Saturday Nippers Information & FAQ

For the 2019/2020 Season, Nobby’s Beach SLSC will running its Junior Activities (Nippers) program on a Saturday morning. 

The Gold Coast is undoubtably one of the most popular regions in Australia to participate in Surf Life Saving Junior Activities programs. Across the 23 clubs covering the two most southern QLD branches, there is an abundance of opportunity to be a member of some of the most well-known Surf Clubs in Australia.

With the Surf Life Saving culture being profoundly synonymous to the Gold Coast lifestyle, smaller club’s such as Nobby’s Beach SLSC struggle to compete with larger clubs that are ‘just 5 minutes up the road’ who have with bigger budgets, locality to tourism hotspots and recruitment opportunities through high profile surf sports athletes which Nobby’s Beach SLSC doesn’t have.

Nippers being taught important surf safety skills

Nippers being taught important surf safety skills

The market for Sunday nipper programs on the Gold Coast is saturated. 21 of the 23 southern clubs offer the same Sunday morning program. In progressing as a club, an opportunity exists to provide a point of difference to these other clubs and by doing so building our membership by capturing a market that at present is not being catered for under the status quo. With only 1 other club on the mainland Gold Coast offering such opportunity (albeit in another Branch), the opportunity to capitalise on this group of potential future surf lifesavers exists

We understand that Saturdays will not suit everyone, however conducting a Saturday program does not take away from our core purpose of providing public safety and aquatic rescue services on Nobby Beach by way of volunteer Surf Lifesaving patrols. The program itself will remain unchanged and continue to play a vital role in providing a pathway towards the Red and Yellow through the delivery of the SLSA Junior Development Program, as it always has - creating capable and skilled future lifesavers.

We welcome new members who now have the opportunity to be involved in an iconic Australian volunteer organisation and join us as a part of the Surf Life Saving family. While some existing members will find that the Saturday program does not fit in with their current commitments, we encourage them to stay involved in the movement.

Surf Life Saving is about ensuring that the beach aquatic environment is safe for all who visit. Facilitating the pathway towards this goal is essential through the development of juniors members into fully qualified Bronze Medallion Surf Life Savers. With a compliant and well-structured implementation of the JDP, this can be achieved irrespective of when it’s held.

We acknowledge that in challenging the status quo with the implementation of Saturday Nippers, resistance to change and hesitation may be felt among some current members. A common reaction from people can be to make generalisations based on instinct rather than fact, both positive and negative. There have been a number of factors which have contributed to the collective reasoning behind running nippers on a Saturday. As with any new initiatives, we will continue to observe, analyse and evaluate the effectiveness of the initiative to ensure ongoing sustainability. We believe that the switch is appropriate for the club at this point in its development.

Some factors considered in the decision to run nippers on a Saturday include:

  • Operational logistics

  • Program Participation

  • Club Training & Member Development

  • Carnival Participation 

  • Membership Development 

  • Delivery of a program compliant, structured and efficient program 

  • Providing a point of difference to other clubs

  • Offering the opportunity for those cannot traditionally participate on Sunday to do so.

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We understand that Saturday’s won’t suit everyone and some current members may find that a Sunday program at a different club will be better suited. However, with the increased availability of skilled personnel to assist with the program coordination, we are confident of remaining sustainable in developing our junior members into competent and and capable Surf Life Savers fulfilling our purpose and the purpose of Surf Life Saving Queensland in ensuring zero preventable deaths in QLD public waters.


Operational Logistics

The nipper program is always dependent on the weather and no one likes to wake up the family early on Sunday morning and then find out that nippers is cancelled. With nippers on Saturday, we can monitor the weather in the week leading up and potentially make the call on a Friday afternoon. In doing so, potentially giving members a full free weekend (if conditions are unsuitable).  

For members who do not live local to the club, with Saturday nippers, at worst they can still enjoy a full day off prior to the week commencing, given that in excess of 20% of our membership live outside the locality of the Gold Coast.

Additionally, a greater opportunity for flexibility exists to potentially delay the start, or even reschedule to a back up venue if conditions are unfavourable, avoiding simply cancelling nippers altogether.

Program Participation

In analysing attendance of previous seasons, it has been identified that a significant opportunity exists to improve the weekly attendance at Nippers. In some age groups, across the season, this has dropped to as little as below 60%. In order for the club to remain sustainable, and drive retention of junior members into patrolling surf lifesavers, this number needs to rise. Given a number of factors prevent families from attending Sunday’s at various stages of the season, changing the day to Saturday could address this. Building a sustainable membership base for the club in 2 - 3 years time and further is of paramount importance to ensure we are still able to fulfill our purpose of ensuring zero preventable deaths on Nobby Beach.

