Bring much-needed English skills to an impoverished remote rural community.
The sheer majesty of Zululand will take your breath away. Under the hot African sun, the cobalt blue Indian Ocean, mangrove swamps and limpid lagoons give way to rolling green hills and indigenous forests which shimmer in the distance. That’s your view for three-weeks when you spend time as a language camp counselor in Zululand, South Africa.
There’s no doubt that extraordinary adventures lie ahead for the camp counselors on this program. The adventures begin when heading north from the metropolitan buzz of Durban along the shore-hugging highway into the Kingdom’s heartland. Evoking images of wild landscapes and tribal rhythms, this beautiful drive offers a different face of South Africa, where fine coastline, mist-clad hills and traditional settlements are in contrast to the ordered suburban developments around Durban, where you will participate in your orientation. Dominated by the Zulu tribal group, the region offers fascinating historical and contemporary insights into one of the country’s most enigmatic and best-known cultures. However, while the name Zulu (which means Heaven) aptly describes the rolling expanses that dominate the landscape, it doesn’t tell the whole story. Intense poverty and all the social problems that come with that are still commonplace, and much of the population struggles in a hand-to-mouth existence. Head off the main roads and this becomes glaringly obvious.
On this summer camp counselor program, you will bring much needed English skills to an impoverished remote rural community. The camp is based in the Zululand District of KwaZulu Natal province of South Africa. This region is the heart of the Zulu nation, which is the most significant tribal group in South Africa. Our base during this 3-week program is on a community (tribal) owned game reserve and our daily work takes place in three rural schools surrounding the reserve.
This is not something you will do and then come home and forget. This experience will last a lifetime. In fact, this experience will play an enormous role as you design your future. And GeoVisions invests in your future. How? We provide stellar service, and we are with you at every step, even when you’re in South Africa. We provide free membership in the ESL Lounge, where you can download and use flash cards and worksheets to help you teach English to the students at these remote schools. These tools vary from Pre-K all the way through Business-English. And we provide the opportunity for you to become certified in the Renzulli learning method for gifted and talented education. The online course is completely optional (and included free) and certifies you so you can provide this incredible learning style at the camp. Based on 30 years of research at the Neag Center for Creativity, Gifted Education, and Talent Development at the University of Connecticut, Dr. Joseph Renzulli and Dr. Sally Reis have been at the forefront of researching, studying and developing teaching methods that unlock the gifts and talents of all students.
Not only will you be able to apply these methods with your summer campers, you will have them when you come home. If you’re going to be a teacher, you can use these new tools in your classroom and your certification on your resume. Even if you never use these tools in your profession, they will be with you if and when you become a parent. Our investment is in you and your future, along with providing a unique experience. Around our office we are fond of saying, “No landmark beats a life changing experience.”
Somkhanda Game Reserve is a 30,000 acre community-owned area that is home to endangered rhino, leopard and African wild dog as well as giraffe, zebra and the complete spectrum of antelope species that naturally occur in this area. Elephant and Buffalo are also to be introduced in the near future. The reserve is dedicated to providing a wide range of meaningful experience to travelers that provide a direct benefit and positive impact on the biodiversity of this environment and the local Zulu community.
Do you love working with children? Are you adventurous and physically fit? Are you up to working in an isolated rural setting without TV’s, movies and parties? If you have dreamed of enjoying an African safari and viewing the “Big-Five” up close and personal, and participating on a 2-day river trip as well as using your time to help disadvantaged children … then this is the program for you.
Use of the ESL Lounge and getting certified in the Renzulli method of learning will be huge milestones on your resume, that you can use when you get home for advancement.
- Yes! Sharing this once-in-a-lifetime experience is the best way to enjoy this adventure. Bring family and friends!
For fee details, see the Details and Fine Print sections. This fee includes both weekend trips … a 2-day Big Give safari and a 2-day river ride, which includes accommodation, meals, entrances, equipment, and all transportation.
On arrival in Durban you will undergo a 3-day orientation to equip and prepare you for the following 3-weeks where you will be bring much needed English skills to an impoverished remote rural community. Durban is the beach holiday capital of South Africa, which claims to be “where the fun never sets” and you will have an opportunity to enjoy some of its highlights during Orientation week.
