents have to join and go along on trips. However your initial post stated

Quote
It is possible for under 16's to join a caving club but ONLY if their parent or guardian accompanies them on every caving trip

and this just isn't true.

Clubs are able to allow young people (under 18s - not sure where the under 16s thing has come from) to join the club and come on club trips, with the following guidance:
1) clubs have a youth officer
2) anyone who will be left in charge of the young person will have undergone a DBS check. BCA can arrange for this to be done free of charge.
3) clubs should vet the club trip leaders to ensure that they are happy that the person leading the trips: is suitably experienced and able to be able to lead trips, will represent the club appropriately and has the right personality to act as an introducer to caving for young people.
4) the rest of the BCA good practice & safeguarding guidelines are followed

It's a piece of work I need to do, but as a volunteer I've been struggling to get round to, but I'd like to do a survey of clubs to work out which clubs are set up in the most open way for young people, and then target clubs which are closed to young people to encourage them (for not only caving's interests but for the good of the club) to open up.

I don't know if there are any clubs in the peak who are set up in the above manner, hence why I didn't respond in the first place. The only reason I've stepped in here is to ensure that there isn't false information floating about that directly conflicts information from the BCA safeguarding officer.

If any clubs see this who'd like to discuss further their options for opening up to young people my email is always open youth@british-caving.org.uk, and if I can't answer your question, I'll reach out to our safeguarding officer to get the response that you need.

Alternatively I'm contactable on here and Facebook for any quick queries.
All views are my own and not that of the BCA or any clubs for which I'm a member of.

Offline Badlad

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Re: Child friendly caving clubs
« Reply #7 on: September 07, 2021, 05:56:46 pm »
I wish the kids and family mentioned in the OP every success in finding a club which suits their needs.

When you consider the bigger picture of British Caving it doesn't take long to realise there is a big disconnect between the under and over eighteens.  Some very basic research i did a few years ago suggested that in the north alone some 50-70,000 individuals went on a caving trip each year.  The vast majority of these were under eighteen years olds on school trips, outdoor activity centre trips or cadets.  If any of these, heaven forbid, should want to take caving further the options are quite limited and in most cases the individual will get distracted by other exciting activities etc.

I was minded of youngsters that I know who have bottomed Juniper Gulf at fourteen and the Berger at sixteen - but these have had caving parents to encourage them.  What of those who may have had the same interest if the right encouragement had been there.  To me something was needed on a national basis which filled the gap between an under eighteen interest and where most adults can cave  -either when they go to uni or with a club.  Let's face it the majority of club are only set up to take adults. 

This is where the idea of an adventure academy came from.  it was a concept I posed to Yorkshire Dales Guides and BCA and a name which Steph came up with which was spot on.  In essence a club run by professionals with all the right safeguarding checks to encourage minors up to an age they become adult.  Supported by clubs - who should have a vested interest in recruitment - and part funded by national/regional organisations.  The trials with Yorkshire Dales Guides has been hindered by covid of course.  With support from Josh and BCA funding this is a model which could and should be repeated across the regions.  I really hope it does as it would be perfect for the family in the OP.

Offline Cap'n Chris

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Re: Child friendly caving clubs
« Reply #8 on: September 07, 2021, 06:17:18 pm »
In addition to Badlad's comments I'd like to add that my considered views mulled from a couple of decades (or more) of caving here and abroad lead me to the belief that British caving is a long established and entrenched pub culture - and that's putting it mildly! - (and possibly even borderline sex-cult-like which attractive younger women currently enter at their own risk [and males too, historically, so I believe was the case] but CHECC event photos do kinda support such a view and the events even seem to celebrate such shenanighans, and words are being chosen cautiously), and one which was/is emphatically NOT suitable for under 18s; whereas European caving is the polar opposite. See:



Put another way... British Club Caving is an anachronistic basket case of C20th drunken, debauched, misogynistic smutty behaviour which is celebrated for "being traditional" yet I'd NEVER recommend any involvement in it to anyone under 18 or to anyone over 18, either. Through work I oversee thousands of people getting into caving each year and don't mention BCA/club caving to them for this reason. The best way for them to get further progression in caving techniques is undoubtedly to engage professional services of an instructor on a bespoke basis.

