Summers at the beach are what childhood memories are made of. But now, three Bay of Plenty dads want to send a more serious message to those spending summer at the beach.

"Bay Groms is just about getting our kids down to the beach to have some fun really," said co-founder Gavin Bisman. "Introducing the kids to the ocean, getting other parents down here.

"A lot of parents - unless you were brought up around the ocean or are confident around the ocean - you're going to lack confidence to bring your kids to the beach and really yourself.

"Lifeguards might be here but you don't know the intricate details of mucking around in the waves," said co-founder Todd Hilleard.


"Parents who bring their kids down… a lot of them might be working so Mum comes down, brings her three kids and, yeah it's taken off since then," added co-founder Duncan Cameron.

They've clearly hit on a winning formula, the Bay Groms Facebook group exploding in its first few weeks.

"It's only been three or four weeks now. We pretty much started on a Sunday just having a chat and overnight we had about a hundred parents sign up. In the last three to four weeks we're getting a couple of hundred people on the group page but we just put the word out amongst Facebook and the schools, and now we're getting anywhere from 20 to 50 kids every Wednesday which is cool," Bisman said.

The weekly get-together isn't just for kids, it's also an opportunity to help parents better understand the ocean.

"A lot of people in the last five to 10 years have moved to the area and loving the fact that we're living at the beach. But a lot of the adults maybe aren't from an ocean background as such so I guess that's a big part of it – educating the parents about rips and tides and a few basic things," Bisman said.

The group, which meets at Pāpāmoa Domain every Wednesday, has the backing of local lifeguards.

"It's a really cool idea and it's cool that the people teaching them have an idea too," said Pāpāmoa Lifeguard Mitch Cowdrey.

"These are all guys who have grown up here surfing and know about the water, so to pass that knowledge on is wicked. It also serves as a wicked role model for others and people looking on."


Parents say it's a great initiative and one that's making a real difference. And their kids agree.

"Trying to catch some white water, getting big waves," said Pāpāmoa grom, Dylan Welch.

"I've been having a few going over my board but it was fine."

Made with funding from NZ On Air.