Early last week, we ventured to Cowes, Phillip Island with nine amazing Young Carers for the second and final retreat of our Big Dreamers Personal Development Program.
The aim of the retreat: To close off the program, empower Young Carers to use the skills they have learnt and apply them to practical situations in their own lives, and to prepare for the graduation ceremony.
Three days packed full of activities, workshops and plenty of laughter left us absolutely exhausted and absolutely proud of how far these Young Carers have come in the past six months.
Here’s a rundown on what we got up to:
Our retreat kicked off with an early morning bus trip down to Phillip Island on one very hot day.
On arrival, our Young Carers had the opportunity to unpack and explore our new three-day settlement, which consisted of twenty beds, a games room, barbecue, large backyard and location less than one minute’s walk from the beach.
Next, it was time for our workshops.
Workshop one: an exercise in team building.
The aim of this workshop was to reflect on how well the Young Carers have got to know each other over the six-month program.
As an introduction, each Young Carer submitted an interesting fact about themselves anonymously. From this, our challenge was to match the fact to the person.
The main activity consisted of a suitcase scavenger hunt, with the only guidelines to unlock the suitcases, solve the challenges inside, and find the winning word as quickly as possible. In teams, the Young Carers participated in challenges such as puzzles, apple bobbing and fort making.Workshop two: facilitation training.
After lunch, we kicked off our facilitation training. Workshop two focused on teaching Young Carers the skills to be able to write and facilitate programs. This included giving clear instructions, engaging your audience, fostering discussion and contingency planning.
In groups of three, the Young Carers had time to prepare and rehearse a workshop on their designated topic: life hacks, celebrating your quirks, and fostering your inner child.Workshop three: facilitation workshop.
This workshop designated each group thirty minutes to present their workshop in front of an active audience. Leaders and peers provided feedback on each of the workshops and points of improvement.
Following plenty of hard work and activities, it was time for an incredible Italian spread from our amazing chef (and Family Engagement and Outreach Coordinator) Tasha, which included loads of lasagne, pasta and salads. Bellies full, the Young Carers enjoyed the sunset at our local beach and a movie night (with not too much sleep).
Better than any morning coffee, we set off for an 8.30am surf lesson down at YCW Beach. We pulled on our wetsuits, carried our boards down the steep flight of stairs like pros, and dove head first into the surf. We certainly got schooled in the art of balance, patience and nose diving, but we all came out of it smiling (some even as budding Kelly Slaters).
Following a well-deserved barbeque lunch, the Young Carers were then introduced to our MasterChef Challenge. Round one involved assembling a cheeseboard, and with special guest judge Matt Preston (or just Casey with a cravat – we’re still not sure), the teams were judged on originality and creativity of presentation. Our next round saw some amazing smoothie concoctions, followed by a round of cake decorating to celebrate one of our very own, Steph’s, birthday! Three cakes in one day led to a major sugar high and some very tired kids and leaders.The next activity involved workshopping speeches for our Big Dreamers Graduation ceremony in February. Working in small groups, the Young Carers of our Big Dreamers Program prepared fantastic overviews of different elements of the program, how they’ve been impacted and what their caring role is.
We then headed just a minute’s walk up the road to our local beach to cool off and unwind after a big (and once again hot) day. This was followed by an amazing spread by Chef Tasha and another movie night before bed.
Our third and final day began with breakfast and a workshop to reflect on the program, final goals and personal changes. The Young Carers had the chance to reflect on questions they’d been asked before the program and compare how their answers have changed six months later.
The Young Carers then spent time painting self-portraits, choosing only four colours based on values that they prioritise. Blue represented confidence, orange creativity, green knowledge, and so on.
We then spent an hour packing and cleaning for departure, before having an outdoor lunch at a nearby park, where the Young Carers wrote their own reflections and next steps following the completion of the Big Dreamers Personal Development Program.
Next stop, back to Melbourne and back to reality!We’ve had an incredible time getting to know these ten awesome Young Carers on our retreats, monthly workshops, events and regular catch ups.
Following their graduation ceremony in February, all of our participants will be eligible to apply for a Big Dreamers Scholarship to assist with education expenses (school fees, educational resources and/or extracurricular activities), as well as being assigned a business mentor for their career aspirations.