What actually is RYLA?
We now have over twenty years of giving young people in the District the opportunity of a lifetime to find out about themselves and help shape their future. As one young person said at the end of this year’s camp: “RYLA has given me the opportunity to realise my potential and inspired me to chase my dreams.”
A look back at a typical RYLA camp
This year’s camps took place during the second half of July, with 24 boys and 29 girls from 30 clubs attending. The Mentors, the RYLA committee, volunteer bus drivers, supporters at District and Club level and ‘Trialler’ events all ensured successful weeks.
The camps took place at the Abernethy Trust’s Outdoor and Adventure Centre at Ardeonaig, the venue for all the camps since the first ones that were organised by West Linton & District R.C. in 1991. The location of Ardeonaig and the quality of both the accommodation and Centre staff, also make a major contribution to the success and enjoyment of RYLA. In addition, the Mentor teams play a vital role in building relationships and encouraging the young people to make the most of every opportunity.
RYLA is designed to encourage the development of future community, business and professional leaders by utilising outdoor adventure activities to improve young people’s self-confidence, teamwork and leadership skills. The RYLArians (and the Mentors!) were involved in a variety of exciting activities during the week. As another young person said:“Everyday was adrenaline-filled and challenging – what an experience!”
The activities – High Ropes, Low Ropes Assault Course, Gorge-walking, River Canoeing, Cliff-climbing and Hill-walking - all required teamwork, with each individual having to play his/her part to ensure success. It was very satisfying to witness leadership qualities (discussed during some of the evening sessions) being displayed by the young people acting as leaders in each activity. One young person said: “RYLA gave me practical experience to hone my leadership skills as well as a range of other skills, from problem solving to social skills.”
Indeed the impact of RYLA on social skills should not be underplayed. It is a major decision by a young person to commit to a week at RYLA with a group of other young people whom he/she has never met.
To be perfectly honest, I wasn’t looking forward to RYLA. I was nervous about spending a week with total strangers. But the first day presentation and activities ensured that I got to know people and made me look forward to the rest of the week. If I had missed out on RYLA I would have been gutted!
This serves to highlight the importance of the ‘Triallers’ and of Rotary Clubs keeping in touch with their candidates in the weeks prior to RYLA.
RYLArians on both weeks enjoyed various speakers and presentations:
- The District Governor with thoughts and message of challenge for the week ahead.
- The Ardeonaig staff with their mock-up talk show on ‘Heroes’
- The District Polio Officer with his presentation on the work Rotary International is doing to eradicate polio worldwide
- Members of Killin Mountain Rescue Team who spoke about their work and demonstrated some of the equipment used in rescues.
- The Ardeonaig Chief Instructor with guidance on presentation skills.
At the end of the week, the John Mair Awards are presented to the two individuals who, in the judgment of their peers, have shown the most overall improvement during their respective weeks at RYLA.