Delete if you think this has no bearing on current reality but keep it if you think it's not far off a version of some kind of truth.
« Last Edit: September 07, 2021, 08:15:48 pm by MarkS, Reason: approval of post is due to it not contravening guidelines and nothing to do with the last sentence. »

Offline Pitlamp

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Re: Child friendly caving clubs
« Reply #9 on: September 07, 2021, 08:45:43 pm »
If you are introducing people to caving as a job and you fail even to mention club caving, are you really doing your job properly? Club caving is a major part of caving and will remain so. If you pretend it doesn't exist you're failing your clients.

I don't know what clubs you're a member of but none of the ones I'm associated with is anything like the picture you paint above.

I think you should reconsider.

Online Ian Adams

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Re: Child friendly caving clubs
« Reply #10 on: September 07, 2021, 10:00:31 pm »
... British Club Caving is an anachronistic basket case of C20th drunken, debauched, misogynistic smutty behaviour which is celebrated for "being traditional" yet I'd NEVER recommend any involvement in it to anyone under 18 or to anyone over 18, either.


Exceptional.




The best way for them to get further progression in caving techniques is undoubtedly to engage professional services of an instructor on a bespoke basis. 


Exceptional.
A door, once opened, may be stepped through in either direction.

Online PeteHall

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Re: Child friendly caving clubs
« Reply #11 on: September 07, 2021, 10:32:54 pm »
... British Club Caving is an anachronistic basket case of C20th drunken, debauched, misogynistic smutty behaviour which is celebrated for "being traditional" 
I can think of one caving club, where this description might be fitting (not that I've been in there for nearly 10 years, so it may well have changed), but I'd say you are way behind the times Chris. Such behaviour is certainly not prevalent in any of the five clubs that I'm a member of, or have visited in the last decade.

Quote
CHECC event photos do kinda support such a view

CHECC - Council of Higher Education Caving Clubs.

I don't think university students, drinking too much and "partying hard" is unique to caving, nor is it in any way representative of the wider caving community.

Offline Jenny P

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Re: Child friendly caving clubs
« Reply #12 on: September 07, 2021, 11:02:05 pm »
If you are introducing people to caving as a job and you fail even to mention club caving, are you really doing your job properly? Club caving is a major part of caving and will remain so. If you pretend it doesn't exist you're failing your clients.

I don't know what clubs you're a member of but none of the ones I'm associated with is anything like the picture you paint above.

I think you should reconsider.

I think many caving clubs used to be like this and really were unfriendly places if you weren't into heavy drinking or stupidly "laddish" behaviour.  Thankfully I find from my own observations that most clubs have long since grown out of this and many of them do want to encourage children to go caving.  My own club regularly receives enquiries from youngsters passed on from local Outdoor Pursuits Organisations who have recommended us as a club to contact.

The easiest way to arrange for children to go caving for most clubs will be to have their parents caving with the children and in fact many caving parents do introduce their children to caving via their own club.  It is the "easiest" because it avoids the complications of club members having to have suitable child protection qualifications when they joined a club to go caving, not to specialise in looking after young people.  (It's also easier for the child to get to the club or the cave if a parent provides the transport because they too are going caving.)  If the club already has people with suitable qualifications, such as teachers, youth leaders, etc. that does help to widen the the number of young people they can help.

There is excellent guidance in the 3 BCA documents available from the website which make things clear:
a)  the BCA Safeguarding Policy;
b)  the BCA Safeguarding Guidelines for Clubs;
c)  the BCA Good Practice Guidelines.

We have come a long way since a former BCA Legal & Insurance Officer stated publicly in 2009 that it was "not BCA policy to encourage children to go caving" ! 

I quite like the idea of Badlad's "In essence a club run by professionals with all the right safeguarding checks to encourage minors up to an age they become adult.  Supported by clubs - who should have a vested interest in recruitment - and part funded by national/regional organisations."  That would be the answer to the dilemma of clubs not themselves having suitably qualified people to deal with minors but it would mean the young person having to change to another club when they become adult - not quite sure how that would play out.  It will be really interesting to see if the Yorkshire version of this idea is able to get off the ground and to see how it works out.  It it works well it could well be a pattern for other regions.

