Riding the wave: Girls surf camp teaches holistic life skills

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“What about sharks and rips?”

That’s usually the first question the Founder of Adventure Personal Training Jade de Valle gets asked at the YMCA Camp Manyung Girls Surf Camp.

This fear is not just from the young participants, but also their parents.

Jade is quick to clear up this common fear.

“They need to know, that as soon as you paddle out there someone is looking out for you,” she said, “The camp, and surfing is all about fun.”

Since 2016, over thirty girls aged 12 -18 years old have taken part in the annual YMCA camp for “salt sisters” held at the idyllic surf location near Sunnyside beach on the Mornington peninsula.

The summer camp is held in partnership with YMCA Victoria, Sports and Recreation Victoria, Surf Victoria and Adventure Personal Training and runs over three days. The third Girls Surf Camp will be held from January 17 – 19, 2020.

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While surfing is very much at the centre of this camp, with formal surfing sessions, the camp covers a scope of wellbeing and essential lifelong skills. Formatted like the surf lifestyle itself, the camp has a strong environmental and community edge.

Participants learn about how to best fuel their bodies through sessions on nutrition and hands-on cooking. They also gain environmental and sustainable awareness through snorkelling and learn about self-confidence through practices like mindfulness.

For the first time, the upcoming camp will have a volunteer session with Mornington Peninsula Disabled Surfing Association, a local group that provides people with disabilities a safe and enjoyable surfing experience.

Jade is excited about this opportunity, “I want the girls to realise that surfing is an enjoyable experience regardless of your body shape, size or ability,” she said.

While girls may go home having caught a ‘gnarly’ wave, the post-camp benefits are not just not physical skills but also emotional and mental ones. With 1 in 4 young people experiencing a mental illness Jade often receives the strongest feedback from the workshop on mindfulness.

“It’s so common for high school girls to be struggling with anxiety due to exams or schoolwork. Mindfulness can be highly effective and helpful.

“Surfing itself is such a meditative practice,” she said.

Bookings are now open for Girls Surf Camp this January at Camp Manyung. The full cost is $440 which includes accommodation, meals, equipment including wetsuits, and transport once at camp.

Book today.