Editorial

A quick glance at this year's membership list suggests that Croydon Caving Club continues to thrive. The number of members is now probably higher than it has been at any time since the earliest days of the Club. A closer scrutiny of the list shows that an increasing proportion of the members now live well away from Croydon. There are two reasons for this: people who have moved away from the area are continuing to keep. their membership up-to-date and others who have heard of the Club through staying at Godre Pentre are choosing to join. Both of these are very welcome developments. They also present interesting new challenges as to how the Club can best serve its "out of town" members. For the new members we need to make sure that they are made to feel welcome and rapidly become as fully integrated into the Club as possible. For those who have retained membership after moving away, we need to keep them in touch with the Club's activities by every means available. To some extent it is a matter of communication, and both Chris Fry's admirable Newsletter and Pelobates try to provide this. But it is also a matter of providing events with particular appeal to these categories of member. Their needs have to be considered when scheduling the caving programme as well as those of the Croydon based members. Events such as the barbeques which are held from time to time at Godre Pentre, or the recent, experimental "family weekend" provide a special focus for ALL members. Provided that these are widely advertised in sufficient time before they happen they should help keep the Club united. Also, there is no reason why caving trips overseas (whether expeditions or holidays) should be restricted to those able to go to the Blacksmith's Arms on a Wednesday evening: all members should be canvassed and efforts made to accommodate those from outside the South East.

Another consequence of the changes to the geographical distribution of the Club's membership is that we may need to re-think aspects of its bureaucracy. At one level we may need to reflect on whether the opinions of those members who cannot attend the Annual General Meeting are properly represented. Do we, for example, need to amend the constitution to permit postal or proxy voting? At another level we should perhaps be encouraging a wider spread of the Club Officer posts. The functioning of the Club as an entity is related largely to the efforts of the committee members. As the Club grows it requires more effort to organise and hence demands more of the Committee's time. It is unreasonable to expect individuals to give up too much of their time to running the Club. There are disadvantages, both to them as individuals and to the Club itself, if they devote themselves soley to the bureaucracy and miss out on the active caving. It is also highly unlikely that a small coterie of perpetually elected officers can adequately reflect the changing nature of the Club and aspirations of its members. Indeed it is possible that a Committee so constituted could eventually stifle the growth and development of the Club rather than lead and enhance it. However, there are obvious difficulties in electing Committee Members without considering their ability to actually attend the Committee's meetings; although even these might be lessened if we tackled them flexibly. Why, for instance, do we need so many Committee Meetings? Surely collective decisions are not required that frequently. Cannot we leave the actual operations to individual Officers once the policy has been settled? Again, could we not hold Committee Meetings at Godre Pentre? (Timed to coincide with some "special event" weekend, maybe?) That would swing the balance of the Committee more towards the active cavers, away from the armchair variety. And finally why is it assumed that all Officers have to be Committee Members? There seems to me to be no good reason why, for instance the next Editor of Pelobates should be based within commuting distance of Croydon; there is no need for this person to sit on the Committee at all. The same is probably true of other posts as well. The rewards to be gained from fresh thinking such as this could be even more new members to enhance the Club's future development.

Author: 
Martin Hatton