January 12, 2017

Only a half an hour’s drive away from Watagan Park, the beach lifestyle at the beautiful Caves Beach is easy to enjoy this summer!

Nippers is a great activity for kids and the Caves Beach Surf Lifesaving Club provides locals and visitors with a safe and friendly beach – and trains hundreds of community members in the skills of lifesaving.

13-year-old Luke and 15-year-old Hayley Walmsley are highly awarded and skilled junior lifesavers, having trained as Nippers at Caves Beach SLSC when they were little.

Luke is the current Hunter Branch Junior Lifesaver of the year, and Hayley was last year’s State Board Champion.

Their family comes from 50 years and three generations of involvement with the club, says their dad, Phill Walmsley.

“My wife, Shani’s family are proud members of the Caves Beach SLSC Club, with her father Alan Wallace being a lifetime member. He won many Australian and NSW titles and was heavily involved with the club as a sprint coach,” says Phill.

“Shani feels proud that our kids are now living an identical childhood that she had which she greatly valued and treasured.”

Phill says that getting kids involved with Nippers gives them so many great skills in addition to water and lifesaving skills such as friendships, leadership, sense
of pride and giving back to their community.

“I am confident that my kids know how to handle any type of surf. And most importantly they can identify what they can’t handle,” says Phill.

Phill is now a branch duty officer, but says that he came to lifesaving later in life.

Watching his kids undertake ocean swims made him realise that at 35, he had never been in the ocean deeper than waist height.

“I thought if I was sending my eight-year-old out into the surf, I should be able to do it too. I started training and gained my bronze medallion,” he says.

Phill says that Nippers is a great way for the whole family to enjoy time together at the beach.

“Parents can join in with the kids! You can’t run out onto the field at your kids’ soccer games, but you can paddle alongside the kids in the water.”

“There are many families in the club who live in Watagan Park and surrounds. It may be a little effort to drive around the lake to get out to the beach, but after two great hours on a Sunday morning spent with the whole family, the value outweighs the effort,” says Phill.

“Our club is a family club, we are proud that we cater to elite athletes and to mums and dads and their little ones. Everyone is welcome!”

Caves Beach SLSC’s Nippers program teaches kids aged 5 to 14 the essential skills of surf lifesaving, with a focus on having fun and teaching surf education and skills, says Junior Activities Manager, Rebecca Paterson.
Q & A with Rebecca Paterson

How long has Nippers been running at Caves Beach?
Caves Beach SLSC was founded in 1929. Over these years many, many hundreds of community members have been trained in the skills of surf lifesaving. Nippers started in 1965 and we celebrated our 50th anniversary last year.

What does Nippers involve?
Nippers is about surf lifesaving, with a focus on having fun, teaching surf education and skills and emphasising community awareness. The aim is to provide a safe, friendly and welcoming environment where both Nippers and parents can interact and enjoy a morning at Caves Beach, and where hopefully in years to come we build a future generation of lifesavers for Caves. Our Nipper program also provides training and competition for those Nippers who wish to join.
How many kids do you have involved?We currently have 200 Nippers that meet every Sunday.
When is the Nippers season?The Nippers program runs from October to March every Sunday at 10am.

Are there age limits/other criteria?
Boys and girls aged under 14 as at October 1 are eligible to join. Children must be five years of age at the time of enrolment. If they are not five years old before October 1, they may join Nippers on their fifth birthday up until December 31.

What skills do kids gain through doing Nippers?
Nippers is all about learning, confidence and having fun in a safe beach environment. For Nippers, the beach is the classroom. They gain confidence with swimming, body boarding, beach sprints, dolphin-diving, spotting a rip, having fun with new friends and discovering things about themselves.

What’s the best thing about Nippers?
Nippers is about having fun, making new friends, keeping fit and learning to be safe at the beach. The best thing about Nippers for me is watching the kids learn beach safety with big smiles on their faces. I love seeing the sense of achievement on a child’s face. One of the best features of Nippers is seeing young children overcome their fear of the water. Children who are afraid of the water can develop through encouragement, education and training to be confident in the surf.

How long have you been involved?
I have been involved in Nippers from the age of five. I moved to Caves Beach about six years ago and joined the club as a parent of an under six child. My three children now do Nippers and love it! For me, Nippers is all about teaching life skills. We all have so much fun together. All our events are open to the whole community – everyone is welcome.

How do people join up or find out more about the program?
Contact me on 0410 068 559.

Caves Beach Surf Life Saving Club, 127-139 Caves Beach Road, Caves Beach.

Live outside the box at Watagan Park

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