Military families bonding through surfing activities

How military families are bonding 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 The Royal British Legion asking for support in running water-activity courses for military families, we were only too happy to help.

A grant from the Legion has enabled Surf Action to run a series of courses at the beautiful 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.

Military family surfing on Praa Sands

Chris and Laura with Amelia on Praa Sands.

“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.

Surf Action sea safety courses with military children.

Amelia taking part in the Surf Action courses with other military children.

“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.”

Military children learning about sea safety through surfing courses

The courses by Surf Action 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.

RNLI - military children on a surfing course

Military parents and children are taken through sea safety.

Military families on a surfing activity.

“Surf Action is bringing families together to help children and their parents best deal with the heavy emotional cycle of deployment," says 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. 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.”

Supporting the Armed Forces community

Find out more about the Legion’s external grants programme and how it supports blast injury research, post-graduate qualifications and more.