A 2-day formal orientation will take place at LIV Village just outside Durban. You can view their website here. There are over 5 million orphaned and vulnerable children in South Africa, mostly due to HIV/AIDS and poverty, with 12,000 added to this every month. LIV exists to raise the next generation of leaders in South Africa. Orphaned and vulnerable children are placed into a family environment with a trained foster mother to love them, a school to educate them, and where all their physical needs are met.
If these children are equipped with essential moral values and life skills, they will grow up to be a generation that will influence positive change within South Africa, Africa and the world.
For the two-days that you will be at LIV you will have the opportunity to get fully involved in everyday life in the Village, helping with the daily program and making a difference to the lives of the orphans through teaching, sport and other skills.
Most of the counselors will be arriving off long haul flights and battling with jet lag. This is a perfect location and volunteer opportunity to rest up and get ready for the trip to Zululand, where you will be teaching for the next 3-weeks.
You will be accommodated for the two nights at LIV Village in a very comfortable volunteer accommodation, more like a private apartment. The fridge is fully stocked with a variety of ready cooked meals, fresh fruit, milk and other food. It is all freely available with unlimited amounts. Help yourself to as much as you like. Just note that you will be expected to cook for yourself (or heat up the ready cooked meals in the microwave).
Please note that LIV Village is Christian run, but is not an evangelical project. It is a huge success story in South Africa, and probably the best model of a sustainable community project, and HIV orphanage we have seen. They are so successful there that the South African Government has come on board and subsidizes a large amount of the project.
Friday after an early breakfast we travel a short distance to the Tembe area where we will spend 1 night at Bhekula Camp. This will be our base for exploring the nearby Tembe Elephant Park. This 200-mile game reserve is owned by the Tembe tribal community and managed by KZN Wildlife – a parastatal conservation organization. It boasts the full complement of the Big Five – elephant, lion, leopard, black and white rhino and buffalo – as well as over 340 bird species and many other mammal species right down to the tiny Suni, one of the smallest antelope in the world.
The area was once known as ‘The Ivory Route’ because for many years this ancient route linked the ivory traders of Mozambique and Zululand. It is where the largest elephants in Africa – and the world – roamed. Today, these gentle giants remain and thrive in their ancestral homeland. And this is where you can meet them…face to face. You can view the website of the Tembe National Elephant Park here.
On Saturday after a game drive and lunch we will depart for Kosi Mouth, which lies in the northernmost part of the KwaZulu-Natal coast. Situated close to the border of Mozambique, it is one of the most remote, yet beautiful places in the country. It is not a bay at all but actually a complex estuarine ecosystem comprising of four inter-linked lakes fed by the Siyadla and Nswamanzi Rivers.
This unique ecosystem offers some of the most exciting birding opportunities in southern Africa, as well as unique wildlife opportunities. The flora on this part of the coast is fantastically rich and varied and some of the most diverse mangrove swamps can be found here, as well as wild figs and raffia palms. The estuary at the northern end of the lake system, opens into the sea. The sandbanks and mudflats are a wonderful habitat for interesting specimens.
Where the lakes enter the sea at Kosi Bay is famous for its pristine beach for which it is possibly best known. It is one these beaches we find the breeding ground for the world’s largest marine turtle, the Leatherback.
It is also well known for its fascinating fish kraals in the estuary used by the local Tonga people for 700 years. 2 Days in this area will give you time to explore the swamps, dunes and estuary. Optional activities include snorkeling, Fish trap tour, hiking and kayak safaris. View photo images of Kosi Bay here.
Transportation for this weekend, accommodation, equipment and all meals are included in the program fee.
The objective of the Zonyama Homestay is to provide GeoVisions participants with an authentic insight into the contemporary cultural lifestyle of the average rural Zulu person. In addition, the experience is fully integrated into the community life of the district.
Mornings will be spent teaching English and helping with sport activities at the local Makoti school. Nothing is contrived or set-up for you, so the social and cultural program is totally dependent on what is happening in the community at the time and as the local people go about their daily routines.
After breakfast, you will drive to Jozini where you will be met by Pongola River Company for your Canoe Safari on the Pongola River. The paddling trip starts directly below the dam wall with a safety briefing under the shade of a beautiful Sycamore Fig tree.
