The future of our sport

Posted by Nick Colton on 29/03/2007

Help and guidance on Liability and practical advice for Climbing Clubs who accept Under 18 year olds.

How did you start climbing?
Today many young people encounter climbing from a much younger age. They are often not lucky enough to have parents who enjoy stomping through peat bogs on a mist filled Kinder Plateau or who partake in more gravity prone activities like sliding their way up or down every route on Idwal slabs. Young climbers may start from the age of 6 years upwards at their local wall club and are introduced to the delights of slopers, egyptions, stretching, power endurance and if they are lucky the ethics of British climbing, injury prevention and warming up techniques. Others start at their school, Sports Development Unit or through the local youth service activity programme.

In the Peak Area local climbing wall managers, the BMC Area Youth Co-ordinator, BMC Officer, a representative from the Youth Service and importantly the Secretary of the Peak Area Committee met to work together to provide youth events and also discussing regional training of volunteers to enhance event quality. The BMC is receiving an increasing number of enquiries from young climbers, their parents and BMC Clubs on how to climb outside and so we have produce the excellent booklet Climbing Outside available by clicking here. 

Imagine a call from a keen Leo Holding lookalike to your Mountaineering Club: I want to climb. Please let me join your Club. As a club secretary what do you say?

Understanding Liability

Negligence - as an individual

As individuals we all owe a duty of care to our neighbours not to cause them injury by negligent acts or omissions. Neighbours are those people who are likely to be injured by your acts or omissions. Your actions should be those of a "reasonable person" with your particular skills and qualifications.

Negligence - as a club member & as a post holder

What is a Club?
A club is simply a group of people with a common interest or objective. It is run by its members for its members. It a group of individuals and not a separate legal entity like a Limited Company. The Club member has the same duty to act with reasonable care to others as an individual does. There is a difference between the below where:

All participating have broadly similar climbing and mountaineering skills and experience ie. A 'normal' club meet and;
A BMC 'Youth Meet' where most of the participants are young climbers and at which some members may take on a quasi-instructor role and other organisational tasks.

The most common situation for BMC Clubs lies between the two where a young budding Adam Dewhurst requests to attend your club meet perhaps with their parent who is a non-climber.

BMC affiliated clubs that admit young people under 18 years of age when not accompanied by a parent or a specified adult in loco parentis are required to adopt the BMC Child Protection Policy and appoint a club Youth Officer. 

What are the additional responsibilities of a Club member?
By being elected to the committee with a specific function to undertake, for example youth. Eg. You may be meeting the young climbers parents to tell them about climbing and what will happen on the meet.

By being the nominal or actual leader to a group of a group of novices or young people on a BMC Youth Meet. Eg. You may be responsible for equipment choice, venue or route choice, meet host co-ordination, accommodation arrangements, who climbs with which young climber, a plan for what happens if the weather deteriorates.

By acting in a quasi-instructor role in relation to a minor.

What is a worst case scenario?
A Club Committee decides to hold a Youth Meet. The Committee appoints a Meet Leader who they know has inadequate experience for the task. The Meet Leader gives several members attending the meet a quasi-instructor role but exercises improper supervision of their safety procedures. An "instructor" sets up a top-rope belay unsafely and a child is injured. The injured person sues the Club. It is not difficult to see that there has been a breach of the Duty of care by the Committee, the Meet Leader and the "Instructor".

What should Clubs do when introducing young people?
The BMC Club Guidance Notes give sound advice in this area. "It is wise for clubs to consider their activities from a risk and safety point of view. This can be done by the effective process of gaining experience by starting with easy objectives and moving on to more difficult ones. Clubs with beginners may wish to give advice and guidance to novices. It is much easier for experienced club members to give informal tuition or advice if they are operating in small groups and venues where there are the minimum of objective dangers. Individuals new to the activity may not recognise any of the less obvious hazards. There should be an adequate level of supervision, the conditions should be suitable and proper equipment should be used.

The duty of Care is increased for those in an elected position and for those who take responsibility for junior members. This special duty of care is "to act as a reasonably prudent parent would".

It is reasonable for a parent to treat their children differently as they get older. There is a progressive transfer of responsibility from parent to child.

It is reasonable for a parent to treat their children differently as a novice in an activity than when they are experienced.


A club member involved with junior members should:
Ensure their planned meet and route take account of the age and known propensities of their keen child and exercise sound judgement in accordance with their knowledge and experience. Lastly make sure their actions are in line with well developed and accepted practice.

Practical Advice
Getting to know your keen young climber and their parents - Sometimes clubs will only accept young members who are the children of existing club members, who will then take responsibility for their offspring themselves. If the parents are not club members then to help your club accept young climbers the following advice will be useful.

