Each year high school Juniors and Seniors from throughout Southwestern Michigan take part in the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA) program sponsored by District 6360, a community service organization. Awardees are chosen for their leadership potential to attend an all-expense paid camp to discuss leadership skills and to learn those skills through practice. Rotary clubs select participants and facilitate the event’s curriculum.
The focus of the RYLA program is leadership, citizenship and personal development with elements designed to:
- build on the existing leadership potential of the student, providing them with the opportunity to sharpen their leadership skills and put them into practice.
- encourage participants to further develop their own talents and abilities.
- remind the students that they have a responsibility to their communities and to the world.
In 2015, the camp was held at the Battle Creek Outdoor Center in Dowling, MI on August 14-16, 2015. Next year, the camp will be held August 12-14, 2016 at the same place.
What do campers do at RYLA?
RYLA is a Friday evening to Sunday evening program of intense leadership training. Students learn about what it takes to be an effective leader and create an effective team-based organization. The program features: outstanding Rotarian speakers from all over the region, hands-on critical thinking and problem solving and personal leadership skill development
Activities include daily interaction between students in various team roles, challenging physical and mental activities, and fellowship with peers, trained counselors and Rotarians. Campers make friendships that last a lifetime!
If accepted, what does RYLA cost?
RYLA is sponsored by the 56 Rotary clubs of Southwest Michigan and Rotary International. It is staffed and operated by volunteer District 6360 Rotarians and professionally trained leadership counselors. To sponsor a RYLA Student, the cost to clubs remains only $200, and your club may have District Foundation Credits to cover some or all of that cost! The District does expect each RYLA participant to actively participate in the entire program.
Who can attend RYLA?
Rotary District 6360 is looking for outstanding young leaders and potential leaders who are about to enter their junior or senior year in high school when they attend. Students should have a good academic record and be involved in school activities such as athletics, student council and community service.
If you know of, or have, a student interested in participating, contact the RYLA Registrar and Committee Chairman, Jill Eldred. To apply for a spot at next year’s camp, August 12-14, 2016, type in the on-line application, print and mail to Jill Eldred.
A Bit about the History of RYLA…
In 1959, the state government of Queensland, Australia, invited local Rotarians to hep plan a festival celebrating Queenland’s upcoming centenary. Learning that Queen Elizabeth II was sending her cousin Princess Alexandra, who was in her early 20’s, to the celebration, Rotarians planned activities specifically for the princess’ age group.
The gundoo, an aboriginal word meaning “festival” or “fun together” was a rousing success. More than 300 men and women between the ages of 17 and 23 attended. Encouraged by the event’s popularity with the young attendees, Rotarians saw potential to create a similar annual youth program. With little hesitation, Governor Art Brand of then-District 260 approved the project, and on May 2, 1960, RYLA was born.
Australian districts 258 and 260 shared in establishing a committee that developed the official framework of RYLA which then expanded to all Rotary Districts in Australia. IN 1971, RYLA was approved as an international program by the RI Board at the Annual Convention in Sydney, Australia.