Cottage by the Sea provides a supporting and opportunity filled environment for children in need

Cottage by the Sea

Cottage by the Sea is an independent, not-for-profit organisation, focused on bringing inspiration, fun and opportunity to children in need.

The organisation has received a $20,000 grant from the Geelong Community Foundation. This grant helps fund the camps managed by The Cottage and the redevelopment of the current building.

The Foundation’s development manager Tony McManus and Deakin University student intern Lucy Marra visited Cottage by the Sea for a tour and update on the great work they are doing. Bill Kerr and Tony Featherston CEO, told us more about the organisation and their programs.

The Cottage’s purpose is to bring children in need inspiration, fun and opportunity within a holiday environment. Staff provide a friendly and safe environment where children can build positive relationships with peers and adult role models. The Cottage assists young people in developing self-awareness, confidence and resilience. Inspiring them to achieve their goals, remain engaged in education, family and their community.

The Cottage holds regular onsite camps in Queenscliff as well as offsite camps. Students are invited to stay in the program from year 8 through to year 12. Bill Kerr said they have about 1300 kids come through the doors each year, normally about 20 in a group. The number of kids allows plenty of interaction and time for them to develop socially. The children are kept active and engaged during the day, visiting the beach and local tourist attractions. The outdoor activities include surfing, canoeing, swimming, beach games and rock-pool rambling. As well as physical activities, the children engage in self-reflection and development.

Bill Kerr said, “The kids in the ongoing program do a lot of what we call circle time, this consists of pre and post reflection, thinking about how they are feeling, what they are looking forward to and reflecting on what they wish they had done and what they have learned.” The Cottage also organises groups of children on a trip to the snow. “In 8 years and about 160 kids going, we have yet to take someone who has been to the snow before. It is a unique experience for the kids. It is showing them that snowboarding is hard, but no matter how many times you fall you get back up and try again.”

The Foundation’s support has made a big impact on the organisation. The $20,000 grant will go towards the REEF and Mentor program, supporting those ongoing programs and really trying to help a select group of kids through their schooling. The support is going to have a long-term effect on the children and their families.

The children who attend the camps are greeted with blankets, scarfs, beanies and bed socks for them to take home. “We supply everything for the kids, their soap, shampoo and toiletries and enough for them to take home.”  The Cottage is completely focused on the children they support. Bill Kerr explained, “Every dollar we get, the first question is always, how is it going to be spent on the kids? What effect is it going to have on the kids? What do they want to see and what do they want to do while they are here? It’s not about us having the biggest office or entrance, it is about giving the kids the support and environment that they need.”

At Cottage by the Sea the children are in an environment where they are encouraged to grow and develop. “It is important that we reinforce that they are the ones to write their own story.”

You will find more about Cottage by the Sea here

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