We’re heading into the warmer weather now … which means more fun in the surf and on the beach! If you’re looking for a way to encourage your kids to be active, while teaching them how to not only to be water-safe but also to value community involvement, Nippers should definitely be on your agenda.
Sandra Slattery, Chairperson Junior Activities Committee and Steve Manning, Deputy Chairperson Junior Activities Committee from Tacking Point Surf Lifesaving Club explain how you and your family can benefit from being a part of their club’s Nipper programme …
When does Tacking Point Surf Lifesaving Club’s Nippers Programme kick-off for the upcoming season?
Our first day of the season is Sunday 13th October, and we go through to 15th March 2020, with a three-week break over Christmas.
What age groups can Nippers cater for?
Nippers at Tacking Point is open to children aged five – 13 years, so our age groups are U6s through to U14s.
Under 11s, 12s, 13s and 14s undertake training towards becoming qualified Surf Life Savers, including obtaining their Surf Rescue Certificate (SRC) and ultimately, their Bronze Medallion.
What is the overall aim of Nippers?
The primary aim of our Nippers programme at Tacking Point is to train young lifesavers of the future.
This means ensuring that our Nippers have the decision-making skills to appropriately assess the safety of various aquatic environments for the rest of their lives.
Additional outcomes of the programme include developing leadership and teamwork skills, knowing how to interact safely with the ocean, learning CPR and first aid, understanding the importance of leading an active and healthy lifestyle, and pride in volunteering for the local community.
At Tacking Point SLSC, we welcome children of all abilities, skill level and background. For us, it’s not all about competition – it’s about beach safety, building confidence and having lots of fun!
How well do you need to be able to swim before joining Nippers?
The safety of our Nippers is our number one priority. So while each Nipper doesn’t need to be a champion swimmer, we encourage all the kids to practice their swimming outside of the Nippers programme, whether it be swimming lessons, swim squad training at Port Macquarie town pool, or even in their own pool.
Importantly, Nippers is not about teaching kids to swim; we instead focus on survival and rescue skills that are so valuable to children when enjoying time at the beach.
To ensure each Nipper has the skills to participate safely in the ocean, they’re asked to complete a pool proficiency swim. For U6s and U7s, this involves a basic “glide and float”, to assess whether they’re comfortable in the water. For U8s, it’s a 50-metre swim with no time limit. For U9s and up, the proficiency swim moves to 200 metres, with varying time limits depending on their age group.
Most Nippers achieve the required proficiency with practice, determination and lots of encouragement from their parents, age managers and peers. Even if a child isn’t proficient, they’re still welcome to participate in Nippers on a Sunday morning, albeit with certain water restrictions for their safety.
What are some of the activities/skills Nippers learn as a part of your club?
Nippers learn many valuable lifesaving skills throughout the programme, including surf awareness, how to perform a surf rescue, first aid, CPR, decision-making, problem-solving, leadership and teamwork. These skills stay with them for life and are highly valued and regarded by society in general.
Our Nippers also participate in lots of fun activities throughout the season, including derby days with other local surf clubs, our Christmas party, Port Macquarie Street Christmas Parade, branch carnivals, social BBQ days, and much more.
Where and when do Nippers regularly meet for sessions?
Tacking Point Nippers is held at beautiful Lighthouse Beach each Sunday morning from 8:30 – 10:30 am (October – March).
How can Nippers’ families also get involved with the club?
As with all programmes involving young people, it’s the parents and carers who make it a success, so we welcome as many family members as possible to join in. A helping hand with beach set-up and pack-up or Nipper activities on the beach ensures Sunday mornings run smoothly for everyone.
Many of our parents obtain their Surf Rescue Certificate (SRC) and Bronze Medallion qualifications, so they can provide support and encouragement in the water with their kids. We need enough Water Safety Crew for our water events to go ahead; plus, the kids love having their mum or dad out there with them.
There are lots of other opportunities for families to get involved with Nippers and the surf club in general, including as age managers, age manager assistants or carnival officials, as well as helping out with the uniform shop, fundraising, social activities, and more.
Where can we find out further info?
Interview: Jo Robinson.