The value of surfing on Cottage by the Sea programs

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The wellbeing benefits of surfing have been well researched. We hear about these effects anecdotally from the visiting children on Cottage by the Sea programs – they feel the thrill of catching a wave, increased confidence and self-belief from the sense of accomplishment, and an overall sense of calm from spending time in the ocean.

New research from the Nature portfolio journal NPJ Ocean Sustainability has explored the broad health benefits from surfing. By looking at the economic value of the mental-health benefits from surfing, the study found that these benefits contribute 57–74 per cent of the total economic value of surfing. It concluded that “the global mental-health value of surfing is $0.38–1.30 trillion per annum.”

The journal explains the popularity of surfing: “In Australia, surfing is the second-most practised water-based sport, and among the top five nature-based physical activities, only after walking, running, swimming and cycling.” This comes as no surprise given its mental, physical and emotional benefits.

This is also why surfing is a prominent activity on Cottage by the Sea programs. The physical nature of the activity builds strength, the restorative effects of the ocean promote mental clarity, and the challenges of paddling, wave-riding and wipe-outs help to build emotional resilience.

Here is some recent feedback from Take a Break program participants about their experiences surfing:

  • “My favourite activity was the surfing. At first, I thought I wouldn’t have been able to stand up. But when I got it, it was so, so fun.”
  • “Thanks a lot for helping me learn to surf and feel very proud of myself and clapping every time I stood up. That made me laugh and smile. My favourite part of camp was surfing. I loved it because I was able to stand up and have a lot of fun. At the start, I thought I was not going to be able to stand up but with your help, I did it.”
  • “Surfing was my absolute favourite activity. When we needed help to stand up or catch a wave, you did that to put a smile on our faces. This made everyone’s day – to go back home and tell our families how we caught our first wave.”