ANZA Nippers learn water-based skills but also gain friends and memories for life

As someone who grew up in Melbourne and lived in Sydney, when I arrived in Singapore and heard from a friend that ANZA Nippers, the kids programme of the Australian Surf Life Saving Clubs was a thing here, I immediately jumped on it for our five year old daughter, Kaia. Amongst a packed weekly schedule of other activities, my British/French wife Tamara was a bit perplexed. Why ruin our peaceful Sunday mornings with another dash-against-the-clock activity?

There’s only one place Casper’s daughter Kaia (right) is on a Sunday morning

As my initial reaction of “Um, because it’s ripper to be a nipper” – a slogan stuck in my memory since childhood – was met with even more confusion, here’s the list of reasons I gave Tamara as to why there’s only one place to be at the weekends.

  1. It’s undeniably fun. This was Kaia’s immediate reaction when I asked her why she loves Nippers. “I get to see my friends and we jump off the big mat into the water”. (She’s in the under 6’s so that mat is a big deal).
  2. There’s camaraderie and teamwork across the ANZA Nippers programme. Surf lifesaving involves a huge number of different tools, skills and drills, and each one provides the kids with a chance to work together in a different way.
  3. It’s not all fun and games, it’s about passion too. David Howard, Chairman of ANZA Nippers Singapore, says the programme is also borne out of sheer determination and dedication. “All of the life-saving disciplines and events within Nippers come from the need to train children to be able to assess and affect potential future rescue operations,” he says.
  4. Confidence is taught on the beach and in the water. In Singapore, we’re lucky that kids generally learn to swim early and with confidence. Nipper parent Jonathan Walbridge describes this as ANZA Nippers “fairly uniquely playing to the advantages of Singapore’s climate and geography.” At Nippers, kids get to extend this into a real understanding of possible marine dangers, and how to use the conditions to their advantage for a rescue.
  5. Nippers understand what to do in an emergency. This includes keeping calm and understanding basic first aid. For Heidi Monro, an Age Manager at Nippers, this is a major focus. “As someone who grew up in North Curl Curl Surf Life Saving Club, I’ve always loved learning and teaching water safety,” she says. “Surf education, personal safety, and becoming educated about the ocean is key.”
  6. Nippers learn communication and signals. This means they have a clear understanding of one another when under pressure which is critical in an emergency. Says Heidi, “Nippers encourages listening skills and a strong attention span in a fun and interactive way.”
  7. There’s an appreciation of, and care for, the environment. Cleaning up the beach before each session, teaching kids the importance of the marine environment and helping them understand the ocean raises environmentally aware people.
  8. Nippers are the future of surf lifesaving! ANZA Nippers can obviously go on to become actual surf life savers. This is a huge benefit, especially for the many families who return to places where the kids can pick up where they left off in adult clubs. And if the Nippers never go on to become surf lifesavers? “They gain knowledge and skills that will be with them for the rest of their lives, and you never know what’s around the corner,” says David.

So, did I convince my wife? We’re on the beach every Sunday, so at least one of the above resonated with her!