Author Topic: Students tell the BCA how to attract new, more diverse adherents to our sport  (Read 2417 times)

Offline NewStuff

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You *have* to join a club you *have* to have insurance.

Largely gone here (N.Wales) now, and from what I read/hear, other places are doing a similar thing. We just go out and do what we want. There is some common sense needed about some of the more sensitive places, but that's word of mouth rather than "You will do it our way!".

A lot of the old boys that just refuse to change are becoming less and less relevant as time goes on.

Just take your mates caving, you don't *need* a club if you don't want one. Unless you're on Mendip, then you're probably shit out of luck.
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Offline Pitlamp

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In the Dales at least, it's very different from the picture you paint above, NewStuff. The two clubs I belong to here are thriving. One has junior membership and the other encourages younger cavers in all sorts of other ways. Both clubs recognise that youngsters are the lifeblood of our community.

It could be an oversimplification but I get the impression you're not very keen on clubs. Maybe you've been unfortunate in those you've been associated with in the past?

I try to look at it this way; you can do all the things you want to, whether a member or outside of a club. But you get so much more by being in one.


Offline nearlywhite

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...furthermore BCA's own Youth and Development had hitherto appeared to be focused on CHECC (which is adult, 18+, by definition) although I understand there are very significant good moves being made with regard to under 18s;

Unsurprisingly I disagree with you again on this topic. CHECC isn't 18+ by definition, if it was we'd all have fewer headaches. However I believe the reason it may seem like there has been more of a focus on CHECC related issues is largely down to engagement - they're really easy to work with so progress is made faster. It's been a lot harder to make headway with Scout type stuff because the bureaucracy is a lot more intransigent and there's more safeguarding to be done. There are also fewer volunteers with as much time.

The reason we have one Youth and Development Group is that benefit to one of the components tends to be of benefit to the others and they share similar problems. An FSC caver that becomes a scout leader and runs a university club is not atypical. What I have really wanted to do is engage the membership of normal clubs with an information campaign about the actual legalities of taking children caving but we had to wait on first the safeguarding policy and secondly on the legality of consent. We did make BCA membership free for under 18s as this was restricting the number of trips that they could be taken on before having to pay to be members, so we do focus on all the aspects. We're actually in a good place to support projects and clubs now - we just need engagement.

I've really enjoyed this thread so far, so please do comment and get in touch. I'm sure the rest of Y&D are reading too.

Offline NewStuff

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In the Dales at least, it's very different from the picture you paint above, NewStuff. The two clubs I belong to here are thriving. One has junior membership and the other encourages younger cavers in all sorts of other ways. Both clubs recognise that youngsters are the lifeblood of our community.

It could be an oversimplification but I get the impression you're not very keen on clubs. Maybe you've been unfortunate in those you've been associated with in the past?

I try to look at it this way; you can do all the things you want to, whether a member or outside of a club. But you get so much more by being in one.

I don't have an issue with all clubs, I actually formed one. Just the ones that flat refuse to modernise and move with the times. Funny handshake, old boys network and all that. Insistence you join *that* club before you're allowed in *their* holes. They do exist, and I get the impression that in some places, they're the norm. I also have issue with those that insist that joing a club is a mandatory prerequisite to any caving at all, which is a surprisingly common attitude. Thankfully, those particular types of club are dwindling and becoming less relevant. I understand that other clubs without attitudes like that are doing far better.

I caved/explored without club or insurance quite some time. The sole club I was in (UCET) before helping form this one (Deep Dark Dirty Wet Holes), was just fine, cracking bunch of people. However, I'm known, quite rightly, for being a gobby type I'm quite prone to telling other clubs or individuals being silly to "feck off" or other, rather less polite phrases, and go right ahead with what I was going to do anyway. I didn't want that rubbing off on the good reputation of UCET, so I left. We're still on good terms, but I'm not a member. There are a few like me around here, so we got together and formed the least clublike club you could get away with. I have to stress that at no point did, nor would they, ask me to leave or not renew my membership. It was soley my decision.

I imagine DDDWH's constitution made a few people giggle or snort coffee. We've also dropped the BCA, as we want no association with a body that panders to the wishes of a minority. We accept it's changing, and that there are some sterling efforts to help it do so, Tim Allen and David Rose being notable. However, we feel there is still a ways to go. We will not be members again until it is sorted. Once the few individuals and clubs that were deliberatly obstructive are sorted out, we'll happily join again, as we've said all along.

We do take a fair few noobs out, despite not being the "type" of club to cater for it. We do try to nudge them UCET's way for a gentler introduction to the underground, rather than straight into a dig or a stomp round a slate mine with dodgy ceilings. We also make it very clear that it's entirely at their risk, and we are not in any way, shape or form, insured for anything at all. If someone is still game, we take them out, see what they make of it, and us. Some are just as daft and opiniated as us, and so continue to explore with us. Some don't like it at all, expecting showcave type stuff is common, and I think I may have sucessfully nudged a few into other clubs. Several of our members are teenagers, or where when they joined.

Hope that helps clear up my views on clubs. Soem are excellent, some are awful, and a lot are somewhere inbetween.
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Offline Pitlamp

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Thanks NewStuff; that goes quite some way to explaining.

I do think things are different here in the Dales though (and also in the Peak District, where I've caved a lot too).

Between me and you, I've always been aware of how lucky I am to have started caving when things were far simpler for youngsters. The circumstances of my own caving initiation made me (and the mates I caved with early on) very independent and self reliant, in a way that must be more difficult these days. But despite this, I really enjoy being a member of the various clubs I'm in.