From Little Things…

Last month, we held our first ever Black-Tie Fundraiser here in Albury. The 200-capacity event was sold out and truly was, an amazing night. I was well aware of how the night would play out- I knew the speaker’s themes, I had viewed the videos of the kids that would be shown, and I had (kind of) prepared my speech (in my head anyway).

When I walked into the Auditorium with my wife and saw the 200-strong crowd I was immediately a little choked up. Everyone was dressed to impress, and I almost felt lost among so many faces, some familiar but many unfamiliar. “What are they all doing here?”

It has been difficult to find the time to stop and reflect upon what has been created with BttB. But I was soon to find a time to reflect was all but upon me (whether I liked it or not).

As the night progressed, speeches were given and each time I again, felt that frog in my throat. I was definitely taking deep breaths and wondering how I was ever going to keep it together for my speech/yarn. Between courses/speeches the crowd were introduced to some short clips of some ex/current participants sharing their experiences with BttB. That bloody frog in my throat was not going away!

At last, it was my turn to get up. As I left my table, I said to my mate beside me “I’m going to be bloody hopeless here…” I started my speech, and it was all going fine… For about 7 seconds. Then my emotions got the better of me and I was pretty much a blubbering mess. I’m still unsure if the people in attendance understood what the hell, I was going on about? This was one of the first real times I thought to myself: “Holy Crap… Look what we have done!” (not the ideal time though)

I was fortunate enough to have my 2 co-founders and great mates, on stage beside me and I’m sure they understood why I struggled so much. We never intended to create something that would touch the lives of the now, thousands of kids each year and we certainly did not initially think we would have employees pushing close to 100 across 6 locations all within 5 years.

The one thing that has surprised us more than anything else is the connection and ‘buy in’ we have had from the general public in each of our amazing communities. We are approached everyday with offers of support from people who genuinely see benefit in what we do and want to do their bit! I think this is what makes us truly different. Now when I say: “we” or “us” I am referring to all of you.

All of you in some way, have become a part of the BttB family. Some of you donate time, others donate funds, some donate goods or access to properties/business. Some of you share our posts on social media or speak fondly of us to your contacts and sometimes you link us up with others that may be able to add value to the family. We tell the boys regularly about all the people they now have “in their corner.”

So, I eventually got through my speech and had an amazing night with our big BttB family that came along. I copped plenty off my mates for getting so emotional (which I expected), but I really couldn’t care less because I had at last, had a moment to reflect upon this little thing we started back in 2017…  and it’s pretty special!

Things will continue change and evolve but we will always strive to stay true to the little idea we had not so long ago- “We want to offer more opportunities for boys to be surrounded by positive influences allowing them the best opportunity to become good men.”

We are so pleased that “we” now refers to all of you too… Well done!

-Adam DeMamiel, CEO and Co-Founder

Ripple Effect, by Johnny Murray

Artwork Title: Ripple Effect

This painting represents the Boys to the Bush organisation held up by its core values; Engagement, Community & Resilience.

You will notice that everything is duplicated in threes. The circles are painted in threes and the lines leading into and away from the circles are all in threes. What this represents is us paying respect to where we’ve come from (the past) where we are now (the present) and where we aim to be moving forward (the future).

Some paths are more direct represented by the straight lines, where others paths and others journeys may take a little longer.

The repeated lines outside of the circles and between the paths represent the positive ‘Ripple Effect’ that Boys to the Bush has in the community, a young person’s family and ultimately the positive effect it has in a young person becoming the best version of themselves.

The colour green is used as the dominant colour in this artwork as it represents one of the main core values of the Boys to the Bush which is Resilience, the colour green also has connections to youth, growth and good fortune. The colour green is also the Boys to the Bush logo colour.

This artwork was produced by Johnny Murray a proud Yorta Yorta man born and raised in Albury NSW. This artwork is intended to tell the story of the Boys to the Bush and its core values. This artwork is also intended to be a conversation starter. “It takes a conversation to start a relationship”.

As the artist, I give permission for this artwork to be reproduced as part of the Boys to The Bush program under the direction of Boys to the Bush staff and leadership. Everyone’s view of Engagement, Community & Resilience is different however the core value remains the same.

Every bit helps

Three and a half years ago myself and two good mates had an idea.

We thought we might run a couple of camps open to the public each year in our spare time. We thought it would be a great way for some young fellas to experience what it is like to spend some time on a farm, learn to fish and just spend some time away from their creature comforts. We thought “Let’s have a crack!”

Three and a half years ago seems like a lifetime ago now.

Since then we have allowed Boys to the Bush to grow organically and have adjusted things accordingly. We have learnt so much about running an organisation as well as exactly what we are aiming to achieve.

We now know that what we do works. We know that we must remain committed to supporting the young fellas we are lucky enough to build a rapport with. We know that what we do goes far beyond just having kids on camps. We know that we are genuinely changing and saving the lives of so many lads that are doing it tough.

It is through no fault of their own that the majority of these kids find themselves in such precarious situations. It is through no fault of their own that they were not brought up to value; education, employment, respect for woman etc.

