Types of Membership
As described in our constitution we have three main types of members: student, associate, and honorary.
The VOC is a student run club constituted under the Alma Mater Society (AMS) of the University of British Columbia. If you are a student at UBC and you are a member of the AMS, (you are paying AMS fees) then you are entitled to join the Varsity Outdoor Club as a student member. This will cost you $35. This will get you a full membership with all membership privileges, such as use of Club Gear, Huts, and Journal.
If you are not eligible for student membership, you can still join VOC as an associate member. Membership in this category will cost you $52.50, and will get you all membership privileges except that you will not be eligible to vote at general meetings, or to be elected to run the club. Associates need to pay more because the UBC AMS demands that non-members pay 50% more to join their clubs, but the AMS also provides us with a clubroom in the SUB (among other things) which are paid for by AMS student fees... so it's not all that unfair.
This category of membership is for individuals who have been in the VOC for four or more years, or have previously been VOC members but have moved on and are no longer eligible for student membership. We like to keep these people on because they have accumulated useful knowledge about the club, such as where our huts are, how to do things safely, and they often provide leadership on our trips.
Any of the following qualifies you for Honorary Membership
1) You were a fee-paying VOC Student Member at some time while you were at UBC, and you are no longer a student at UBC.
2) You have paid VOC Membership fees (Student or Associate) for four or more years, whether or not you are, or ever were, a student at UBC.
3) At the discretion of the Membership Chairperson, if you are temporarily away from UBC, usually in a foreign country, and not in a position to benefit from the privileges of being a fee-paying Member, but you still like to get email.
As of September 2012, Honorary Membership is further subdivided into Inactive and Active. This is a result of our need to provide liability insurance for all facilitators of Club activities. If you want to go on Club activities, or lead Club activities, then you must acquire Active Honorary Membership; if you only want to see what is going on, but not be involved, then you should go for Inactive. Inactive Honorary Members do not have access to the trip sign-up pages.
In order to be an 'active' honorary member (one that want to come on trips into the mountains and hot springs etc) you must be covered by FMCBC insurance. This costs ~$20. This is a cost that the club decided to pay for the honorary members who want to participant on trips. That being said, it would be super awesome if you felt you could donate ~$20 to the club in order to pay for this cost. But it is OPTIONAL. We are not forcing the honorary members who feel that leading trips and instructing at the various schools is giving enough back to the club, and I tend to agree (though many fee paying members do a lot as well). But right now, it is totally optional. We are running this year in trial mode, to see how many people are 'active' and how many think they should donate. Next year we might change this policy again.
Now on to the trips that aren't really trips. So many 'lurking' honorary members also like to come to the many social events that the club hosts on campus and around Vancouver, such as BBQ's, MEC night, slides shows etc, but at the moment can not sign up for these events online. Lurkers, have no concerns, as long as you are a member of the club, you may join in on these Vancouver events. The club is actually still covered by the AMS insurance, which only covers events in Vancouver (thus why we need FMCBC insurance). So this should not be a problem. I (Caitlin) am hopefully going to talk to Marius soon and he can make the appropriate changes to allow you lurkers to sign up for MEC Night and other similar events.
I would like to note that all this talk only involves liability insurance, not health insurance.
Unlike full-paying (Student or Associate) Members, Honorary Members do not have gear rental privileges, do not get a free Journal at the end of the year, do not use the VOC Huts for free unless they are leading Club activities. Active Honorary Members are welcome on club trips and often lead club trips, though they are expected to know enough that they don't take all the spots on introductory trips. Note that people eligible for honorary membership may instead join either as associate members or student members, as eligible, in order to gain additional membership privileges, such as use of Club Gear, Huts, and Journal.
To apply for Active Honorary Membership we need a completed membership application form with liability waiver (signature). The easiest way to get this to us is to click on "renew membership", which will enable you to fill in any changes online (change type of membership to honorary) then print the form, sign it, and mail the completed form to us.
What if you are an Inactive Honorary Member and you suddenly need to go on a Club activity? Sign the liability waiver and we can change your status.
Refunds and Canceling of Membership
We do not give you back your membership fees if you change your mind about being a Member. This regulation appears to come from our parent organization, the Alma Mater Society. In the past ten or so years, we have had two instances of somebody trying to get their membership fees back; one was for a medical reason and the other was somebody simply changing their mind. We don't refund membership fees.
Apparently we are not allowed to kick you out of the Club once you have joined, though if your behavior is totally unreasonable, the AMS may kick you out. This has never happened so far. A reason to do this might be, if a Member used the Club's resources to mis-treat somebody.
Membership Expires, Duration of Membership
Membership always expires at the end of September. If you join after September 30th and before May 1st, your membership expires next September 30th (Less than a year later). If you joined after May 1st, but before September, your membership expires in the September 30th of the next year.(More than a year later).
