What I’m Taking from the Start of 2020 by April

Hey everyone!
My name is April, I’m 16 and currently in school. At the beginning of 2020, I took part in a camp run by Burn Bright.

Going into the new year I knew some things in my life had to change. Before this camp, I was someone who prioritised just about anything over myself and what I knew was going to be good for me. I struggled a lot with self-sabotage and understanding why I would constantly set myself back in life.

I was quite a popular, outgoing and confident girl with lots of friends who I loved to go out with, I prioritised partying with my girls over most things, often overlooking my family and taking “fun” too far. I had developed a reputation as someone who didn’t behave and had a serious attitude, I was very shut off and unwelcoming to most people outside of my group. I had a complete lack of care for anything and anyone including myself.

I had known for a while that my behaviour needed to improve. I wasn’t standing by my core values and beliefs which as a result had seriously strained my relationship with my family. I wanted to be myself again and prove not only to myself but to others that I was capable of pursuing my goals and turning my life around, but I didn’t feel like I knew where to start.
One of the teachers at my school was the first to introduce me to this camp and I, being the incredibly stubborn person I am, wasn’t overly excited about the thought of spending four days of the summer holidays back at school. I was reluctant but one of the Burn Bright crew said I had to buy them lunch if I didn’t sign up, that was enough for me to finally just do it.

I knew this camp wasn’t something I would be expected to participate in. Honestly, I even shocked myself by signing up. Although I may have been pushed into it unwillingly at the beginning, I can confidently say that although I am not sure what happened to me, it has changed my life for the better. It was the push I needed to step into a new chapter of my life.
When people ask me what singular experience happened at camp that was so influential to me, I struggle to find the words to explain because I am not too sure myself.

But if I could summarise all that I learnt in 2020 that had such an effect on my life these would be the four points:

  1. To open up and allow myself to be vulnerable
  2. You are not defined by nor need to fit into any stereotypes or reputation
  3. Own my actions
  4. Prioritise my happiness and future

These four things have impacted all aspects of my life, no one single factor was the reason for my success so far this year, everything I learned had a positive knock-on effect, on not only my behaviour but my outlook and thought processes.

I didn’t like my reputation of the typical “party girl” that I was thought to be. I had reached a point where I did not want to be limited by my past wrongdoings, I have made mistakes in my past but there is far more to me than just what I have done wrong. The first step to challenge this reputation was simply taking part in camp and showing up on the first day. This camp was the first time I had allowed myself to be vulnerable. Opening up to my group, I was hit with the realization that I had been missing out on beautiful friendships with so many people because I hadn’t been vulnerable and therefore wasn’t an easy person to approach. It was a pivotal moment in my life when the Burn Bright team and my group accepted that I had made mistakes but they, to my surprise, were still willing to get to know me.

It made me realise that for things to change at school, I had to open myself up to more people and be vulnerable so my teachers and peers could see that there was more to me than just the “party girl” I was perceived to be. Whilst I still do love having fun with my friends, I have been determined to make sure I don’t let history repeat itself.
I have to thank my gorgeous group for not only laughing at my jokes but for creating a safe environment that allowed me to be so open. Because of their warmth and acceptance, I gained the confidence to continue to own my actions and be vulnerable beyond camp. This vulnerability that I now possessed allowed me to be who I am, I didn’t feel like I had to fit my previous persona and I no longer felt limited or judged by my defiant behaviour in the past.

School, in particular, has changed dramatically for me, my effort and as a result, my grades have improved, and I have made so many new friendships I never would’ve thought possible. For someone who hated school so much that I even tried to move in Year 10, to suddenly be thriving was something I don’t think anyone expected.
I prioritised myself and my future for the first time and now I can say I am proud of myself for the progress I have made already this year. My relationships with everyone; family, friends, teachers and most importantly myself have finally reflected the type of person I am. Camp solidified my values, beliefs and the type of woman I want to and am growing up to be and reignited my passion for connecting with people and doing what I love. The environment allowed me to express the person I always have been deep down in all areas of my life. I am eternally grateful to Burn Bright and my school for the experiences I had and the way it impacted my life.

I am truly happy with where I am now.



Continue your student’s leadership or wellbeing journey with our digital programs. Specifically designed to be flexibly implemented into your wellbeing or leadership programs, these courses can be completed at any time in any place, providing a self-paced option for students to explore in class or on their own. These modules include individual student logins, a teacher dashboard to track student progress and lesson plans with follow up face to face resources.

See what's happening in our world



Facilitator in Laptop Screen

I found Burn Bright in the midst of studying civil engineering at the University of Wollongong, just as I wanted a richer, deeper, more full experience of life.

Through Burn Bright, I have met many students and volunteers who are all seeking to find their place in the world. When we come together at NLC or SLC, no matter our age, we begin on the same page, of wanting to do good for ourselves, our community, and the world. And then we are thrown into a program that brings us closer to each other, our purpose, and how to bring forth this impact. It’s like having your cake and eating it too.

Volunteering with Burn Bright stoked a fire in me – It helped me feel comfortable in myself and made me realise life isn’t just about work, study, or productivity, but our relationships and how we connect with others along the way.

I have learned skills in videography, worked for a top-tier corporation in marketing, and most recently published a book called “18 and lost? So were we” 

I have a passion for storytelling, bring loads of energy wherever I go, and am dedicated to helping young people move through the initiation of leaving high school and going into the ‘real world’. 

The best part for me is being able to stay connected to the latest generation growing through high school. To see them grow, expand and express more of themselves is like watching an artwork paint itself. It’s magic.

