BMC Student Club Officers Handbook

This handbook is for the officers and committee members of student climbing, walking and mountaineering clubs and aims to provide you with good practice advice to use within your club.

Running a student club can sometimes be a daunting task. Suddenly you have the responsibility for a gaggle of keen and often inexperienced climbers and walkers, and they’re looking to you to lead the way. How do you manage their enjoyment whilst keeping them safe? Once the hard bits are done though, being an officer of a student club is one of the most rewarding jobs around.

This aim of this guide is to hopefully make your lives a little bit easier. We’ve collected ideas from other students who’ve been in your position and brought together lots of resources that cover the issues student climbing and hillwalking clubs regularly face. It should act as your quick reference to all the help and support that’s out there so you can spend more of your time out in the mountains.

Handbook Contents

The British Mountaineering Council is the national representative body that exists to protect the freedoms and promote the interests of climbers, hill walkers and mountaineers, including ski-mountaineers. Currently with over 85,000 members, including more than 26,000 members of 280+ affiliated clubs like yours.

The BMC carries out a diverse range of work on behalf of its members, most importantly working to maintain access to hills and crags all over the country and promoting their conservation through the Access & Conservation Trust. Safety is encouraged by providing a range of literature, films, workshops and lectures to help members develop their skills and its technical committee advises on equipment safety and contribute to international standards.

As an affiliated student club, your members can access a range of benefits. These include discounts with our partners Cotswold Outdoor, Snow+Rock, access to BMC Travel Insurance and discounts in the BMC Shop.  Your members also receive one copy of Summit, the BMC Members’ magazine, per year plus they can access all 4 quarterly issues with the Summit app. More info here:

As an affiliated student club, you’re part of a community of almost 60 clubs attached to universities and colleges all over England and Wales. On top of all the standard member benefits, your club can access a wealth of knowledge and advice from clubs reps, BMC staff and officers of other university clubs to help your clubs get out in the hills. This advice ranges from training and skill development, through recruitment to linking to other clubs and accessing funding.

READ: All the benefits of affiliating your club to the BMC

If you’ve got any questions or issues, we’re here to support you, so please get in touch! Here’s a list of friendly people you can contact.

Jane Thompson | Clubs Development Officer

07885 910606 |

Jane is the full-time Clubs, Huts & Volunteers Officer at the BMC. Her role is to support clubs whether it is by training members and training club officers, advising on recruiting members, developing meets programmes, accessing funding, or providing governance advice, health and safety advice, and insurance guidance, and much more.

Having worked in sports development since graduating many years ago, been a member of the committee of her mountaineering club and been active in the outdoors since childhood she has lots of experience and knowledge to draw upon. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Membership Services Team

0161 455 6111 |

As a BMC affiliated club you need to register all of your members with the BMC. This is a simple process as it can all be done online via Membership Services Online (MSO).  MSO is a tool for clubs that makes registering your members and updating their details really easy.  The club can identify more than one person to have access to the data, which can be especially useful for clubs that, for example, need the membership secretary (to input member details), someone from the Student Union or Athletes Union (for payments), plus the communications officer (to access email addresses) all to be able to access the database.

Once all members are registered the members and the club will benefit from the combined liability insurance and the other member benefits.  If you have any questions about registration then contact the Membership Services Team.

There are many different areas of the BMC that represent and support your club and its members. We’re a member-led organisation, and there’s loads of ways you can get involved.

BMC Clubs’ Committee

The BMC Clubs Committee (Clubs Comm) is one of several specialist committees within the BMC. Clubs Comm is tasked with supporting those clubs affiliated to the BMC by providing improved communication channels between the BMC centrally and the clubs. Activities include championing the cause of clubs at National Council and Board level, the provision of the annual Clubs Seminar, regular mailings to clubs (from the Clubs Comm reps), and the student-focused support detailed below.

Student Panel
The Student Panel is a small group of current student club officers from a variety of different university mountaineering/climbing/walking clubs, who link up online to discuss all things relating to student clubs.  The aim is to help the Clubs Comm reps identify issues affecting student clubs, gather the views of student clubs and to help shape the support the BMC gives its student clubs, this guide being an example of ideas that come to life!  We will periodically need new volunteers to get involved to make sure we’ve got current students on board, so if you’re interested in helping out, get in touch with the Clubs Comm reps.

