Our older group of Mentors are all entering their last few years of high-school and working towards their future goals, education and careers. For us at Cottage by the Sea, it means that we want to do everything we can in our power and will to help support and encourage them through achieving such possibilities and being there every step of the way.

As an opportunity to increase their life-skills and help promote them to receiving further or future employment, as well as increase the skills upon their resume, this week we had enrolled them into some exciting short-courses that would enable them to have fun and learn new things.

Prior to camp, our year 10, 11 and 12 students had the decision to register for either their WorkSafe approved white card training or enroll into a barista coffee making course. So not long after they had arrived at Cottage and made their own beds (as that’s what young leaders do), we dove into some lunch and then jumped straight into some pre-course paperwork.

After filling out all of our course information booklets and preparing ourselves for the next few days, we decided it was time for a pretty special and important group circle-time. Throughout our circle time discussions, we reflected over the past 4-5 months since we had last all caught up and spoke about the expectations of the camp and the events that were to unfold throughout the week. At the very end of our talk, we had an exceptional announcement to make regarding one of our mentors and an application they had submitted for a scholarship.

Daniel has committed to the REEF & Mentor program for the last 5 years here at the Cottage and recently began working in the trade sector, hoping to eventually become a qualified roof-plumber. As a result, he was granted a scholarship and the money was used to fund him with a complete set of new tools, work wear and gear that he can then use to follow his goals in becoming signed on to do an apprenticeship. What a better way to have it presented to him than by having staff member Foxy, (who also used to work as a plumber prior to studying and pursuing a career in youth work), hand it over to him with some words of wisdom in front of all the other Mentors and staff. Everyone cheered and clapped whilst Daniel thanked us all for our support.

Later that night we celebrated with some ice-cream after dinner and all settled down to watch a movie before heading to bed early so that we could be up in time to catch the bus/train to our courses the following day.

When it came to our courses, we could not have been more prepared. The barista’s to be were off on the train before sunrise to make it to Melbourne in time and the white card trainees arrived at The Gordon Institute of TAFE right on 9am to kick-start their day. For the rest of the day it’s fair to say copious amounts of coffees were made (and drank) and many workplaces were inspected for hazards too! Our mentors and our staff were working hard to pass their courses and the trainers and assessors were so impressed with how respectful and wonderful everyone was in class.

So once we were all well and truly trained up and competent with our new skills it was time to relax by the campfire back at Cottage with staff members Natalie, Troy and Foxy running a reflective circle-time and debriefing over everything we had achieved throughout not only the week but through the course of the program too. Although we may have smelt like smoke, we all slept like babies on our last night because we all felt super proud and satisfied with our efforts.

Come Friday morning and the mentors well and truly knew what the go was, with the usual routine of getting up and packing up everything before continuing to help clean up around the place afterwards. Lucky for them it was a little more motivating with fresh bacon, eggs and pancakes cooked for breakfast downstairs! Some of the Mentors Jade & Sam even woke up extra early to help perfect the pancake mixture from scratch! It was a delicious reward we had all longed for!

During the last few hours of the morning the mentors had the option of participating in some outdoor activities like that of fishing, surfing or boating before it was time to go home. It was so much fun letting loose for a little while and enjoying such precious and memorable moments together before the camp came to an end.

It’s always so nice knowing that all our fellow mentors and the staff at Cottage by the Sea are here to support and encourage each other through anything and everything. It’s also so exciting knowing that we have had the opportunity to watch these young, influential leaders grow from the beginning of the REEF program. We cannot wait for July to arrive when all of our mentors will be onsite for one of our biggest camps of the year! We say bring it on!