Camp RYLA (Rotary Youth Leadership Awards) is a five-day camp which strengthens leadership skills and capabilities of high school students through physical, mental, emotional, and intellectual challenges. There is an emphasis on problem solving, teamwork, and interaction with other outstanding students and volunteer counselors and presenters. Because all participants were leaders at their own schools, it was initially challenging, as they had to learn to sometimes lead and sometimes follow.
Heidi Marg and Casey Schlatter were sponsored by our club to participate in this year’s Camp RYLA program.
 
Camp RYLA (Rotary Youth Leadership Awards) is a five-day camp which strengthens leadership skills and capabilities of high school students through physical, mental, emotional, and intellectual challenges. There is an emphasis on problem solving, teamwork, and interaction with other outstanding students and volunteer counselors and presenters. Heidi noted that because all participants were leaders at their own schools, it was initially challenging, as they had to learn to sometimes lead and sometimes follow.
 
This year’s program started by dividing students into groups and asking them to come up with a team name, introduction and egg-break challenge. Heidi’s team won with their rap! The first day was primarily spend bonding with team-mates, including the Camp St. Croix ropes course. The second day started with a trip to Feed My Starving Children; even the bus rides were fun and helped them develop relationships.
 
Throughout the program, they worked on two different challenges, RYLA High and RYLA Action. RYLA High was a simulation through which they were asked to improve conditions at a fictional high school RYLA Action provided students with an opportunity to work on a specific issue facing high school students; Heidi and Casey both worked on mental health.
One of the exercises helped students understand personalities through colors – red, yellow, green and blue. These colors were then put on their name tags, which helped you better understand why people may be acting the way they are. Because they did this after they had already gotten to know people, they also had fun guessing people’s colors. One of the learnings from this was the importance of diverse teams, as each of the “colors” brought something unique to their problem-solving activities.
 
Throughout the camp, students were challenged to problem solve, work together and make presentations – often “on the spot.” RYLA Olympics was a fun way to enable students to work together and leverage their unique strengths. They ended the program at a lunch meeting of the St. Paul Rotary Club.
 
Despite being hosted by YMCA Camp St. Croix, Heidi and Casey were the only Wisconsin students to participate in this year’s program. Heidi and Casey made a lot of new friends through the experience, including many Rotary Youth Exchange students.
 
Learn more at https://saintpaulrotary.org/sitepage/camp-ryla/rotary-youth-leadership-awards.
Sponsors