My 2017 RYLA Experience – Rotary International District 6380

So last weekend I attended Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA) for district 6380 of Rotary International, held in Michigan, USA. This RYLA in particular is very unique because it consists of cities from Canada and the USA rather than one country. There were also a lot of exchange students from all over the world so I really enjoyed talking to them and seeing how their culture differed form ours (I’m Canadian). For those of you who have never heard of Rotary or RYLA here’s what it is. Rotary International is non-profit organization that has 1.2 million members and over 35 000 clubs worldwide. Not only do they offer awareness for various local and global causes but also raise a number of funds through different campaigns. RYLA is an event put on every year in all districts of Rotary, and is a leadership camp for high school students who have been sponsored by their local Rotary club. Our school is part of interact (High school age) but there is also a number of other ways to get involved like Rotaract (age 18-30) and of course Rotary. They also offer youth exchanges so you can learn more about that here.
Now on to my experience:

This was my first year attending RYLA, while one of my friends also attended last year but this time around was very different. The title for this event was “Gimme the keys so we focused on 5 “keys” to success.

  1. Communication
  2. Teamwork
  3. Ethical
  4. Trust
  5. Strive

Each “key” had a different leadership activity that went along with it.

For communication we had to make some sort of device to prevent an egg from breaking when dropped with minimal resources.

For communication, as a team we had to come to a census on how many jellybeans were in a jar as well as this really cool maze thing.

For ethical (this was really frustrating) we had a list of 6 people who all need a heart transplant and as a team we only had one heart and had to decide which patient should receive the heart. This was really hard and frustrating because we all had different views and reasoning. At the end we could only narrow it down to 2 people.

For trust we did your typical trust fall, but we also had someone go in the middle of our small circle and they had to keep their feet together and fall and trust that the people in the circle would catch them. We went for a walk in partners and one was blindfolded and could talk while the other could see but not talk. We had to find a way to communicate and make our way around.

Finally for strive (Definitely my most favourite part) we went zip lining. For some people they were really excited and ready to do it (like me), for others just putting on the harness was a big accomplishment. In the end everyone in my group went even after a few being unsure.
We also had a couple guest speakers, one of which was from my hometown (like 2 hours away from the camp) as well as our district president who I have never met before. Funny story, my friend Liv and I were going outside to take a picture and there was a guy standing in the door way so Liv asked if he would mind taking our picture, he was more than happy to do it. He started to tell us tricks for taking photos and we began to have a conversation, he asked us where we were from, I said our city while Liv just replied Canada because most people have never heard of it well his response was oh yeah I know where that is and something about while being president he has visited most places. Our mouth dropped, we had no idea he was the president of our district, I mean in our defence we have only met our local Rotarians but yeah that’s how I met our district president.

Overall I loved everything about this (Okay maybe the bed was a little rough) but all in all I really enjoyed my time there. I met so many new people that I really hope we remain friends. I learned a lot about other cultures and people from around the world and surprisingly Americans in particular (Who actually thought they were so different from us Canadians?). I’m not really a shy person but being around new people takes me a while to open up, the first night we had a bunch of ice breaker games and I didn’t really stray far from Liv (one of my friends who I already knew) but even by lunch the next day you could go sit at any table, not know anybody and by the end of that meal you could be talking like you’ve been friends for years.

I’m really going to miss everyone I met this weekend and hope I will still get to talk to all of you. Good luck to everyone and thank you soooooo much Rotary 6380 for sponsoring me for this event.

~Tori Scherle~

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I'm 22 years old and starting my Masters in Biology at the University of Ottawa in September. I just recently graduated with my Honours BSc - Biology. I love photography, baking, plants & adventures!

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