After an extensive three-year undertaking, Surf Life Saving New Zealand (SLSNZ) is excited to unveil its revamped Junior Surf programme.
Junior Surf, also known as Nippers, has been running for 55 years and is SLSNZ’s educational initiative specifically tailored for members under the age of 14 years old.
Belinda Slement, SLSNZ National Education Manager, said, “Junior Surf is an incredibly popular programme that caters to thousands of Kiwis right around the country. During the 2022/2023 season, we had over 8,000 kids taking part.”
The programme runs during the summer months, organised by local Surf Life Saving clubs (SLSC), with support from regional and national staff through a nationally lead framework. It’s often serves as the initial training ground where aspiring surf lifeguards learn and develop the skills that set them up for the future.
At its core, it’s designed to nurture children’s confidence, deepen their understanding of beach and coastal environments, and enhance their skills in and around the water.
Slement said, “The benefits of participating in Junior Surf are huge, and even extend well beyond beach knowledge. It enhances kids’ mental and physical well-being, hones their social skills, and encourages them to make friends. It also positively impacts their families and communities, creating memorable experiences for both caregivers and their kids.”
In 2018, in collaboration with SLSC’s, SLSNZ conducted a two-year review project to gauge how Junior Surf was being received, before embarking on a three-year journey to redefine the programme. The review process provided a solid foundation, aligning the new resources with the needs and desires of SLSNZ’s membership.
Slement said, “In order to keep Junior Surf going for years to come, we needed to make sure that it was evolving with our membership and their communities. During the two-year review, we identified areas for improvement.”
Some improvements, which can be found in the new online resources, include Development Progression Pathways for specific age groups which will enable SLSCs to deliver tailored programmes to their members. The new resources also focus on supporting specific areas with tailored tools, including a coordinators handbook, parent/whānau handbook, and activity cards that are directly related to the Development Progression Pathways resource.
Steve Fisher, SLSNZ Chief Executive Officer, said, “SLSNZ prioritised the development of this new Junior Surf programme because we understand its paramount importance in shaping future surf lifeguards, a critical element in achieving our vision of ‘no one drowns on New Zealand’s beaches’. It also helps create a strong foundation for SLSCs and their communities. To see it come to life, after years of hard work by our education team, is truly fantastic, and we can’t wait for SLSC’s to put it to good use.”
The new Junior Surf Programme and resources can be found here.