Committee positions

If you’re reading this then you’ve probably drunkenly accepted a position on the committee of your much-loved university caving club. If you’re experiencing some anxiety over the idea of running a caving club then you’ve come to the right place.

Below is an outline of the roles within a typical caving committee, these descriptions are very brief but will give you a general understanding of what each committee member is supposed to do, again please refer to your own handover documents for more information relevant to you.

President

AKA the Chair or Captain, a prestigious and respectable title no less. You’re the face of the club and one of the first things people think of when they hear your clubs name. In terms the day to day running of your club you’ll be working closely with the secretary and other club members to ensure everyone is happy and things go to plan. You’ll be there to make sure meetings stay on track and stop your fellow committee members from killing each other when caving politics take over.

In short, you are responsible for everything in general but nothing in particular unless you want/need to be. 

Your responsibility is typically to have a relatively active involvement with the club, chair meetings, speak publicly at events, keep people keen and to do whatever else you can to make sure make sure your club runs smoothly.

Secretary

The power behind the throne and the unsung heroes of caving clubs. A less glamorous title but often equally as important as the president. You’re typically responsible for dealing with the bulk of any official union/guild bureaucracy, hut bookings,  meeting minutes and are typically second in command when the president isn’t around. Again your responsibilities for the day to day running of the club will be shared between you and the rest of the committee but do what you can to keep things organised and refer to your clubs own handover documents for more details.

Treasurer

Highly trusted individuals with an eye for numbers and an apatite for spreadsheets. Your job is to keep your clubs books balanced by collecting debt and reimbursing peoples expenses. Simple right? Yes, but only if you’re organised and stay on top of things if you’re not careful your clubs bank statement will blur into an unclear scripture of -£’s.

Every club’s finances are managed differently,  some clubs own their own bank accounts and have access to convenient online banking. Some clubs have banks controlled by their unions and have to pay for things using BACS transfers.

Either way, it’s up to you to keep a record of trip expenses and trip attendees. A typical formula is for all the expenses from a trip to be split equally among all of the members of a trip. Some clubs choose to ask people to pay after a trip and charge for the trips at cost price either using an app like SplitWise, a spreadsheet or their brain to work out what to charge everyone. Some clubs choose to have a ticketing system where the cost of a trip is estimated beforehand and any loss/profit is absorbed by the club with the aim of the club roughly breaking even by the end of the year. Remember you can make life easier for yourself and others by using their expenses to offset their debt.

And I’m excited to say if you’re a new treasurer you may benefit from this spreadsheet. If you fill it in after each trip I can guarantee you’ll have no trouble keeping track of your clubs finances this year.

Equipment Officer

AKA the Tackle Officer, Gear Sec. What is a caving club without its equipment? Nothing! As your clubs quartermaster, you have the important job of ensuring your clubs kit is safe to use and accessible to people when they need it. You also work with the treasurer and other committee members to determine what new kit needs to be purchased and when old kit needs to be retired. If you’re in the market for new kit and you’re looking for advice, talk to the more experienced members of your club, email the CHECC committee or if he’s about at a CHECC event talk to the wise Tony Seddon of Starless River and if you happen to be in the Dales Inglesport is also a good point of call for kit and advice.

It is also important to remember that the care of your club kit and the state of your kit store is everyone’s responsibility so don’t be scared to remind everyone of that once in a while and feel free to ask for help when conducting any labour intensive Job such as a full kit safety check, rope wash or inventory.

Training Officer

I see you like to shape the minds of budding new cavers. You want to teach them the ropes and be the boss at the climbing wall, purpose-built SRT training facility or SRTree. Good for you, while the President may own their hearts and souls you own their minds.

Now the accident rate in caving is thankfully very low, however, it is important to remember things sometimes do go wrong while caving and it is your job to ensure. A: Things don’t go wrong in the first place and B: that people know what to do in the event that something does go wrong.

But at the same time, it is important to remember there is often more than one way of doing something and it is important to recognise the difference between dangerous practice and different practice. Although this being said clubs tend to have their own standardised method of teaching so just ask around if your unsure. 

There are a number of good books and online resources you can use to upskill in caving but often the best way to gain knowledge is to learn from others, so take advantage of the more experienced members of your caving club and attend the workshops at CHECC.

Social Secretary

Let’s face it, nobody really likes caving it’s cold, it’s wet, it’s muddy and sometimes physically and emotionally traumatic. Thankfully your club has you, a welcome distraction from the misery of caving and a beckon of hope that they will actually be able to have fun with their caving club.

Depending on how ambitious your feeling you can generally organise whatever you want for your club, here are a few examples:

  • Paint Balling
  • Laser Quest
  • Brewery/distillery tours
  • Trampoline parks
  • Theme park visits
  • Escape rooms
  • House Partys
  • Board game nights
  • Movie Nights
  • Pancakes
  • Pub evenings
  • Club nights
  • Bisexual swingers parties

The list is endless, now go and make people happy.

Other positions

Although clubs are primarily by the committee members mentioned above, there are obviously many other opportunities for responsibility within a caving club. Webmaster if your club has/want’s an online presence. Inclusions officer if your club is too white, straight and male. And if you run out of committee positions you can always introduce the classic “Ordinary member” or “Caving Officer” committee positions for people who would like to be involved in the running of the club but need a title to do so, these guys can do things like arrange merchandise orders, write newsletters and organise the odd trip.

But remember you don’t need a committee position to do things for your club. Help with the food shopping, cooking, washing up, hut cleaning, equipment sorting, rope packing, trip planning and route finding if you get stuck in and people will learn to appreciate you and you’ll become an evermore valued member of your caving club.