RYLA Camp Helps Young Leaders Grow

If it’s summertime in District 6900, that means it’s time for the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards! RYLA is designed for young adults with proven leadership ability and a commitment to community service. Hosted by the Rotary Club of Americus, District 6900 RYLA camp was held in late June on the campus of Georgia Southwestern State University.

After several years of receiving a record number of reservation requests, the RYLA staff – led by directors Russ Childers and Susan Ruckman, both of Americus – added one more day to the camp schedule and 30 additional camper slots.This allowed RYLA attendance for 2017 to reach a record number of 132 students sponsored by 50 different clubs.

Through RYLA, young people from different backgrounds - home, educational, religious, and lifestyle - are brought together to work, learn, and discuss the issues that exist within their generation. They have the chance to learn and challenge themselves through team activities, large group activities, and candid, round-table discussions. RYLA programming includes individual personality profiles, conflict resolution styles, and ropes course activities designed to encourage teamwork, communication, and trust. New to the schedule this year was the addition of a service project which allowed the students to experience the Rotary motto of “Service Above Self” firsthand – over 500 paracord bracelets were hand-made by the students and will be donated to Operation Gratitude for care packages being sent out to members of our armed forces.

One of the recurring themes of RYLA is the student who accomplishes a feat he/she would have never dared to imagine before coming to camp. The most memorable of these culminating events always include the board break, allowing students to break through fears to reach goals, and the Trust Fall from a 5-foot platform into the waiting arms of teammates. And just as in recent years, most of the students who were very hesitant to spend the weekend with 130 strangers became the friends who did not want to part ways at the end. This speaks volumes to the benefit of RYLA and the positive changes it can create in young lives.

Even more telling of the long-lasting influence of RYLA is the fact that 90% of the counselors were once RYLA participants themselves – they believe in it enough to commit the time and energy to make RYLA the best experience possible. Over 70 Rotarians assisted with RYLA in some capacity, with most contributing on the club level with the nomination and selection of student participants, some providing transportation to and from RYLA, and the brave few who agreed to serve as chaperones in the dorms. Special guests this year were DG Raymond Ray, DGE Alec Smythe, DGN Court Dowis, and DGND Jim Squire who joined us for several days volunteering both as chaperones and judges for the annual RYLA Talent Show.

RYLA aims to help students discover their potential and develop the skills needed to be leaders in their communities, careers, and everyday lives. They achieve these goals while having fun, building friendships, and creating memories that will last a lifetime. We’re already looking forward to 2018 and we hope to see you there. Save the dates – June 2-6, 2018 – and until then you can check us out on Facebook and Instagram!

Posted by Jaclyn Donovan
August 5, 2017


This Year’s Posts