See also the Short Version.
Congratulations on volunteering to co-ordinate a meet. You are a Caving Star.
This is the stuff that needs doing - feel free to delegate any or all of it,
just make sure someone responsible is doing it.
A week / 10 days before the meet
- Actively encourage people to go on the weekend. Start by sending an
email to firstname.lastname@example.org and
email@example.com . Also give the weekend a mention on the
Facebook group and/or WhatsApp.
- Get people to tell you they're coming and their dietary requirements-
you need to plan food as well as transport.
- Where possible, get people to pay in advance on the University
Stores (there is a Miscellaneous Trip Payments link which is useful for
people not travelling from Oxford). For new members you may need to insist
on this, we don't know yet if they're the type to come on the weekend then
disappear without paying anything. People who are driving and dislike the
University Stores can pay for petrol and have the balance settled afterwards
instead. However it does help to keep things organised and prevent the
weekend getting overbooked if everyone goes through the Stores and then gets
the full amount of expenses refunded afterwards. If people are being
awkward, some other payment methods are suggested at the bottom of the contacts
- If you know in advance that the weekend will be busy e.g. it's a
Freshers' trip in Michaelmas term, make sure a minibus is booked at this
point. Talk to the Meets Sec: they may have booked one already.
- Get the driver(s) and transport sorted out as soon as you can - see next
section.. Do not just assume drivers will appear! We have sometimes had to
cancel trips because this vital element was left to too late and we found we
had no drivers. Only a few people are qualified to drive a minibus under the
University scheme; and commercial rental places usually have quite
stringent licence type and age requirements. A few members have their own
For CHECC, there are a couple of extra tasks. You will need to start trying
to organise the weekend a bit earlier than usual. First find out when the CHECC
deadline is. The best way to do this is to keep an eye on the CHECC
Facebook group, they do most of their communication there. Make sure you
tell CHECC who's coming and what their dietary requirements are before the
deadline. Sometimes there are two deadlines with tickets at different prices.
You will not get everyone signed up before the earlier deadline, but you can ask
for tickets in two batches. CHECC are normally fine with last minute changes
where the numbers stay the same, but they do like to be told so they have the
correct names on their list. You may even be able to squeeze in an extra person
or two post deadline but don't count on it. Make sure CHECC get paid at some
point between when the numbers are finalised and the CHECC weekend itself.
The other task for CHECC is fancy dress. Each club at CHECC needs a fancy
dress theme for the Friday night party. We don't need to try and win the fancy
dress contest- hardly anyone at Oxford has the time or inclination to make a
good costume, but we should participate. Try to pick a theme that can be done
fairly easily and doesn't involve trying to get giant cardboard box robots on
the minibus. Another thing to bear in mind is that while a certain amount of
nudity is traditional at CHECC, a lot of the venues are bloody cold. Consider if
a theme where costumes are warm or can be worn over normal clothes is a good
idea. Having a vote on the theme is nice but not necessary. Try to get
discussions going or set up a vote earlier in term if you're going to do this.
If you're running out of time, just declare a theme yourself. People prefer
having a good week or so to get their costume together (some days are busier
than others) than being able to vote on the costume.
Depending on the number of people and number of car owners/van drivers,
choose from 3 options as outlined below:
- Use members' cars. Suggest the drivers note how much they spend on
petrol so they can reclaim it afterwards.
- Rent a minibus or MPV from Hotson's Eurodrive, the company the
University has a deal with. Drivers need to have passed the University's
minibus driving test - several club members now have. You will need to book
through the Sports Fed website, not directly with Hotson's. If you can't
access the transport booking page, get a current student to help you. Note
that a 9 seater MPV is very useful, it generally has enough boot space that
all 9 seats can be used. A 7 seater MPV is much less useful, it's just a big
car with 2 seats in the boot that will probably need to be removed to fit
any caving kit in. On a weekend particularly likely to be busy, a Hotson's
minibus may have been pre-booked by the meets sec, find out and if you're
not using it, you need to cancel them a.s.a.p. You should do this through Sports
Fed but it might be a good idea to contact Hotson's directly
as well. (Hotson's officially require 48 hours' notice for cancellations,
but to avoid hassles give them as much notice as you possibly can.) Note
that the pick-up and return place for Eurodrive is at Horspath Industrial
Estate, 36 Pony Rd, Oxford OX4 2RD: a fair old way from Oxford centre if
you're on a bike!
- Hire a vehicle outside the red card scheme - this is more expensive than
the other two options, but it's a workable solution if you have people who
can drive bigger vehicles than they own but don't have a red card. Daily
Info has some possibly useful info on car hire places. The earlier you
book, the more likely you are to get (a) a car (b) a cheap car - ringing the
day before has sometimes worked in the past, but often it doesn't, so leave
time. For hire cars the driver almost invariably needs to be over 21 (in
fact almost invariably needs to be over 23, but some companies have stricter
requirements than others).
