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Where are the young(ish) people hiding?

Ian Ball

Well-known member
And in terms of how to describe an non-student club so as not to confuse, I don't know other than the slightly odd non-student.
 

snebbit

Active member
I suppose times are hard and not everyone wants to fork out for an expensive cooked breakfast and £5+ pints afterwards (especially after petrol costs for the trip) which could account for less busy scenes at the cafes and pubs misleadingly making it look like there's less of a caving scene. We're more likely to have a bottle or a tinny of beer at the cars after our trip than go to the pub. Also e-commerce means there's often little point going to buy gear in brick and mortar shops (I usually order from Inglesport online or Starless River rather than go into the shop). Say what you like about not supporting local businesses but...times be hard in Tory Britain

I don't have the hindsight of what it were like back in t'day to compare with though, so I'm not trying to make any point in particular
 

sjt

New member
A lot of younger people getting into the sport now don't automatically become club cavers, especially if they don't go down the uni route. Many will start out exploring other sites eg abandoned industrial stuff, which then leads to mine exploring &/or caving. Many exploring groups exist on social media, where location and access information is shared with likeminded people.
Where open access exists, people then use these sites without ever registering as 'cavers'.
That said, quite a few people I know who fall into this category are BCA Dims for insurance or access purposes, so would be interested to see how numbers reflect that.
 

rcfindlay

New member
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Plenty young cavers at the NPC this weekend. TSG, MUSC and NPC all being brought together by the classic squeeze machine
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Andrew N

Active member
I'm running 3 trips in the next two weeks - all attendees are under 30 and most are under 25. It's not all the same people, either. Student caving is alive and well at the student club I'm in. Plenty of interest - we can't seem to get enough trips running for everyone who'd like to go!
 

Speleotron

Member
Lots of people say caving is dyingor thriving but it must be hard to actually know. Even if you got stats from clubs it wouldn't say much. I know a few people from the dales who went caving for years without really knowing formal clubs existed. I bet there could be a lot of ghost cavers out there.
 

caving_fox

Active member
I must be middle aged :( With one club I'm often the oldest person on the trip. With the other I've been the youngest (once by a memorable decade+ !) although the latter does have a younger uptake now.
 

LarryFatcat

Active 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.
Peak Caving Club's 89 members have an average age of 36- we have around 7 meets days per month
 

nearlywhite

Active member
That said, quite a few people I know who fall into this category are BCA Dims for insurance or access purposes, so would be interested to see how numbers reflect that.

DIMs are only 10% of the total membership and skew slightly older and more male as a population. It was in my demographics report from February 2021


I don't think it disagrees with your assessment, the huge slice of student caving is what you are comparing it to in the CIMs category, and students and members of student clubs (surprisingly hard to define) comprise roughly about 1/7th of the membership.

With regards to past decades numbers - in '72 there was a record showing 17000 cavers, which is markedly higher than the 6-7000 we have as BCA members now. But you're not comparing like with like etc. I'm working on an article about it but it's proving to be a b*gger and will likely be a drier read than my demographics report!
 
Surely age doesn't matter. If individuals are keen and fit and enjoy being underground then why not cave with them. A lot can be gained from caving with people of a mixed age range.
 

mikem

Well-known member
nearlywhite - it would be interesting to know how many people are members of multiple clubs, as that would presumably be more comparable with the 17,000 quoted
 

mikem

Well-known member
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 found this interesting report on numbers of cavers & clubs (even the "ghosts") in Quarrying in Mendip (1971) by Somerset county council (but written by cavers - N.B. many people were definitely in multiple clubs by 1970 - some were just digging teams - the number with huts didn't change nearly as much, although in 1950 hardly any had their own):
 

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nearlywhite

Active member
nearlywhite - it would be interesting to know how many people are members of multiple clubs, as that would presumably be more comparable with the 17,000 quoted
I'll definitely try taking that into account - I wonder if it's more or less these days, I suspect with the nationalisation of caving this may be the case but then you may have had fewer single club cavers in the past...

I'm not sure we have data for that now let alone then!
 
The 17000 quoted does sound like a total ball park guess...someone has pulled that out of their backside I think.
Looking at the age pyramid,you could infer that there was a period with much more growth than any other, this would be represented by those in the 50-65 age bracket. Other age groups are broadly comparable. To me, this suggests that while there was a golden period where the caving population grew rapidly (probably in the 70s), growth in most of the other years remained at a reasonable level.

I agree with a lot of the sentiments re ghost cavers, people not joining clubs, not being BCA members, etc. I caved for a few years without being a club or BCA member and I know a few people who are still in that situation, generally by choice (but also some clubs are a bit expensive).
 
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