A child on a surfboard

Helping military families bond through surfing

If there’s a more fun way to learn about sea safety than going surfing, we’ve yet to hear it. So when Surf Action came to us for support in running water-activity courses for military families, we were only too happy to jump on board.

Using a grant from the Royal British Legion Surf Action ran a series of courses at Praa Sands in Cornwall.

The courses helped children and their parents learn about sea confidence and swimming in the sea through surfing, paddleboard, and kayaking activities.

Over 70 children and over a 100 parents took part in the courses, including Chris, Laura and their daughter Amelia.

A Service family who took part in a surf lesson with Surf Action

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“I think it’s amazing that the Legion is funding this sort of project,” says Chris.

You’d never expect that the Legion supports surf lessons and safety in the water sessions.

“Given Amelia’s autism, sometimes it can be a real mission to motivate her to take part in activities.

"When we do go to the beach as a family we do find ourselves worrying about Amelia especially as she does her own thing without any real regard to her safety.

“Amelia has sensory needs. In the past we have taken her to the beach and she has had no concerns about running off into the water.

"She never considered rip tides, or being out of her depth, and of course that was worrying for us."

Children taking part in a surf lesson

Meeting other kids

“The wonderful thing about these sessions,” says Laura, “is that she and the other kids are meeting people; they’re learning about discipline; and safety in and out of the water."

“She understands the dangers and now, as a family, we feel much safer bringing her to the beach. Amelia cannot wait to get involved in the Surf Action courses.

"She absolutely loves it and that’s lovely to see.”

A Surf Action instructor
The courses introduce children to sea safety through surfing, paddleboarding and kayaking.

The courses have also received praise from the Executive Commander at RNAS Culdrose, one of the military bases that sent service personnel on the courses.

“As a front-line military base, RNAS Culdrose has servicemen and women joining us with the broadest spectrum of backgrounds," says the Executive Commander at RNAS Culdrose.

"The continual cycle of deployments that many of them experience can have a large emotional impact upon both the service person and their families.

“It is fantastic that Surf Action is addressing these important issues and looking to support the emotional resilience of our service families.

"The feedback I receive from those taking part highlight how great it is to be involved in such a project, building the family bond but also having the opportunity for their children to share these experiences with other service children, veterans and the wider local community."

Children in the water at a Surf Action surf session
Surf Action brings families together to help deal with the heavy emotional cycle of deployment. Steve Baynes

Head of Social Policy & Grant Giving at The Royal British Legion

“The surfing sessions help to build self confidence, encourage teamwork and awareness amongst children and parents who take part in the activities," adds Steve.

"This assists with a variety of challenges that can arise from having a parent in the Armed Forces.

“This grant highlights the breadth of activities that assist the Armed Forces community and The Legion is proud to continue our financial support of Surf Action’s excellent and unique work.”

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