When hiring a vehicle, either with or without the red card scheme, check that
the driver can get to the hire place before it closes. Some of the hire places
have particularly unhelpful opening hours, so if the driver is working, they may
need to pick up the vehicle in their lunch break.
The week before a meet
- As soon as you have a rough idea of who's going from Oxford, try to plan
transport for Oxford people (see above). People coming from elsewhere tend
to sort themselves out. This is usually the hardest part of organising the
weekend, so get on with it when you can.
- Think about leaders. Is the ratio of novices to experienced cavers OK?
If it's an SRT weekend, do you have enough people who can rig and/or
supervise people who need supervision with their SRT? If not, try sending
individual emails to experienced cavers to see if they can be persuaded to
join in. It might also be worth doing this if visiting a cave with complex
routefinding and no-one who knows the way, but in this case printing off and
laminating some surveys and route descriptions might be sufficient.
- More encouragement for people to come on the weekend. Vocal
advertisement on the Wednesday night and a few emails/phone calls to
individual members tends to do the trick. (Some people actually need poking
to go caving, apparently. I know it's pathetic, but c'est la vie.)
- If new people are on the weekend, make sure they have filled in the personal
- Send an email telling people coming on the weekend when & where to meet
for transport from Oxford (often 6pm Friday at the hut, but whatever) and
anything else they need to know. If new or newish people are on the weekend,
include a list of what they need to bring.
- Delegate food-buying, if you're not doing it yourself (see below).
- Find out from your incredibly friendly local Meets Sec what the
arrangements for accommodation keys are.
- Also get any permits from the Meets Sec. If you can
remember to take them with you too, so much the better - you're one up on me
- Note the postcode of the hut so people can find directions to it if they
don't know where they're going.
Thursday / Friday
"Home Agent", Names and Personal Details:
Get copies of the personal details of all those coming on the trip. If you
have access to the database, this is most easily done by cut&paste copying the
details for each person coming on the trip into a seperate spreadsheet. If you
don't have access, ask the Secretary , Meets Sec or Treasurer to provide details
of those signed up. These data are sensitive, and your records of them must be
deleted asap after the trip is home and safe. If you find soemone hasn't
submitted their details yet, chase them up.
It is a good idea to find a "Home Agent" - someone responsible, and who is an
experienced caver, who is not coming on the trip ,who can act as a call-out if
needed, and a point of contact if anything goes wrong. Steve Roberts is normally
happy to do this, but if he is not available, find someone else trustworthy.
Send the Home Agent the personal details info of those coming on the trip, and
details of where you are staying, any vehicle registration numbers, caves likely
to be done, and anything else they might find useful if the worst happens. Some
details might need updating with them on Friday or Saturday.
Trip Registration with OUSF
Let the Meet
Sec know and you or they must register the trip with Sports Fed. The
procedure for doing this changes pretty often, see if you can find something
suitable on the Sports Fed website. If not, email the OUSF Safety Officer,
currently David White [firstname.lastname@example.org]
giving the location and contact details for the trip together with the names of
everyone going on the trip, with colleges for current students and next of kin
details for people not at University. It is not expected that this name list be
100% accurate, a best effort will suffice. This is useful for the University in
the event of an incident. David White prefers this information in a spreadsheet,
ask for an empty spreadsheet from the Meets Sec if you don't have one already.
First check the food box in the hut - use whatever you
can from there, especially semi-perishables, before buying more stuff. The Hut
Has Spices (and usually some marge, tea, coffee, sugar, cooking oil, pasta,
often other stuff too). Club policy is normally to be relatively skinflintish on
shared food (some of us don't have incomes, and people with money can treat
themselves individually!) - so mainly go for Value brands etc. You can buy free
range eggs though, chickens do not need to be abused in the name of caving.
Also, rock-bottom price sausages can be pretty nasty, or so I'm told; so go up a
You'll normally need 2 breakfasts, 1 evening meal, and choccy bars for
Tips on what food to buy - ignore this if you know what you're doing
- Breakfast is English fried, i.e. toast / bacon / eggs /
sausages / mushrooms / baked beans; it has to be big as has to power several
hours caving with no lunch. I generally go with 2 sausages, 1.5 eggs, 1 hash
brown, 1/3 tin of beans, 1/5 carton of orange juice per person per day, plus
one slice of bacon per meat eater per day and lots of mushrooms. For veggie
sausaages, the frozen ones are usually cheaper and just as good. There's
about 15 hash browns per bag. I know 1.5 eggs sounds weird, but 1 is a bit
stingy and 2 leads to lots left over. Generally round upwards unless the
difference is very small, so we're tending towards too much food rather than
too little. I find bread only tends to get eaten if there's not enough of
the other stuff, I normally just get one loaf unless it's a really big
weekend with ~20 people or something, then I get two (and still end up
begging people to take bread home).
