RYLA – What is it and why do we support it?
Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA) is a program of Rotary International that is funded and supported by each Rotary District.  The program encourages servant leadership in youth by recognizing and rewarding deserving 11th grade students from each club area who are chosen to attend RYLA as an "award" for their past and present leadership and service activities. These select young people attend an all-expenses-paid camp where they are inspired by a diverse group of exceptional speakers, make life-long friends through fellowship activities, and discuss the ethical and social issues of today. These activities are conducted in an atmosphere of trust and respect. The result is that these students return to their schools and communities motivated to take on additional leadership roles and to find additional ways to serve.  Some of the topics that arise in the course of RYLA activities and discussions include the ethics of positive leadership, the importance of communication skills in effective leadership, conflict management and problem solving, and building self-esteem and self-confidence.  On April 21, Quincy Rotarians heard from some of last year’s attendees and met the three students who will be attending the 2014 Camp RYLA for high school juniors.
Two of last year’s attendees to the 8th Grade RYLA were unable to visit in the Club in the fall.  Bret Beeson and Kai Hall talked about what they’ve done with what they learned to build better relationships between all their class mates.  They hope to continue working with Dr. Segura to break down barriers and improve the high school experience for all students.
Last year’s students who attended Camp RYLA  for high school juniors spoke briefly about their respective experiences.   Kendall Hicks couldn’t “say enough good things about her experience and that it was surprising how much they learned in such a short time.   As an example, she said she’d wanted to be a part of the ‘S’ Club, but that she didn’t think she was ‘S’ Club worthy, but her RYLA experience inspired her to get involved.  Kendall hopes to attend U.C. Davis after high school.  Claire Hopson also had a great experience.  Her advice to those going this year?  “Go into it with an open mind.”  What did she learn?  “RYLA helped me learn how to stand strong as an individual.”  Claire plans to take a ‘gap’ year and travel to Peru, Honduras and Argentina for language immersion and to serve by doing volunteer work.
Quincy Rotary will be sponsoring three students for Camp RYLA this year – Abbey Edwards, Dale Morgan and Ava Hagwood.    Abbey is the president of this year’s Junior Class at QHS.  She is looking forward to the opportunity and hopes it will make her a better leader.  Dale is Junior Class Vice-President.  His brother is a former RYLA graduate.  Dale looks forward to growing as a person..  Ava is also excited.  She said there have been a lot of challenges to overcome as a junior class leader, and she hopes to gain skills to motivate her class as they move into their senior year.