Avalon Beach Recognised For Youth Initiative

An innovative program at Avalon Beach designed to retain the interest of young club members as has earned widespread acclaim after being announced as the 2016 Initiative of the Year at the NSW Surf Life Saving Awards of Excellence.

Across the movement retaining teenaged members after they finish Nippers has been an ongoing issue, but the Sydney Northern Beaches’ based club approach could very well prove to be a blueprint for the future.

The Avalon Beach SLSC Youth Program is coordinated by Junior Club Captain Mike Stanley Jones, and run by age group managers including Jeff Nesbitt, Richard Cole, Volker Klemm, Janelle Amet, Alan Mahn, Ian McGilchrist, and Brian Weatherill.

The focus of the group is to promote fun in both surf related and recreational activities forging friendships and encouraging teenagers to remain involved in Surf Life Saving.

“Our inspiration was from the kids because they needed it. They really want to do something so we’re giving them the opportunity, so we’re inventing things for them to do,” said Mike Stanley Jones.

“We’re thinking outside the square and the kids love it. Our numbers have doubled and tripled in that category because there are different things we’re doing.”

In 2015/16 each of the U15, 16 and 17 groups have spent a weekend at Garie Beach in the Beach sleeping in the clubhouse and providing patrol support for the club.

“Patrolling at Garie Beach was awesome. There was no wifi, they had to invent their own games, they had to be seriously on patrol as the majority of people who go to Garie Beach can’t swim. We’re definitely going to continue patrolling at Garie,” said Mike Stanley Jones.

This initiative has been successful with the club going from retaining just 22 members in 2012/13 to 97 this season with many of these young guns set to provide the backbone of the club in future seasons.

“The beauty behind this award is it’s the participation not competition. Where we’re getting our numbers is because everybody is participating because they want to not necessarily because they’re a competitor,” Mike Stanley Jones said.

“The numbers speak for themselves and it’s proof so we’re going to keep doing what we’re doing.”

The 2016 SLSNSW Awards of Excellence are proudly presented by Stramit Building Products. Over 350 of Surf Life Saving’s most outstanding lifesavers, athletes, educators, coaches, and administrators from around NSW gathered at Sydney’s iconic Four Seasons Hotel for a night of celebration.

For a full list of all the winners, and to see photographs from the night, please visit the SLSNSW Awards of Excellence Event Page or our social media channels.

Photo: Mike Stanley-Jones and Club President, Richard Cole at the 2016 SLSNSW Awards of Excellence.

Mon 15 Aug 2016