Continuing our series of articles about the work of volunteer-led BMC specialist committees, we highlight the work of Clubs’ Committee, which provides training and direct support to clubs. It facilitates communication and consultation by the BMC with affiliated clubs on all matters relating to clubs.
Led by the Chair, Peter Salenieks (Cymru South Wales), and supported by the Deputy Chair, Andy Potter (Midlands), the committee comprises of a representative from each BMC Area, two reps from student clubs, two reps from national clubs, and a rep for the BMC Huts Group. Working alongside the committee is the BMC Clubs & Volunteers Officer, Jane Thompson.
Clubs’ Committee serves clubs as part of a wider team, working alongside the BMC office, the local Areas and other specialist committees to deliver services and promote best practice amongst clubs and their members. It has a voice on National Council and directly to the Board of Directors through Jonathan White, Nominated Director (BMC affiliated clubs).
The BMC Huts Group is represented on Clubs’ Committee, and provides support to clubs who own and use mountain huts.
The committee also works with other BMC committees including the Child Safeguarding Group, the Training, Walls and Youth committee and the Hill Walking Implementation Group.
Training courses for club members
Club members benefit from a new programme of skills training courses specifically designed for them. There are eight different one-day courses covering navigation, first aid, scrambling and climbing. They are held in partnership with the Association of Mountaineering Instructors at locations across the country.
Outdoor first aid training
Training weekends are also provided, offering offer outdoor first aid courses and improvised-rescue-for-climbers courses.
Many clubs offer training sessions with experienced club members instructing novice or less experienced members. Several years ago, clubs requested support with this and a training course was developed, in partnership with Plas y Brenin, the National Outdoor Centre in Snowdonia. The course is aimed at the experienced members of affiliated clubs who support less experienced members whilst they gain experience, develop skills, and become competent climbers, walkers and mountaineers in their own right. The training includes theory sessions on the principles of teaching and learning skills in the outdoors, issues around duty of care, insurance implications and good practice all delivered by experts in their field. This programme has now expanded from climbing and walking skills to include winter skills and more advanced skills in scrambling, sea-cliff climbing and multi-pitch climbing.
Training events to support club officers and committee members in their roles are also run across the country.
Student clubs are a training ground for the next generation of climbers, hill walkers, scramblers and mountaineers. The Student Advisory Group, led by the student club reps, is empowered to take ownership of student communications and producing news, guidance and resources. This includes the Student Clubs Officers’ Handbook and expert advice for Students’ Unions.
Student safety seminars
This popular annual event gives university club members the opportunity to improve their club practices and ensure safer enjoyment of our cliffs and mountains. The weekend comprises a mixture of lectures, discussions and practical workshops covering climbing, walking, scrambling and mountaineering, and plenty of opportunities to network with other clubs, the BMC volunteer helpers and BMC staff members. It draws on the talents of three specialist committees working together: clubs; technical; training, youth & walls.
Annual student safety seminars are held at Plas y Brenin in Snowdonia.
Looking to the future
The committee is active in the BMC Organisational Development Group and its workstreams to represent the needs and address the concerns of clubs. This will result in a stronger voice for clubs and their members within the BMC, ensuring that the views and needs of clubs is at the heart of future changes.
Affiliated club consultation at the 2019 BMC AGM.
A key focus has been on ensuring that clubs are offered greater engagement opportunities within the BMC and the potential for greater involvement in wider activities. This has included a review of the structure of the Clubs’ Committee, so in 2020 the club reps will have a greater focus on providing the clubs in their area with more opportunities for networking, support and engagement. The number of reps attending committee meetings will reduce to allow reps more time to focus on their local clubs. Those reps who will attend the meetings will have four meetings each year to link in with the BMC meetings cycle for the Board, National Council and the local Areas. Later this year there will be recruitment to these new roles, which will be open to any club member not just club officers.
Gwent Mountaineering Club's 40th anniversary celebration.
Clubs’ Committee will shortly mark its tenth anniversary. It continues to champion BMC-affiliated clubs, many of whom build on a proud heritage with new innovations. Looking to the future, we will be reviewing how the BMC could embrace new kinds of club, including online social media-based clubs, clubs based at climbing walls, and multi-activity clubs. That will enable clubs and the BMC to remain at the forefront going forward.
We want to say a big thanks to every BMC member who continues to support us through the Coronavirus crisis.
From weekly Facebook Lives and GB Climbing home training videos, to our access team working to re-open the crags and fight for your mountain access, we couldn’t do it without you.
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