How to make the most of a gap year

By Michelle Lorber Time of article published Feb 26, 2021

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Plans foiled? Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, many students are in limbo this year. However, it's not all doom and gloom.

If you're the adventurous type, and working outdoors appeals to you, and you're interested in the fields of tourism, adventure, camp or farming fields, among others, browse the programmes at

Leadership, experience & adventure program's (LEAP) camp activities are versatile, as you can choose to participate in the programme for a month or 12 months. Each month provides new experiences and each venue accommodates 10 students a month.

Warriors Academy runs gap year programmes broken up into four seasonal quests. These are designed to promote confidence, problem solving and resilience and can range from horse riding and kloofing to scuba (weather dependent). Community service and environmental readiness is encouraged. Learning relevant to workplace readiness and entrepreneurship are also incorporated. The academy also offers seven-week-long quests (including first aid training and career assessments). Find out more.

There are au pairing agencies which can situate you within the country. They are generally looking for people who have experience with looking after children, have a driver's license and positive, contactable references. Bear in mind that some agencies are understandably strict.

Other things you can do include finding a worthwhile cause and volunteering at a wildlife, game or nature reserve, wildlife or animal conservation, intern with a company, volunteer at a local school, SPCA or Tears, or work on a vineyard, organic farm.

To become a kennel volunteer at Tears, email [email protected].

You can volunteer in the capacity of sorting donations, data capturing and archiving documents at the Cape of Good Hope SPCA

Metro Kids Africa is a non-profit organisation serving children and young people from disadvantaged backgrounds. It's Sidewalk division assists with after-school programmes, home visits, compassionate care, school programmes, camps and teenage mentorship among others. You are welcome as a local volunteer in various ways. Email [email protected]

If you're passionate about conservation and marine research, it may be worth getting in touch with:

- The Centre for Dolphin Studies in Plettenberg Bay ([email protected])

- Orca in Plettenberg Bay

to check whether there are volunteering opportunities available.

The Enviro Solutions Centre is an NPO which promotes environmental awareness through alternate food and energy production and waste management. The organisation is keen for people to contribute to environmental awareness and action in your local community. Email [email protected]

You could also visit and investigate the organisations by province and city to find out if you can help in any way.

If you're over 18, for or volunteering opportunities, HelpX puts volunteers in touch with small business owners. It has a list of host farms, home stays, accommodation establishments and farm stays who host volunteer helpers in short stays in return for accommodation and food. On registering, you won't be able to contact the host directly, but you will be able to see details and reviews about each host. You can explore the volunteering packages on offer and see which suit you. Here is more information.

Workaway bridges between volunteers and hosts, if you want to dedicate time to an NGO, help at a local skill or work with animals. , membership gives to the opportunity to contact hosts on the list and there are blogs recording experiences, tips and volunteering information. Activities could include permaculture, planting trees, working at a backpacking lodge or help at a hostel. Covid-19 has caused an ever-changing situation, but hosts are still posting. You can watch Workaway TV to watch videos from Workaway reviewers. Find the Workaway website.

At World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, WWOOF, volunteers usually live with their hosts and contribute for four to six hours with food and accommodation provided. This way you'll get a change to learn about organic agriculture, farming techniques and explore different provinces within the country.

You can also volunteer at Oranjezicht City Farm to gather knowledge and skills and contribute to a healthy food supply. After filling in a volunteer information form, you attend an orientation session to get you on your way and can contribute in your areas of interest, whether they lie in education, farming, photography, community outreach, events and others. The volunteer information form can be found along with a checklist of volunteering interests.

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