Published on July 27, 2023

Amidst the School Holiday period, two Year 11 students, Isabella R and Phoebe F, embarked on a journey to the National Leadership Conference in Sydney, where young minds converged from all corners of Australia and New Zealand.

We caught up with Isabella and Phoebe to reflect on their experience at the conference, the impact it had on their lives, and how they plan to bring their newfound wisdom into the fabric of the HVGS community. 

Year 11 students Isabella & Phoebe with HVGS Alumni and mentor Mack Murphy.


What is the National Leadership Conference?

Isabella: National Leadership Camp is an annual program run by Burn Bright Australia. It’s not your usual leadership camp though, it’s highly interactive and an overall great time. Each day had a different theme: Values, Service, Grit and Vision. 


Phoebe: The National Leadership Camp is run by Burn Bright over 4 days, where students from all over Australia and New Zealand come together to focus on developing personal identity and character whilst also enhancing our character and leadership skills.


How did your time there go? 

Isabella: I arrived at camp the day before, I was the first delegate there. I was nervous but the vibes were already so high! Half the students arrived the first night with the others arriving the next morning. Getting to know everyone was so nice. We all were allocated tribes with around 10 delegates who would become some of our closest friends. The environment fostered by Burn Bright was incredible, we all learned the importance of being vulnerable. LOT’S of tears were shed but the support we all felt was immense. We would go from crying together one minute to singing our hearts out together the next. 


Phoebe: The four days went really well. At first, it was a little difficult as we were placed in groups with no one we knew, but we got to know each other quickly and made some lifelong friendships. We had talks from exceptional speakers and did activities with our tribes. My favourite part of the camp was the Burn Bright Olympics, where we worked as a team to compete against other tribes in different sports and activities.


What made you want to attend? / What does attending this mean to you?

Isabella: I first heard about NLC in 2021 when I was recommended to attend by an older student. At this stage, I was too young to attend, but I kept it in the back of my mind. Earlier this year I heard rave reviews from our current school captain Audrey Mcpherson. I was very intrigued and it was a “yes!!!” without hesitation for me when it was brought up at one of our year eleven leadership group meetings. 


Phoebe: I attended because I wanted to improve and further develop my leadership skills, whilst also being challenged to engage in situations I normally wouldn’t find myself in. Attending NLC this year means so much to me and has changed my life for the better.


What are your biggest takeaways from this event?

Isabella: At camp, we were lucky enough to have students from all over Australia and New Zealand. One of the New Zealand mentors told us of a Māori proverb He aha te mea nui o te ao, He tangata, he tangata, he tangata.”  In English this means: “What is the most important thing, it’s people, it’s people, it’s people”. 


I also learnt “It’s not what you are, it’s who you are”. As a student who is academically focused this was a huge revelation for me. I realised if I don’t get into my desired degree the first time around, that’s okay, as long as I’m acting in accordance with my values. Also, for the first time in a long time, I questioned what I actually want to be. I’ve always been certain medicine was the career I wanted to pursue but now I’m allowing myself time to really think about it. This to me is invaluable. 


If I’m being honest with myself though, the biggest takeaway for me was the relationships I made. It’s so strange to explain to someone who hasn’t attended NLC the connection I have with my friends from camp who live so far away. 


Phoebe: Each day from the camp had a different focus, which were values, service, grit, and vision. My biggest takeaway was that leadership isn’t only a position, but something you use in everyday life. It takes many different forms, and everyone is a leader in their community.


How will you apply your learnings at HVGS?

Isabella: I plan to apply my learning at HVGS by embracing and fostering a more connected schooling community. We’re pretty good but I would love to see us grow in this aspect. I’m also interested in creating conversation with Mr Robinson and the leadership team in order to implement some activities in our mentor periods in attempts to give a little bit of what I got to the other students. 


Phoebe: I plan to apply my learnings at HVGS when I collaborate with my peers by sharing my new learnings and using my strengths and attributes to work together and help each other.