Here are some commonly asked questions. Please get in touch if you have a question that is not answered on the website.
Q. Can someone come to Camp Cooinda on their own or do they need to come with a friend?
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 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 so you can make friends quickly. Camp is a friendly and welcoming place.
Q. Can I be in the same group as my friend who wants to come?
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 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.
Q. My daughter will be 12 in February and is strong for her age. Can she go to the camp?
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.
Q. How do they get to the camp? Do I have to drive there?
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 on 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 to reserve your seat on the bus if that is how you would like to travel to and from camp.
Q. What are the sleeping arrangements?
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.
Q. What is the closing date for applications?
A. 5th December is the usual closing date, or earlier if the maximum number of applications is reached. 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 15th December so that we can book buses, finalise the leadership teams and finish the paperwork before we move down to the Gippsland Lakes and concentrate on running great camps. Sometimes it is possible to accept applications after 5th 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.
Q. What happens about refunds if we have to change our plans?
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 $25 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 15th December as requested.
Q. Can I come to camp for part of the time because I have to do something else for the first two days?
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.
Q. Do campers bring their own tent?
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.
Q. How much pocket money do they need?
A. "Need" is a bit hard to define as we are 19km from the nearest shop. There is a small camp store that sells useful items that may have been left at home, such as sunscreen, mosquito repellent and toothpaste. Some years there are also Camp Cooinda T-shirts or other merchandise such as water bottles or mugs that can be purchased.
Q. How long has the camp been going?
A. Camp Cooinda Inc began in 1960. So it has been running for more than 60 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.
Q. Do you have camps in other school holidays through the year?
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 the following summer.
Q. The fees are low for the length of the camp and all the boating activities. Is everything covered by the fees?
A. The fees a parent pays cover approximately half of the cost of each camp - and that is not calculating the donated value 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, fishing gear, archery equipment, first aid supplies, tents and huge quantities of food supplies (over $2000 per week)! Some years ago we sold the lease to the camp site to a school for their use during the year when Camp Cooinda does not operate programs. 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.
Q. Can I bring my surfboard?
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 surfing or ocean beach swimming at a Camp Cooinda camp.
Q. What do campers need to bring to the 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.
Q: Is there a problem with mosquito-borne diseases in the camp area?
A. There has recently been some media coverage warning people to guard against mosquito-borne diseases in bush areas of Australia as widespread as south-eastern Australia, tropical Queensland and south-western West Australia as well as urban areas. Camp Cooinda has not had any incidents of campers or leaders contracting mosquito-borne diseases, but there are plenty of mozzies in the camp area! Sensible precautions include applying mosquito repellant and wearing loose-fitting, light-coloured protective clothing. The best repellants are those containing DEET or Picaridin. When sleeping outdoors (or in a tent), it can be useful to cover up with a mosquito net soaked in permethrin, an insecticide that repels insects or kills those that come into contact with it. For more information visit the Victorian Government’s Better Health Channel.