Porth yr Ogof by Gary Evans
As the National Governing Body for Cave and Mine Exploration in the UK, the British Caving Association recognises the valuable contribution Outdoor Education Centres provide to young people in the UK, providing a safe introduction to the wonders and adventures to be had underground.
Outdoor Education Centres across the UK are currently facing an unprecedented threat to their existence, as guidance from the Department of Education prohibit Centres from offering residential courses. As a result, thousands of young people every day are missing, what are often, once in a lifetime opportunities. Experiences which are invaluable to their personal and social development, bring curricular subjects to life, promote healthy lifestyles and physical well-being and develop confidence and self-esteem. No activity undertaken addresses these educational aims more thoroughly than an underground adventure.
The BCA administers the Local Cave & Mine Leader Award Scheme and Cave Instructor Certificate with over 700 active instructors/leaders in the UK, many of whom are employed by Outdoor Educations Centres. The sector has seen nearly 3,000 job losses due to the Coronavirus pandemic and are looking at a further 3,000 more before the end of the year, with an estimated £500m loss in revenue since the end of March. There is no doubt Centres who’ve been delivering Cave and Mine Exploration, together with a host of other adventurous activities for generations, are on the cusp of closing their doors forever.
Whereas most schools, gyms, climbing walls, hotels and hostels are able to open, Outdoor Centres are having to keep their doors closed. These Centres are experts in risk management and confident they can deliver adventure activities and overnight stays in a safe manner.
The BCA fully support the #SaveOutdoorEd campaign and would encourage cavers to write to their MPs to apply pressure to the government to support these Centres by reversing the DofE guidance to remain closed and provide financial support to Centres so they can retain their staff.