SEVEN shining lights are exploring the Fraser Coast this week, learning more about Australia, each other and their Lions Club friends.
The Year 12 graduates from across the country are the national and state champions of the Lions Youth of the Year Quest for 2009.
A 35-day trip around the country and $500 spending money was each of their awards after being crowned the best out of 66,000 participants.
The group arrived in Hervey Bay on Monday to spend six days in the home town of Queensland champion Daniel Charles.
Daniel, 17, completed his schooling at Xavier Catholic College and received an OP1 score, almost guaranteeing his entry into Townsville’s James Cook University to study medicine.
“It’s a real privilege we’re mixing with the cream of education,” Fraser Lions Club president Max Jorgensen said.
“So far it’s been pretty incredible ... Fraser Island was an awesome experience,” enthused national champion Emma Davey from Tasmania.
“Just to see the people behind the clubs is important,” added Daniel.
The trip started at Newcastle in NSW where the teenagers enjoyed surfing and sand boarding.
When they arrived on the Fraser Coast they attended a civic reception at Peppers Pier Resort with Fraser Coast mayor Mick Kruger. The following two days they went to Fraser Island and tomorrow they will fly to Perth.
They will spend six days in all of the graduates’ home towns in every state, as well as Canberra.
It has been a long journey for the group who over five months last year, starting February, went through a rigorous competition involving, among other things, public speaking.
“It’s pretty scary actually,” said Emma who will this year go on to compete internationally in the UK.
“It should be incredible,” she said of the overseas trip, before adding the UK meet is not so much a competition as it is a forum.
Everybody in the group has high ambitions for 2010; some of them will go straight into university to study subjects such as international affairs, business and commerce law, while others will volunteer overseas.
For now though, Daniel is happy to show off Hervey Bay: “Even though it’s only a small town I feel a remarkable sense of pride to show them where has shaped me. It’s really important.”
The 2010 Youth of the Year Quest will start next month.