Windsurfing is a fun and popular sport. There are several summer sports camps for youth where you can stay with a group of young people and learn how to windsurf. But what should you look out for when choosing a windsurfing summer camp?
Without wind, you won't be doing much windsurfing! But strong winds are not much fun if you are a beginner trying to get onto the board for the first time.
If you are just starting out or have had limited experience, look for somewhere with the right conditions. In the UK, sheltered areas which normally have a fair wind, such as Poole Harbour or Portland Harbour are ideal. If you are an experienced windsurfer you will still find these areas offer you good conditions, or you could try one of the other 10 top areas listed by the Guardian.
Have you done any windsurfing before? If not, does the camp have courses for beginners? You don't want to be in a class where some of the other people already have experience. You need to be in a class where all the others are learning from the beginning.
Of course if you already know the basics and now want to learn more advanced techniques, you don't want to be in a class of beginners. Are there enough classes at different levels?
How old are the other people at the camp? Some summer sports camps for youth say they have courses for people from about 8 to 18 or older. The aims and needs of people aged 10 or younger are very different to those of an 18-year old. Think about the age group you would feel most comfortable with.
Where will you be staying? Some summer camps provide dormitory accommodation, where you sleep in a big room with other people on the course. Others provide youth hostel or youth hotel accommodation.
Some summer windsurfing camps in the UK are run by language schools for young people from other countries who come to learn English as well as windsurfing. These students can stay with local host families, which gives them an ideal opportunity to speak and learn English. The whole package of English lessons, windsurfing course, accommodation, a programme of activities, transport to and from the school, etc. is organised by the school.
What is the total price of the course?
Add up the cost of the windsurfing course, any extras such as accommodation, meals, any transport costs from your accommodation to the windsurfing school, any booking fee, any cost of hiring equipment such as a wetsuit and any other extras that the organisers ask for.
Check that all the instructors are qualified. They should have a Royal Yachting Association's Windsurfing Instructor's Certificate.
There are several levels of certificate: at least one instructor must have the "Windsurfing Senior Instructor Certificate".
Instructors with the Windsurfing Advanced Instructor's Certificate can teach at all levels under the supervision of a senior instructor.
The Intermediate Windsurfing Instructor Training Certificate allows the instructor to teach people at the intermediate level under the supervision of a senior instructor.
The Start Windsurfing Instructor Training Certificate allows the instructor to teach people at levels 1 and 2 under the supervision of a senior instructor.
Will you get a certificate at the end of the course? The Royal Yachting Association's windsurfing certificate is internationally recognised. There are certificates at the four different levels of their syllabus. As a beginner, you should expect to get the Level 1 Certificate at the end of about two full days or four half days of your course.
Parents will want to look at the camp's child protection policy. This is a document which details all the steps the organisers take to ensure the safety of the young people in their care during the camps. Reputable organisations make this policy available on their websites.
The camp organisers must normally arrange for people under 18 to be accommodated separately from anyone aged 18 or more. They must have a named Child Protection Officer and specially trained staff who are available to you throughout your stay at the summer camp.
Here are some links to windsurfing videos which will show you some of the more advanced techniques ...