BMC Local Areas
Local areas are where a lot of the BMC’s work on the ground gets done. All BMC members are welcome to attend the meetings in your local area, where there’s opportunities to discuss local access issues and to help influence decisions and policy in the local area and on national issues. Details of the different areas and their upcoming meetings can be found on the dedicated BMC local areas site.

Student club affiliation with the BMC runs in tandem to the academic year – 1st October to 30th September. This means that on 1st October each year the annual renewal for your club and its members becomes due. From 1st October you will be able to log-in to Membership Services Online (MSO) and start submitting your membership records.

Membership Services Online (MSO)

MSO is the system that the BMC uses to allow clubs direct access to update the data on their club members directly in to the BMC database.  There is no need to send in spreadsheets, just log in and check the information in real-time.

You can update the details on any member at any time in MSO, but just don’t submit a member before 1st October or they will be registered for the previous membership year!

If you are new to MSO you will need to arrange a log-in to the system.  Contact the BMC office for more information: / 0161 438 3325

If you need some advice on using MSO click here to get the user manual.

If you want to log-in directly to MSO click here

If your club wasn't affiliated during the previous membership year, please continue to the end of this page.

Renewal Period

To allow clubs time to update their records and complete their payment we offer a ‘renewal period’ during which time clubs can complete the renewal of their members and add in new members.  This window runs from 1st October – 31st December.  During this time any member of your club who was a member in the previous academic year will continue to receive the combined liability insurance benefit whilst the club completes the renewal.  This gives peace of mind to your members and to your club committee that there is continuation of insurance cover.

Membership Fees

The BMC membership fees for student club members depends on the status of each member.

  • For students (including undergraduates and postgraduates), the rate is £18.75
  • For non-students (including members of staff, graduate members), the rate is £23.90

Other key points

  • We offer clubs the option of assigning a ‘Communications Contact’ who will also be copied in to communications from the office or the student club reps on the BMC Clubs’ Committee.  This will help clubs to ensure that the various emails arrive with the committee, even if the usual club contact is busy with uni work, or away, or otherwise unable to deal with emails for a period of time.  The type of emails will include renewal reminders, training course information, notifications about guidance notes updates, other support specifically designed for BMC-affiliated and/or university clubs.

  • It is a requirement of BMC affiliation that all members of the club become members of the BMC. This also ensures that the combined liability cover is validated for all members, including the club officers.

Re-affiliating after a period of non-affiliation

For clubs that weren't affiliated in the previous membership year there is a short re-joining form that you will need to complete.  Click here for the Word version, or click here for the PDF version.  You will need to include your current club constitution and any club rules that you have when you return the form. If you have any questions about this please contact

New clubs

If your club hasn't been affiliated to the BMC before then please check out this article for more information about affiliating your club, and a link to the support pack and application form.

Other support

There is lots of other support that is available to clubs:

The BMC produces a wealth of resources for hill and rock skills.  They’re great for improving your own abilities, but don’t forget they are great for sharing to your members, so they can explore new skills as they get into climbing.

BMC Articles

Rock Climbing:
Climbing Walls:
Hill Walking:
Winter Climbing and Walking:

BMC YouTube

If you prefer things visual, there are 200+ videos in the skills section on BMC TV YouTube covering everything from how to place a nut to navigation tips for winter walking.  There are also good films available from some of our partners – on YouTube there are useful films from Mountain Training, Plas y Brenin and Mountaineering Scotland.

Recorded Webinars

The Club Support Webinar Programme is designed for the officers, leaders and volunteers within affiliated clubs. These will be a mixture of workshops, Q&A’s, and lectures.

WATCH: Club support webinars


The BMC also publishes handy guides for new hillwalkers, climbers and alpinists.  They summarise a huge range of info into one useful little booklet, great for novices that are just getting started and need some tips on how to get going.

New Hill Walkers

New Rock Climbers

New Alpinists


Transport can often be a limiting factor on club trips, especially if many of your members don’t have their own cars. Often Students’ Unions will have their own transport policies, especially if your SU has its own minibuses or schemes to help you hire externally, so refer to them in the first instance. If you have any issues or queries to do with car sharing or using minibuses, the BMC’s club guidelines on Transport offers a good summary.

Club Huts

If you’re stuck for somewhere to stay BMC affiliated clubs, you have access to a variety of Club Huts around the country which make great bases for exploring the mountains.

