The Concept of the Rookie Lifeguard Programme

The majority of surf lifesaving clubs in New Zealand operate a Junior Surf division catering for children from the seven to thirteen year age group.  At fourteen they are eligible to become active lifesavers and at times some clubs have difficulty in keeping these members during the transition period from Junior to Senior ranks.

To counteract this loss in membership the Surf Lifesaving Southern Region has implemented a ‘Rookie Lifeguard Programme’ within all clubs.  It is hoped that by targeting and then preparing these young club members in advance through lifeguarding and social development, that this retention problem will be overcome.

The Rookie Lifeguard Programme has been developed to incorporate junior members into the patrolling environment.  It is not an extension of the Junior Surf Programme.

The Rookie Lifeguard Programme aims to:

  • Provide a smooth transition and ready flow of active members from Junior Surf ranks by providing a programme of practical lifesaving development for them.  The target age group is 13 year olds.
  • Involve and encourage respective parents to become involved in both active service and administration at club level.
  • Develop strong ties between senior and junior members as a result of involvement in this programme.

Club patrols will become more efficient as patrol members become involved with the development of juniors whilst on patrol.


  • Complete all modules in the Rookie Manual and get them signed off.
  • Complete 20 hours on patrol.
  • Designated rookie mentors will be assigned on every patrol.
  • Rookies will work with their mentor to achieve the requirements above.

More information can be obtained from the club Rookie Coordinator. Rookies must wear their allocated blue and white uniforms when on patrol but must not actively participate in any rescues for safety reason.

Rookie Teams Challenge
Four members of the rookie programme are selected to compete against other Canterbury rookies in the Rookie Teams Challenge.  Rookies will be judged on their resuscitation, first aid, running and swimming ability, theory and patrolling.  

Rookie of the Year
One rookie from each club will be chosen by their respective club to compete for the title of Rookie of the Year.  Again rookies will be tested on their resuscitation, first aid, swimming ability, and theory.  The Rookie of the Year It is hoped that a competition will also be held towards the end of the season.