- Can someone come to Camp Cooinda on their own or do they need to come with a friend?
- Can I be in the same group as my friend who wants to come?
- My daughter will be 12 in February and is strong for her age. Can she go to the camp?
- How do they get to the camp? Do I have to drive there?
- How well are campers supervised?
- What are the sleeping arrangements?
- Does the camp have insurance cover?
- How are leaders selected?
- What is the closing date for applications?
- What happens about refunds if we have to change our plans?
- Can I come to camp for part of the time because I have to do something else for the first two days?
- Do campers bring their own tent?
- How much pocket money do they need?
- How long has the camp been going?
- Do you have camps in other school holidays through the year?
- The fees are low for the length of the camp and all the boating activities. Is everything covered by the fees?
- Can I bring my surfboard?
- What do campers need to bring to the camp?
A. Camp Cooinda offers great opportunities to make new friends. You can come on your own or with a friend. We will introduce you to some other campers on the bus. And when you get to camp you will quickly meet 3 or 4 others in your tent group. Most of the activities are in small groups of 10-12 so you don't get lost in a big group and can make friends quickly. Camp is a friendly place.
A. Yes, as long as your friend is close to the same age as you. We arrange the tent and activity groups so that people of about the same age are together. This lets younger or older groups plan activities to suit what they want to do. There is a place on the Information Form we ask you to send to us that lets you give us the name of a person of approximately the same age you would like to have in your group. Sometimes we can't put more than two friends together because in a group of 4 or 5 that would leave one camper a bit on the outside of a group of friends.
A. The minimum age for a camper is 12 years by the first day of the camp they apply for. We do not accept applications from younger campers. We plan the camp program for 12 to 18 year olds. Although we realise that 11 and 12 year olds can have a wide range of abilities, we have to have a clear cut off point for applications in order to keep faith with the advertised age group and to manage the risks involved in the boating program.
A. Parents are welcome to drive to the camp. The site is about 300km east of Melbourne and we can provide directions for drivers. However, most campers reserve a seat on the chartered bus that leaves Southern Cross Coach Terminal on the morning of the first day and returns there an the afternoon of the last day of each camp. There is another pick up and drop off point in the eastern suburbs. The cost of the return chartered bus trip is on the camp brochure. There is a place on the Information Form we ask you to send to us where you can reserve your seat on the bus if that is how you would like to travel to and from camp.
A. Camp is about making friends, having fun, doing something different from home and school, and going on expeditions by canoe, kayak or launch. It is hard to make friends and have fun if we don't respect other people and give everyone a fair go. And doing different things and going to interesting places in boats involves some dangers and risks. So there is careful supervision of all activities. Both leaders and campers observe swimming and boating safety requirements. The ratio of leaders to campers is not less than 1 to 6 and usually closer to 1 to 4. Most campers are very cooperative about supervision because there is lots to do and they come to this type of camp because they like the activities, and because they appreciate that all leaders are volunteers giving up their holidays to make the camp experience possible.
A. On the base site, boys and girls sleep in different tents with a leader of the same gender. They respect each other's privacy. On expeditions, sometimes boys and girls and their leaders all sleep in a large marquee-like tent or under large tarpaulin shelters.
A. Yes, the Camp has public liability insurance cover as well as fire and burglary insurance cover. We have to take out a separate liability policy for each powerboat. The cost of public liability insurance is now the largest cost item after provisions and has doubled in recent years. In recent years, insurance costs represented approximately $80 per camper.
A. A high proportion of leaders return each year and give continuity to the program. Some leaders have been campers in the program and become leaders after they turn 18 and participate in a leader training program. Others are friends of leaders who have heard good stories of the camp experience. Prospective leaders go through a selection process to establish that they have skills for the camp program and character and values appropriate for people supervising young people. Through application forms, completing a Working With Children Check (or equivalent from inter-state or overseas countries), referees, interviews, and participation in a residential 2-4 day leader training program, Camp Cooinda Inc. establishes a sound basis for appointing leaders.
A. 5 December is the usual closing date. That gives us time to send you the forms for the additional information, including health and medication information and emergency contact details during the time you are in camp. All of this information needs to reach us by 15 December so that we can book buses, finalise the leadership teams and finish the paperwork and banking parts of camp preparation before we move to the more remote camp site and concentrate on running great camps (for example, it is a 38km round trip to a bank if fees arrive late).