READ: BMC Huts list and guides

Top Tips for Top Trips:

  • Get organised. Book your huts and transport way in advance.
  • Download the BMC RAD App, and check it every time you head to a crag.
  • Be inclusive. Make sure everyone can get something out of the trip.
  • Talk to others at the crag. Friendly chats can solve many issues.
  • Involve newer members in decisions. Then they can learn why you made them.
  • Climbing gear is heavy! Be aware of the maximum loads of any vehicles.
  • Don’t rely on the Great British Weather! Have a plan B in case the weather’s miserable

The BMC produces two Green Guides for groups of Climbers and Walkers that are a must read to help you minimise your impact if you’re taking groups outdoors. The BMC Regional Access Database contains lots of information about access, approach and conservation at crags all over the UK and is an important tool to help assess whether a crag is suitable for your group.

Often on club trips you will end up in large groups out on the hills, so be mindful of the impact you might have on others and on the environment. Choose your venues carefully, can they handle the numbers you’re taking or are you better splitting and heading to different places? Even at a large crag, split into smaller teams and spread out. When working with novices, make sure they know about crag etiquette, litter, access and caring for the rock and make sure you lead by example.

Your club may own a wide variety of safety-critical equipment for use by your members and it is the responsibility of the club to take reasonable steps to ensure that equipment is reasonably safe for use by members.

By making sure you have a good system of record keeping in place, you can greatly reduce the amount of work involved. Remember, student clubs often have a high membership turnover; how will future committees know when to retire all the new gear you buy this year?

  • Your club should have a record of age and usage of all your club’s pooled equipment, as well as records of any inspections, which should be done periodically by a responsible person. Consider setting a retire-by date for new gear, in line with manufacturer recommendations. When you have to retire gear because it is damaged or too old, make sure you properly dispose of it so it can’t make its way back into the system.

  • Make sure your gear is stored somewhere secure, dry and away from any chemicals that may damage it. Access is important, can you always know where your gear has been if anyone from the club can take gear whenever they like?

  • Your members should know how to check whether equipment is safe before using it. Point them in the right direction of expert advice if they are unsure (guides below!) and consider a code of conduct for your members who borrow pooled gear.

  • Much of this information comes from the Club Equipment guidelines, available on the BMC Club Support page

  • The BMC also provides a wealth of technical information on the correct care and use of many types of safety-critical equipment. It publishes the comprehensive Care & Maintenance booklet as well as individual guides to specific kinds of kit, essential reading for all new kit secs!

BMC Participation Statement:

"Climbing, hill walking and mountaineering can provide life-long physical, social and mental health benefits through exercise and adventure in amazing environments. The BMC recognises that these activities involve a risk of personal injury or death. Participants should be aware of and accept these risks and be responsible for their own actions and impacts on others."

All of your members should be aware of and have understood this statement, and accept the risks involved. Despite accepting that accidents can happen, we all have a legal duty not to act in a way that might reasonably be expected to put others at risk. This duty of care applies proportionally according to a person’s knowledge, thus more experienced members of a mixed-ability group would be expected to make more informed choices based on their experience.

A simple rule of thumb when mentoring a novice climber/walker is to make sure the objective is well within your own ability and experience, as well as being reasonably expected to be within the ability of the group. Making these sensible choices and sustaining the principal of personal responsibility, by making sure members are aware of and accept the risks they take in their activities, goes a long way to fulfilling your duty of care.

DOWNLOAD: Club Guidelines: Risk, Responsibility, Duty of Care & Liability

It is good practice to formally review the risks for certain activities, for example training for novice climbers at an outdoor venue.  This will help you provide a better experience for your novice members whilst also providing you with evidence that the risks have been formally considered in the event of an accident.

The Risk Management guidance notes contains a template risk management plan which contains pointers for areas to consider specifically when taking novices outdoors.

Clubs Combined Liability Insurance

As a BMC affiliated club, you are covered by the Clubs’ Combined Liability Insurance.  This protects your club and its members from negligence claims against them for injury, financial loss or damage to property, arising from the club’s activities and for individual club members when they are participating in mountaineering activities whether on a club event or not.  This includes committee members performing their responsibilities as officers of the club.  All the information and documentation for the policy is now available on a dedicated website - - and we’d recommend having a read through to familiarise yourself with what is and isn’t covered.