Introduction

The Caving Club Training Scheme is designed to be run by club cavers for club cavers.

The last decade has seen a tremendous increase in the use of the underground environment as a recreational medium by different groups and organisations. Insensitive, excessive and unskilled use of this fragile but hostile environment has led to a dramatic increase in conservation and access problems throughout Britain. Cavers have a special responsibility for the care and appropriate use of Britain's caves, potholes and mines. This period has also seen too many tragic or near tragic incidents involving novice parties taken underground by inexperienced and incompetent "cavers".

Formal leadership accreditations were seen as undesirable in the club scene, however newcomers to caving are seeking training and assessment of their individual skills. The BCA schemes are designed for leadership; hence the club scheme is designed for the novice caver through to leader training.

Purpose

The Caving Club Training Scheme provides a report on the competence of every caver on each level of all modules. This is both beneficial to the club as a reference for trips etc. and to the individual caver for monitoring improvement. The main considerations are equally the safety of the group and the conservation of a fragile environment.

Training

Training courses are an essential part of the Caving Club Training Scheme and give cavers a clear idea of standards required in basic movement, equipment, technical skills, conservation awareness and other vital areas of the Scheme syllabus. Training, specific to the requirements of the CCTS is only provided by trainers registered with the scheme. (Particulars are available from the DCA Training Officer).

Attendance on a training course for each module is strongly recommended before undertaking assessments. Experience has shown that candidates who have not attended a training course for the module they are being assessed for will very likely fall short of the required standard.

Cavers wishing to join or who have joined one of the UK’s many caving clubs as a novice will find the experience varies from an enjoyable introduction to the fascinating world beneath our feet or a nightmare journey into a seriously difficult cave. The fortunate caver who experiences the first may well become a lifelong convert to club caving, whereas the second is likely, with good reason, to seek out thrills elsewhere.

Cavers do not welcome controls or regimentation, however most of us respond to a challenge and the opportunity to learn new skills or hone up old ones. Clubs with a healthy attitude to training tend to grow, whilst those who ignore it or treat it like some ancient right of passage to manhood, may find their numbers dwindle.

The Club Training Officer (CTO)

Many clubs already have a CTO to whom it usually falls to organise and supervise training for newly joined novice cavers; the CTO may also called upon to provide the more advanced technical training such as SRT. In both these instances the CTO may choose to undertake the training personally or to delegate it to a more competent club member: The CTO may also choose to buy in the skills of a qualified instructor.

The Syllabus

The syllabus is divided into five modules. Basic Caving, Vertical (non-SRT), Vertical (SRT), Pitch Rigging & Club Coaching.

Each module must be completed before progressing to the next module. The syllabus as set out below offers the CTO the means to achieve a high standard of competence entirely relevant to the club caver and which can be verified by assessment. It can additionally be used by the CTO as a means of motivating and monitoring the individual club caver.

It is important to emphasise that the CTO need only be dedicated to the concept and value of training and that satisfactory completion of the syllabus offers just one route to recognition; it is perfectly acceptable and effective for an appointed CTO to operate as a club coach. Scope There are 5 modules, each with varying levels from novice caver to cave leader. Those wishing to operate beyond this scheme will be introduced to the LC/MLA Scheme or, if they wish to undertake more ambitious objectives, they will be encouraged to register for the Cave Instructor Certificate (CIC) Scheme.

The DCA Workshops

There are a number of DCA workshops running regularly every year from SRT to leader training. Contact the DCA training officer for further details and dates. The Derbyshire Caving Association’s Training Officer is dedicated to improving the recreational cavers' awareness of all aspects of the underground environment and in particular, the technical skills and knowledge necessary to explore caves, potholes and mines with optimum safety and comfort.

Nigel Atkins, 2 May 2017