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Surfing with Kids

This programme teaches surfing to underprivileged youth from a rural area. Surfing keeps them out of trouble and away from drugs by giving them support and a chance to develop. Volunteers learn to surf and at the same time teach kids to surf; assist with beach games, yoga, and swimming lessons; and help with after-school homework.

Surfing with Kids
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Location Mossel Bay, South Africa
Duration From 2 weeks
Dates Mid-January to mid-June and mid-July to mid-December
  • You must have an upper intermediate level of English
  • Special skills: You need to be able to swim. You must have a love for children and be able to teach subjects in a fun and interactive way. You should enjoy surfing, playing games, doing sports and beeing outside in the sun
Minimum Age: 18
Your impact
Documents required Enrolment form, curriculum vitae, letter of motivation, passport copy, proof of medical insurance, police clearance certificate
Day of arrival Monday
Day of departure Monday


  • Surf and/or learn how to surf in a surfers' paradise.
  • Change the lives of kids from poor communities and teach them how to surf.
  • Experience several different South African communities and cultures.
  • Explore sights and adventures of the world-famous Garden Route.
  • Share this experience with other volunteers from all over the world.

Project Information

The Surfing with Kids project was founded in 2010 in Mossel Bay, South Africa.

The project’s mission statement is: "The empowerment of marginalised youth through surfing."

The surfing programme is based at Diaz Beach in Mossel Bay. The programme has been offering free surfing lessons to marginalised youths since November 2010. Children are introduced to surfing as a healthy way of having fun. As the children grow within the programme, they are encouraged to progress - to paddle deeper and surf bigger waves.

Empowerment comes as a result of commitment, dedication and learning new skills. Through the medium of surfing, the project’s team teaches the value of learning to do difficult things and enjoying the results of commitment and dedication. By learning to do something they've never done before in an environment they've never encountered before, children develop a new awareness, forming new ideas about themselves, their abilities and their lives.

This project also incorporates a variety of other ocean-related activities, besides surfing, aimed at empowering marginalised children. They encourage healthy interaction between volunteers and children through a variety of fun activities, like beach games and fitness exercises.

Your Role

You volunteer from Tuesday to Saturday. Sundays and Mondays are reserved for resting, sight-seeing and extra activities.

You teach basic ocean skills and introduce young children to surfing. Your work days are divided into two parts: the first part of the day consists of volunteer surfing sessions and/or maintenance work; the second part is spent working in the kids’ surfing programme.

At the kids’ surfing programme, volunteers assist with the following:

  • physically assisting the youngest children in the ocean, helping them to surf small waves in the shallows;
  • playing beach games designed to develop the children’s physical abilities and build confidence for surfing;
  • assist with general supervision on the beach;
  • packing & unpacking of surf equipment before and after surf sessions;
  • preparing the children's meals.

During volunteer surfing sessions, you learn how to surf. The surf instructors will introduce you to the basics of surfing and then you surf under the instructors’ supervision. With guidance, you learn to understand mechanics of wave riding, swell, wind, tide, wave formation, currents and all other aspects of surfing. You are required to develop your own surfing skills as far as possible in order to assist the kids’ surf programme. You are also instructed on how to supervise and assist the children when working in the surfing programme.

If conditions do not favour surfing during kids’ surfing programme time slots, you will assist with the organisation of other beach games designed to develop the children’s strength, fitness and ocean awareness. Alternatively, you and the surf instructors will use the surf centre at Diaz Beach for hosting other educational activities, such as homework assistance or the screening of appropriate material. If conditions do not favour surfing during volunteer surfing time slots, you assist with the repair and maintenance of the surfing equipment, working on surfboard repairs or doing general maintenance work at the surf centre.

It is important to note that this description serves as an example only. The daily tasks and challenges depend on the volunteer and the work that needs to be done. The final job description can therefore vary substantially from the above.

This project can be emotionally draining. It is important that you are aware of this before applying for this project. We will assist you during your stay to make sure that you are coping with the experience, but you need to be mentally prepared to be open to the challenge.


You will stay in a beachfront apartment that is located very close to Diaz Beach, 2-3 min walking distance. The apartment is modern, stylish, equipped with all the necessary utilities for a comfortable stay and is located inside a secure complex. It is a 2-3 bedroom apartment, with a maximum of 3-4 volunteers per dormitory-style room. Men and woman may share a flat, but do not share rooms or bathrooms.

The apartment is fully furnished. The living rooms have comfortable couches, and the beds are clean and comfortable. The kitchens are equipped with everything necessary for cooking, including an oven and a microwave. Laundry facilities are available for 3kg/person/week (not including bedding). The flats are cleaned on a weekly basis and clean bedding is provided every week. Bedding is included, towels are not included. It is recommended to bring at least two towels. You are expected to keep the apartment clean and tidy.

The apartment does not have Internet facilities, but there is free WiFi available at Diaz Beach, which is where volunteers work with the children. You can also easily purchase a South African SIM card from a local cell phone provider for accessing the Internet on a smartphone.

This volunteer project can accommodate a maximum of 6 volunteers at a time, the average number of volunteers is 2-4.


Julie van den Brink


"I would really recommend this project to anyone who likes to be with kids. All the kids are so happy and sweet, and they are so grateful for the volunteers. The afternoons with the kids were so uplifting. The mornings you get to surf yourself with the surf coaches who are so nice and funny. The "Surfing with Kids" volunteer program is so well structured , you live together in an apartment with all the volunteers and the volunteer co-coordinator, 3 cooked meals a day and so much care.”

Diego Rodrigues Dias de Moraes


“I was glad to be a part of this wonderful project that impacts other’s lives directly. This experience has changed my life forever. To be in contact with a different culture and different people and to live their lives for 2 weeks was amazing. You get to see those kids that don't have many opportunities in their lives but are always happy and with a smile in their faces. This is absolutely incredible to see how privileged we are and to appreciate everything that I have. They are amazing and it's awesome to see them challenging  themselves every day with the surfing and skating - with no fear of anything. Thanks for the opportunity to be part of this amazing initiative. I could refresh my soul and now my energy is totally different,  I can feel it. Thanks for everything I recommend 100% this project and I'm totally sure that it’s going to change your life forever.”

Sebastian from Denmark


"I had the best 4 weeks at Surfing with Kids in Mossel Bay. The programme is a great opportunity for volunteers who want to do sport whilst contributing to helping kids from rough conditions experience of success through surfing."

Luise from Germany


"Thank you for guiding me through such an amazing experience. Beginning my volunteer work I didn´t really know what to expect. But soon I found out that it is about so much more than just helping - it´s about learning, making new experiences, making friends with wonderful people and creating unforgettable memories. I loved to work with kids and also with the other volunteers and I would always come back to do it again."

Maria from Spain


"My time in South Africa has been a great experience plenty of good moments, people and memories that I'll bring always with me. At first I didn't know the importance of helping the kids in the water, I had no idea how scary can be for them due to the past and the history their families lived. This made me see that what I've been doing here is more than pushing the kid in a wave but helping him to feel comfortable in the water and enjoy a sport that he couldn't do by his/her own. I've also learnt about how people live here and their customs thanks to my host family, at the end I've got a new brother as he said: I'm your brother from South Africa. I'm glad to have lived this experience and still surprised how a simple cookie can take the biggest smile of these kids."