Author Topic: beurocracy and exclusivity in the caving community  (Read 4333 times)

Offline Keris82

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beurocracy and exclusivity in the caving community
« on: March 27, 2019, 04:53:12 pm »
I'm probably going to cause some controversy with these comments but it saddens me that it exists in this community  :down:

I have noticed that there seems to be so much beurocracy and exclusivity between clubs. There should be more collaboration and encouragement to join several clubs and networking should be encouraged. And we should encourage younger people to join. If they continue in this old fashioned manner the sport could be all but lost in 10 years  would be very sad as caving is a dying sport.

I understand that some clubs want to restrict access for the sake of conservation which is fine. But why not welcome members from other clubs to join trips? Why aren't there more reciprocal agreements to stay at other clubs around the country?  :-\

I'm not pointing fingers or blaming anyone in particular. I just want to provoke some thought around the subject.

Offline blackshiver

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Re: beurocracy and exclusivity in the caving community
« Reply #1 on: March 27, 2019, 05:34:49 pm »
I have seen many changes in caving since 1974. There have been post SRT driven peaks and education driven (legal influenced) declines.
But quite frankly I think Caving at this point in time is at a high point.
Witness the explosion in exploration, university clubs coming back into the scene and the excellent Eurospeleo UK. The recent sell out of the Northern Explorers Forum is also case in point.
I'll also cite York Caving Club and its relationship with the NPC / YUCPC (and Imperial) as a fantastic example with trips all over the country, healthy relationships with other clubs, use of many caving clubs huts over booked weekends and a mixture of youngsters + oldies having great fun both above and below ground. This makes a very pleasant change from the era (late 80's) where myself and another guy were quietly ticking off SRT trips alone with little involvement in the wider caving community.
Just my opinion - hopefully positive.
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Offline droid

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Re: beurocracy and exclusivity in the caving community
« Reply #2 on: March 27, 2019, 06:00:17 pm »
Generalising from a specific experience, blackshiver.

My recollections of the mid-late 80's (which include YUPCP) are very different. YUCPC and other clubs were very welcoming even then.


But there was a lot less national/regional beurocracy.
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Offline Pitlamp

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Re: beurocracy and exclusivity in the caving community
« Reply #3 on: March 27, 2019, 06:04:48 pm »
I'm with Blackshiver on this; I think you're wrong Keris82 - certainly as far as the north of England is concerned.

He mentions the close association between the NPC and the York folk - but this sort of thing has always been the case (e.g. the NPC has also had excellent relations with Imperial College, Cambridge Uni, Coventry Uni, Nottingham Uni - and several others, over several decades. Only this weekend just gone I was chatting with some students from Newcastle Uni staying at the NPC and they confirmed they'd felt very welcome.

The CPC and BPC have a joint meet on their meets lists each year. In fact folk from different clubs routinely cave with each other, without even thinking about it. It's the norm.

So I'm perplexed by your post Keris. Out of interest, which area do you mainly cave in?

Offline Keris82

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Re: beurocracy and exclusivity in the caving community
« Reply #4 on: March 27, 2019, 06:22:00 pm »
I'm glad to see some positive comments on the subject. It might just be my perspective but I'm just going by my own observations. I mainly cave down saaf where I have seen a lot of beurocracy.

Offline Keris82

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Re: beurocracy and exclusivity in the caving community
« Reply #5 on: March 27, 2019, 06:29:20 pm »
I just want to make clear that this isn't aimed at anyone in particular and not my club. I love my club! I have experienced difficulties gaining access to some caves down south.

Offline Pitlamp

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Re: beurocracy and exclusivity in the caving community
« Reply #6 on: March 27, 2019, 06:46:23 pm »
Thanks Keris - I'm less familiar with how things happen down south. All I  can say is my experience of Mendip cavers is they're genuine folk and always very welcoming to me at least.

If you've experienced a disproportionate amount of difficulty with access in the south, maybe make contact with the access controlling body directly, to see what can be done. Just be aware though that they'll be volunteers - and trying to do their best against constraints which you may not be aware of. Best of luck!   :thumbsup:

Offline Dave Tyson

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Re: beurocracy and exclusivity in the caving community
« Reply #7 on: March 27, 2019, 06:59:13 pm »
North Wales is one caving area where there have been problems with information flow. In the
past various clubs have done a lot of exploration, but kept the information and surveys strictly
for their membership and this still seems to be the case.

