Kindergarten students build their surfing skills

By Nora Martin, May 2, 2016

Children get instructions from their teacher.

Photos by Nora Martin

Tofino — 

Huge waves came crashing against the shore as the five- and six-year-old boys from Wickaninnish Elementary School took turns learning how to surf.

The boys were determined to learn. They jumped up and ran into the ocean followed by surf instructors, enthusiastic and excited to catch a wave.

Parents and friends lined the shore, happily watching the little tykes, who took turns riding the incoming waves.

Anthony Curley, 6, told his mom Dee-Dee Curley that he wanted a new surf board because he thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Dee-Dee was thrilled and said “this is pretty neat that my son gets this chance to learn how to surf.” 

The girls were just as keen, said teacher Brady Clarke. Every class from Kindergarten to Grade 6 had their chance, and it was provided soley on donations from the Gordon Family and Pacific Surf School. The funding received finances a three-year surf lessons program.

Some children donned wet suits to go knee-deep in the water and then run back to shore on the cool cloudy day.

After the kids finished surfing, they huddled around the fire to warm up after being in the cold ocean water.

Pre-school teacher Shelley Renard organized the surf lessons for the kindergarten class this year. Surf lessons began in April and will continue until June. Shelley said that more and more teachers are taking an interest in having their class take part in the surf lessons.

She also said “we are getting out there and utilizing our resources”, referring to the ocean.  They teach the kids about rip tides and currents. If you get caught in a rip tide it could take you out into the ocean. A lower tide can work against the surfer, so it’s important to know these things.  

Plus the children learned to overcome any fear they might have to water, and stewardship—keeping the ocean clean.

Surfing lessons for Wickaninnish Elementary School students began in the 1980s.

Parents volunteered their time to help get the kids ready by putting on the wet suits before, and help remove all the gear after the surf lessons. They were also tasked with keeping watch on the children as they swam and played in the water.

The Pacific Surf School and Live to Surf Rentals provide the wet suits, boards and lessons throughout the three-month stint.

After the surf lessons the children, volunteers and parents enjoyed a hot dog roast before returning to the school.