Nippers & Cadets

Surf life saving is an amazing activity for growing a child's confidence, knowledge and skills in the beach environment. Not only will your child have fun and meet new friends they will become part of an iconic organisation that has served the Australian community for over 100 years.

The juniors of today are the future of surf life saving and that is not lost on Surf Life Saving NT and our clubs. Every club in Australia offers a nippers program, all with various styles and sizes.

Not only is nippers a fun way for your child to enjoy the beach in a safe environment, it also offers children an educational pathway through the delivery of the SLSA Junior Development Program. this program is designed to ensure children have fun at the beach while participating in lessons that will pathway them to becoming a fully rounded participant in both lifesaving and sport - we like to call it 'Serious Fun'.

A summary of each of the junior development awards is below. For further information on the Junior Development Program click here and for a summary of each Junior Age Group Award click here.

To join Nippers and the Junior Development Program, contact your local club.

Sport - Nippers Beach Flags
Nippers 05
DSLSC Nippers

Surf Play 1 & 2 (Under 6 & Under 7)

Surf Play is the program designed for the most junior members. There is no award for Surf Play - the focus is on play, participation and fun. Activities and games will be the focus of the sessions with a number of simple beach safety and awareness lessons available such as: basic safety practices during activities, what makes up a beach environment, sunsmart guidelines, the importance of having an adult with them at the beach, what a lifesaver is and what they do, wading, beach sprinting and beach flags.

Surf Aware 1 (Under 8)

Surf Aware 1 is the first of the junior development awards. The focus understands, identifying and demonstrating sunsmart guidelines and dangers that relate to themselves, as well as what it means to feel safe. They learn to recognise whether they are, or someone else is, in an emergency situation and how to get help. Ecosurf discusses the beach environment and communities surf lifesavers operate in. Surf sports skills focus on; bodyboarding, wading, dolphin-diving, beach sprint starts and beach flags starts.

Surf Aware 2 (Under 9)

Surf Aware 2 builds on Surf Aware 1. Personal Safety Networks are introduced so participants are comfortable asking for help; Ecosurf talks about the impact surf lifesavers can have on the beach. Safety of self steps up a gear by introducing safety tips and the ability to identify hazardous surf conditions. As an U9, participants can begin to use a nipper board, so basic board positioning and paddling is introduced. Other surf sports skills focus on; body surfing, sand running technique and diving for a beach flag.

NT Champs Broome 2015
Nippers jump for joy

Surf Safe 1 (Under 10)

The first of the Surf Safe awards Surf Safe 1 begins to get a little more specific in its lessons introducing a number of new topics. Participants will identify adults at the surf clubs they can ask to help them, in Ecosurf they focus on water conservation and in sun safety the spotlight is on the consequences of skin damage. Participants learn about rips, recognising unsafe behaviours and relating these areas to preventative actions. Resuscitation is introduced for the first time with an opportunity to experience CPR on a manikin. Rescue techniques are also introduced for the first time as participants learn to use body boards to assist distressed swimmers and experience rescue tubes. Surf sports skills focus on; entering and negotiating the surf on a board and beach relay baton changes.

Surf Safe 2 (Under 11)

Surf Safe 2 takes a significant step up in the level of content. As U11's they have the ability to learn more technical aspects of lifesaving and are able to be more physical in surf sports skills. Participants are encouraged to persist when needing help and Ecosurf gets into energy conservation. There is a strong focus on recognising 'at risk' people and recognising and managing patients suffering from a range of basic first aid cases. As a 10 year old participants can learn how to perform CPR and there is an opportunity to work towards a Resuscitation Certificate. There is also a strong section on communication both interpersonal and through beach signage. There is a significant percentage of surf sports skills which focus on; board dismounts, catching waves on a board, board relay, surf swimming techniques, crouching beach sprint starts and ironman/ironwoman and cameron relay transitions.

Surf Smart 1 (Under 12)

Surf Smart 1 continues similar to Surf Safe 2. Participants begin to learn about their rights and responsibilities as a member of SLSA, the Ecosurf lesson looks at how weather impacts on the beach environment. Personal health & wellbeing and sun safety is focused on skin cancer and staying fit and healthy respectively. The role of patrols is first introduced to this award as is the managing rips and using them to assist in rescues. As an 11 year old, participants can work towards a Basic Emergency Care Certificate (as well as a Resuscitation Certificate). This certificate comprises of lessons in the human body, complete basic first aid and resuscitation. Some more signals are introduced that compliment the first set previously learnt. Previous board skills come into play as participants learn how to conduct a board rescue. The focus of surf sports skills is to complete all the skills in each skill set and includes; rolling under a wave on a board, diving under large waves, beach sprint arm and leg drive and beach flags race strategies.

Surf Smart 2 (Under 13)

The last of the junior development awards, Surf Smart 2 looks to wrap up the skills and knowledge learnt in all the previous awards. Participants learn about what the SLSA Member Safety and Wellbeing Policy is, and in Ecosurf they tackle the issues of Global Warming and Climate Change and how they will impact on surf life saving. Surf Safety is wrapped up into the 10 Surf Safety Tips, Communication focuses on the importance of communicating with beach users, Patrols identifies other professional emergency services and participants will experience performing a tube rescue. Participants can work towards a Basic Emergency Care Certificate (as well as a Resuscitation Certificate). This certificate comprises of lessons in the human body, complete basic first aid and resuscitation. The focus of surf sports skills is on bringing all the skills learnt in previous awards together to participate in an event for each of the disciplines: board race, board rescue, surf race, run-swim-run, beach sprint, beach relay, beach flags, ironman/ironwoman and cameron relay.


As soon as you turn 13, you become a cadet. This age group is perhaps the most important age group for juniors. It is the last year of structured junior activities and the first where the junior can start to participate in regular surf lifesaving activities - patrols, open carnivals, etc.

A number of skills and knowledge lessons are provided through the structured junior development program that pathway towards the Surf Rescue Certificate (SRC). The SRC is the introductory award for patrolling surf lifesavers and allows the recipient to take part in beach patrols. A member must be 13 years of age to sit the examination for this award.

Completion of this award is a minimum requirement for participation in surf sports competition as an Under 15 (and in some instances as an Under 14).

Cadets will complete this award as part of their regular junior activities. This might be done in a number of ways:

  • SRC training could take place during the regular junior activities time slot (eg. Sunday morning).
  • For those who turn 13 early in the year, training for the SRC (particularly the theory components) may take place in the winter 'off-season'.
  • Clubs may choose to run SRC training in a similar fashion to other awards. Theory sessions may be run on a weeknight, with practical sessions run on the weekend either as part of the regular weekly activities or at another time.