The briefing introduces you to the area including the basic ecology and goes on to explain basic river safety, how to use the boats and how to navigate through the 8 miles of river between the wall and the Camp.
With the safety talk completed the first objective is to paddle right up under the dam wall and see where the water comes hurtling out of the sluice gates creating a 30m high plume of mist and gushing water. After this we head downstream to tackle the rapids. Depending on the water level we will decide to run the rapids or portage around it and as a general rule of thumb the rapids are is safely runnable when the river is running at about 7 cumecs.
From the rapids the river forms a pool drop system with a few large pools between numerous small but fun grade 1 rapids interspersed with narrow runs between reed beds. The water is crystal clear and the birding is exceptional with numerous Kingfisher and Heron species as well as African Finfoot, African Jacana and the occasional sighting of something special like the Pels Fishing Owl, Brown hooded parrot and Narina Trogon.
At dusk you have a good chance of seeing a Bat Hawk where the paddle ends at the Pongola River Camp. Once in camp you will be able to relax before your evening meal around the Boma. In South African architectural history, the African Boma is a stylized wooden structure to enclose outdoor dining areas and create a warm, inviting space where guests can enjoy dining under the African night sky. The following day will take you down the next stretch of the river for another full day adventure.
Swimming, snorkeling and fishing are some of the activities one can enjoy while on the Pongola River. It is also home to a staggering 50 species of fish, making it the most diverse freshwater ecosystem in South Africa.
Transportation for this weekend, accommodation, equipment and all meals are included in the program fee.
On Thursday you will depart for Durban, ending your time as a language camp counselor and leaving your students behind but taking once-in-a-lifetime memories with you. Durban is the perfect spot to reflect on your time in Zululand, since this is where it all began.
- This program has been designed to provide plenty of time to experience the Zululand culture. A Safari, river rafting, exploring your surrounding area and living next to a wild game park are all included.
- You put in around 20 hours each week playing games with the campers and speaking English each day, and the rest of your time is spent experiencing the Zululand culture in depth.
- A homestay in a Zulu community is included in the 2nd week of the program.
- Enhance your resume by adding ESL teacher, summer camp counselor and certification in the Renzulli method of teaching.
Requirements and Duties
- Summer camp counselors must be native English speakers. If you are not a native English speaker but you are fluent in English, please contact us. We may be able to provide a space for you.
- Counselors need to have graduated high school, be in college or have a college degree and have one of the following requirements: teaching experience, camp counselor experience, child care experience or teaching English as a second language certificate.
- Counselors should be in good physical and mental health and physically fit for the rigors of an outdoor program.
- Counselors should have good lesson planning and organization skills.
- Skills in sports, music, singing, etc are extremely helpful for activities at the camp.
- Share your language with the language camp 20 hours a week Monday to Friday.
- Be on time for camp each day.
- Manage your own personal expenses (telephone bills, clothing, entertainment and spending money)
What You Get For Your Program Fee
- Personalized Volunteer Placement through our Partner in South Africa, including all the coordination, in-person visits and communication necessary with the local organization.
- A comfortable, safe place to live in South Africa, including three meals per day.
- A week in a Zulu community homestay for a full cultural immersion.
- Two nights in Durban for Orientation and a little volunteer work in an orphanage with meals and accommodation included.
- Two full weekends out. One on a Safari and another on a 2-day river rafting trip. Transportation, equipment rental, meals and accommodation are included.
- Transportation from Orientation to the camp where you will teach and back at the end of the program.
- An experienced U.S. based GeoVisions Program Manager who will serve as your coordinator and liaison with our in-country staff in South Africa.
- Airport pickup (in Durban) during specified times. If flights do not arrive during the arrival time (before 1 pm), precise information will be provided on how to reach the accommodations. (Cost of transportation, if outside of specified times, is not included.)
- Professional, locally-based staff to provide orientation, supervision and guidance throughout your stay.
- Important documents, including in-depth pre-departure packs, orientation information, and all in-country informational materials.
- A toll-free 24-hour emergency hotline in the U.S. Call collect from South Africa. Our emergency line is manned by real people.
Arrive Durban, South Africa on Thursday, July 7. Orientation will be held on Friday and Saturday, July 8 and 9. You will travel to Somkhanda on Sunday, July 10.
