Does your club want to attract new members? The answer could lie in joining the growing number of clubs offering indoor to outdoor meets for novice climbers.
When talking to walking and climbing clubs one theme that comes up time and again is the difficulty in recruiting new members, particularly from the younger generations. A number of more proactive clubs have recently started to organise open indoor to outdoor meets, aimed at attracting prospective club members who are looking to make the move from climbing wall to crag.
How the meets work
As with all club activities, these meets tend to have one or two keen members who are willing to make them happen. These people round up willing volunteers, advertise the events and act as a point of contact for potential participants to get in touch with.
It is a good idea to ask potential participants to get in touch in advance of the event, so that you know how many volunteers from the club will be needed to keep everyone climbing. It is important that the level of experience that people need to have to attend is made clear, and this can be checked when people get in touch.
A good way to collect all of the needed information about participants, and to ensure that they fully understand the nature of the event, is to ask them to complete and return a registration form before the meet. By including the BMC's participation statement on this form you can ensure that participants are aware of the potential risks involved in climbing outside. As an example, the form used by the Northumbrian Mountaineering Club can be viewed here.
Do clubs need qualified instructors? And what about insurance?
There is no need for club members to hold formal qualifications. It should be made clear to participants that they are going out with experienced club members who are sharing their experience on a voluntary basis. There is still a duty of care to look after more novice climbers, but this is no different than if you were introducing an inexperienced friend to the sport.
Download more information about duty of care when introducing novices to outdoor climbing.
All BMC-affiliated club members are insured against claims that may arrise from damage or injury cased to others whilst engaged in hill walking, climbing and mountaineering. This insurance provides cover when offering formal or informal instruction to novices as long as this is taking place in a voluntary environment. This insurance does not cover instructors who receive payment for their services. More information about BMC insurance can be found here.
Novices will be covered by a clubs BMC insurance whilst taking part in organised meets, in the same way that new club members who have not yet been registered by a club are offered temporary cover. Put simply, if a novice climber is attending a club's indoor to outdoor meet they will be covered by BMC liability insurance.
Support from the BMC
The BMC is commited to supporting clubs to attract new members. The Regional Development team are happy to meet with clubs to discuss their recruitment strategy, and to offer advice and practical support where neccesary.
Club indoor to outdoor and prospective member meets have previously been avdertised across the BMC's website and social media. This has helped clubs to get the message about their meets out to potential participants, and has succesfully increased the numbers of potrential new members attending events.
The Rucksack Club is a national club with its roots in the North West. It recently ran the first in what it hopes will become a regular event- inviting climbers with experience of indoor climbing to join club members for a day's trad climbing at Stanage. The BMC assisted the club in advertising the event, leading to a good turn out. Participants provided overwhelmingly positive feedback about the meet, with the majority stating that they would like to continue to attend club events.
Feedback from participants on the recent Rucksack Club indoor to outdoor meet:
Please pass on my thanks to the Rucksack Club climbers who were all very friendly and welcoming. As someone who's relatively new to climbing, it's a difficult sport to take up on your own and even harder to make the transition away indoor bouldering and onto outside routes. Your event was perfect for bridging this gap and I am now looking forward to the next outside meet. Please send me information about the club as I would be interested in joining.
More information about the Rucksack Club is available on their website.
A number of other clubs have run similar meets programmes in 2014. You can find out more about Lancashire Mountainrreing Clubs meets in this BMC news article.
For examples of the way that the BMC can help to spread the word about your clubs meets see our articles about The Castle, Northumbrian, Rucksack and Lancashire clubs. These articles are shared across the BMC's Facebook and Twitter feeds, allowing word of events to reach a much larger potential audience.
Watch the Rucksack Club Gogarth meet on BMC TV:
Watch the training novice club members workshop on BMC TV: