Taking hold of opportunities at Cottage by the Sea

Our Stories

“Thanks to Cottage by the Sea I have changed much over the years. Steadily, I have become more and more confident, taking hold of opportunities that have come my way.”

When Ben was a Mentor participant at Cottage by the Sea more than 10 years ago, he may not have known the depths of the transformation that would occur during his seven-year journey at Cottage. Nonetheless, he certainly had the capacity to open his mind and heart to the possibilities of a fuller, richer life by embracing the opportunities offered to him.

Reflecting on change

When we experience something so profound that it changes us and we no longer identify with the person who was, it signals growth that permeates through all areas of life. “The person who started this program seems almost entirely alien to me,” reflects Ben near the end of the Mentor program. “I am now someone with confidence, someone with optimism that continually challenges the boundaries … I have been developing to feel confident in taking hold of such opportunities, to not least stand by and watch them pass. So, in retrospect, thanks to Cottage by the Sea I have changed much over the years. Steadily, I have become more and more confident, taking hold of opportunities that have come my way.”

A moment etched in time

A memorable experience, and the emotions that came with it, has stayed with Ben from an offsite adventure to Sydney that we still run to this day on the Mentor program. “Whilst in Sydney, I felt a profound sense of freedom – that I could wander this old city, and search out its secrets. This is what we did – we wandered around this sprawling metropolis, and saw a great many things.” Exploring Sydney with fresh eyes provided so much depth – a new perspective for Ben. “An apex of this was what I saw from the top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. The sun, simmering on the horizon, shining its radiance upon the bay below, littered with a collection of seaborne crafts. The buildings were adorn with light, as was the very structure we stood upon. I don’t think I could forget such a moment. As a writer of sorts, it inspired me. This, and the Sydney experience as a whole, was one I very much enjoyed.” Perhaps it was this experience that inspired Ben to pursue writing professionally.  

Learning skills for life

Every choice, every step, every opportunity at Cottage offers the potential for lifelong growth. Ben, like many participants who have come before and after him, have also made the most of these significant junctures. “Cottage by the Sea has been instrumental in giving me skills I could use for the future. The list could be considered monolithic in size and scale: I have learned snowboarding, surfing, paddle-boarding, camping, cooking skills, leadership skills, confidence, team building, initiative … the list goes on!” Developing a broad range of skills has enhanced Ben’s life in many ways – something he is immensely grateful for. “I can scarcely think where I would be without this program. I have learned much, far more than I could ever have preconceived of this program, and I am thankful for it.”

Something to be proud of

When reflecting on his greatest achievement at Cottage by the Sea, Ben acknowledges there is a lot to be proud of. “With all these in mind, it is difficult to find a ‘greatest’ achievement. I have led groups, and have been invited in many great opportunities. One however was the second time going to the snow. On my first Mentor year, I was invited back to the snow to help lead a group of REEF kids. To have been considered for this, to be chosen for this was an honour. Not only this, it stands as a great achievement to be found ‘ready for this’ in a way. Hand in hand with this is also the things I achieved within this camp, as an extension to this point. I took held of a group, I helped with snowboarding, and I also learned a few things on my own. Casting this all together, I think that perhaps the events of this trip were my greatest achievements.”

The gravity of gratitude

Gratitude is like a muscle; what we train, we strengthen. When reflecting on what he is thankful for at Cottage by the Sea, Ben expresses gratitude to everyone who has had an impact on his opportunities at Cottage. “I am thankful for everything these past few years at Cottage have given me – the skills, the opportunities, and most importantly … the food.” This gratitude also extends to our generous donors. “Not only this, I am thankful to all those who have provided support through Cottage by the Sea to me and many others. I am eternally grateful and appreciative of everything that has happened through this program.”