Caving, mining and potholing in the natural envrionment

Includes: caves, mining, potholing, artificial caving Outdoors, Adventurous activities, Nature and the great outdoors, Land

Age:
5+
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Explore underground

Look beneath the earth's surface - taking girls into caves, mines and potholes means they can have the challenge of climbing and clambering in the dark and get to see the world from a whole new perspective.

Overview

Caving is an adventurous sport which involves the exploration of underground passages and chambers. It includes:

  • Horizontal caving - where caves are often accessed without advanced equipment.
  • Vertical caving - where caves may require rope work and special techniques for access.

To take girls caving, you will need to find a reputable local provider with a qualified instructor. The age limits for caves vary so you should talk to the instructor about:

  • The minimum age for the cave system
  • The minimum size for the equipment available
  • The grading of the cave, pothole or mine you are visiting.

Caving, mining and potholing in the natural environment is an adventurous activity and should follow the adventurous activity policy and procedures.

Approved: 5 May 2021
Version: 1.0
Content owner: Adventure team

Planning checklist

If you or another member of your leadership team is running the activity at an external venue/location, follow these extra steps:

  • Arrange for a home contact. Leave any route or other relevant details with your home contact and complete a home contact agreement form. Let them know about any changes to your plans.
  • Tell your commissioner.
  • Get a copy of the public liability insurance of the activity provider before you book.
  • Check you hold the relevant qualification (if one is needed) to run the activity and let your commissioner know you plan to run it yourself. If you aren't sure, speak to your local adviser to check.
  • Check with the venue that they have the correct equipment and, if needed, specialist clothing that will meet the needs of your group.
  • Get any specialist equipment or clothing needed to run the activity not provided by the venue, and make sure this is in good condition and fit for purpose.
  • Check that any equipment is suitably insured by the provider and agree what happens to the equipment if it gets damaged.
  • Ask for a copy of the venue's safety guidelines and risk assessment (if relevant).
  • Make sure you have the correct ratio of participants (girls, leaders and volunteers) to qualified adults (those running the activity if a qualification is needed). This is different to the ratio of leaders to girls.
  • Consider the ability and experience of the participants and any disabilities, access needs or health conditions and plan the session accordingly.

Some venues might ask for a disclaimer or waiver to be signed for each person taking part in the activity. This is something which parents/carers must sign on behalf of their child. You can do this along with the consent form. Parents and carers should be given sufficient information from the provider along with the waiver so they can make an informed decision to sign it or not. Leaders can only sign disclaimers and waivers for their own personal participation. 

If you're working with an external provider or external instructors to run this activity outside the unit meeting space, follow these extra steps. 

  • Arrange for a home contact. Leave any route or other relevant details with your home contact and complete a home contact agreement form. Let them know if you make any changes to your plans.
  • Tell your local commissioner.
  • Tell the activity provider about the ability and experience of the participants and any disabilities, access needs or health conditions that need to be considered when running the activity.
  • Choose a reputable and licensed activity provider (where applicable).
  • Check the qualified adults hold the correct qualification to be able to run the activity (see the information below).
  • Get copies of the instructor qualifications and public liability insurance of the activity provider before you book.
  • Ask for a copy of the providers' safety guidelines and risk assessment.
  • Make sure you have the correct ratio of participants (girls and volunteers) to qualified adults (those running the activity). This is different to the ratio of leaders to girls.
  • Check with the venue that they have the correct equipment and, if needed, specialist clothing that will meet the requirements for your group.
  • Source any specialist equipment or clothing needed to run the activity not provided by the venue, and make sure this is in good condition and fit for purpose.
  • Check that any equipment is suitably insured by the provider and agree what happens to the equipment if it gets damaged.

Some venues might ask for a disclaimer or waiver to be signed for each person taking part in the activity. This is something which parents/carers must sign on behalf of their child. You can do this along with the consent form. Parents and carers should be given sufficient information from the provider along with the waiver so they can make an informed decision to sign it or not. Leaders can only sign disclaimers and waivers for their own personal participation.

The activity instructor must hold one of the following British Caving Association (BCA) qualifications:

  • Local cave and mine leader assessment scheme, level 1 or level 2
  • Cave instructor certificate
  • Vertical cave leader award.

If you are unsure, or alternative qualifications are held, consult your outdoor activities adviser or contact [email protected] to check the qualification is suitable.

If anyone is under the age of 18, and the activity involves the use of climbing or diving equipment or the application of specialist skills or techniques, the provider must be licenced by the Adventurous Activities Licencing Authority. AALA are not applicable in Northern Ireland, but Adventuremark is a suitable adventure activity accreditation scheme for  Northern Ireland. Or you can ask your local outdoor activities adviser to recommend an approved provider.

Leave this information with your home contact:

  • The names of everyone going underground
  • Details of the cave, mine or pothole system you are visiting. Where relevant, include the specific part of the system you're visiting.
  • The route you are taking
  • Your expected return time.

Let your home contact know when you have returned.

Make sure that all equipment is checked by the instructor before going underground.

Make sure the instructor has a first aid kit, emergency food, emergency group shelter and spare lighting to take underground.

Activity ratios

The ratios below are given as a maximum. These must be considered as part of the risk assessment. This may lessen due to any medical conditions, physical ability or other factors.

Leadership team ratio 

As this activity will take place outside of your usual meeting place the leadership team adult to child ratio is mandatory.

  • Rainbows: 1:5, at least 2 adults
  • Brownies: 1:8  
  • Guides: 1:12 
  • Rangers: 1 Girlguiding leader

We recommend at least one adult volunteer has up-to-date knowledge of water safety and rescue techniques, for example, has completed the Girlguiding water safety training module. 

Qualified adult: participant ratio 


The qualified adult should determine what size of group is safe. There must be enough qualified adults to ensure the safety of all participants.

his will be determined by any limitations placed on their qualification or permit, or by the rules of their operating organisation as well as the risk assessment. It should taken into consideration the location, weather and experience of both the qualified adult and other participants. This risk assessment should be assessed by the leader and any concerns raised to the qualified adult.

Forms

  • An Activity Information and Consent form is required to participate in this activity - PDF | Word
  • A Risk Assessment form is required for this activity - PDF

Remember - you can use one consent form for multiple activities