Ending the month of May could not have been any better for staff members Jae, Sean, Troy, Foxy and Natalie! The five camp leaders had the opportunity to participate on a week long camp with long-time partner and supporter of ours, The Cathy Freeman Foundation as part of their Horizons Program.

Beginning on Monday the 22nd of May, the Cottage buses were headed northbound towards Melbourne Airport, where 15 young indigenous students, 4 community leaders/teachers and 3 Cathy Freeman Foundation staff had just arrived for their 7-day adventure.

The first two days of the program were spent down by the Victorian Coastline at Cottage by the Sea, where the students had the opportunity to explore the area, adjust to the chilly southern weather and participate in team building activities both onsite with skilled facilitator Stefan Bramble, and well offsite with the Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience (AIME) held at Deakin University, Waurn Ponds.

On Wednesday, the team of staff, students, teachers and leaders boarded the buses yet again to journey back to the big smoke where they would spend the rest of their days sight-seeing around Melbourne, along with building on their confidence, gaining trust within themselves and others and of course promoting and participating in a range of strong, positive and fun activities.

Some of the group highlights included catching trains for the first time, visiting the top floors and taking in the views of some of Melbourne's tallest skyscrapers, participating in wheelchair basketball, joining the circus, exploring the museum, letting loose at the trampoline park, viewing wonderful pieces of art, creating their own rap music, learning some new moves with the Indigenous Hip Hop Crew, completing the Koorie Heritage Walk along the Yarra and of course meeting the inspiration behind it all, Cathy Freeman herself!

Just when we thought the week couldn't get any better, the students proved us all wrong with their impressive and courageous presentations that were held on the last day of camp at Kinfolk Cafe, near Southern Cross Station. It was here that the year 9 and 10 students showed their true colours, as they stood up on the podium, with a microphone in their hand and proudly spoke about who they are, where they come from and what their future dreams and goals are before thanking one another, thanking Cottage by the Sea and of course thanking The Cathy Freeman Foundation Horizons Program for this amazing experience. It's fair to say a few tears were shed, as we could not be more proud of these young and ambitious future leaders.

Following their amazing speeches, the students final reward on the last day of camp was to walk hand in hand together and officially lead 'The Long Walk' from Federation Square to the MCG, where they could further-more celebrate all their enthusiasm and self-belief as they gathered on the grass of the Melbourne Cricket Ground during the opening ceremony. Afterwards, we all settled into our seats to watch the Richmond Tigers kick off with the Essendon Bombers for 'Dreamtime at the G.'  

Cottage by the Sea is very thankful for our partnership with the Cathy Freeman Foundation Horizons Program and we are so excited to see what the next few camps of the year hold.