We were first drawn to Cape Town because we had friends who were living there at the time and wanted to visit before they moved back to the U.S. After doing some research we found a surf outreach volunteer program in the Cape Town area through IVHQ. As a volunteer your time is spent teaching and supervising kids as they are participating in an after school surf program. We decided to volunteer for a week and then give ourselves a few days after our volunteer program to visit our friends, explore more of Cape Town and to of course do some wine tasting.
IVHQ/Dreams to Reality Surf Program
The surf program is based in Muizenberg which is about 20-30 minutes south of Cape Town. Muizenberg is a small beach town known for its surfing. The local organization in the Cape Town area is called Dreams to Reality. There are several volunteer programs offered in the Cape Town area; other programs included childcare, teaching, and sports development. We thought Dreams to Reality was a very well run organization that did a good job focusing on the relationships between the kids and volunteers. When we arrived we were picked up at the airport by another volunteer and taken to the house we would be staying at. There are several bedrooms in the volunteer house, each with 4-5 beds. We had people from several of the other volunteer programs in our house. There are several volunteer houses in Muizenberg, all within walking distance of each other so you get a chance to meet a lot of the other volunteers. The other volunteers are awesome. This program was a great way to meet a bunch of people from around the world some of whom we still stay in touch with.
The first full day we were provided a walking tour of Muizenberg to help familiarize us with the area. We were also given a walking tour of Cape Town and offered several tours through a local tour company- CapeXtreme. We did not book any tours with them so cannot recommend or not recommend them. They did do a nice job of showing us around Cape Town for the afternoon. The tour was more of a brief overview of the city, nothing very in-depth. We chose to stay after the tour was over and explore more on our own. You can read our Cape Town Essentials post for more details on what to do in the City.
Before this trip Erika had never surfed and Ryan had done one lesson. You do not have to know how to surf to join this program but you do need to know how to swim. Both of us swam in college so we figured this program would be a good fit for us. The first day you are given a quick surfing lesson by the instructor and given time to work on your surfing. Each day consists of two sessions, one AM session where you get to surf with the other volunteers. The afternoon session is when the kids come and they get to surf. Most of the kids in the program while we were there were already very good at surfing. As a volunteer your job is to help the kids get their wet suits on and walk to the beach. Once everyone is at the beach your job is to help keep an eye on all the kids and help out wherever needed. That may mean you get to help push the kids into the bigger waves, help some of the younger kids learn to surf or just play in the water. After surfing everyone walks back to the surf shop and the kids get a meal. Some of the volunteers will be helping kids clean and hang up the wet suits, others will be serving up a simple meal. After the kids eat the volunteers clean up and the kids are picked up and brought home. The program is working to give kids from a local township a good activity to do after school, to learn social skills and responsibility. The leader of the Surf program did a really nice job of relating to the kids and served as a great role model for the program.
When the kids aren’t in school (during holiday break for example) the times the kids come in may change and on some days they may go to a local park and play basketball or play beach games pending weather conditions and the conditions of the waves.
Check out the IVHQ website for the most up to date lists of programs they offer as they are always adding new opportunities. We would strongly recommend if you do a volunteer trip that you volunteer for more than one week. We are lucky that one week was the minimum requirement needed so that we could do this trip since our time off was limited but it is really difficult to really get to know the kids when you only volunteer for one week. The first day of the week you do spend all day in an orientation so you actually only get to volunteer 4 days if you are there for a week. At the bare minimum two weeks would be our recommendation so you can do orientation, get your bearings and also have some time to actually connect with the kids you are there to help.
Link to the IVHQ website: https://www.volunteerhq.org/volunteer-in-south-africa/
Here is the link to our other South Africa posts
- Cape Town Essentials
- Muizenberg and Kalk Bay – Beach Towns in the Western Cape South Africa
- Road Trip – Cape Peninsula South Africa
- Wine Tasting in Franschhoek South Africa