How surf education can teach kids to live in an unpredictable world


For much of the past two years, our children have lived through half-lives. Little by little, things were taken away from them: school, friends, vacations, extended family, sports and the opportunity to learn life skills, including swimming.

For my own children, ages 4, 8 and 10, this is the isolation they struggled with the most – how our family unit had to become the island it was never meant to be. .

Children missed many activities during the pandemic, including swimming lessons and family vacations.Credit:Louise kennerley

As their world shrank, there were consequences – on their mental health, their socializing skills, and their safety. According to a report by the Royal Lifesaving Society Australia, there was a devastating 108 percent increase in drownings in Australia for children aged zero to four in the 12 months to June 2021 compared to the previous year, and a 56 percent increase for children in the five to fourteen age group.

So when I heard that Nippers, a beach program that introduces kids to lifesaving with an emphasis on education and fun, would be happening this summer on a normal basis, I felt relief – not just for the practical skills of my children. would have the opportunity to rely on, but also because of what he could teach them on a more philosophical level.

As famous mindfulness expert Jon Kabat-Zinn says, “You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf. “

As I walked down the steep path to the endless expanse of sand and water on the first day of the program, I felt a familiar lump rise in my throat – that feeling of gratitude that now sets in whenever I do. see life as it should be for our children.

Nippers teaches kids surfing skills through fun and education.

Nippers teaches kids surfing skills through fun and education.Credit:Edwina pickles

Apart from the QR code stuck on a sign, life seemed almost normal. The beach below was a neon buzz of hundreds of kids ages 7-14 getting ready for their first activity of the day, dotted with caring parents and the amazing group of volunteer 15-year-old instructors – the young people who took me on board. give hope for our future.

Today I watch my daughter and her new under-8 friends from the dunes – their little sun-drenched bodies gripping the boards until a wave knocks over half of them, disappearing in angry white foam strewn with upturned planks.

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