Cris Ebbs site 'Caves of North Wales' provides useful information. UCET also have a knowledge bank
with more info, but finding surveys and mine exploration plans is hard...

I cannot see the situation changing anytime soon...

Dave

Offline Keris82

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Re: beurocracy and exclusivity in the caving community
« Reply #8 on: March 27, 2019, 08:45:51 pm »
North Wales is one caving area where there have been problems with information flow.

Yes i have heard there have been some access issues and secrecy around certain parts if Wales too. However saying that we got on some great trips with UCET last year and have made some friends we have regular contact with now

Offline NewStuff

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Re: beurocracy and exclusivity in the caving community
« Reply #9 on: March 27, 2019, 08:50:22 pm »
North Wales is one caving area where there have been problems with information flow.

I'll echo Daves experience of issues like this in North Wales. Dave is far more polite about the situation than I am though. It's problematic, and sadly, appears to be trickling down to newer members of clubs that are, shall we say, less enthusiastic about exchanging information and access. UCET are a good bunch. Other clubs would do well to take some ideas and attitudes on board.
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Offline PeteHall

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Re: beurocracy and exclusivity in the caving community
« Reply #10 on: March 27, 2019, 09:01:05 pm »
I'm probably going to cause some controversy with these comments but it saddens me that it exists in this community  :down:

I have noticed that there seems to be so much beurocracy and exclusivity between clubs. There should be more collaboration and encouragement to join several clubs and networking should be encouraged. And we should encourage younger people to join. If they continue in this old fashioned manner the sport could be all but lost in 10 years  would be very sad as caving is a dying sport.

I understand that some clubs want to restrict access for the sake of conservation which is fine. But why not welcome members from other clubs to join trips? Why aren't there more reciprocal agreements to stay at other clubs around the country?  :-\

I'm not pointing fingers or blaming anyone in particular. I just want to provoke some thought around the subject.

Sorry Keris, but I just can't agree with any of this.

Loads of people are members of several clubs, particularly if they regularly cave in different regions. I've never heard of anyone being dissuaded from joining another club, the suggestion seems pretty far fetched.
Sure, there might be rivalries (normally friendly), between different clubs in one region, but there's no hurt in that.

Most clubs with a hut have reciprocal arrangements with at least one other club in each region.

I can't speak for every region, but on Mendip, there are many cross-club events and socials. Wessex Challenge, Digfest, Mendip Migration etc.
Then of course there is the CHECC forum, not to mention Hidden Earth and now Cavefest.

As for encouraging young people, the BCA youth and development working group are doing loads on this front, as are CHECC, all supported by many regional clubs.

As for control of caves by particular clubs, I don't like this sort of thing, but I've never had an issue getting access to a cave. They might ask you to jump through a few hoops, but I've never heard of access to a cave being barred to other clubs. Perhaps active dig sites, but that is another matter and to be honest, I've never heard a digger turn away an offer of help.

The only exception I can think of is that there seems to be a lot of secrecy with some mine explorers, perhaps because they are worried about mineral collectors?

I'd be interested to hear what unfortunate experience you have had to form the view above. Appreciate that you don't want to name names, but perhaps at least the cave, or region would help others understand where you are coming from and hopefully rectify the situation for next time you visit.

PS. I should caveat the above by saying that I have never caved in North Wales (are there even any caves there?), but I did go to a slate mine once... Sounds like things might be a bit different there...
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Offline chunky

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Re: beurocracy and exclusivity in the caving community
« Reply #11 on: March 27, 2019, 09:23:48 pm »
I too have only ever found other clubs to be welcoming and have gate crashed the TSG's Christmas party, Red Rose's BBQ's, invited ourselves along to Digfest to name just a few. Often we have had members of other clubs join us on 'our' trips and vice versa.

We aren't backward in contacting others and drink beer.....erm I mean networking, when staying in the various caving area's and at socials like Hidden Earth and very much take the approach you don't get if you don't ask.

Perhaps your perception is justified when taken in relation to your own experiences, but also perhaps you haven't pushed yourself forward?

Offline alastairgott

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Re: beurocracy and exclusivity in the caving community
« Reply #12 on: March 28, 2019, 12:03:57 am »
I've recently moved to a (slightly) different area, I put a form into the local club in question and within a week or so I (think) I've been accepted. Despite one of the members saying they would "black Ball" me. which took some working out...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blackballing

The comment was definitely in Jest.

