Kids… they’re the future you know!
It’s hard to escape the fact that there’s not a huge amount of kids getting into kiteboarding. Where I live, at 28 years old, I’m one of the younger kiters and, while there are a couple of teenagers out on the water, the majority of kiters are 35 or over which makes me feel pleasantly spritely in comparison.
It’s no real surprise that young kiters are thin on the ground (or water). It’s an expensive hobby and one that nobody should really be trying to learn without some coaching from a qualified instructor and, while you can fit a decent amount of kite kit into a pretty small car, you still need a vehicle (and a driving license) to get yourself to the beach. That’s easier said than done when you’re not even 16 yet.
So, when the Armada Trust announced the Kite and SUP Youth Tour, a string of events around the UK that would see local kite schools offering young people under 18 the chance to try kiting and SUPing for free I was happy to hear it! This is the first time that such a tour has ever been run in the UK and, entirely funded by donations made to the Armada Trust and through events like the VKSA, it’s an opportunity for kids who might never normally get the chance to experience either of these life altering pastimes.
The first stop on the tour took place in early April at my local kite spot, Beadnell, in Northumberland and the good folks from the BKSA and the team at KA Kitesurfing had joined forces to offer two days of tuition for groups of young people. They didn’t need a wetsuit, they didn’t need to pay, they just needed to rock up and give it a try. SUPing took place on the Saturday and trainer kite flying on the Sunday and, across the two days, the stoke level was high. Talking to Kev Anderson from KA ,who had gone into local schools himself to publicise the tour, it was clear that many of the kids who’d made it along would never have otherwise had this opportunity. During the weekend, as the SUPing and kite flying was happening, the local kiteboarders were putting on a display in the steady onshore breezes that graced the bay across the two days and it was great for the young folks in attendance to see just how awesome a sport this can be! Yeah, I’m sure hanging around bus shelters and intimidating passing old people has its moments, but so does flying through the air attached to a massive kite and you could see that coming across to the kids as they watched the locals tearing it up.
Events like this are important not just for young people but for our sport itself. Sports like windsurfing and dinghy sailing, while they’ll always have their core following, started to lose popularity when young people were no longer attracted to them and then, as the equipment became even more expensive, it sealed the deal. Nowadays it’s mainly people from a well off background and their kids who are still into these sports. If the only young folks who can ever get access to kiting are those from a wealthier background, whose parents are able to support them financially and help them get into it, then the same will one day come of kiteboarding and it’ll become an activity solely for the monied rather than a sport that somebody like Carlos Mario can take up and become a world champion in!
It’s also important for our planet. In a world where people lead lives increasingly disconnected from the natural world, they’re not engaged in the earth’s plight and so don’t have a stake in its future. That means that there’s a generation of people growing up who may never know the value of doing a sport that hurls them bodily into nature and, in doing so, gives them a perspective on the world and the effect we can have on it.
So with that in mind, the Kite and SUP Youth Tour is a very valuable thing indeed and you can still get involved. If you, or somebody you know, are 18 or under then check out the remaining tour dates below, get along to one of them if you can and experience something even more fun than sitting around your parents house playing Call of Duty!
Camber Sands – 13/14th May
Poole – 20/21st May
Lancing 27/28th May
Find out more at www.armadaevents.co.uk