The annual Red Beach Junior Surf Camp at Mangawhai Heads is the highlight of the Red Beach Junior Surf calendar. The camp takes place during the second week of January each year and is a great way to meet other families in the club, for kids to learn new skills and, most importantly, have fun. No other club in the country runs anything quite like it.
Morning and afternoon training programmes are run by the club’s senior athletes and include estuary swims and knee boarding in the surf on the far side of the sand dunes. For the younger children, activities include boogey boarding and jumping off the estuary pontoon.
Activities are designed for all age and ability levels, with the older children focused on preparing for the Inter-Club Carnival at Ruakaka at the end of the week. It’s a chance for kids to gain confidence in a variety of conditions, including bigger surf than we usually get at Red Beach.
The rest of the day is free time. Children have access to all the club equipment and most bring their bikes so are riding, swimming, fishing, paddling and kayaking all day. For parents, camp is a social time with a ladies’ winery visit and the iconic ice run for the men at the Mangawhai Tavern.
Without a doubt, the highlight of the week is the legendary Survivor competition. Each of the year’s rookies leads a mixed-age team around an obstacle course that goes across the estuary and through the sand dunes.
The challenges each year are different but rookies need to show real leadership to get their whole team safely around the course using a range of surf lifesaving skills. The Survivor trophy is hotly-contested and every junior member at Red Beach wants to be able to say they have won Survivor.
For the younger, unbadged children there is also a Mini-Survivor with simpler challenges and a boat ride across the estuary instead of swimming. The event culminates in an enormous communal breakfast on the beach.
Check out the video from last season's Survivor below to see what it's all about.