It does help that I knew quite a few members before joining, and those that didn't know me might have at least seen me. I think I listed at least 10 names of members on my application.

In my mind Reciprocals are a red herring, I'd say it's how you feel like you've been treated when your there that is the main thing.

I think i'm an honorary member of the Guscott pot digging crew or that could be the laziest member, I can't remember...
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Offline Kenilworth

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Re: beurocracy and exclusivity in the caving community
« Reply #13 on: March 28, 2019, 01:45:52 am »
And we should encourage younger people to join. If they continue in this old fashioned manner the sport could be all but lost in 10 years  would be very sad as caving is a dying sport.

I'm always interested in hearing the reasoning behind these sort of comments. What is The Sport? And why should we be concerned about it's future?


Offline Keris82

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Re: beurocracy and exclusivity in the caving community
« Reply #14 on: March 28, 2019, 08:05:11 am »


I'm always interested in hearing the reasoning behind these sort of comments. What is The Sport? And why should we be concerned about it's future?



I'm not naming any names here. By 'the sport' i mean caving. I've had conversations with many cavers who have said it is a dying sport because there are less younger people being introduced to it in some areas and it would be a great shame to see access lost because the legacy hasn't been passed on to younger generations. As i said earlier on I'm just going by my own observations.

Offline mikem

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Re: beurocracy and exclusivity in the caving community
« Reply #15 on: March 28, 2019, 08:49:20 am »
One of the reasons there are so many clubs in each area is that someone disagreed with members of others... things are generally a lot friendlier nowadays.

Offline Keris82

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Re: beurocracy and exclusivity in the caving community
« Reply #16 on: March 28, 2019, 09:06:01 am »
There was a survey recently which showed the age of the majority of cavers is over 50. It would be great to see more younger people get in to caving. I'm glad to hear that up north there are uni students who are encourage to cave  :)

Offline The Old Ruminator

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Re: beurocracy and exclusivity in the caving community
« Reply #17 on: March 28, 2019, 09:32:52 am »
To my surprise the Wessex Caving Club recently accepted me as a new member without any sort of iniation ceremony or references from my bank manager. Joining a club is less restictive now than it has ever been. Possibly the university clubs have dwindled a bit as have clubs associated with a large profession like the police. Yes, we had a local police and college caving group many years ago. This is understandable as anyone with a long term caving interest usually joins a club relative to their area of interest. Others move away from college or rise within their profession. In saying all of that I am not a typical club person. I cant think that I have ever been on a club trip or dig. ( The Wessex no longer have what is called " Club Digs " ) . My caving and digging has been with like minded friends who belong to various clubs. Back in the early 70's I was a club chairman and editor for a while but cannot say that I enjoyed it. Same with the diving club where I was the boat officer. ( That meant wrecking the clutch on my car dragging the club inflatable up the steep hill at Lyme Regis and panicking when the wheel fell off the trailor. Any sort of responsibility is not really for me ).
I am not at all keen on burocracy but in this day and age it is sadly a necessity. Landowners, conservation bodies etc can only be dealt with by such a route. The days of scruffy individuals knocking on a farmers door for access permission are long gone. Dog and stick farming has gone also to be replaced by a business model whose members wish to know the legal ramification of your proposed endeavours. Now people like Longleat Estates ( who partly own Cheddar Gorge including Reservoir Hole ) see such things as caves as an asset. The same goes for Hobb's Quarries who still own Fairy Cave Quarry. I get fed up hearing that Reservoir Hole is a " closed shop ". It is not but we have been entrusted by the landowner to look after their " asset " so some guidelines must apply. ( note well those that do not like gated caves.) Mendip is mainly private farm land so down here we have a differant scenario than up norf. We still have closed caves like Lamb Leer and Twin Titties because of land owner refusal for access. Fairy Cave Quarry was closed to cavers for many years until a minor local " burocracy " was formed to contol access on behalf of the landowner.
I have an odd attachment with clubs. On the whole I find them restrictive as they have rules . ( Rules are for Fools in my book but of course a necessity ). I remember when BSAC put a limit on Sports Divers at 30m. I hated that as some very good Sports Divers never wanted to be Dive Leaders and take novices on dives. My mate could not drive the club inflatable as he did not have the the BSAC qualification but was a qualified yacht rigger with a big boat of his own. Well, perhaps things have changed for the better since then.
I am not so sure about exclusivity. Yes, it does exist in certain instances. Certainly within our group at Vurley as we still do not allow visitors to the cave or co opt other diggers. You do get that with some digging groups on Mendip. Vurley has about 15 members of a consortium from various clubs who have funded the project by thousands of pounds. We have a new landowner and are in an SSSI. Lets say that we are still treading carefully though at the moment there is no rush as we are investigating a long term problem with CO2 which has meant no digging since Summer last year. If there is such a thing as " exclusivity " there is usually a good reason for it. As for access controlled caves on Mendip exclusivity is a bit of a myth. Maybe there are a few ground rules like BCA insurance, experience or party size but I feel there is no harm in that. If a cave has a " leader " ( I would rather say " Conservation Warden ") thats fine too. Unrestricted access to fragile cave environments can only be a bad thing in terms of conservation ( So yup, The cave has a gate. How else can such a thing be achieved ? ). Other digging groups like that at Cutlers welcome any help on digging evenings and often advertise as such on social media. Secrecy may be a myth also. Yes there are some very interesting finds on Mendip recently but it would not be my right to mention them here. Cave diggers have the right to introduce their efforts in the way of their own choosing. Hopefully by club journsl, Mendip Cave Registry , Digging Awards or Hidden Earth. Ultimately such things a very short term.

