A record number of volunteer surf lifesavers have headed to the bush to deliver important beach and water safety lessons to thousands of NSW primary school students.
In November and December last year, Surf Life Saving NSW's flagship Beach to Bush education program raised awareness about safety in and around the water.
Over 8,000 school children attended one of the more unique lessons on the school calendar when the program toured rural and regional towns.
With COVID-19 travel restrictions limiting interstate and overseas travel, more families are headed to the NSW coastline for holidays.
For many children, attending the Beach to Bush classes was their first interaction with a surf lifesaver in an iconic red and yellow patrol uniform. Some had never been to the coast or swam in the ocean, let alone learnt about beach rips and dangerous marine species.
Over the past 27 years, over 255,000 primary school-aged students have benefited from the Beach to Bush program delivered by dedicated, volunteer surf lifesavers.
The coastal safety program has been carefully designed by SLSNSW educators to ensure the lesson content is age-appropriate.
It is Surf Life Saving NSW's vision that every student has access to important coastal safety information - regardless of the size of their school. The smallest school the lifesavers will visit, Avoca Public School, has just five pupils. At the other end of the spectrum is St Thomas Aquinas Primary School in Bowral which has 366 students and will also enjoy a Beach to Bush class.
Community education manager at SLSNSW Julia Kiss said the organisation has ambitions to grow the Beach to Bush program.
"Following the success of Beach to Bush over the past 27 years, we are expanding this program with the aim of bringing coastal education to more students and schools in remote and rural communities," said Julia Kiss.
Surf Life Saving NSW Beach to Bush spokesperson Jenni Clarke said the program is an opportunity for volunteer lifesavers to share their knowledge and passion for beach safety with children in rural and remote areas.
"Sharing our passion for the beach and the coastline with children, regardless of their location, is an important part of our strategy to educate and keep the beach going public safe," said Jenni Clarke.