 

Club Training & Member Development 

With the majority of Club Training & Education courses (including bronze medallion) being run on a Sunday, a Saturday program avoids clashes with these courses including access to equipment as well as experienced members. Further, in the past this clash of times has created a problem for families trying to juggle their commitments and inhibited the number of new nipper parents who are often the ones trying to get more involved, from doing so. Ultimately, surf clubs exist to create life savers who will one day patrol the beach contributing to our vision of ensuring zero preventable deaths. 

Carnival Participation 

Our nipper activity days avoid clashes with any carnivals held on a Sunday. We can hold nippers as usual and then send our squad to the carnival the next day. This frees-up our key personnel to attend both events. Rostered patrols are both Saturday and Sunday, as they have been.

 

Membership Development

Saturday Nippers can create a more cohesive social structure. When nipper activities are complete for the day, there's no need to rush off. Families can stay for a while and enjoy a refreshment and lunch at the club. Best of all, you can head home knowing that you still have a whole day left of the weekend! With many experienced members already involved in various capacities on a Saturday (sport training, patrolling, etc), it allows the junior program to capitalise on the skills and experience of these members as activity coordinators and water safety personnel, giving the best opportunity for the correct skills to be taught, building proficiency and confidence of participants, directly contributing to the safety of our nippers in the water.

Providing a Point of Difference

We are a club situated in arguably the biggest participatory base for Surf Life Saving activities in Australia. We are surrounded by larger clubs who have long histories and well-established communities to draw their membership from. We can take advantage of our progressive approach and achieve changes that may not otherwise be possible at clubs tied to a sense of nostalgia. By taking the initiative, we can offer something different to the saturated local lifesaving market. 

 

Availability of Membership & Alignment to Other Activities 

Although not the forefront in the decision-making process, holding nippers on a Saturday gives the opportunity for members to enjoy their Saturday afternoon and evening and not be tied down to getting up early on a Sunday morning. Further, during winter, the vast majority of sports align to a ‘training during the week, and game on Saturdays’ structure. Aligning with this structure, avoids the need for families to reorganize their lives around and continue with the same routine all year round.

Delivery of Structured Program

As an associated Surf Life Saving Organisation, our Junior Activities Program will be coordinated at the standards of the SLSA Junior Development Program. With additional skilled and knowledgable personnel available to assist, administration of the Junior Development Resources will ensure participants are being taught the correct skills. Safety is the number one priority, and with the additional activity leader knowledge being transferred to participants, we aim to ensure the best possible opportunity to lift the competency of participants, is being delivered.

Offering the Opportunity to those who cannot attend Sundays

Many people cannot simply commit to a Sunday due to other activities. Up to this point, a number of people in this situation have not been offered the opportunity to become involved in a program. With the multitude of other clubs that run Sunday programs, there are vast opportunities for those families where Sunday’s suit, but practically no opportunities for those families where they don’t.

 

FAQs

I’ve never known of Nippers being done on a Saturday?? 
A number of clubs Australia wide have adopted a Saturday program nipper model. Closer to home, Saturday programs are run at Point Lookout, Palm Beach and Salt SLSC’s with great success. By providing a point of difference to competitors, these clubs have enjoyed success through their implementation of Saturdays. 

  • Point Lookout – Awarded 17/18 SCB Junior Activities Club of the Year. 

  • Palm Beach - Quote from PBSLSC - Last season ‘Palmy’ for the first time in over 10 years became the largest Nipper Club in the Point Danger branch. This is not only a testament to the program we run on the beach, but we are the only Club on the Coast to run our Nipper program on Saturday morning – brilliant! 

  • Salt - From Salt SLSC - The Salt nipper program trialed Saturday afternoon nippers for the 2018/19 season, and the result was a 75% increase in junior members, with Salt SLSC being awarded 2018/19 FNC Junior Club of the Year. The trial will continue for the 2019/20 season.

Does running a Saturday change what is taught?
No, the Standard SLSA Junior Development Resources provide the framework for delivering Junior Activities Programs Australia wide. SLSA provides the necessary resources to deliver the operational aspects of the Junior Development Program, with clubs being responsible for the implementation of this framework. A number of club’s Australia wide have run a Saturday program including SLSQ, SLSNSW and LSV clubs. Closer to home, within the Surf Life Saving Queensland Gold Coast Region - Palm Beach and Point Lookout have run programs on a Saturday in recent years. The SLSQ Junior Activities Newsletter has the latest information about different Junior Activities initiatives in the state.

What’s different?
Only the day! Everything else about the program is the same.

I’ve got a question, who do I contact?
If you have a question about Saturday Nippers, please don’t hesitate to direct it to administration@nobbysbeachslsc.com. Please also be aware that through membership of the Surf Life Saving Organisation, you declare to abide by all organisation wide policies (including appropriate Social Media Use, Member Protection and Code of Conduct). This is the only contact point, that designated club spokespeople and club officials will utilise.

But Saturday’s clash with other Sports!???
Clashing with other activities is unavoidable, irrespective of the day it is run. Saturdays give an opportunity to those who have little opportunity to traditionally do so.