A New Nationwide Young Archaeologists' Club: Wales Online YAC
The first-ever nationwide, fully online, branch of the Young Archaeologists’ Club (YAC), Wales Online YAC, has been established by The Council for British Archaeology (CBA), with the support of Clwyd Powys Archaeological Trust (CPAT).
The online branch will allow more young people than ever to engage with and enjoy archaeology, from all over Wales. This brand-new branch is an extension of the existing YAC model, which is formed of a network of 70 local groups across the UK, allowing 8–16-year-olds to meet regularly, and get involved in archaeological activity. The groups give young people a unique opportunity to learn more about archaeology in their area whilst making new friends through an action-packed programme of activities and events.
YAC currently has around 1500 active members, and groups are run by over 500 dedicated volunteers nationwide. As the only UK-wide club offering young people the opportunity to engage with archaeology, YAC has a demonstrably positive impact on the lives of many young people. Many YAC members go on to work in the archaeology, heritage, and museum sectors, or to benefit from the positive impact of archaeology in their lives outside of work.
The decision to establish YAC Wales Online was a result of a consultation between CBA, CPAT, current YAC Leaders and other organisations working with young people in Wales. This led to the development of a series of recommendations and resources aimed at boosting current resilience and ensuring the future expansion of the YAC. The headline takeaway from this was the need for a nationwide, fully online YAC branch for Wales. This will allow young people who are unable to access a physical club, due to rurality or other reasons, greater opportunities to engage with archaeology. This consultation and the launch of the new online branch were funded by the Welsh Government Cultural Recovery Fund.
There are currently several YAC Branches throughout Wales: South East Wales YAC, Cynon Valley YAC, Brecon Beacons YAC, YAC at the Garden, Offa’s Dyke YAC, Marches YAC, and Bangor Gwynedd YAC. It is hoped that Wales Online YAC will bridge the geographical gaps between the branches, and will also allow the YAC in Wales to develop, raising the profile of the club and the incredible opportunities it provides for young people.
The activities of the first online branch will be informed by the experience of the YAC and CBA during the coronavirus pandemic, where previous hands-on activity was moved online. YAC volunteers across the country got to grips with online meeting platforms and apps, developed innovative at-home resources, and even developed a network of remote test pits.
Dr. Joanne Kirton, Youth Engagement Manager for the CBA said: “We’re thrilled to be launching the first ever, fully online branch of the YAC. Our goal is to allow as many young people as possible to participate in real archaeology and discover why it matters. Going virtual will allow us to reach more members than ever, including those who may previously have been unable to participate in in-person activities. We hope that by founding this branch, we will ensure that the YAC network in Wales can flourish and expand, allowing young people to get involved in archaeology for years to come.”
Penny Foreman, of Clwyd Powys Archaeological Trust (CPAT) said: “I have been thrilled to work on this project, that will mean young people across Wales can get involved with the fun and inspiring activities of the YAC. Bringing the YAC online means that people isolated by geography or any other circumstances in Wales can join in – getting involved with all that archaeology has to offer. I’m particularly excited for the hands on elements of sessions, where I’ll be guiding the groups through lots of different archaeology related tasks and crafts – it’s such a thrill to see the results and share what everyone has learnt. As an archaeologist and former teacher, this is one of the most rewarding projects I’ve worked on for a long time.”
The CBA and CPAT are hoping to attract as many potential members as possible, as well as new volunteers to run the branch. Interested parties are invited to find out more and apply on the YAC website. It is also hoped that further YAC Online branches will be founded in other locations in the UK in the future.