Our younger Mentors had been enjoying some sunshine and filling up on some delicious chocolate during their Easter break before coming down for a few days of relaxation, learning and fun at Cottage by the Sea.

As an older Mentor, I was more than happy to spend a few days out of my holidays to join in on all the action and represent being a good role model to our younger Mentors. I was especially happy to help out and offer my assistance around the place as I knew it was one of their most important camps for the year as they were all enrolled into their First Aid and Safety Food Handlers Courses. 

After serving up lots of hot plates of fish and chips we were more than ready to hit the water in the boat and take out the paddle-boards into the bay, whilst the others knuckled down into their first aid booklets.

That evening we enjoyed some curry and delicious noodles before participating in a get-to-know you circle time, followed by some fun games of sardines and camouflage before bed.

In the morning I was ready to get the younger mentors up and about so that they were motivated and more than ready for their courses to start.

Whilst they were learning new things in their courses, I was helping to prepare lunch with some of our amazing volunteers and staff. We put aprons on, washed our hands, put gloves on and got straight into work. We started by cutting up delicious ingredients we needed to put onto the pizzas that we were making. Throughout the time I was in the kitchen, the Food Safety Handlers Course Crew came in and were shown how to wash their hands properly. It was so much fun watching them all sing along to the song of ‘happy birthday,’ whilst they lathered up their hands in soap and rinsed them.

Meanwhile, our first aiders were getting out and about, re-enacting some pretty intense first aid scenarios all around the Cottage, blood, bruises and gore included (fake of course)! Lucky enough for them, they had the help of their awesome trainer and first aider Ritcho to patch them all up and teach them the work that goes on behind the scenes to get them qualified.

It was no wonder that after a hard day of writing, working & learning that everyone was just about jumping out of their seats for some fresh-out the kitchen meals! During the night-time the Mentors enjoyed a walk along the beach together, sharing everything there was to know about one-another’s courses and catching up over lost time between camps.

The following day I arrived back at the Cottage right on the hour of nine ‘o’clock (am) to see the big Cottage Coaster bus driving past me with the surf trailer attached and some happy young mentors on board! They were all lucky enough to be heading to the RipCurl Pro to watch the last moments of the Men’s Finals and to cheer on our Aussie Legend Mick Fanning in his last event before retirement. Afterwards they all celebrated by catching some clean waves at Cosy Corner and surfing until they were all tired out!

My day was spent helping out wherever was needed, whether it be preparing lunches, assisting staff with some office duties or cleaning around and getting the place back into spick and speck, there was always something to do or someone to help! I also got to do some encouraging as I watched the last few Mentors finish off and pass their level 2 first aid course! No matter what I did or where I was, I just loved being part of the action!

During the last night of camp, the Mentors gathered around in a big group circle-time discussion and shared amongst each-other and the staff how much fun they had during their stay. It was also a nice way to apply a special thanks to someone who had helped us throughout the week and reflect back on our achievements together.

Being in my final year of Mentoring and having the opportunity to watch those below me who have just joined the program follow in my footsteps was really eye-opening. It was great to look back at where it all began for me and realise just how far I have come and how many amazing and fun opportunities arise from being a part of the Mentor Program.

I think it’s pretty incredible and lucky that we have somewhere like Cottage to call our second home and somewhere we can come to and really feel appreciated and supported, as well as further develop the skills that we need for life.

Lastly it has been one of the best and easiest ways to make long-lasting friendships with all other young people and the awesome staff at Cottage by The Sea.

I’m already looking forward to the older Mentor Camp next week and can’t wait to see all these younger mentors again in the near future!

Kristen (Mentor)