Offline JoshW

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Re: Child friendly caving clubs
« Reply #13 on: September 08, 2021, 12:11:05 am »
If you are introducing people to caving as a job and you fail even to mention club caving, are you really doing your job properly? Club caving is a major part of caving and will remain so. If you pretend it doesn't exist you're failing your clients.

I don't know what clubs you're a member of but none of the ones I'm associated with is anything like the picture you paint above.

I think you should reconsider.

I'm currently undertaking an apprenticeship as an outdoor activity instructor. As part of this I am completing an NVQ Level 3. The final assessment has certain criteria, of which one is 'signposting'. As part of a session, any outdoors instructor needs to signpost where and how participants can continue to do the activity if they so wish. This obviously would include returning to the same centre for further instructed sessions or going to other similar centres for instructed sessions, but most importantly should include information about how to pick the activity (or similar) up as a hobby (i.e. not commercial).

There are plenty of outdoors instructors who are able to see the bigger picture about this and the benefits it offers, it seems bizarre that Chris would have such a (frankly unfounded) vendetta against caving clubs that he thinks he wouldn't need to. Perhaps it's just pure selfishness and greed, and really doesn't help disprove the theory that some might hold about commercial cavers (professional or otherwise), that they're only going to look out for themselves. I know plenty of CIC/LCMLA holders who are not like this, but as with many things, it appears the vocal minority are tarnishing the reputation of the majority.

If this comes across as grumpy, it really is supposed to. I'm extremely unhappy at the 'shade' being thrown in CHECC's direction, who throughout this pandemic have organised themselves spectacularly, arranging events and online training far in excess of many other organisations I've seen. CHECC are at a point where, I believe, they've never had so much respect from the wider caving community, and I will fight tooth and nail to defend their reputation, from people who should know better. Chris, I'd encourage you to come along to the next CHECC training events that are being organised, and hopefully we can change your opinion - please feel free to reach out to me and I can let you know where and when such events are being held.

This has obviously detoured quite significantly from Katie's original question. I'm inclined to believe that there possibly aren't any Peak based clubs that have the option for young people to join on their own. If there are any Peak clubs reading this who do have this option, it would be great to hear from you.
All views are my own and not that of the BCA or any clubs for which I'm a member of.

Offline Fulk

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Re: Child friendly caving clubs
« Reply #14 on: September 08, 2021, 09:26:35 am »
Well, I started caving ages ago – back in the 1960s – with the BPC, and the picture that Cap’n Chris paints is totally at odds with my experience of caving back then, let alone now. For what it’s worth, and based on my experience, the captain is talking complete f******g bollocks.

Offline Mrs Trellis

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Re: Child friendly caving clubs
« Reply #15 on: September 08, 2021, 10:59:38 am »
On topic - I suggest that Katie refers her friend to the Masson Caving Group which fits both geographically and the level of skill required in some of their usual caves/mines may be suitable for youngsters. I have no idea whether they are "child friendly" but an enqiury may bring results.

Fwiw I too started caving the early 1960's and have experienced Eldon stomps, Belfry sofa rugby, the Castleton pub run, Three Stags pissups etc. etc. It seems to me that back in the day clubs who didn't have their own premises met in pubs - and some still do. Caving and Rugby Union share some traits of cojones being valued with success sometimes coming with bravery, pain and suffering. Imho RU boozing is now much less with everyone being more concerned with match fitness even at lower levels.
« Last Edit: September 08, 2021, 11:08:57 am by Mrs Trellis »
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Offline Ian Ball

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Re: Child friendly caving clubs
« Reply #16 on: September 08, 2021, 11:25:09 am »
And that beer is no longer twuppence a half

Offline Mrs Trellis

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Re: Child friendly caving clubs
« Reply #17 on: September 08, 2021, 11:53:37 am »
....and that drink driving might cost you your licence - or worse.
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Offline badger

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Re: Child friendly caving clubs
« Reply #18 on: September 08, 2021, 11:59:04 am »
I think Pete hall has summed up over 18's quite well. In fact you could say 18- 30 holidays were/are the worst proponents of partying to excess. so definitely not unique. As a whole I would say caving & checc are getting there act together better than they ever have, we just need to get the under 18's sorted.
Unfortunately there is still with many older cavers the mentality that caving is not for minors, and we should look to europe to see how their models work.