Sometimes applications close earlier than 5 December if the number of campers reaches the number we have set for a particular camp.
Sometimes it is possible to accept applications after 5 December if there are places in a camp and parents can handle application and information forms swiftly by personal visit or by scanning signed forms and emailing them. We can email forms to parents but we need signed forms returned by mail or email.
A. If an application is withdrawn before we send an acceptance and the detailed information and forms, we refund in full what has been paid. If the cancellation is after we have sent an acceptance and the additional information and forms, we retain $15 of the deposit and refund the rest of any payment. This generous refund policy removes any reason for a parent not to pay the camp fees by 15 December as requested.
A. We accept applications only for the whole camp because of the kind of program at camp. The first two or three days you learn about canoeing, kayaking, sailing, safety in boats and camping out on overnight trips. And your group gets to know one-another pretty well so that you can cooperate well together on trips away from the base site. That is important for safety as well as enjoyment. If somebody was suddenly added to the group after those important first days, the whole group would be held back from going on trips. We also try to balance groups so that there is an even number of paddlers for canoes and kayaks. Adding someone or taking someone out of the group affects the paddling teams and safety.
A. No. Camp Cooinda provides tents for groups of 5-6 on the base site and tents or shelters for overnight expeditions. On Cooinda Island, a large tent provides space for up to 10 campers and two leaders.
A. "Need" is a bit hard to define! We are 19km from the nearest shop. There is a small camp canteen that sells cans of soft drink, potato crisps, various choc bars, etc. It opens a few times during a camp. So $5 to $10 goes a long way. Some years there is a new Camp Cooinda T-shirt or other merchandise such as water bottles or mugs that can be purchased.
A. Camp Cooinda Inc began in 1960. So it has been running for about 50 years. Over 6000 campers have been through Camp Cooinda programs. We now have quite a few sons and daughters of previous campers coming back to check out the stories told by dads and mums! Over those years we have learned a lot about running boating camps on the Gippsland Lakes. Computer files and printed activity manuals accumulate the experience of each team of leaders so that the next team has excellent guides for planning each summer's camps.
A. Not for campers. We are a small voluntary organisation that concentrates on camps in the summer school holidays. That is also when the weather and water temperature make boating camps safer and more enjoyable.
We run residential leader training camps at Easter and over a weekend in late November but they are for leaders and potential leaders who will be aged at least 18 next summer.
A. The fees a parent pays cover approximately half of the cost of each camp - and that is not calculating the donated cost of the volunteer leaders who run the program. Costs are actually quite high for insurance, maintaining the 35 boats, registrations (3 powerboats and three trailers), rates, fuels for the powerboats and cars used in camp programs, marine radios and UHF radios, fishing gear, archery equipment, first aid supplies, tents and huge quantities of food supplies (over $2000 per week)! Some years ago we sold most of the camp buildings (other than those that store our equipment ) to a school for their use during the year when Camp Cooinda does not use the site. Income from that property sale covers about half the cost of running the camps. So you don't actually pay the full cost of the camp. Leaders donate services and the organisation covers about half of the cost.
A. There is no opportunity to surf at Camp Cooinda. We are on a lake that sometimes has waves but not big enough to surf on. When we go to Ninety Mile Beach by canoe, kayak or launch we are many kilometres from the nearest beach surf life saving patrol (at Lakes Entrance ). One of our safety policies is that we do not swim on an ocean beach without a life saving patrol. So there is no surf swimming at a Camp Cooinda camp.
A. Priorities to bring are a sense of fun, a friendly attitude to others, and a bit of get up and go. We send campers a checklist of what to bring. It includes a really windproof and waterproof jacket, long sleeved woolen jumper, longsleeved shirt to protect arms from sun and mosquitoes, hat with a brim to protect your head from the sun, sleeping bag in a waterproof bag, groundsheet, air mattress for comfortable tent sleeping, water bottle to keep up your fluids while canoeing, sunscreen and lip protector, mosquito repellent, small torch, personal toilet items and informal holiday clothes. We ask campers not to bring knives or axes (for safety and to protect the environment) or radios or MP3 players (to encourage listening to outdoor sounds and joining in group activities). If mobile phones are brought to camp, they must be deposited away from tents (in the camp bank) during the camp.