I am Simon Thurston, a Kiwi based in Perth. I work as an Instructional Designer and in my spare time I enjoy reading, running, and board games.

Since my initial connection to Burn Bright I have been onboard with their mission. Burn Bright’s focus on building the capabilities enables students of all ages to see how they can shape their world through connections with others and their own self discovery.

Seeing others grow, learn, and open up is what keeps me coming back, to help others realise their potential and how they can influence their future and their community is a definite highlight. It’s infectious, the atmosphere when they run a program or camp is welcoming, exciting, emotional, and rewarding all in one.



Hi, friends! I’m Kelsie, a psychologist from central QLD working in private practice. I got involved with Burn Bright officially in 2016, but the journey started long before that. I attended the National Leadership Camp (now hosted annually by Burn Bright) in 2009. It had such a profound impact on me that I returned as a mentor and volunteer. Those connections ultimately lead me to joining the Burn Bright team as an adult.

When I transitioned from facilitating with the Burn Bright team to working as a psychologist, I was so grateful for an incredible foundation of skills (particularly facilitation, communication and interpersonal skills) along with a strong grounding in positive psychology that Burn Bright integrates into their ethos.

I can’t imagine my life without volunteering for Burn Bright. I have met some of my dearest friends through the Burn Bright crew. I’ve found that volunteering for BB is rewarding, humbling, and often brings as much personal growth for the volunteer as it does for the young person.

From a professional perspective, I love that Burn Bright programs/camps support the adolescent individuation process by providing an exciting and supportive environment for teens to explore their own sense of self, personality, identify and values alongside other young people.

Imagine this POV: you’re back at school wanting to figure everything out and fit in – and you find
yourself in a room with amazing music that uplifts you and hooks you in. You meet the team of
dynamic, interesting, caring facilitators whose own friendships inspire you. Their facilitation skills bring about amazing light-bulb moments and lessons that light a fire inside you… It makes me want to feel that for myself again. The next best thing, for me, is volunteering for the team who passes that on to other young people.

My start at Burn Bright is one of the best cases of one door closing and another door opening. After losing my job at a local pub while on uni holidays, I started looking for new opportunities that were different and decided to volunteer. Searching for opportunities, I found working bees, community driving and nursing home visits, but the chance to become a National Leadership Camp intern stood out. Over nearly six months, I worked with the team to pull off Burn Bright’s first National Leadership Camp, and had an absolute blast in the process. After camp, I started working for Burn Bright while studying, doing anything and everything — data analysis, hiring strategy and even picking up furniture.

Finishing up working for Burn Bright in 2019, I am still actively involved with the Burn Bright volunteer community. I’ve found that the emphasis placed on investing in your relationships, understanding your values and making an impact allow you to be accepted for you. This has given me the tools needed to make the difficult decisions that life will inevitably throw at you. Besides all that, I’ve had a ton of fun and formed life-long friendships with people I may have never crossed paths with otherwise. “Get involved — you’ll change your life for the better and make life‑long friends in the process”.

I am a health science student from Perth wanting to get into the mental health realm of occupational therapy. In the meantime, I work as a barista and supervisor at a beachside café. In my spare time, I love to play netball, be around my friends and I have just gotten into crocheting. I went to Perth College where I was lucky enough to go to the first Perth College Leadership Camp in 2018 as a student and absolutely loved it. What really drew me in was the atmosphere that was created, the open conversations, and the lasting relationships formed.

Since then I have been a mentor for the Perth College Leadership Camp in 2019, 2020, and 2021 and had the opportunity to go to the National Leadership Camp in 2019. When Burn Bright comes to Perth I also love helping out at their programs as much as I can.

Volunteering for Burn Bright has given me so much that I could never have imagined. I have learned so much about myself and I have so much more confidence in myself and my abilities that I know I wouldn’t have had if I wasn’t exposed to the amazing opportunities volunteering for Burn Bright has given me. Before being involved I would never have seen myself being a mentor, role model, and facilitator to students, but now I can confidently say that I am, and I have made an impact on others that I am proud of. I have also made so many meaningful connections to so many amazing people from all around Australia through Burn Bright. I get asked quite a bit why I keep coming back to my old school to volunteer and it’s simply because I was given this amazing opportunity to be a part of the Burn Bright programs and if I can help facilitate that experience to someone else then why wouldn’t I?

I was born in Perth and moved to Sydney in my early 20’s to continue work as a youth worker and surfboard maker. This was followed by 30 years working in IT as a computer programmer.

Following retirement in 2016 I searched for an organisation that was aligned with my values of servant leadership and service, especially in the youth space. This search led to Burn Bright where I am now volunteering one day a week and mentoring at the National Leadership Camp. Volunteering with Burn Bright gives me a great deal of hope and confidence in the next generation of leaders. It is a pleasure to be a part of the Burn Bright family.

I have been married to Denise for 41 years and we both very much feel part of the Burn Bright team.

When not at Burn Bright you may find me running along Manly beach, riding my mountain bike or indulging in my passion for photography.











Hi! I’m Rosie, a 20-something full-time public servant, part-time Tassie tourism advocate.

I am passionate about seeing young people succeed, and there’s nothing I enjoy more than watching them become the next generation of change-makers.

I have been a champion of the ethos and work of Burn Bright since its inception in 2014, and consider them to be the leading experts in their field. By delivering impactful leadership and wellbeing programs to students across Australia, they offer the knowledge, skills and engagement to invoke lasting positive change in school communities.

The Burn Bright team are dedicated, inclusive and values-driven, which is why I love working with them.