Draft statement on the involvement of young people in club activities

Following discussion at recent club meetings we have agreed to adopt the following policy concerning the involvement of young people (less than eighteen years of age) in the club’s activities.

 

The Mountaineering Club of Bury wishes to promote the involvement of all parts of the community in adventurous outdoor activities. We want to ensure that, through the club, people are able to participate in these activities safely and within the policies and guidance of the British Mountaineering Council.

 

The club has traditionally functioned as a group of adults and is now opening some of the privileges of membership to young people. On a trial basis the club has decided:

 

  • To accept a limited number of applications from young people who are more than 16 years of age and have already gained some experience of outdoor activities
  • To accept applications from young people only after they have discussed their experience and aspirations with a small panel of experienced club members
  • To include young people only in suitable activities where an adult club member is prepared to act as a “sponsor” for the duration of that activity. A sponsor will provide support and supervision for the young person. The nature of such support will vary with the type of event and the needs of the young people. In essence the sponsor will act “in loco parentis”.
  • To recognise that there will be club events where it will not be possible to include young people while operating within BMC guidelines and accordingly it will not be possible to include young members in every event.
  • Young people will be welcome, as now, to attend events with their parents, guardians or family members who are adult members of the club.

 

The club will review the position of membership for young people following a trial period.

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Comment by Mike Chambers on June 23, 2011 at 23:39

Colin's point is a good one. 

 

The first point is that the club does not exist in the eyes of the law. Individuals will always be judged and dealt with as such - so if any of us are injured through e.g. the negligent belaying of one of the others they may face legal liability. The financial element of such risk can be covered by insurance and that is why our membership fee includes an affiliation to the BMC, bringing with it appropriate cover. Regret, guilt and sorrow lives on for a long time after an accident but that risk is with all of us and is probably not altered by the involvement of 16 year olds.

 

The callous answer to the question is that the sponsor's insurer may be liable if his or her negligence in acting as a sponsor resulted in injury. If your action is criminal, you are on your own, just as you are in any other walk of life.

 

I too would wish to know who I was being asked to sponsor. If it is someone who isn't prepared to take advice or appears to want to behave recklessly I wouldn't wish to have my day ruined by worrying about their antics. I think the way in to club activities would be through lower risk activities like e.g. an evening at a climbing wall. 

 

Part of what we need to do is gain a better shared understanding of the BMC policies. One commitment made by a couple of us was to bring information to future meetings to help us to develop this understanding.

 

Whether to sponsor will always be a personal decision. It's really important that there should never be any pressure to do this. Being a club means we come together to do what we enjoy. I would be very disappointed if, by encouraging some people to join, we drove others away. I don't think it will come to this but it's certainly a risk we need to manage.

 

Mike

Comment by Colin Parr on June 23, 2011 at 22:35

I personally don't want to act as a sponsor for anyone I don't know well; I don't think I'm competent enough, but I think there needs to be some clarity about any liability for injury sustained by a young person who is engaged in a club event whilst accompanied by a sponsor.

 

Would the sponsor assume full liability because of the "in loco parentis" clause, or would the club be liable because it happened on a club event?  Or should we have a clause that states something along the lines of "activities undertaken by the club carry an element of risk of serious injury/death and the club cannot be held liable for any such eventuality".

 

This really isn't intended as a negative comment, but I think it's only fair that anyone considering acting as a sponsor is fully aware of the implications of doing so, on them and/or the club.

 

And I agree with Brian about setting a duration for the trial period...

 

 

Comment by Brian Knowles on June 22, 2011 at 22:05

Just to let you know that I'm in full agreement with the statement you've prepared .It seems to me an accurate summary of the view expessed by the members present at the last meeting and I hope any amendment approved tonight is a step forward rather than a step back from this position .It is a policy that is on trial.all that is really neeeded at this stage is to establish the length of the trial period .

Best wishes ,

                 Brian

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