Volunteers Week 2021: The Power of Youth

The BMC is fortunate to have vibrant representation from volunteers in student clubs through representatives on the BMC Clubs’ Committee and through the members of the Student Panel. We've interviewed them to find out more about what they do:

For many young people their mountaineering journey will start while at university with the opportunity of joining a student club and learning the skills they need to be competent and independent climbers and walkers. For others, it is a chance to progress skills they already posess, and maybe to become a leader in their club.

These clubs are run by students for the benefit of other students and the volunteers who support these clubs do an essential role in providing mountaineering opportunities for many people every year.

The Student Club Reps on the BMC Clubs’ Committee ensure that the student voice is heard throughout all clubs-related discussions. The Reps work closely with the Student Panel members who provide a view from a wider range of clubs and experiences. The volunteers on the Student Panel advise on the suitability of programmes for student clubs, bring ideas forward for consideration, and are a sounding board for discussing the support that student club volunteers need. During 2020-21 this has been particularly evident in the support provided to student clubs to respond to the challenges caused by Covid-19 restrictions.

Let's meet some of the volunteers

Andrew Wang

Why did you decide to join you club and what’s the best thing about being part of it?

Growing up in Manchester, the Peaks and Lakes were a big part of my life before university. Cambridge University Hillwalking Club was at first the only way to escape and return regularly to run those hills, but now to me it’s just a big family of hill lovers stuck in flat, flat Cambridgeshire.

What do you do for your club?

During my time here, I’ve been Transport Sec and then President of the club, running affordable, regular trips up north and making sure that everyone is welcome! This year I’ve taken on the role of Treasurer which is a completely new bunch of responsibilities. 

What do you do for the BMC and why did you decide to get involved with us?

I sit on the BMC Student Panel advising the Student Reps about issues facing Clubs and helping out with Clubs discussion sessions! The BMC provides clubs with invaluable support but clubs vary hugely across the country. I wanted a voice in making the most of how the BMC can help our members. Our community also faces huge issues with equity and diversity in the outdoors. I want to use my experience to guide change at the highest level at the BMC.

Isaac Wheatley

Why did you decide to join your club?

Why not? The experience of university is for many a challenge. A challenge matched by a plethora of new experience, new friends, and new activities. This is why I joined a mountaineering society; I wanted a challenge. I wanted new experiences, friends, activities catered for by exploring the remoter regions of the nation in which we live, through hiking, scrambling, climbing, mountaineering, and when the weather allows winter mountaineering.

The decision came naturally, it was fluid, without effort; just like pulling onto virgin rock, or taking that next step into the hike. Mountaineering was an escape, a source of adventure, experience, and presences.

What’s the best thing about being part of it?

Deciding on one facet isn’t justifiable, why one when there are so many “bests” within the experience. For instance, the best day out, best route, best trip, best social, best epic, and so on.

What’s best then? The term ‘experience’ comes to mind. The ‘event or occurrence which leaves an impression on someone’, Oxford English dictionary. The experience in its entirety, the sum of highs, and the sum of lows. Every aspect of mountaineering constructively congregating to form the whole. The best part for me has been the experience.

What do you do for your club?

Once, upon a time I was a fresher. Then one night, most the way through a merry social I got persuaded to run for vice-president. Two weeks later it all became very real, giving a speech, a presentation, and seeing my name, face, and life story up on the lecture hall wall. Within the hour I was voted in, alongside the remaining committee. To this day I’m unsure if the process was democratic or by way of careful manipulation. Either way, I now had a job to do.

Between the committee of 2018-2019, we ran 22 trips, hosting anywhere from 15 to 80 attendees, three international trips (Font, Benidorm, and Alps (Ailefroide)) and at our height had 5-weekly socials, classes, activities, or general mountaineering mockery. It was a busy year, a year of challenges, excitement, a car crash, several injuries but collectively one hell of an experience.

These days, having now graduated I take it easier supporting the BMC through its various initiatives as a BMC Student Rep Adviser, along with being an active member (as far as that’s possible during COVID) of our alumni mountaineering society.

What do you do for the BMC and why did you decide to get involved?

As alluded to I support the BMC with its student engagement, activities, and initiatives. I turn my hand to whatever the student reps require, from providing insight and advice, to writing articles, and piecing together training, webinars, or even hosting them.

As a result of the pandemic, I haven’t been able to support the BMC physically, but the scope to support however I can is always present, being something I look forward to.

Luke Stanmore

Why did you decide to join your club?

I decided to join my club, Coventry University Mountaineering Society, as soon as I started university in 2015 as I have always had a keen interest in climbing/mountaineering. After my first year of being relatively nervous and rarely participating, I fully committed in my second year, attending most socials, activities, trips and events. 

What’s the best thing about being part of it?

I really enjoyed the club atmosphere, particularly on our weekend-long trips to Snowdonia, the Lake District, and the Peak District, making what I hope to be life-long friends.

What do you do for your club?

The following year I was voted as "Gear and Safety Officer". In this role, I was able to lead newer/less experienced students out into the mountains, and received additional training in order to do so safely. I enjoyed the teaching role and responsibility so much, I held the position an additional year. We stretched ourselves, planning a trip away almost every other weekend throughout the academic year, allowing even more students to experience the quieter, yet more exposed areas of the UK. 

What do you do for the BMC and why did you decide to get involved?

In late 2019, I successfully applied to become a Student Advisor for the BMC, working closely with the Student Clubs Committee. I made the change from my student club, to the BMC, so I could help assist an even wider group of students. While the Student Club Committee's original plans were put on hold due to the pandemic, we have been taking measures to help reduce skill-fade/retrain student committees - including leading a live webinar session with Isaac (also BMC Student Advisor & past Coventry University Mountaineering society Committee) to help explain how to orchestrate a successful club committee handover, to many BMC members who had never seen a committee function in normal times. 


Click the links below to view more Volunteers Week 2021 content: 

A time to say thanksThe power of youth - Employer supported and skilled volunteers - Local area volunteers - Environment and conservation - BMC volunteer awards

Get Involved! Find out how to volunteer at the BMC.

Fill out our Training Needs Survey and let us know what we can do to improve.


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