A SUMMER OF FUN
A recent landmark report* has revealed that enjoyment is the single biggest influencer in motivating children to be active. Of course this will not come as a surprise to most of us, but with a third of children in the UK classed as ‘less active’ – doing less than 30 minutes of activity a day – perhaps it is something we need to be reminded of.
The survey showed that enjoyment impacts not only the frequency of participation, but also the broader benefit of the activity, with frequent participants happier, more resilient and more trusting of other children and young people.
This is not something that is new to the RYA OnBoard programme, which was relaunched in 2017 with a renewed focus on the positive character attributes that are developed through sailing and windsurfing. But alongside the broader learning benefits and the positive impact on physical and mental health, ask any sailor or windsurfer about their motivation for getting on the water and the most common response is… it is lots of fun!
The RYA OnBoard programme offers young people, aged 8 to 18, the chance to learn an exciting new sport in a safe environment. From problem solving and decision making, to leadership and teamwork, young OnBoarders will learn valuable life skills, all whilst having fun and making friends on the water.
Opportunities to get started are available all year round, but the summer months are a great time to have a go…
OnBoard sessions run throughout the summer with most clubs also hosting dedicated junior events. Llangorse Sailing Club has been running its popular Cadet Week for more than 25 years: “It is always an exciting, fun-filled and challenging week for everyone learning new, or practising and improving, skills as well as games and adventure sails around the truly stunning lake, maybe even stopping off for a picnic,” explained Training Principal, Lorina Walden.
“Everything finishes off with a very proud group of children receiving their awards and enjoying a family get together. We also run two mini Cadet Weeks later in the summer.”
The regional OnBoard Festivals will be taking place across the country, all summer long. As well as sailing and windsurfing, events will often include tasters of other activities like Stand-Up Paddle Boarding and team building games. The festivals will see local OnBoard venues come together in celebration of all junior sailing, windsurfing and on the water activity.
Following on from the RYA’s national participation campaign Push the Boat Out in May, many clubs, including OnBoard venues, will be hosting Try Sailing’ events and open days from June – August. With events taking place all over the UK, there is bound to be one near you!
The OnBoard Fun Fleet at the British Youth Sailing Regional Junior Championships gives OnBoard sailors their first taste of travelling to an event and sailing at a different location.
Although featuring some fun races and ‘games with aims’, the focus is not racing, and prizes are awarded in line with the OnBoard character attributes, such as displaying teamwork, determination and communication. The annual September event aims to keep sailors engaged throughout the summer and is a fun and brilliant learning experience for all abilities.
Having completed his RYA Level 2 at his local club over the summer, Ben thought his regional OnBoard Fun Fleet would be a good way to practice his sailing skills and was excited about experiencing sailing at another club.
He said: “I really enjoyed trying a variety of activities, learning from the instructors and I was pleased to have tried some new experiences.
“I love the thrill of being on the water, the speed of the boat and being able to decide for myself how best to tackle a situation.”
His friend and fellow OnBoarder, Shay added: “Sailing is my favourite sport; it used to be football but once I tried sailing I liked it the best. I felt really excited to go to the event because I love sailing and I enjoyed when we were sailing around collecting mini balls. Rigging was very challenging, especially remembering what goes where, but I felt very proud at the end of the day because of what I had achieved.”
After completing their RYA Stage 1 in May 2017, sisters Laragh and Niamh were hooked on sailing. Following in brother Cian’s footsteps, the girls threw themselves into the club’s OnBoard activities and junior club racing and have seen success at various regional and even national competitions.
Winning has definitely helped fuel the fire, but mum Ruth believes the friendships they have forged are the secret to them continuing to sail. She said: “I think Laragh in particular has been encouraged to keep sailing because of her friendship group. She picks up sports quickly, so it has got to be something else that makes her want to stay involved and she gets really excited by the camaraderie with her sailing friends.”
Laragh added: “I have made lots of friends from different clubs I have met at competitions. We all try to help each other by doing things like holding our boats for each other while we get our trolleys and helping each other pull the boats up the beach.”
Whilst Niamh said: “I love seeing my friends at sailing because we encourage each other and it is fun because we can play about in our boats and do funny things. We play tag and sometimes tell jokes to each other. Because we encourage each other and I look forward to seeing my friends, it stops me feeling nervous at events.”
Find out more about the OnBoard programme, opportunities near you and how to get involved this summer at www.rya.org.uk/OnBoard.
* Active Lives Children and Young People Survey 2017/2018 – Sport England.