RYLA 2023

Thursday 24 August

RYLA 2023 attendees sponsored by our club
Taken by Claire Thomson 24 August 2023

On the evening of 24 August we were joined by our four RYLA candidates for 2023, Arwen, Keaton, Anna and Constanza.

They each gave an excellent summary of their experiences and the various activities they enjoyed while at RYLA, these included:

  • Raft building – some of the teams had more success than other here!
  • Mountain biking
  • Rock climbing and abseiling
  • Swimming gala
  • Sports events
  • Coasteering
  • Gorge walking
  • Abernethy challenges – including an escape room style activity disabling bombs around the campus
  • Designing a team shield

They also spoke about the insights the various speakers brought to them during the event.

  • Anne Simpson spoke about the “Imposter Monster”.
  • Kirsten Gilmore gave a presentation about her career and establishing the The Mountain CafĂ© in Aviemore.
  • Fiona Campbell, a mentor and former RYLA girl, spoke about how the skills learnt at RYLA had help empower her in her career.
  • Emma Henderson – gave a presentation on her career as a pilot and the charity work she is involved with.
  • Wendy Maltman, another mentor and former RYLA girl, shared her experiences at art school, going self employed and then establishing her own graphic design business.

Arwen noted her highlights as:

  • controlling her fear of heights to be able to participate in the rock climbing and abseiling,
  • wining the backstroke event at the swimming gala,
  • coasteering (favourite activity) as she loves swimming,
  • leading the Gorge walk activity for her team and
  • receiving feedback on strengths and opportunities for growth.

For Keaton his goal was meet people and socialise, to develop skills to help when he moves to Perth to start university next month. Keaton’s highlights included:

  • 12km uphill mountain biking – hard work but good team support,
  • rock climbing,
  • leading his team in the Abernethy challenge,
  • jumping off all the cliffs while coasteering – which was tricky as he couldn’t wear his glasses and so could only see 3m ahead, and
  • gorge walking – which was hard due to the power of the water they were walking through.

Overall, he described RYLA as a really good experience.

Anna’s favourite activities included:

  • gorge walking – the high water levels due the rain the previous week made this hard going,
  • rock climbing and abseiling – the team support here was great with everyone cheering each other on,
  • raft building – team worked well together designating different tasks to groups within the team. Anna’s team completed the raft in the allocated time and managed the Loch Morlich course,
  • team challenges – some of which went very well and others not quite so well and
  • coming second in the breaststroke race at the swim gala.

Anna noted that the experience had allowed her to develop leadership skills, work in a team, learn from experienced leaders and build her confidence while creating new friendships.

Constanza, who is based in St Andrew’s, joined us on zoom and had prepared a great video of her RYLA experience. She explained that being in a team gave a great support network and that she became great friends with her team and still speaks to them every day.

Constanza noted that her favourite activities were the sports and the UN conference debate. She found the mountain biking the most challenging as there were a number of obstacles but despite falling off she kept going and completed the task.

Constanza finished by saying that she would recommend RYLA, she remarked that you need to have courage and independence as many of the activities will push you out of your comfort zone but that it was definitely worth it.

The week was wrapped up with a BBQ and the girls camp had an impromptu ceilidh with Arwen on the fiddle and Anna playing the cajon (box drum).

It was a great presentation from four very confident young speakers who thoroughly enjoyed the experience and who were very grateful to Rotary Elgin for sponsoring them to participate at RYLA.

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back Elgin Rotary regularly invite speakers to our weekly meetings. Read about some of them here