David Wells Camp – Mallee Region

Our Stories

Last week’s Take a Break Program held at the Cottage was memorable, life changing and amazing for all involved.

We welcomed students and teachers from Mildura Primary School and they brought the sunshine of the Mallee region with them with the week’s average temperature soaring above 25 degrees. This was perfect for a week full of beach & water activities including swimming, rock pooling, surfing, stingray watching, ocean sightseeing, shrimp hand cleansing, sponge dodgeball and visits to the Marine Discovery Centre and more. With the Mallee region so far away from the beach the children were SO EXCITED to visit the beach. We made sure that every activity planned involved the beach in some way.

The camp celebrated the diversity of our Australian culture with a mix of Indigenous, Malaysian, Tongan, African, and Anglo-Celtic children from grade 5. For most of the 48 children it was their first time at the beach and their very first time away from home.

The week held a special place in our hearts here at the Cottage as it paid tribute to the late, David Wells. David had a close connection to the Mallee region and was a long standing member of the Cottage Board. He served as President on the Board for several years. David lost his battle with MND and it was David’s wish for a Cottage program to be conducted to help children in need from the Mallee. He identified the kids of the Mallee would benefit greatly from the amazing gift of the ocean and everything else the Cottage programs have to offer to positively impact young lives. His wish was granted and the camp for children from the Mallee is now an annual event planned on the Cottage program’s calendar known as the “The David Wells Camp.”

Some memorable quotes from the David Wells Camp participants last week.

“You know how there’s 5 stars well the food here is like 77 stars. Yep, 77 stars. The food is perfect. I’ve eaten more than 3 plates every time I’ve eaten. Except for one time when I only had 2 plates.”
“My favorite I’d say it would be either spaghetti or shepherd’s pie except without the pie it’s more like shepherd’s slop except it’s delicious. ”

“Everybody should come to Cottage by the Sea. Not just people at school but everyone in the entire known universe and beyond. More than just the known universe but the unknown parts too.”

Grade 5 student on the David Wells Camp talking about the food at the Cottage and his message back to kids back home.

“We’ve done activities that my kids have never experienced before. I think coming to camp this week we only had four kids that had been to the beach before out of 48 so this week has been a week of new experiences for my students.”

“We have the Murray River and you can see across to the NSW side. But for these kids here this week they are looking out at endless water and that’s been the comment from the kids. This water is endless when does it stop they’ve said. They’ve been very excited even just by the movement of the water.”

Bree, Grade 5 Primary School Teacher on the David Wells camp.

Normally program participants are picked up by Cottage by the Sea bus driven by Cottage Program Leaders but with a particularly big group of 48 students and a very long driver on this occasion the group on the David Wells Camp chartered a bus company and Cameron was the group’s bus driver. He drove the large charter bus, stayed at the Cottage with the participants for the week and drove them all safely back home to Mildura.

Cameron commented, “I’ve listened to them at the dining table and talking to one another and I do think they are creating memories that won’t just last for the week, or the month but they are memories they’ll take right through their life.“