During the September School Holidays, 15 female participants from Souths Cares’ Nanga Mai Marri (Dream Big) and Liverpool Opportunity Hub Programs attended a Leadership and Cultural Camp at Ingenia Holiday Park in Ulladulla, on beautiful Yuin Country.

Participants who had been displaying leadership qualities and engaging in the mentoring programs throughout the year were selected to attend the camp as a reward for their hard work and commitment.

The group met in Kiama on the journey South to build rapport and get to know each other before arriving together at Ulladulla. After settling into camp, their first activity was an excursion to Boat Harbour Beach, which included a Welcome Smoking Ceremony, cultural talk and an opportunity to swim with and feed stingrays under the guidance of local cultural leader Uncle Bernie Mcleod.

The opportunity to be painted in ochre, connect with nature and learn about the cultural significance of Boat Harbour Beach was a profound experience for all of the girls.

Aliyah Gordon is a Nanga Mai Marri participant and explained feeding the stingrays was an amazing experience.

"The experience of feeding the stingrays was probably one of the highlights of the camp, it was cool to see how close they would come to us and being able to feed them – definitely something I would love to do again", Aliyah said.

In the evening, the group returned to Ulladulla where the girls helped prepare and cook dinner, learning some valuable life skills and teamwork along the way. After dinner, the group participated in a gratitude workshop, reflecting on the highlights from the first day and the impact of the cultural activities.

Day two commenced with a group breakfast before heading to Booderee National Park for a full day of cultural immersion and activities. The group was again guided by Uncle Bernie Mcleod and the team from Djungga Kultural Tours, commencing with a weaving workshop within Booderee Botanic Gardens followed by an artefacts and weapons lesson and then a bush and medicines tour.

The weaving workshop was another highlight for the group, who embraced the opportunity to learn about the historical significance of weaving, develop their own weaving skills and connect with each other during the activity.

Brittney Simpson, Nanga Mai Marri Mentor

I loved seeing the way the girls worked as a team during the weaving activity. They all made sure no-one was left behind, which I feel reflects positively on their compassion and leadership

The group then went on a guided tour of Booderee National Park, visiting the picturesque Murrays Beach and Summercloud Bay to explore ancient midden sites.

In the evening, the group went out to dinner at a local restaurant as a reward for getting out of the comfort zones throughout the camp and embracing opportunities for self-development and growth. After dinner the group spent time reflecting about the key themes of leadership, teamwork and inclusion which the girls had championed throughout the camp.

On the morning of day three, the group had a final meal together before discussing how they can bring the learnings from camp into their everyday lives. The group left camp with a greater understanding of culture, teamwork and leadership and created some new friendships.

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

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