- Evening meal - "caver slop" (= pasta and a suitable
mixture of vegetables and e.g tinned chickpeas, often including tinned
tomatoes), or (better) use your imagination/recipe book. Making the main
evening meal veggie saves hassle. Quantities are a bit harder to judge for
dinner since it's not the same each time, but per person 100g of pasta/rice,
1/2 tin of beans/chickpeas if that's the main protein source, 1/3 box of
passata, vegetables that look like a sensible amount (including at least 1/2
an onion per person, usually more like 1 per person) should work. For
example, 1 onion, 1 pepper, 1 medium carrot, 1/3 of a courgette per person,
but try not to make it the same every time. Plus a big block of cheese
unless the dinner is supposed to be curry or something.
- Snacks: Also get a carton or 2 of milk for tea, some
chocolate bars for caving (if there are vegans, Fry's chocolate or granola
bars should work), and perhaps some cheap snacks to discourage eating the
caving chocolate above ground- bourbon biscuits and satsumas or something of
Note that while English fried breakfast is preferred, it's not essential.
When camping and cooking on campstoves, make sure you stay within your
abilities. Mornflakes with raisins can work, there are mountains of mornflakes
in the hut and just have to boil water and pour it onto the mornflakes in the
bowl. In Summer (especially when you need an early start as for Otter Hole),
consider just having muesli or granola. This way you can get a decent amount of
food into the cavers without getting the stoves working at all. For an evening
meal, consider disposable barbeques and barbeque style food.
Group gear - pick this up from the hut. Depending on what
trips you're doing, you'll need a mixture of ropes / ladders / spreaders / wires
/ tapes / hangers / maillons / tackle bags. You always have too much, except
when you think "we always have too much" and go minimalist - take lots!
Personal Gear: If any novices are coming, they'll need gear.
Make sure each novice has a helmet with light, undersuit, oversuit, belt,
wellies, SRT kit if applicable, and a bag to keep it in. There are even some
club kneepads and wetsocks now. If there aren't enough SRT kits it may be
possible to borrow some from club members. Also check that everyone has a
sleeping bag; there are actually quite a lot of club sleeping bags now but
they're no use if they stay in Oxford. Finally try to get across the point that
they should keep track of their gear and look after it as if it was their own.
Adding a bit of masking tape with their name on it to their kit bag might help.
Pick up a gate key from Sports Fed so we can get back in on Sunday evening.
Personal details list: make sure it's up to date, that you
take a copy with you in a form you can access even if there is no
wifi or phone signal, and that the "Home Agent "has the current
On the weekend itself
- Make sure any trips with anyone with no caving experience get treated as
special novice trips - i.e. there is a designated experienced "leader"; see
for novices on novice trips" and "guidelines
for leaders on novice trips".
- Make sure any novices & inexperienced cavers get suitable (& good!)
- Make sure each caving trip has call-out arrangements, and not just with
other caving teams.
- Do a safety and conservation talk for those on their first trip.
- After caving, show novices where the drying room is and how to use a
- Cancel any call-outs.
- Make sure the accommodation is left very clean and tidy - **this
is important**, keeps people sweet and will make sure we don't have any
future hassles getting places to stay. Also apparently it is polite, or some
similarly alien concept. Also make sure the keys go back to the right place
when you leave.
- If the hut fees have not been paid upfront, pay them on the weekend.
- Remind people who have spent money on petrol, food, hut fees etc to
email you and/or the treasurer with what they have spent so it can be
reimbursed. If relevant, email the treasurer a summary of weekend finances.
You can include info such as what you spent, who paid for the main costs of
the weekend, whether anyone paid in a non-standard way, and whether there's
anything else about finances that's unusual/ needs sorting out.
If there is an Incident or Accident
- If something goes wrong (party overdue, road accident, whatever) let the
Home Agent know,no matter what time it
is, and seek their advice.
- Either you or the Home agent must contact the
University Security Services on 01865 272944 - they
are open 24/7.
- Keep the Home Agent and the Security Services informed as the situation progresses.
- After the trip returns, submit an incident report to the Sports
If you can't contact your Home Agent:
Ring 999, ask for Police and when the Police answer, get transferred if needed
to the local force for your region and then ask them to alert Cave Rescue.
Useful phone numbers
Bull Pot Farm phone: 015242 71837
Greenclose: unlucky - no phone!
The Belfry phone: 01749 672126
MCG hut phone: 01761 462797
MNRC hut phone: 01761 241 609
Wessex hut phone: 01749 672310
SWCC hut phone: 01639 730613
WSG cottage phone: 01685 811080
Whitewalls phone: 01873 811510
Steve Roberts (OUCC President): 01865 432888; 07810 542598;
David White (Safety Officer, OU Sports Federation):: 01865 611478:
University Security Services: 01865 272944;