Young trainees roll up for surf life saving

By Laura McLeay

Each year Surf Life Saving clubs across the country rally together a team of budding junior life savers for training - and Papamoa is no different.
Close to 200 juniors arrive at the Papamoa Surf Life Saving Club each Sunday morning ready for an action-packed day of fun.
The children aged 5 to 13, dressed in their fluoro yellow rash shirts and little swim cap, can be seen racing up and down the beach and in the water discovering what it takes to be a lifeguard.
Although not all go on to be lifeguards, more than 80 per cent of these children have come back this year for a second, third or even fourth year of training.
George Mano, 9, who has been in the junior squad for four years, says he wants to become a lifeguard when he is older,
"I like coming because it is really fun competing against each other. My favourite part is the sprints and the knee board."
They meet from 10am to 12pm every Sunday morning from November 7 to March 20. The children are divided into their age groups for warm up activities, followed by games geared around surf life saving, both on the shore and in the water. The end of the day is wrapped up with a barbecue.
Junior Surf Director Chris Hunt says organisers aim to make the Junior Surf programme as fun as possible to keep the children interested and active.
"We give the kids an awareness about what surf life saving is all about and most importantly, that it is fun. We show them the skills that they would need to become a lifeguard through fun games, so that they get a level of confidence on the beach and in the water.

We also add in a competitive side for those who want to take it seriously."
Mr Hunt says joining the Junior Surf course as a child has many benefits including a growth in confidence both in and out of the water.
"If we do nothing but make them confident in the water, aware of the dangers, learn to recognise rips, and encourage them to swim between the flags, we have succeeded."
Mr Hunt, who got involved with surf life saving as a parent six years ago, is now a coach and a trained lifeguard.
He says to see the kids come through the programme and go on to become lifeguards is pretty special.
Children aged 5-13 can join the Junior surf life saving club at anytime throughout the season. Contact the Papamoa Surf Life Saving club on 07 542 2122.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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