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  • Writer's pictureThe Surfer Kids

Volunteer Program Closed

Updated: Oct 29, 2020

The Surfer Kids initiated its Volunteer Programme in 2013. Volunteers from Europe, North and South America were welcomed to this special programme during the following years on various voluntourism packages. Their financial contributions helped to establish and expand The Surfer Kids Non-Profit Programme until March this year. Volunteer feedback overwhelmingly declared that ‘they were happy to pay for the privilege to work with The Surfer Kids!’

The duties of the volunteers ranged from assisting the children with surfing and skateboarding to helping with homework, preparation of food and cleaning the headquarters. Their main duty, however, was to support the children while they received surf coaching from the full-time surf instructors.

The volunteers also had the opportunity to surf with the instructors who taught them to understand and implement surf theories. They learned how to work with the children, understanding and teaching them all the vital information received from the surf coaches.

Thus, since 2013, the volunteers played a crucial role in providing extra hands and eyes when the youngsters were in the waves during the Core Surf Program. They made it possible to accommodate more children without placing an extra financial burden on the organization. Through the Volunteer Programme Fees, the organization generated a steady income which covered approximately 80% of its operating budget. Then, in the middle of 2019, the volunteer market unexpectedly slowed down, just to completely close down with the outbreak of the pandemic.

The position of the Volunteer Coordinator, which was created in 2018 to ensure the quality of the Volunteer Program, played a crucial role in the overall success of the entire organization. As the number of volunteers continued growing and more children were recruited into the Core Surf Program, it became essential to appoint a dedicated person who could act as a liaison between the volunteers and the rest of the organization.

The primary responsibility of the Volunteer Coordinator was to make certain that volunteers were doing the right thing, at the right time and in the right place; hence ensuring that the volunteer's contribution to The Surfer Kids was of maximum effect. The coordinator learned to skilfully work with people from different cultures and diverse social backgrounds, all speaking different languages.

Volunteers got the opportunity to gain experience in the field of team and staff management, coordinating various people around a common goal. They also had a wonderful chance to improve their English language skills in a fun, but professional environment. And, best of all, being a volunteer on The Surfer Kids Program offered them a unique intercultural experience.

It is August 2020 and the entire world is still grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic which emerged at the end of 2019. Since then the virus has spread rapidly and by March 2020 it was a global disaster, compelling countries to invoke strict daily living and travelling measures.

When the ban on international travel was introduced, The Surfer Kids carefully considered its options regarding the Volunteer Programme. While the Programme could potentially have weathered a temporary closure of one or two months, remaining closed for a longer, an indefinite period would have strained the programme's finances too far. The Volunteer Programme carried its own overhead costs, e.g. rental fees for volunteer accommodation, and although it generated valuable income for the entire organization, in the prolonged absence of volunteers these overheads would quickly have depleted the organization's remaining funds.

It was not an easy decision to terminate the Volunteer Program. But, with the international travelling ban still in effect and with no immediate prospects of it being lifted, it was the only viable option during this strange time.

The Core Surf Program had to be suspended for the same reason that schools were closed. But in response to the temporary closure of this Programme, we revamped our feeding scheme.

To all our volunteers, who have played an important role in helping The Surfer Kids - our less privileged children from vulnerable communities in and around Mossel Bay - we want to THANK YOU for your valuable time, super commitment and enthusiastic support!!!

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