Most people think of surfing as a laid-back and easy-going sport, however, if you're new to surfing one of the first things you may also notice is how well-mannered and polite surfers can be in the water. The little codes of honour between them can really rub off on your kids and a few hours learning to surf can teach them good manners without them even realising.
Surfing's little codes are just basic common sense. Take the most important one, about pushing in, or ‘dropping in’ as surfers call it. You'll notice that surfers gather in a queue, the ‘line up’, as they wait for waves to come in. You just need to join that queue and wait your turn. Dropping in – waiting at the bottom of a wave and cutting in front of a surfer already riding it – is frowned on, for the obvious reason that it's queue-jumping.
Getting on with the surfing
No one's going to get really mad with a newcomer dropping in if they don't know better – they'll just explain the rule and get on with surfing. The great thing about it is that you realise, without being told, that the whole business of enjoying the waves works by people respectfully working together. Because you're in the water and in the moment, it doesn't feel like some moral lesson, just a way of learning how to get along with others in order to have a good time.
Really, that's all that manners are for, isn't it?
You'll also find that surfers tend to be a very forgiving and encouraging lot. The image of the tanned, well-toned god or goddess riding a huge wave really is the exception. You're much more likely to find yourself among people of all shapes and sizes, falling over, laughing as they do it, and encouraging each other to have another go. That not only bolsters children's confidence, it also shows them the value of being compassionate and respectful to others.
We're not saying one visit to The Wave will make you perfect but it will certainly get you on the right road. Or indeed wave.
Nick Hounsfield, Founder of The Wave
The value of taking care of things
Finally, it also teaches children the value of taking care of things – again, without any lectures. It's always going to feel better when you start off with a clean, dry wetsuit, and that's a great reason for rinsing it out and putting it in a good drying place when you get home. Likewise, you're going to get a better ride on a board that's clean and in good condition, which will motivate most people to take care of it and to learn about making little repairs.
"There's a routine around those things that involves a lot of discipline," says Sam Bleakley, one of The Wave's surf champions. "Surfing isn't always thought of as something that gives you discipline, however, in a positive way, it really does. And, I believe the natural therapy that comes from being in the sea can also help you if you're suffered some sort of trauma."
At some beaches you might find a few locals being less than friendly to newbies from other areas. Sometimes you may encounter show-offs who do rudely ‘drop in’ on others. But from the very beginning of the project we wanted to show the positive, social benefits of surfing and that principle runs through everything we do.
We're not saying that surfing doesn't have its occasional show-offs and pusher-inners but we can promise that you won't find any at The Wave.