Surf lifesaving clubs along our spectacular Fleurieu Peninsula coastline are upgrading or building new facilities thanks to generous grants through the national body, and are enjoying a continued trend of schoolchildren wanting to join the ranks.
In many ways, surf lifesaving has never been better off, but perhaps more than ever in this region once they leave school they tend to move to Adelaide or to other horizons to study at university or search for jobs. It is the same in just about every sport.
According to Port Elliot SLSC under 13s junior coach and patrol captain Adam Foot, the club has enjoyed a junior membership growth.
“In the past we had trouble recruiting juniors, but it seems easier and easier these days,” Adam said. “I think the awareness is greater. Parents are less skilled in teaching the kids aquatic safety so they bring them to us; a recognised facility and they are happy for us to provide the training.
“However, we also have a growing generation gap from about 15 or 16 years of age through to 25 years. It is hard to retain them, and generally we can understand why. It would be great if they continued their lifesaving work somewhere else knowing they are always welcome to return at some stage.”
With the Chiton Rocks Surf Lifesaving Club recently opening their magnificent new clubrooms built into the rock face, Goolwa – the Surf Lifesaving SA Club of the Year 2017 – commencing work on their first clubrooms after working incredibly hard to establish the club only six years ago, and now Port Elliot eagerly awaiting its new development, our south coast-based clubs are focusing on further developing the high school-age students.
Adam said what the trend has meant for the Port Elliot club is that those involved in junior development programs have needed to work harder to provide new opportunities for the 16-25 year-olds. “We have a youth action committee and other plans in place,” he said.
It has also seen younger members take on more responsibility once they have gained the necessary qualifications and acquitted themselves well, which has also led to an even greater focus on the core strength of surf lifesaving clubs – the marvellous family environment they provide.
Port Elliot SLSC carnival coordinator Ben Jucius and his wife, Naomi Dixon, are certainly playing their part – their daughter, Skye, 13, and Elijah, 11, are right into the action.
Ben said with the increasing gap in 16-25 year-old lifesavers those in need of help at our beaches are most likely to be rescued by older lifesavers, but younger members like Skye, who is obtaining her Surf rescue Certificate, are developing into more than capable patrolling lifesavers.
However, as Adam, Ben and all the other lifesavers along our coastline say, lives can be saved by adhering to safety warnings and swimming between the flags at our beaches.
Making a huge impact in recent years on developing tomorrow’s surf lifesavers today is an excellent program involving the Victor Harbor High School working closely with the Port Elliot SLSC to enable the facilitation and assessment of Surf Life Saving SA programs.
According to Belinda Schiphorst, the education and training manager at Surf Life Saving SA, the partnership with the school has grown significantly leading to a clear pathway to surf lifesaving.
“We will also be looking at promoting the Sporting Schools program (Ready. Set. Rescue) early in the new year,” Belinda said.
“Last year we delivered our Surf Ed program in partnership with the Department for Education to 87 schools, which translates to 7500 school children. This is a sort after program that is mapped to the Health and Physical Education Learning Area to develop student understanding, skills and values relative to aquatic safety and management.
“As a lifesaving organisation and registered training organisation, we have also delivered a large number of First Aid, CPR and Pool Lifeguard courses, as well as the VET in Schools, Certificate III in Public Safety Aquatic Rescue.
“We have some exciting new promotional material coming out soon that will promote our school programs and courses.”