REEF program

Children Charities Melbourne


Listen to REEF campers talking about the program.

The REEF program is an experiential learning program designed to give young leaders of the future a head start. Beginning in grade six, the two year program follows a group of students through their final year of primary school and their first year of secondary school. The young people attend camps based at Cottage by the Sea or offsite in a range of outdoor environments. The REEF program provides an important adjunct to school, presenting students with an opportunity to develop their potential.

While participating in outdoor adventure and group activities, the young people are encouraged to take risks and practice the skills they are learning. These skills may be physical in nature (such as riding a surf board), social (such as communicating effectively), or emotional (such as building resilience).

The aim of year one is to give the young people a series of experiences from which to draw from that confirm their ability to learn new skills, sustain positive relationships and to overcome challenges. The second year offers the young people numerous opportunities to reconnect with supportive friends and adult role models as they navigate new experiences at secondary school. The focus of year two is to keep them engaged in education, to encourage them to help out at home and to make them aware of the contribution they can make to others in their community. The program increases in difficulty as time progresses so the young people can continue to build on and diversify the skills they are learning, developing self-efficacy and broadening their outlook for the future.


Through the REEF program Cottage by the Sea works with young people from disadvantaged backgrounds and raises their skills, confidence and expectations, thus improving their school attendance, which increases the probability of them remaining in an educational setting, remaining connected with home and community, and giving them greater opportunities and stronger control over their own futures.


  • improved attitude and behaviour
  • improved levels of self confidence
  • increased social and interpersonal skills
  • increased self reliance and motivation
  • stronger collaborative approach to goal setting
  • enhanced personal growth
  • enhanced leadership skills
  • greater community involvement

Outcomes for each REEF participant are measured using the Outcomes Star and the Social Skills Improvement System.

Take a look at our REEF Program Photo Gallery

Back to All Programs