First responder families met at Cuttagee Rivermouth for a very special picnic – the Fortem Portrait Picnic! The weather was absolutely stunning, and perfect for portraits, with the right amount of cloud cover and not too much wind! As everyone arrived, it was easy to tell who was a part of our group as they were the most well dressed people at the beach!
As always at Fortem Activities, the families introduced themselves to each other, and before long all the kids were running around together, giving the adults from different agencies the opportunity to chat.
Arriving at the location to set up, the Fortem team had come across a map in a bottle… we asked the kids (all 12 of them) what they thought it could be, and it didn’t take long for them to come to the conclusion that it was (obviously!) a pirates treasure map, and immediately they were hot on the trail of this buried treasure!
After the recent rains and flooding lots of driftwood and debris had washed ashore. With all of this wood, some very clever people had constructed some huge teepees and giant nests. The kids quickly found these landmarks on the treasure map and excitedly ran from one, and onto the next, until finally being lead back to our picnic spot.
The kids searched for the ‘X” that marked the spot…. but it wasn’t until we looked UNDER our picnic rugs that we found it (those pirates are crafty!) The kids quickly dug deep into the sand to find a big glass bottle, full of treasure! Bangles, necklaces… and best of all, golden coins! The group worked together to make sure the loot was fairly distributed between everyone.
One by one, the families went for a wander with our amazing photographer, Honey Atkinson, to capture some candid family shots. As each family waited for their turn, the kids dug holes with the spades, buried each other’s feet and snacked on an afternoon tea of sausage rolls, vegetarian sushi, frittata, muffins and doughnuts…. And the odd chocolate coin as well!
A local policeman on patrol stopped by for a chat, but we forgot to inform him of the Pirate activity in the area.
It was so wonderful to be in nature, watching the kids run around, giving the adults an opportunity to connect and laugh. We all got talking about the awkward predicaments we have found ourselves in as parents… not only was this hilarious, but it was also a reminder that we aren’t alone in the weird and wonderful journey of parenting.
One of the participants thanked me, saying that with the challenges of shift work and juggling family life, organising and paying for family portraits wasn’t something that was top of the priority list, and yet it is something that will mean so much to them now and in years to come.
After returning from the final session, Honey came back with some soggy clothing – turns out a good photographer puts herself in the way of a wave for the shot!!
Many of the families who attended the Portrait Picnic had attended previous activities – with and without partners, and with and without kids.
This afternoon really highlighted a sense of our first responder community coming together in the Bega Valley/ Eurobodalla; first responder families being there to support one another – from sharing ‘unfortunate’ and hilarious anecdotes between families, to watching the kids unearth pirate treasure, to celebrating family with lasting portraits, this activity was such a lovely way to connect and be present in the little moments, together.
A huge thank you to Honey Atkinson for her photography skills and dedication to the job, which helped make this activity a success. Thank you to Kelly from Eastwoods Deli and Cooking School, who helped us make this activity delicious.
Find a Wellbeing Activity in the Bega Valley region on our Wellbeing Activity Calendar.