Finally, after a long term 4 we were eager to see some familiar faces again when our whole group of Mentors came for the week. This group involved young adults from Werribee, Albanvale, Kings Park and Geelong throughout years 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12.

After the Mentors arrived, we made our beds before making our way into the art room for a get-to-know-you game. For some of the older Mentors in years 11 and 12, this was their first time meeting the younger guys from the Werribee area, so getting to know each other was important on the first day of camp. Afterwards we had a delicious lunch and headed down to the Cottage beach for a swim while four Mentors stayed back and helped Mel in the kitchen with cooking. Once we got back we chilled out for a bit and before we knew it, it was time for dinner. After dinner we split into 2 groups, with one heading down to the Marina for a squid fish while the others stayed back and enjoyed some time around the camp fire.

Wednesday morning was an early start for everyone. Today was the day a lot of people were looking forward to the most - a 3-hour seal and dolphin swim in Port Phillip Bay with our great friends ‘Sea All Dolphin Swims’. On the boat we searched for a pod of dolphins that were spotted earlier, but after looking for a while we just couldn’t find them. So to make the most of the day we had some fun jumping off the boat into the clear, blue waters below and snorkeling at Chinaman Hat where the seals were lounging around in the sun and swimming in the water. Right before we were about to go into the harbour, we spotted a big pod of dolphins! So we quickly put our snorkels back on and swam right beside them. By the afternoon everyone was all watered out but we couldn’t have had a better time cruising in the bay together. We would like to say a big thank you to the wonderful and enthusiastic staff who make up the Sea All Dolphin Swims team.

Later that day, we all got dressed up nicely because it was our awards and presentation night. We enjoyed a fancy dinner followed by the awards ceremony where lots of Mentors who had worked hard throughout the year were rewarded for their efforts! After we all shared our memories from the past year and were so thankful to spend some time catching up with Cottages old Program Co-ordinator and our good friend Jess! It was no doubt that a few tears were shed when saying our farewells and wishing Jess the best of luck before she moves on from the Cottage into bigger and better things.

Thursday morning arrived before the blink of an eye and the staff had planned a full day of beach fun for us down at the Indented Heads Yacht Club. So all aboard the buses we hopped with our wetsuits, snorkels, towels, flippers and gear galore. After the short drive we unloaded the buses and trailers and split into a variety of groups where we rotated between paddle-boarding, sailing, playing beach cricket, snorkeling around the ozone, fishing on the boat and going sailing for the very first time on Cottages recently donated sail boat! From catching fresh squid, swimming amongst stingrays, hitting a few sixers and hoisting a few sails we had all exhausted ourselves silly, so it was time to re-energise with a big feed of Marcos famous burgers back at the Cottage. Later that afternoon a few of us stayed back to help decorate the Cottage for Christmas and write some wonderful Christmas cards to all of our donors, whilst the other Mentors chose between surfing, fishing and one last ride on the boat for the afternoon.

Our Friday morning was like any other last day of camp, we got up early and packed our bags before helping tidy up the Cottage. We then participated in a huge group circle time which allowed us to reflect over the year and thank each other and the staff for all the fun, support and friendships that we have shared.

Lastly, we split off into some groups to discuss our goals for the coming years ahead and wrote them down before sealing them in envelopes to be opened again at the end of 2018. After this it was time say our goodbyes and wish everyone a very safe and happy holiday season before we all finished up on our last camp for the year.

Hannah & Kristen

Mentors, Cottage by the Sea