Offline Fjell

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Re: Child friendly caving clubs
« Reply #19 on: September 08, 2021, 12:03:37 pm »
Well, I started caving ages ago – back in the 1960s – with the BPC, and the picture that Cap’n Chris paints is totally at odds with my experience of caving back then, let alone now. For what it’s worth, and based on my experience, the captain is talking complete f******g bollocks.

It would be a pretty close description for the 1980’s at the BPC from experience, but I take comfort that this cannot possibly still be the case.

The attitude to children climbing and caving in places like France is historically very very different to the UK, but these days you see climbing clubs for children at climbing walls and our local rugby club has hundreds of children and takes it very seriously as a primary role for the club.

The teachers at out nearest school have taken 15 year olds on trips like Swinsto, County and Lost Johns. You can see the videos on Youtube. I have taken my kids on those trips (although I baulk at Battleaxe).

The legal risk/reality in the UK is such that non-instructors taking non-relatives under 16’s without their parents is not something I would do personally. You prob need DBS’s for starters.

Offline nearlywhite

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Re: Child friendly caving clubs
« Reply #20 on: September 08, 2021, 12:32:00 pm »
You prob need DBS’s for starters.

Which you can get for free via the BCA if it's for voluntary work    ;D

Online PeteHall

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Re: Child friendly caving clubs
« Reply #21 on: September 08, 2021, 12:44:09 pm »
Unfortunately there is still with many older cavers the mentality that caving is not for minors

My Grandmother (now in her late 80's) was caving at 15 (along with her piers), so perhaps there is a lost generation in between?

Offline Jenny P

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Re: Child friendly caving clubs
« Reply #22 on: September 08, 2021, 12:47:00 pm »
You prob need DBS’s for starters.

Which you can get for free via the BCA if it's for voluntary work    ;D

Probably not a lot of cavers know this or more would take advantage of it - so it's good that this is being highlighted. 

There are a number of clubs in Derbyshire, my own Orpheus C.C. is one, which are keen to encourage young people but don't currently have anyone with a DBS, so rely on parents being involved in order to comply with the BCA Safeguarding Guidelines for Clubs.  Realistically, it is also quite difficult for a young person without their own transport to get to caving meets unless they have a parent who is prepared to drive them there.  And the BCA Good Practice Guidelines do suggest that that you "Avoid taking children and vulnerable adults alone on car journeys".

Online Ian Adams

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Re: Child friendly caving clubs
« Reply #23 on: September 08, 2021, 01:28:46 pm »
Unfortunately there is still with many older cavers the mentality that caving is not for minors …



The legal risk/reality in the UK is such that non-instructors taking non-relatives under 16’s without their parents is not something I would do personally.



Fjell has it. Until and unless the legal risk to cavers/caving clubs is removed, some folk are always going to shy away from minors. We are (mostly) all volunteers and like to cave as a hobby. We don’t make money and we don’t want hassle. Whilst red-tape, additional risk and liability exists, some cavers will stay away from minors.
« Last Edit: September 08, 2021, 01:37:59 pm by Ian Adams »
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Offline Fjell

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Re: Child friendly caving clubs
« Reply #24 on: September 08, 2021, 02:19:59 pm »
The only person in my family who has ever been rescued was one of my kids at the age of 8 by CRO. I didn't even know they had gone until they were there. It was a day like today, but got slightly damper all of a sudden like as sometimes happens round here. I would not have gone there that day. The leader of that trip looked slightly green when I saw them, and I'm not in the least surprised.

The problem with caving (certainly in the Dales) is it is a water sport, and that adds significant risk of all sorts of things happening. If you stick to dry caves that don't fall down it doesn't matter. If you don't do SRT or ladders of more than 20 foot it will be even safer.

Luckily we have two and a spare to cover this sort of thing.

 

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