Escaping the winter cold was on the cards for Cottage employees Natalie, Jess, Troy and Linton when they were given the incredible opportunity to fly to Darwin for six days in late August to participate on a Cathy Freeman Horizon's Program Camp.

The week began early on a Monday morning, where the team of Cottage staff and Cassie from the Cathy Freeman Foundation met up with 17 young and lively grade five and six students with their teachers and community leaders at the charter aviation airport in Darwin. The students flew in from two remote islands in the Northern Territory known as Galiwin'ku (Elcho Island) and Wurrumyianga (Tiwi Island). They had been selected to partake on this camp due to their strong attendance at school, good behaviour in class and positive contribution within their communities.

After a short bus ride to our accommodation at the Michael Long Learning and Leadership Centre (otherwise known as home to the Northern Territory Thunder NAFL team), the students happily settled into their accommodation and we were all wonderfully welcomed to Larrakia Country by the traditional owners.

The rest of our week together consisted of jam-packed fun! From flipping out at 'Flip Out' (the local trampoline park), to getting a strike in bowling at King Pin, we did it all! We visited the Danila Dilba Health Centre and discovered the importance of our own personal health and thanks to AAMRIC and The Ark Vet, we learnt about the importance of the health of our animals too! We tested out our fitness levels and skills in a NT Thunder training session on the footy field and the children enjoyed getting their voices on both the Yolnju and TEABBA radio stations.

Of course, it wouldn't be a true trip to Darwin without spotting a few crocodiles in their natural habitat along the Corrobboree Billabong Cruise or enjoying a picnic packed dinner on Nightcliff Beach whilst watching the sunset.

Not only was the camp both fun and enjoyable for everyone, but it ensured each activity involved a learning experience - pushing the students out of their comfort zones, encouraging them to make new friends and most importantly, helping them to gain self-belief within themselves and others.

All week the children had been talking about their dreams and goals, engaging in confidence-booster sessions with Stefan and writing daily reflections, all working towards their final presentation speech in their journals. By the end of the week, we were amazed to have each and every single student stand before us and read their speeches with pride that filled the room with happiness and admiration.

Cottage by the Sea would like to say a special thank-you to Cassie, the Cathy Freeman Programs Manager, for organising such a fantastic trip and the Michael Long Learning and Leadership Centre for having us. Most importantly though we send a massive thanks to the students from Elcho & Tiwi Island who make our jobs all worth while!