Wednesday, May 4, 2011

JG History, Parts 3 & 4, by Bob Burnside

(Photo above shows City of Huntington Beach JG's gathered on wet sand just south of Pier, July 2010. Photo by Will Maguire. Used here with permission.)

The Origin and History of the Junior Lifeguard Programs Nationally and Internationally, by Bob Burnside; Parts 3 & 4:

Part 3
South Africa
Where and when did it all begin?

In 1969 the first nipper squad was formed at Pirates Surf Lifesaving Club and was also the start of the first Basic Nipper Course, designed to teach young boys and girls the fundamental principles of surf safety. The first Basic Course for the Nippers attracted a total of 200 youngsters, eager to learn.

On completion of the course, the Nippers were examined and successful candidates received a certificate and a badge. This entitled them to enter the Intermediate and Advanced courses. After successfully completing all three courses, at age 15 they are then able to train to become Junior Lifesavers and can begin doing patrol duty on beaches.

Lifesaving South Africa’s Nipper movement was founded in 1972. Surf Nippers now boasts a membership of over 1200. Stillwater Nippers started in 1994 and has over 500 members. The Nipper activities have become one of the most successful child development and sporting programs within South Africa.

The important prerequisite to remember is that Clubs do not undertake to teach the "Nippers" basic swimming. On joining they are tested on their swimming ability and then encouraged to join swimming clubs in order to improve themselves. The Lifesaving Clubs’ main function is to teach the youngster respect for the water and give them confidence in the aquatic environment (especially the sea). No Nipper, however, is allowed to be part of the voluntary patrols, which do duty on our beaches.

By having the Nipper Sections in our movement, a greater parental interest has developed and parents are often involved in the fundraising and administrative duties of the clubs. The Nipper movement is completely voluntary and relies on public contributors to cover all expenses.

Part 4
Where and when did it all begin?
"Nippers’ in surf life saving"

In response to declining membership lists and deteriorating club life in the mid and late 1960’s, many clubs launched recruitment campaigns aimed at a new category of member, pre-adolescents known as ‘nippers’.

Clubs believed that nippers would graduate into active members and, with more sporting experience, improve their competitive profiles. Youth sections actually have a long history in the movement – Cottesloe recruited sub-juniors (juveniles) in the 1930’s and a number of clubs followed suit in the 1950’s – but the nipper program in the 1960’s was far more extensive and actively encouraged by senior SLSA officials.

These days’ junior activities continue to grow at such a rate that some clubs have even had to cap their numbers to be able to cope. The focus of nippers has changed over the last decade from what was a more competitive focus to more of a balance between lifesaving and competition.

Of SLSA’s almost 140,000 members, almost 50,000 are nippers (5-13 years). This is roughly 36% of our total membership and shows just how significant the junior movement is within Australian surf life saving. The nippers of today are the future of surf life saving, and this is not lost on the thousands of volunteer Age Managers that provide support and instruction in junior programs during the summer.


Stay tuned for Parts 5 & 6...

Until next time.....

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