We are so proud that we now a model that works. It is one that is replicable. It is one that once established can then stand on its own two feet. It is one that will remain in that community for the long term- assisting those from that community that are in desperate need of support. This model will ensure more disadvantaged youth have the opportunity to become not only better men but contributing members to that community.

So when I hear people in my community complaining about these very kids, I often ask myself “what are they doing to help?” Because if all we do as a community is complain about the problem then all we are effectively doing is contributing to this very problem.

I’m sure people will read this and say “well I can’t do anything to help them…” If this is the case then I want to assure you that you most certainly can.

You can donate your time/skills- if you have the capacity to teach a new skill, you can help. Get in touch with us…

You can donate some money- every dollar donated to BttB goes to programs that assist these youth. These donations can also be claimed as a tax deduction. Let us know if you would like to view our sponsorship prospectus or jump online to nominate an amount…

You can donate goods- you can support us by donating goods that could be used as part of programs or given to the boys themselves. Get in touch with us….

BttB is changing lives… It’s as simple as that.

Almost 3 years have passed since our first camp and, Wow how things have progressed! Our initial idea of running a few camps a year for a few kids in our school holidays has evolved into something that has changed the lives of many of our hundreds of participants. It has also changed mine.

This will all come as a surprise to many- especially many of my closest friends and family.

I have lived with Mental Illness my whole life. It has been self-managed pretty well for the most part but in the darkest of dark times when rational thoughts are replaced with only negativity and self-doubt, I found myself staring at a decision that I can see now, would have impacted so many…

I am someone who has always had trouble in finding purpose in my life. When I was younger, I had a loving family, I was spoilt, I was OK at school, I was OK at sport, I had friends and I had opportunities. I should have been happy, but often I was not. I knew I should have been but I wasn’t.

Whilst at university I; had a brilliant girlfriend (my now wife), was reasonably popular, I was passing my classes (just), I was social, I was part of sporting clubs, I had part-time employment etc But this was a time that seems a blur as I was forever in search of something else?

After University my now wife and I moved to Albury. We both gained great teaching jobs at good schools, I was involved in sporting clubs, we bought a house, we were ‘living the dream.’ Still, something was missing. I knew I had something in me that needed to be found.

In 2009 our first child was born- a healthy boy. He was soon followed by another healthy baby sister in 2011 and then our youngest daughter in 2012. These guys gave me for the first time in my life, a real sense of purpose. I was and am, proud to be their dad and adore each of them unconditionally.

We bought the house we dreamed of, I drove a decent vehicle, I had a good job and had a loving family. It seems selfish to say it but again- something was missing.

I continued for a few more years going through the motions of everyday life without feeling as though I was actively doing anything special.

BttB has filled that void. We all want to be a part of something, I am just lucky to be a part of something that is truly special.

After ups and downs with my mental health, my most trusted accomplice AKA my wife sat me down and said I needed help. I had known this for my whole life but found it easier wearing the mask and acting to get my way through. But in this case, I was too exhausted from it all.

I often thought about what life would look like for them when I was gone and it was beginning to consume me. I had made all the plans to end the pain and was committed to doing so. At this very time, there was an article in the local paper about an ex-student that died by suicide and I saw the pain and devastation she left behind. Something in this article really resonated with me. I decided to heed my wife’s advice. I sought help.

I was almost sick with nerves waiting to see him. When I entered the room I was unsure if I would even be able to say anything. When he asked why I was there I just broke down. I had a good sob for a bit and then composed myself to tell him I was not well and wanted to be happy.

Instantly, the lid had come off and I felt completely different. He prescribed some meds for me and explained that it is a neurological thing that can be changed. We chatted a bit and I felt the lump in my throat and the tightness in my chest subside.

When I was driving home, I felt like I had never felt before, almost euphoric. I knew that life as I had always lived it would now be only a memory. This may seem difficult to believe for many but it is true. From that day my life changed.

For the next couple of years, I continued teaching. I was enjoying life. I rarely miss anything my kids do not because I feel an obligation but because I genuinely love seeing them grow. It was during this time that my mindset changed.

I had been teaching for 14 years and it was a job I was good at and enjoyed, but I knew it wasn’t why I was put on earth. We had talked about doing something for years around boys’ programs and camps and it got to the point where we could keep talking about it or we could do something about it.

That decision has paid off for me personally as BttB has given me clarity. I now know why I am here and what I will be doing in the future. What I loved most in my old job was the small amount of time I got to really get to know the boys and assist them in becoming decent blokes. I now get to do this for the rest of my life. I love bumping into kids (now blokes) and them saying thanks or sharing a story from their time at school. More often than not their stories/memories are from the times spent on BttB camps or Boys Ed Days.

BttB has allowed us to take hold of the wheel and steer our ship in the direction we believe will have the greatest impact on the lives of boys that need it most.

We are rewarded every time we have a kid: return to camp, gain employment, re-engage with school, re-engage with family, find suitable living arrangements, call us to have a yarn etc

We are not changing the world but we are changing the world of many. I am indebted to BttB for saving mine.




An Update

…but for now we continue to roll up our sleeves, put in the hard work because if we get our foundations right we can work on getting their foundations right.

Start of a new journey

whilst this career change is certainly not favoured by certainty, it is one driven by passion, motivation and clear thinking. And this is why I’m confident of a well-executed change.