We don't do half term memberships. We sell only one membership expiry date. We do not sell special short memberships, for instance expiring in January.
How to Join
1) Click on "I want to join" on our web site, then fill in the online form. Print it and sign the printed form. The computer will issue you with a password, but it won't be activated yet. If you don't own a printer, fill out the online form, then come to the Clubroom and we can print the form for you to sign.
2) Bring the form to the Clubroom some time when it is open (see below). Bring your membership fees in cash. Somebody in the Clubroom will tell the computer that you have paid, and your membership will be activated.
3) If you are renewing your membership (you were a member previously), instructions are similar, but you need to know your password. If you tell the computer that you forgot it, the computer will negotiate with you to get a new password.
4) If you can't make all this work, come to the Clubroom and we can make it work.
When Can I Join?
You can join at any time throughout the year but see above for membership expiry date. Bring the form to the Clubroom (map), or at our booth during Clubs Days or other events. Bring cash. If you cannot show up during Gear Hours, you might try to join during an evening slide show, or other evening events which happen from time to time. If you really cannot ever make it onto Campus, you can get a friend to bring in your signed form and your payment Mail would also work, but we expect membership fees in cash, and sending cash through the mail is risky. And we don't check our mail very frequently.
Do you have to join, to go on VOC Trips?
There are three principles to decide if non-members can go on VOC trips
First, trips are what we provide for our members. For trips with scarce resources, we limit the trip to members only, because otherwise we would be depriving our members. Scarce resources may include places in a hut, car rides, or other situations where we have limited the trip size, perhaps because the trip organizer feels that it would be dangerous to have the trip bigger. Many of our trips are in this scarce resources category. If you are not a member, you should wait to see if the trip becomes full, typically at a pre-trip meeting, then ask the trip organizer if it's ok for you to come along.
Second, members sign a liability release. Our insurance requires that non-members going on VOC trips also sign a liability release.
Third, non-members are limited to one VOC trip. At that point they should decide whether they want to contribute to the operation of the club by joining.
What's this about ACC Membership?
ACC stands for Alpine Club of Canada. The rumor that it stands for "Alpine Choppers Club" is totally untrue, but perhaps is based on the tendency of ACC trips to be a little more expensive than VOC trips. This is totally understandable when you realize that most ACC Members are over-employed, having more money than time, whereas VOC Members are mostly under-employed and have more time than money.
Anyways, the ACC offers to VOC Student Members each year, for free, something called an "ACC Student Membership". Their purpose in doing this is, they hope that when VOC Members graduate and "move on", they will think favorably of the ACC, and perhaps join the ACC.
This ACC Student Membership does not have a great deal of privileges associated with it. It does enable you to book ACC Huts three months in advance, instead of the one month in advance that you can do as a normal person. It does not get you cheaper rates at the Huts. It will give you a 15% discount if you want to stay at the ACC Clubhouse in Canmore, or buy something there. You may get a cheaper rate at the Louise Hostel; you can always ask. Perhaps the greatest advantage of ACC membership is that you can sign up for ACC trips, at least you can sign up for Vancouver Section trips. As of 2011, your ACC Student Membership allows you to take advantage of the ACC deal on avalanche transcievers.
Here's a link to download the Agreement.
Note that ACC Student Membership is offered to VOC Student Members, not to VOC Associate members or to VOC Alumni Members, who are supposed to buy ACC membership like everybody else
So, you call up the ACC and you say that you are a Student Member of ACC because you are a student member of VOC. They reply "You're not on our list" How can this be? First, only Student Members of VOC qualify; if you are a VOC Associate Member or a VOC Alumni Member, you are supposed to buy ACC Membership like everybody else. Second, we send in our list of eligible VOC Student Members to the ACC from time to time. Last year (2010)we sent it October 20. If you joined after this time, ACC doesn't know about you. We are planning to send in updated lists more frequently, but the details are not yet worked out.
The ACC prints membership cards, which we have in our Clubroom available for our Student members to pick up. To contact ACC, go to
Further Clarification, ACC Membership
We received this 2012 October 19, from Toby Harper, MA, SCPM, Programs Director | Directeur des programmes Alpine Club of Canada | Club alpin du Canada
"Members of partner student outdoor clubs are not by default ACC members. They do not receive an ACC membership number through the student outdoor club. What they do receive are benefits of basic membership in the national club (especially the national Mountain Adventures program) and some benefits of their local ACC Section (in this case the opportunity to participate in Vancouver Section activities, get the newsletter…)
The objective of the Student Outdoor Club agreements that we sign on an annual basis with a dozen major university clubs across the country, is to expose students to the benefits of ACC membership, and encourage them to become a lifelong part of the Canadian mountain community. I first participated in ACC activities as an undergrad and the club has become an important part of my life (never mind my job!)"