Monday through Thursday, July 11 to 14 week one of the language camp.
Friday, Saturday and Sunday, July 15 to 17 is the trip to the Elephant reserve, the Safari and trip to Kosi Mouth.
Monday through Thursday, July 18 to 21 week two of the language camp and community homestay.
Friday, Saturday and Sunday, July 22 & 24 is the Pongola River trip.
Monday through Wednesday, July 25-27 are the final three-days of the camp.
Thursday, July 28 return to Durban for your overnight before departing home.
Friday, July 29 fly home.
During camp times, around 20 hours each week.
INCLUDED. This 2-day orientation will be held in Durban, South Africa.
You will be accommodated in very comfortable volunteer accommodation, more like a private apartment. The fridge is fully stocked with a variety of ready cooked meals ,fresh fruit, milk and other food is also freely available.
Camp counselors must be native English speakers.
20+. If you are 18 or 19 and would like to participate, please contact us.
Durban, South Africa for arrival, departure and orientation. For the duration of the camp you will live in a safari tented camp at the Somkhanda Game Reserve in Zululand. During week two there is a homestay in a Zulu community.
You should fly from your home country to Cape Town (CPT) or Johannesburg (JNB) and then to Durban (DBN). The deciding factor can be cost and connections to DBN. As an example, currently Johannesburg to Durban is a 1 hour flight and Cape Town to Durban is a 2 hour flight.
You will enter on a tourist visa. At this time no extra visa is necessary. No visas are required for USA, Canadian, UK or EU passport holders. They receive an automatic 3-month tourist visa on arrival.
Your continued good health and safety during your time abroad is of critical importance to GeoVisions, and to the success of the program.
With the new healthcare and insurance laws in the United States, GeoVisions cannot legally provide travel, health and accident insurance on our group plan for any participant who resides outside the US. If that is you, we hope you will still participate with us.
For US Citizens, GeoVisions has arranged accident and health insurance services through iNext/Nationwide. You will be sent details of the plan appropriate to you before departure. Please read the information about the plan carefully.
If you reside outside the US, please find out if your current health insurance plan covers you when you travel. If it does not, you will need to purchase an insurance plan separately. Then, simply send us a scan or photo of your insurance card. It’s that simple. And for the record, we don’t understand or agree with these laws either.
GeoVisions takes your health very seriously. We have specially trained staff on duty 24 hours a day, 7-days a week to assist you wherever you are.
INCLUDED. Camp counselors will meet at a predetermined meeting point and time (one of the coffee shops for example). This will be one of the few opportunities to change money into local currency. If you come prepared you can draw cash from any of the ATMs in the airport.
INCLUDED. Your transport from the airport to your Orientation is provided. Also, transport from Durban to the Somkhanda Game Reserve is provided as well as transport to and from the summer camp location. Transportation from the camp to Durban at the end of the program and transport to the airport is provided.
From Durban (after your arrival and Orientation) the drive north is 4 – 4.5 hours on the N2 highway. This is an excellent modern road. Camp counselors are transported to the Safari camp by 14 seater Toyota Quantum busses. Each bus is driven by a registered guide with a Professional Driving Permit. The vehicles are fitted with state of the art satellite tracking devises that are linked to a 24 hour call center.
While at game reserve and getting back and forth to the schools where you are counseling and teaching, you will be transported in dedicated game viewing vehicles.
The transportation on the two weekends out is included.
You will be housed in Durban during the two-day Orientation in volunteer accommodation at a local orphanage where you will have your orientation and the chance to do a little volunteering with the orphans. When you depart Durban for your camp experience, you will be housed at the Somkhanda Game Reserve in a tented safari camp. You will have your own tent but you will share communal bathrooms. The 2nd week you will be in a homestay in a Zulu community.
Accommodation on the weekend trips out is included.
Staff at the camp will prepare breakfast and dinner for you. There will be supplies available for you to make your own lunch. 2 meals daily will be provided during the two days of Orientation ... breakfast and dinner. You will be free to have lunch on your own.
All meals are provided except for lunch on the travel days up to the reserve (July 10) and back to Durban (July 28) where lunch will be on your own. On the last night in Durban, dinner is on your own as is breakfast on departure morning.