Visit the parents
Meet the child prior to a Club meet to find out the parents attitude to climbing, the experience and interests and self-motivation of the young climber. Find out what inspires the child to climb or enjoy walking. This is an opportunity to inform parents about the activity enable them to understand it giving them the opportunity to ask any questions. This can be done verbally and as part of the consent form.

The consent form
Details of the day's activities should be included with every effort made to ensure that parents actually understand them. It is a good opportunity to find out about any medical conditions or eating habits that could affect the child during the Club meet. Parents must sign the written consent form. Template available from the BMC Office. Consent should be used with some flexibility depending on the age and experience of the aspirant young member. Initially consent forms should be completed for every club trip. Once the junior becomes an experienced accepted member of the club consent may span a period of time of say 2 or 3 months, provided any new activities are cleared with the parents. It should include the BMC Participation Statement, this one is specifically tailored to younger members;

Risk with responsibility
"Parents and young participants should be aware that climbing, hill walking and mountaineering are activities with a danger of personal injury or death. Parents and participants in these activities should be aware of and accept these risks and be responsible for their own actions and involvement. "

Invite parents to observe a typical club trip
An opportunity to meet the club members who will be climbing with their children. Describe the location and planned activity in detail. Give them feedback on how the day went from the individual Club members point of view and that of the child. A good dialogue between parents and club is highly desirable in the initial stages of the relationship.

It may also be helpful to provide parents, especially those that have little understanding of activities such as climbing, hill walking or mountaineering, with a copy of the BMC's extremely useful booklet Young People: Climbing, Hill Walking, Mountaineering. To view the booklet please click here.

The club committee before they accept any new junior members need to be aware of the experience and ability and technical competence of their child. This can be done through references but also backed up by experience on meets. These may be obtained from a wall club, school or a BMC gripped? Meet. Some wall clubs encourage young climbers to write about their indoor and outdoor climbing experience and indeed demonstrate their skill level through fun badges. Some young climbers already keep a log of their experience to remember fun moments of their climbing or hill walking experience. A young persons log or record of climbing will become a useful aid to gauge their experience for BMC Youth Meets. Encourage them to make one if it does not exist.

Insurance
Members of climbing and mountaineering clubs must be insured. BMC Club members benefit from a comprehensive policy offering £2m per claim with no territorial limits.

Stephen Porteus, Honorary Legal Advisor has updated the Guidance notes for clubs wishing to accept novices and young climbers. Advice on how to run a BMC Youth Meet solely for young climbers can be obtained from the BMC, and it is strongly advised that support from the BMC Training and Youth Committee is gained. Information on BMC Youth Meet guidelines, near miss, accident and Emergency procedures and BMC volunteer training support are all available.

Welcoming young climbers, hill walkers and mountaineers in the right environment in a supportive atmosphere will have a positive effect on the future of British Climbing.

Further advice is aslo available in the BMC Club Guidance Notes.



« Back

Post a comment Print this article

This article has been read 619 times

TAGS

Click on the tags to explore more

RELATED ARTICLES

BMC Safeguarding quick guide
0
BMC Safeguarding quick guide

A quick guide to Safeguarding within the BMC
Read more »

Safeguarding: a young person's guide
0
Safeguarding: a young person's guide

Is someone bullying you, hurting you, or doing something to you that you want to stop. You don't have to put up with it. You have a right to be safe from abuse. There are ways of getting support.
Read more »

How to support novice club members weekend, at Plas y Brenin
8
How to support novice club members weekend, at Plas y Brenin

This popular training event is for experienced members of BMC-affiliated club to learn about training novices in climbing, scrambling and hill walking.
Read more »

Post a Comment

Posting as Anonymous Community Standards
3000 characters remaining
Submit
Your comment has been posted below, click here to view it
Comments are currently on | Turn off comments
0

There are currently no comments, why not add your own?

RELATED ARTICLES

BMC Safeguarding quick guide
0

A quick guide to Safeguarding within the BMC
Read more »

Safeguarding: a young person's guide
0

Is someone bullying you, hurting you, or doing something to you that you want to stop. You don't have to put up with it. You have a right to be safe from abuse. There are ways of getting support.
Read more »

How to support novice club members weekend, at Plas y Brenin
8

This popular training event is for experienced members of BMC-affiliated club to learn about training novices in climbing, scrambling and hill walking.
Read more »

BMC MEMBERSHIP
Join 82,000 BMC members and support British climbing, walking and mountaineering. Membership only £16.97.
Read more »
BMC SHOP
Great range of guidebooks, DVDs, books, calendars and maps.
All with discounts for members.
Read more »
TRAVEL INSURANCE
Get covered with BMC Insurance. Our five policies take you from the beach to Everest.
Read more »