Surf’s Up!   Learn to surf and applied principles of counselling.

Whilst coaching a surf lesson at Avoca Beach, Australia, a Canadian tourist participating in the lesson became distressed when caught in a strong rip (a fast moving body of water). The surf lesson consisted of four participants and me as the surf coach.

The participant raised her hand, requesting assistance. Instructing the participant to follow me, we paddled towards the beach. The decision to help was formed by situational exposure to the Australian beach environment, surf culture norms and previous surf coach training. Beach environment exposure and surf culture embody the skills of swimming, surfing and assessing risks. Furthermore, my motivation was driven by the surfer’s code (cultural norm) to help someone in distress without endangering yourself.

Additionally, the decision to act was based upon previous knowledge and experience acquired as a surf coach. Developing competent surf coaching skills has confidently prepared me for rescue scenarios, assessing the skills of participants and motivated me to act in this situation.

Surf coach training adopts a culturally sensitive perspective when teaching participants to surf from different cultural backgrounds. Adopting a worldwide view when coaching participants from various cultures, enables me to become aware of culturally diverse customs, beliefs and swimming/surfing abilities.

My family formed belief of contributing to the wellbeing of others is an intrinsic motivator, driving my long-term helping behaviour. Furthermore, my identity is based upon helping others and value of preserving human life. Surf coaching skill development aligns my core belief of helping others, while valuing the preservation human life and in doing so explains my measured decision to help the Canadian learn to surf participant.