Last weekend the Souths Cares team hosted their annual Leadership and Cultural Camp, with 11 young people from the Nanga Mai Marri (Dream Big), Deadly Youth Mentoring and Liverpool Opportunity Hub Programs attending.
Hosted within Booderee National Park in Jervis Bay, the three-day camp provided participants with a wide range of activities and workshops to promote leadership, teamwork and connection to Aboriginal culture.
This was the first time Souths Cares has taken the annual event to Booderee National Park, and the team was warmly welcomed by Uncle Paul ‘Poppy Mac’ McLeod and Uncle Bernie McLeod who hosted the camp and shared their wealth of cultural knowledge.
Day 1 included a Welcome and Smoking Ceremony hosted by Poppy Mac, followed by a visit to the Botanical Gardens where the group learned about bush tucker, plant medicine and the importance of caring for country. After dinner, the group tried their luck at fishing at the nearby Murray’s Beach.
Day 2 commenced with a bushwalk and games of soccer and touch football at the beach followed by a visit to the Cape St. George Lighthouse to learn about the history of the site. After lunch the group headed to Summer Cloud Beach and Wreck Bay Mission for swimming, fishing and foraging on the beach; coming back to camp with some fresh squid and pippies to add to their dinner cooked over the fire.
The group was then joined by Andrew McLeod and Joe Brown McLeod who facilitated an Aboriginal dance workshop for the young men, who relished the opportunity to be painted in Ochre and learn and perform cultural dances in front of an audience.
Day 3 concluded the camp with a silent Bushwalk and a final group reflection, with the boys discussing the profound impact of the experience.
Timothy Williams is a participant in the Liverpool Opportunity Hub and stated the camp greatly influenced his understanding of culture.
‘Meeting Poppy Mac and Uncle Bernie was a huge highlight for me, and they taught me how important culture is to us.
We have all got a role to play in sharing our culture and leading by example’, Timothy said.
Jesse-James Shortland is a participant in the Nanga Mai Marri (Dream Big) program and explained the camp was a great experience.
‘The camp helped me realize how much my culture meant to me. I enjoyed every part of the three days we were away, it was a deadly experience’, Jesse said.