District 5060 RYLA 2016

What is RYLA?

“Strong Leaders are made, not born. Leadership skills are learned; not inherited.” -RYLA 5060

RYLA stands for Rotary Youth Leadership Award.

Each spring local Rotary Clubs from across North Central Washington and the Southern Interior of BC present selected young adults the “award” of a leadership development seminar. The RYLA seminar will assist young people to realize their leadership potential and adapt their experiences to life in their communities.

My experience:

A beautiful 5-hour carpool with Teresa, the only other American from our District, brought us to the lakeside city of Penticton, British Columbia. Here we spent the next four days alongside 20 ambitious Canadian youth and 6 Rotary mentors developing our leadership skills.

“What are your expectations from this retreat?”

— was the question posed in our first session. Looking over the schedule upon arrival, it was daunting to see 8+ hours to be spent in class-room style sessions for just about every day of the retreat. Besides that, I really didn’t know what to expect from RYLA. One after the other, the other participants began to shout out their ambitions and questions about leadership. And I quickly began to develop my own.

To my delight, I was thoroughly impressed with the structure, content and emotional investment from all of the mentors. The time just seemed to fly by way too fast. I felt I could have sat there twice as long just to soak up more of their wisdom and encouragement. In addition, and quite frankly, I was surprised by the quality of the participants. Each participant was an eager learner and genuinely interested in getting to know one another and learn together. They will all be fantastic leaders one day, and I am so glad to have become friends with every one of them.

As far as content goes, we learned applicable frameworks for conflict management, work-life balance, working with different personality types, how to tell better stories, the importance of good ethics, priority setting and more. But most importantly we were encouraged to grow as the leaders that we are, and to believe in ourselves and our dreams.

Another thing that pleasantly surprised me was the complete and utter freedom to be myself. I did not need to hide my faults or put a cover on my strengths. It was refreshing to be so encouraged and to interact with such authenticity! Usually, I make a conscious effort to welcome people into that kind of an atmosphere. However, there was no need at this event because it was already cultivated by the Rotarians for us when we walked through the door. I now feel empowered to go out into my community and affect change. I have purposely outlined my dreams into realistic goals and I am excited to make them happen!

One of the mentors said this:

“Whether you believe you can, or whether you believe you can’t, you are right.” -Calvin Hoy

I’m afraid that “uncertainty” claims too many victims here. I want everyone to be reminded that there is so much more power in believing that you can!

Another mentor left us with this remark:

“You have more potential than you know.”

That is the type of mystery that I like to dwell on.

Developing leaders is incredibly important for the future of our communities and our world. I am so grateful that the Rotary has been a champion in this area for such a long time, and I hope to see it continue indefinitely into the future.

Thank you for the opportunity to attend RYLA 2016. It has impacted my future more than even I know.


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