Cottage staff members Troy, Natalie, Mel and Sean were up bright and early on Sunday 5th November in order to catch a short flight to the Australian Capital Territory, where a large group of 24 participants (all involved with the Cathy Freeman Foundation) were awaiting to spend the week with us.

Amongst the group we had 15 indigenous high-school students whom come from a mix of remote and rural communities within Australia. These include Palm Island (QLD), Tiwi Island (NT), Elcho Island (NT) and Woorabinda (QLD). These year 7 and 8 pupils had been selected to participate on the Freeman Horizon's Program Camp for various positive, uplifting and role-model type reasons that they had displayed throughout their schools and communities.

As the groups of students arrived rather late that evening after a long day of travelling, we felt it was best to tuck into some Subway for a feed and then settle into our accommodation for a good night’s rest, so we could all be well prepared for the week ahead.

Come Monday morning we were all perked up and ready to rock and roll with some get-to-know-you games and activities followed by a goal-setting session with Stefan - our fun and friendly facilitator. For the rest of the week we got out and explored the city. Some of the highlights included going to Questacon, the museum and the National Gallery, where we learnt all about science, the history of Canberra and saw some incredible and significant indigenous art work. As well as this, we all enjoyed wandering around the local wetlands, having a hit at some mini-golf and of course, letting loose at the trampoline park.

Although we didn't bump into the Prime Minister, we still enjoyed our time wandering around both the Old and New Parliament House on guided tours and we were lucky enough to act out and dress-up like politicians and had our own debate in the green room. Visiting the War Memorial was also a big eye-opener for many of us and we felt really impacted and influenced by all the wonderful soldiers who fought for our country.

On our last night together the students proudly got up and spoke in front of everyone about their future hopes and dreams and how the camp and the people on it had helped them to achieve this. Afterwards, the staff all shared their thanks to the students and each other also, before we all dove into some delicious pizza and enjoyed the rest of the night dancing and having fun!

By Friday, everyone was exhausted and struggling to wake up at 5am to catch our flights home. Luckily we made it to the airport on time with a few minutes to spare where we could say our farewells and give each other a few hugs and hi-fives before going our separate ways.

This was our last camp working alongside the Cathy Freeman Foundation for the year and we can safely say that it has been incredible partnering with them and sharing a total of six camps all over Australia together during 2017.

On behalf of Cottage by the Sea, we would like to say a massive thank you to all the CFF staff involved in the camps and programs, not only this year but every year that we continue to work with you all. To all the friendly and familiar faces, and to all the new ones we meet along the way, we couldn't do what we do without you all! Lastly, we also send our biggest appreciation to all of the students that we have met this year and their wonderful teachers and Community Leaders. We absolutely love working alongside you all and we want you to keep kicking goals and working towards your dreams, so that you can achieve each and every one!

Thanks again for all the fun, laughs, support and memories. We are already looking forward to our partnership with you all in 2018!