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Making bubbles in the water

The sensation of scuba diving is how I’d imagine it would feel to fly. You’re weightless, suspended in a world of turquoise and among creatures that glide past you with ease. The benefit of scuba diving is that you get to explore the 71% of the earth’s surface that is covered by water. Although Gauteng is a landlocked province with no access to the sea, you can learn to scuba dive in numerous lakes and swimming pools around the province. Legally, children from 10 to 14 years old can take part in junior open water courses. They need to be comfortable in water, a good swimmer and of reasonable fitness. Training generally takes place in a deep, heated pool and once you’ve completed your training you will progress to a lake, dam or the ocean to qualify. If you’re not sure if this activity is for you, find out if the centre offers a free trial to help you decide.

where to go

Geko Divers They offer PADI certified courses and are based in Olympus. Contact: 012 991 5311, 079 037 8543, or visit
Reef Divers Based in Brooklyn, they offer PADI certified courses. Contact: 0860 733 300, 012 460 9229, or visit

Bonding with strings attached

Rock climbing is a social hobby that also provides a great workout. Apart from the fun and exercise, climbing is also a great way to build trust between you and your teenager – nothing builds trust more than letting them hold the ropes for a change. While a head for heights is a must, you don’t need to be super fit or strong to find it enjoyable. You might prefer to start indoors in a safe and controlled environment until you feel comfortable with the equipment and techniques. Indoor climbing also enables you to climb at night and offers protection from the elements. Most introductory courses will cover basic climbing movements, the equipment and safety. Rock climbing is generally done in pairs, with a lead climber and a belayer (who holds the rope), but you can also boulder, which is climbing without equipment. Be sure to wear comfortable clothing and tight-fitting takkies. Most climbing gyms hire out gear, offer classes and organise monthly outdoor climbing trips that are supervised.

where to go

The Climbing Barn An indoor climbing gym in Mooiplaats that caters to climbers 14 years and older. They arrange monthly outdoor climbing trips in Magaliesburg or Bronkhorstspruit. Contact: 082 335 3220, or visit
The Mountain Club of South Africa It’s affiliated to the world mountaineering body, UIAA, and offers great rock climbing opportunities to its members, including monthly activities and information on routes across the country. Contact: 011 807 1310 (8am–10am weekdays), or visit

Talking in tongues

Learning a foreign language can open up a world of opportunities for you and your children. You might want to learn a language to get back to your roots or perhaps you’re planning a trip overseas. Along with learning the language, you will also be exposed to different cultures and will gain an increased global awareness. The earlier your child learns the better, because children are more receptive and master pronunciation and native inflections quicker. Sharing the experience with your children will aid the learning process as it will increase opportunities for everyone to practise. Find out what your learning style is and try to make the learning process as fun as possible. Consider labelling household items in the new language and having dedicated days where you try to converse solely in the language. It is possible to learn the basics of a language within six months, especially for young children.

where to go

Alliance Française They offer French and Portuguese language classes for children and adults. Should you wish to study together, they offer private lessons that can take place at the centre or at your home by arrangement. Contact: 012 343 6563/0263, or visit
Colegio Espanol For Spanish lessons. They are in Menlo Park. Contact: 074 890 8258, or visit
German Cultural and Language Institute They teach German, French, English, Afrikaans and other languages on request. Lynnwood Ridge. Contact: 012 348 4566, or visit

Photo hunt

Take your teenager on a road trip in search of the perfect photo. Photography is a great way to preserve memories and it gets you to view the world from a different perspective – appreciating the lines and colours and developing your patience as you sit and wait for the perfect shot. You are also able to express yourself creatively and document your life for future generations. Most photographic courses are practical with a bit of theory thrown in to reinforce the concepts. They will teach you to use your camera creatively and improve your photographic eye.

where to go

Cheese Photo Company Contact: 082 655 4751, 082 775 5546, or visit
Jaci’s Lodges Photographic Safaris Courses are run by professional wildlife photographers for all skill levels at Madikwe Game Reserve. The safari caters to a minimum of four people. Contact: 083 700 2071, 083 447 7929, or visit
Vision Photography Digital photography courses for beginners and intermediate photographers. Courses are presented at Monateng Safari Lodge just north of Pretoria, and usually runs on consecutive days over a weekend. Contact: 082 798 8817, or visit

Your personal soundtrack

Perhaps it’s finally time to start that family band. Also, playing an instrument is a great way to de-stress as it requires you to concentrate on the task at hand and enables you to forget about all your other worries. If you’re lucky enough to have a shared taste in music with your teenager, learning a musical instrument together may be just the kind of activity for you. Just as with learning to speak another language, learning to play a musical instrument has many advantages and requires a great deal of practise and discipline if you’re going to play fluently. Playing an instrument increases the communication between the logical and creative sides of your brain and is a skill that you and your teenager can take with you throughout your lives. Most music schools offer tuition in numerous instruments.

where to go

Musica Instruments Instrument rental in Atterbury Value Mart in Faerie Glen. Contact: 012 991 4930 or visit
Nu Song They offer tuition in piano, keyboard, guitar, drums, vocals and a capella. Murrayfield. Contact: 084 703 5239, or visit
String Therapy Music Academy They offer lessons in violin, vocals, piano, drums, guitar and music theory. Queenswood and Hatfield. Contact: 076 153 1830, or visit

Karate chop!

Perhaps the last thing you want is a teenager trained in mortal combat techniques, but martial arts will teach them discipline and confidence and is a great way to improve fitness levels at the same time. Learning to master a new skill will boost your teenager’s self-esteem and make them feel more confident. Add to that the sense of empowerment through self-defence that you will both feel and this could be a really beneficial hobby for the family. Most martial art forms follow a syllabus and grading system, which can help you to monitor your progress and give you a sense of achievement as you advance.

where to go

Master West’s Karate/Taekwondo Academy They offer age-specific karate classes as well as classes in tae kwon do, full contact karate, kickboxing and sport martial arts. Annlin, Akasia, Queenswood and Roodeplaat. Contact: 073 242 9368, or visit
Ring Contact Fighting Art They offer classes in a fighting style that combines karate, boxing, judo and ballet, focusing on self-defence. Classes take place in Sinoville, Doornpoort and Centurion. Contact: 082 788 2132, or visit

Make it and mend it

Sewing is a rewarding craft for those who have the know-how, patience and nimble fingers. It will also give your teenager a sense of pride when they can wear items made with their own hands. Once you are nifty with a needle you will be able to create heirloom quilts, enhance your wardrobe and create personalised gifts. The applications are numerous. Sewing lessons are practical and for those who don’t mind making mistakes and starting over a few times. Most sewing schools will have a sewing machine that you can use, but you will need to take your own fabric. You are taught the basics and start with simple patterns, adding more complicated patterns and skills to your repertoire as you go.

where to go

Sew Many Blessings They offer classes in quilting, creative knitting, embroidery and sewing. Hartbeespoort Dam. Contact: 012 259 1691, 083 457 4652 or visit
Sew Southern Africa Licensed instructors teach an easy-to-follow sewing curriculum. Contact: 021 200 0168 or visit

For the thrill of it

If classes aren’t your thing or you and your teenager are looking for a once-off adventure, try these activities:

  • Find a Zorb park and take a roll
  • Fly through the trees on a canopy tour
  • Sign up for tandem paragliding
  • Rapp jump your way down a building
  • Take a tour on a quad bike, scooter or a Segway
  • Go microlighting
  • Race each other around a go-kart track

Simone Jeffery