Last week Souths Cares hosted a Leadership and Cultural Camp for male participants engaged in the Liverpool Opportunity Hub and Deadly Youth Mentoring Programs.

The camp was held at Middle Rock Ingenia Holiday Park, in the Port Stephens region on beautiful Worimi Country. The theme for the Leadership and Cultural Camp was “identity” which was explored throughout workshops, group activities and individual discussions, whilst also promoting teamwork, leadership and Aboriginal cultural knowledge.

Day one of the camp commenced with the boys arriving to ideal weather conditions, with their first task to set up swags and establish a camp site before heading to Murrook Cultural Centre for lunch and a group workshop on identity and leading by example.

The group then headed out on country to Gan Gan lookout where the Murrook Cultural Centre Facilitators shared a story about the grey and black dolphins and how the Worimi People came about, before visiting the sand dunes at Stockton Beach for some sand boarding fun.

In the afternoon, the group enjoyed an ocean swim and a game of touch football on Samurai Beach, followed by a big mixed grill cooked on the BBQ and shared some stories and laughs around the campfire.

Day two of the camp was another beautiful sunny day which kicked off with a BBQ breakfast before heading to Irukandji Shark and Ray Encounters where the boys had the opportunity to get out their comfort zones and snorkel with reef sharks and stingrays, whilst learning about the importance of ocean conservation.

The boys then headed to Boat Harbour rock pools for some exploring and a swim at the picturesque location. After returning to camp, the boys had some recreational time to explore the Ingenia Holiday Park; racing Billy Carts and having a swim in the resort pool.

In the evening, the group travelled to Nelson Bay for dinner at an Italian restaurant, with the boys taking the opportunity to ‘dress to impress’ whilst enjoying the gourmet menu selection. After returning to camp the group spent some more time around the campfire, having meaningful yarns about overcoming challenges and the importance of goal setting.

Yileen Gordon, Deadly Youth Program Mentor stated the boys bonded quickly and created strong connections with each other.

“It was great to see the boys make an immediate and meaningful connection with each other as well as embracing the cultural knowledge shared by the local Worimi cultural facilitators.

The highlights for the group were the sandboarding activity and exploring rock pools and surroundings at Boat Harbour - which provided ideal opportunities for the boys to come together as a group”, Yileen said.

On the final day of camp, the boys worked together to prepare breakfast with everyone playing a role in the production. The group then worked again as a team to pack-down the camp site, before sharing some final reflections about the impact of the Leadership and Cultural Camp and their understandings of identity.

Rhys Wesser, Careers and Education Pathways Advisor for the Liverpool Opportunity Hub explained the group engaged well throughout the camp and gained some valuable insights.

“The boys were able to connect with themselves and be proud of their Aboriginality. Connecting to identity was the theme of the camp, and the boys showed great enthusiasm in learning more about themselves.

I’m very excited to see how the boys will grow further in their communities as deadly young leaders”, Rhys said.

The Leadership and Cultural Camp was proudly supported by the NSW Government and Ingenia Holiday Parks.

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