HUNDREDS of children have taken to the water over the summer break – earning qualifications as they sailed, paddled and capsized.
The Andrew Simpson Watersports Centre has seen almost 2,000 children taking part in its summer outdoor education curriculum including sailing and windsurfing courses, multi-activity weeks and sea monkeys programme for younger children.
Hannah Griffiths, eight, from Emsworth, said: ‘I’ve had a brilliant time and particularly liked the paddle boarding and crabbing.’
Declan Paul, also eight and from Havant, added: ‘I loved the paddle boarding. I was quite nervous about being in the water but I’m now much more confident. It has been good to meet new people and make friends.’
Many of the children gained a recognised Royal Yachting Association (RYA) qualification in sailing and windsurfing.
Emma Johnson, 12, from Petersfield, was awarded her RYA Stage 3 sailing qualification.
‘I’ve always wanted to sail and to get this qualification has been brilliant. The best bit was capsizing,’ she said.
Formal qualifications are only a small part of the development opportunities provided by the centre’s programme.
Rick Griffiths, 10, added: ‘I often get bored in school but this has been so much fun. I’m now better at communicating and listening to others. If you are on a large paddle board and don’t work as a team then you can’t steer.’
For centre manager, Hermione Garner, the biggest satisfaction is seeing children overcome their own challenges.
‘It’s fantastic to see the children achieve something they didn’t think possible at the start of the week. Being able to overcome challenges builds resilience and confidence which can be transferred into other aspects of life,’ she said.
‘Many children who struggle in the classroom thrive in a more practical environment. We also provide free or subsidised places for disadvantaged children.’
Youngster Eliza Sharp, 11, from Fareham, conquered her own fear of heights.
‘I’ve learnt to face my own fears on the climbing wall and really had to push myself to get to the top,’ she said.