Offline mikem

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Re: beurocracy and exclusivity in the caving community
« Reply #18 on: March 28, 2019, 10:32:07 am »
Just as many uni clubs in the south as the north:
https://checc.org/member-clubs/

Offline andrewmc

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Re: beurocracy and exclusivity in the caving community
« Reply #19 on: March 28, 2019, 12:45:10 pm »
Just as many uni clubs in the south as the north:
https://checc.org/member-clubs/

13 in the Southern list, 10 in the Northern, although Nottingham appear in both lists so if you put them in the North (just for balance purposes) it would be 12-10 :)

Offline mikem

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Re: beurocracy and exclusivity in the caving community
« Reply #20 on: March 28, 2019, 01:35:02 pm »
Aberystwyth is North Wales 11-11.... :ang:

Offline Kenilworth

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Re: beurocracy and exclusivity in the caving community
« Reply #21 on: March 29, 2019, 09:54:07 am »


I'm always interested in hearing the reasoning behind these sort of comments. What is The Sport? And why should we be concerned about it's future?



I'm not naming any names here. By 'the sport' i mean caving. I've had conversations with many cavers who have said it is a dying sport because there are less younger people being introduced to it in some areas and it would be a great shame to see access lost because the legacy hasn't been passed on to younger generations. As i said earlier on I'm just going by my own observations.

Caving is an activity. What do you mean by "the sport"?
Caving cannot die because caves aren't going away and people aren't going to stop wanting to explore them, with or without encouragement. If fewer people go in caves, why is that a problem? If clubs disintegrate, who suffers? If access is lost to anyone, it's their responsibility to regain it if they want it, especially younger generations, who would rather whine than do anything for themselves. You're expecting a "legacy" and the power of a mob to make your activity responsibility-free.

Offline mikem

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Re: beurocracy and exclusivity in the caving community
« Reply #22 on: March 29, 2019, 10:31:11 am »
Caving is an activity. What do you mean by "the sport"?
It's not a sport in the competitive sense but is a legacy of all pastimes being called sports back in the day - UK caving expeditions were even supported by the Sports Council.

& caves here are in danger of being demolished or filled in by landowners, due to the crowded nature of our isles...
« Last Edit: March 29, 2019, 10:56:48 am by mikem »

Offline BradW

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Re: beurocracy and exclusivity in the caving community
« Reply #23 on: March 29, 2019, 10:32:31 am »
Very philosophical, Kenilworth, and I can't help but agree with you. But Keris82 was primarily asking something else (albeit expressing concern about a dying sport): our experience of interactions with other clubs and groups than our own. And as in all walks of life, experience will depend entirely on which groups you interact with.

Offline droid

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Re: beurocracy and exclusivity in the caving community
« Reply #24 on: March 29, 2019, 11:03:46 am »
caves here are in danger of being demolished or filled in by landowners, due to the crowded nature of our isles...

I'd suggest that's not just 'crowding' but also the attitude of some cave users.
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