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Where are the young(ish) people hiding?

cavetroll

New member
I've been caving in Yorkshire for a few years now having graduated in 2015. I've so far failed to find any quantity of young people. I have, of course, enjoyed the company of the more chronologically-advanced members of my current club, but I'm wondering if anyone can point me in the direction of a club that has a strong contingent of enthusiastic youth?

My current strategy is simply to wait another 5 years until I sit firmly in the middle aged category and not to worry about it too much.. Alternatives welcome.
 

Alex

Well-known member
It's probably indicative of caving as a dying medium with most people being too scared to take it up, or not, hopefully not!
 

JoshW

Active member
It's probably indicative of caving as a dying medium with most people being too scared to take it up, or not, hopefully not!
definitely not, University clubs, guided by CHECC, are absolutely flying at the moment. With 'adult' clubs with good relationships with university clubs feeling the benefit of that good relationship
 

pwhole

Well-known member
We've got a fair few at the TSG - currently 18 members aged 30 or younger from a membership of 93, though statistically more caving is done by the younger members too. One thing to consider is that a larger well-established club will almost by definition have a majority of 'older' members, simply because they usually have more time, money, patience and commitment to put into the club, the building and its structures - and also getting a social life. Younger people are (understandably) less likely to want to commit to such things, and so may not congregate at clubs as much. But they probably will later, once the above conditions have been fulfilled. I suspect for the majority of 'young adults' who give up or restrict their caving activities, it's because they have kids.
 

mikem

Well-known member
"21% of the overall population of England and Wales is aged under 18 years, 29% is aged 18 to 39 years"

With only about 6000 members of BCA & not many under 18s, that's still only c.2000 between 18 & 39, which is 0.003% of the total population
 

Badlad

Administrator
Staff member
The BCA stats over the three years I was involved showed only 20% were under 30, whilst 27% were over 60. However, there are still young people about somewhere :)
 

mikem

Well-known member
39 is the average age of UK population. Over 60s make up 28% of the adults, so aren't actually over represented, despite what many members think.
 

Rob

Well-known member
At 37 i recently realised i was probably no longer a youngster when after 2 years digging in Cussey Pot i was the oldest person to have been beyond the entrance squeezes. As far as i'm aware only one person older than me has been to the bottom. Without the "youngsters" (one only just 18 at the time) it would not have become the cave that it is now. (y)
 

Cavematt

Active member
I guess it all depends on how generous you are with the definition of ‘young’ but I am assuming you mean people under about 30-35?

As Badlad has pointed out, NPC has seen a substantial influx of younger members in the last few years, many (but not all) originating from York University, Imperial College and Manchester. In fact, a significant number of the Committee would fall under the ‘young’ category including our chair, social secretary, meets secretary, tackle master, and a couple of our ordinary members too.

There is usually a fairly good balance of ages at our members' weekends these days (first weekend of each month), with a strong contingent of younger cavers, plus those in 40s, 50s, 60s and 70s.

We have just returned from our annual spring holiday in France, attended by about 30 people including at least eight members under 30 that I can think of.

In reality, I don’t think I have ever felt more positive for the future of NPC and other clubs.

I think other clubs around the Dales have seen a similar influx lately. I know the Craven did a top notch job a few years ago at getting themselves out there on social media and opening up their cottage to visiting clubs, and as a result have seen lots of younger members.

I guess if you are looking for a club where the balance is tipped more towards younger cavers (rather than a mix of all ages), I can't think of any that fulfil this other than the university clubs.
 

A_Northerner

Active member
In the past 5-or-so years my "generation" of student cavers graduated and we've gone into separate Dales clubs, I personally know about 5-10 young people who have gone into each of the NPC, BPC, and RRCPC, and there's been a fair few go into the TSG in the past few years as well.

My own "grown-up" club (I.E. Non-student) - the BPC - has a healthy young cohort, I think at least 50% of the committee is now under 35 but I'm happy to be corrected on that. As a young person who quite regularly hangs around Dales huts I have no idea why you think there's a dearth of young people. There's even a load of young cave divers these days!
 

afraidofthedank

New member
now being in my mid-30s, i'm probably not "young" in the classic sense - but a lot of the people I've caved with over the past few years have been in their early 20s to 30s. In any of the more popular caves in Yorkshire (or anywhere else) on a weekend you're almost definitely going to bump into a young-ish group on their way somewhere. Student clubs or otherwise, there always seem to be plenty about.

It might just be the caves you frequent, cavetroll! Caving is notoriously cliquey though, and clubs to need to make an effort to be a welcoming environment for younger or less experienced cavers. Thankfully most seem to have realised this and I think we're a long way off caving dying out due to lack of uptake among younger generations. I'd probably imagine that there are more active cavers in the UK now than ever before.
 

paul

Moderator
I'd probably imagine that there are more active cavers in the UK now than ever before.

We've had that discussion a few time before on UKCaving. I don't have numbers of cavers over the past few decades, but going by simple observation it seems to me to be the opposite.
When I started caving in the late 1970s and early 1980s there would be a queue in the mornings outside The Fountain cafe in Ingleton for breakfast, Bernies (then just a cafe with a shop in between it and Inglesport, which had no cafe then) further along the road would be full as well. The pubs would be very busy in the evenings. It was quite common for example to find several cars parked in all the laybys in Kingsdale whereas in the past few years we've seen only a few cars around or even had the whole valley, as far as Yordas anyway, to ourselves.
Just my observations anyway.
 

afraidofthedank

New member
We've had that discussion a few time before on UKCaving. I don't have numbers of cavers over the past few decades, but going by simple observation it seems to me to be the opposite.
When I started caving in the late 1970s and early 1980s there would be a queue in the mornings outside The Fountain cafe in Ingleton for breakfast, Bernies (then just a cafe with a shop in between it and Inglesport, which had no cafe then) further along the road would be full as well. The pubs would be very busy in the evenings. It was quite common for example to find several cars parked in all the laybys in Kingsdale whereas in the past few years we've seen only a few cars around or even had the whole valley, as far as Yordas anyway, to ourselves.
Just my observations anyway.
as a young'un I don't have the personal experience to compare, it was purely a guess based largely on population rise over time and the decent(ish) presence caving has on social media these days. One metric that might be useful is the number of caving clubs over time?
I suppose there are a lot more accessible caves these days owing to discoveries and surveys over the years, and with information so easy to find online, cavers are probably a lot more geographically distributed these days. Again, just me guessing!
 

Ian Ball

Well-known member
Does your own age sway your perception of volume of young cavers? Probably loads of youngsters about if your 70, less so if your 30.
 
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