Young surfers at home in Raglan

Raglan Area School’s Surf Academy gives promising young surfers a taste of the wild west coast surf action and Raglan family life.

Founded in 1998 by Deane Hishon, the academy finds local homes for up to 22 out-of-town students with an international surfing career on their minds.

First- time homestay parents Rachel and Aaron Bidois have had two academy grommets – Jay Piper-Healion, 17, from Whitianga and Jack Lee, 15, from Whakatane – living with them for the past year and say the experience has enriched their family life.

“Having them here has brought a new dynamic to our family,” Rachel says. “They are great kids and are a really good influence on our kids.”

The three Bidois children – Hudson, 12, Harlow, 7 and Louis, 6, instantly took to the new family members and Rachel says they look up to the boys as if they were big brothers.

Jay and Jack are out surfing any minute they can squeeze into the day and say Raglan is the place to be for good surf.

“The surf here is way more consistent,” Jay says.

Maintaining good grades is part and parcel of the programme and Aaron says it makes the boys more focused and keeps them away from the usual teenage antics that might get them into trouble.

“The kids coming into the academy really have a lot to prove to their parents for them to be here.”

Wayne Morris has organised the Surf Academy homestays in Raglan for the past 10 years and he is always on the lookout for new families to come on board.

He spends time interviewing families and students to find the right fit for both parties.

“I make sure the student is in a happy environment where they feel comfortable,” he says. “If they’re not happy it affects their schoolwork, their surfing and their wellbeing.”

After an initial trial period of around six weeks, he will check in with the student and the family to see how things are going and he will make other arrangements if necessary.

Janine Jackson

Wayne is on the hunt for a couple of families for next year’s intake of students. For more information contact him on 022 604 2251.