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Junior enthusiasm augers well for club’s future

Posted at 4:23pm Wednesday 18 Nov, 2020

If the strength of a sports club can be measured by the enthusiasm of its junior members, then Ōrewa Surf Lifesaving Club is in very good shape.

On any given Sunday morning in summer, the beach in front of the clubhouse is teeming with enthusiastic youngsters, ranging from three year olds to teenagers.

When the 2020/21 season started this month, more than 300 children had enrolled.

Renee Beckett, who has been the club's junior chair for the past 11 years, says the numbers continue to grow as the weather gets warmer.

“Our numbers are up on last season, but we anticipated this might be the case because of growth in the area and the absence of a lot of winter sports this year,” she says.

“Given this, we pulled a larger team of coaches and supporters in to ensure we could still offer a great experience. I think everyone is just really pleased to be able to get outside and enjoy summer socially.”

The junior programme is about training the lifeguards of the future, so it covers water safety skills and confidence, rescue techniques and basic first aid, together with the importance of leadership and teamwork.

Renee says it is all about surf safety. This includes assessing the water, how to enter and exit quickly and safely, how to manage devices such as boogie boards and surf lifesaving kneeboards, and using a rescue tube, just to name a few.

The age-appropriate programme focuses on three key aspects – to educate, experience and exemplify what it means to be a surf lifesaver.

From age seven to 13, members participate in surf carnivals and have the choice to enter competitive events.

“This year, there are two participation carnivals for our Northern Regional Clubs – one at the end of this month and the other in the second week of January.

“There are also two competitive carnivals and Ōrewa will host one of these, the Northern Regional Championship, in early February.

“This is an exciting two days of competition for 10 to 13 year olds, testing their skills against their peers.,” Renee says.

The final event for the season will be the Junior National Championships, known as Oceans, which is held over four days at Mt Maunganui.”

Renee says the club offers many benefits for junior members because it is unlike other sporting activities.

“As well as fitness and athleticism, juniors learn skills that are potentially life saving. Lifesaving creates a sense of community and belonging, where members learn life skills and make life-long friendships based on shared experiences and camaraderie.”

Juniors can join throughout summer and parents are welcome to let their child ‘have a go' before making any commitment.

“Just come down and let your child join in one Sunday, and if they like the experience, then go online and sign up after that,” Renee says.

For further information and enrolment details, go to: Ōrewasurfclub.co.nz/how-to-join


Renee Beckett, who oversees the junior programme, was a ‘tourist' in New Zealand in her early 20's when was knocked over by a rough wave at Piha. “It made me think twice about entering the water and then, several years later, my two-year-old had a similar experience. So, we joined the Ōrewa surf lifesaving as a family. Eleven years later, my eldest is an active lifeguard on patrol and one of our junior coaches, I am a patrol member and chair the junior committee, and my husband is an official at carnivals. I have two more active junior members who are keen to be lifeguards. It's an amazing and rewarding family experience, and I encourage everyone in our community to join in and be part of it ‘for life''

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