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From Schoolies Participant to yLead Travel Coordinator

By June 6, 2023June 14th, 2023Event, Travel
“Then one day, when you least expect it, the great adventure FINDS YOU!” – Ewan McGregor 

From a young age, one of my lifelong dreams was to travel the world and discover the many places that I had dreamt about for a long time.  Then in 2019, as a Year 12 graduate, I experienced Thrill Out New Zealand with yLead – This is where my great adventure found me!

Fast-forward to the present (June 2023), as an adventurous 21-year-old I am lucky to be sharing my passion for adventure with many soon-to-be Year 12 graduates themselves, providing opportunities to discover a passion for travel and adventure and re-create the same experience I had when I was in their shoes. 

While I was in year 11 at high school, I selected a senior subject; Certificate II in Tourism, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to go down the pathway of being able to work and travel at the same time. That same year, yLead came to my school to run a leadership program for myself and my fellow classmates who were going on to become the school’s leaders in 2019. It was on this day that I was introduced to a concept called Schoolies Alternatives, with trips heading to New Zealand and Cambodia. 

I wasn’t 100% set on the idea of going to the Gold Coast to celebrate ‘Schoolies’. Yes, it did sound fun, a week of partying hard with thousands of school graduates, drinking and getting silly with my mates. However, I wanted to do something that would be more worthwhile, an experience that I would enjoy and take something from rather than partying for seven days straight. 

After thinking about it for a while and having many conversations with Mum and Dad, I decided to register for Thrill Out New Zealand, it was a big step out of my comfort zone. At this stage I was excited about going overseas to celebrate the end of my schooling, however I remember I still had lingering thoughts in my mind – Have I made the right choice? What if my friends judge me? Will I regret it? 

The end of 2019 rolled around, and graduation took place, my mates had already made their way to the Gold Coast, and I was left back on the Sunny Coast (as Thrill Out took place 2 weeks after Gold Coast Schoolies). At this stage, FOMO had hit me hard, and I felt like I’d made the wrong choice, my friends were having the time of their lives and seeing the photos and videos from what was happening didn’t sit well with me. That was until every one of my mates came home two days early, because they were sick of partying every night and just doing the same thing day in day out… 

The time finally rolled around, and I was set to go to New Zealand, the excitement was starting to kick in! When I arrived at the airport, I only knew two people, a friend from school and someone I went to yLead’s Australian Student Leadership Conference (ASLC) with. I was about to spend a week with over 30 strangers; however, I ended up spending seven days with friends I now call family. Four years later and we keep in contact with each other, all thanks to the outstanding experience that yLead provided.

The trip itself was jam packed with adventure, culture, thrills, discovery, and so much more!  I will cherish forever rafting the raging rapids of the Tongariro River, seeing the beauty of Huka Falls, experiencing the adrenaline rush on the infamous sky swing and the feeling of really celebrating 13 years of school. I am incredibly grateful that I chose Thrill Out over the Gold Coast. The trip inspired me to want to travel the world and has become a core memory that I will never forget. 

Not long after my adventure with yLead I started my journey at the University of the Sunshine Coast, studying a Bachelor of Business (Tourism, Leisure and Event Management). This allowed me to get an in-depth feel for my passion for travel and how I could turn it into a career doing something I love. The impact of pandemic meant I spent over half of my degree online, it was three years of perseverance and hard work, and I am very proud to be able to have successfully attained my degree during this time. 

2023 meant it was time to find experience working in the Tourism industry. This is where I received a phone call from my dear friend Belinda Yorston, the CEO of yLead, asking me to come on board as the new Travel Coordinator to relaunch their Schoolies Alternatives. This was an opportunity I couldn’t turn down, being a yLead travel alumni myself, providing Year 12 Graduates with the same experience I had really means a lot to me.

The biggest lesson that I took out of this experience was that doing things that you are unsure about could lead to you discovering new things you are passionate about, using courage to become the best version of yourself. This trip didn’t just allow me to pursue my career pathway even more, but discover the importance of pursuing our passions, because it then opens the door to new opportunities when exploring our desired career pathway.

After having the courage to pursue passion and take on this role, I am stoked with the success. Help OutCambodia, 2023 sold out in record time, and yLead is on track to selling out Thrill Out for 2023 as well.

I highly recommend Thrill Out for anyone unsure about Schoolies. To this day, it is still one of the most empowering weeks that I have ever been a part of, and I could honestly sit down and talk about how great it was all day.

If you choose to join us in New Zealand, all the organising is done for you, leaving you to focus on your Year 12 studies. Register now –

As for my future with travel and adventure, I aspire to travel the world within the next few years and live my life to the fullest. My Top 3 Dream Destinations are Canada, Croatia and Japan, hopefully you’ll see me in one of those countries soon. 

With dreams of travel and adventure,
Jack Drury – Travel Coordinator, yLead 

“Travel, because money returns, time doesn’t” – Unknown