RYLA 2019

Fourteen attendees gathered at Woodrow High House, Amersham for this year's RYLA weekend.

RYLA weekend Friday 28th- 30th July 2019

Fourteen attendees gathered at Woodrow High House, Amersham. The house was donated to London Youth Charity in 1947 with the aim of enriching the lives of young people needing support to develop leadership skills. This Residential facility is used primarily for school groups in the week and older groups at the weekend.

They came from all walks of life. One, having completed his degree was filling a Gap Year in a most enterprising manner, living on a house boat which was slowly progressing in 2 kilometre stages each fortnight into the centre of London. He worked in a wine shop and ran an Air B and B to supplement his income. Another had just completed her A Levels and was hoping to use skills learnt over the weekend to enrich her youth Summer work. We had gardeners, IT enthusiasts, equestrian experts, engineers and one who was hoping to gain qualifications to work in the Care sector.

On the Friday afternoon they began to arrive and eventually all gathered in the Green Room to start the evening sessions. The silence was electric, everyone being terribly polite and few words said. They were then given a presentation and were told that the following evening they would have to give their own team presentation on their experiences and how they had worked together to solve problems. This could be presented using drama, props or music and everyone must take part. It was to take place around a camp fire.

After an hour in the cozy lounge they were put into two teams and let loose in the extensive grounds. Each group was given a map, coordinates and various clues taking them in differing directions. The challenge was to rescue the gardener who had been overcome by fumes and had collapsed. That soon got them talking!

The Saturday was filled with a variety of activities interspersed with talks on management styles and leadership qualities. They were then encouraged to test these different styles while on group activities and see how effective they were with others.

Time was given during the afternoon for each team to plan their presentation then, after supper,the teams were presented with another challenge. They were unaware that the Saturday morning activities had earned them points. They were told their totals and were then allowed to " purchase" items from a pile of poles and ropes. They were then given an hour to build a catapult capable of delivering a water filled balloon onto a target on the ground.

As you can imagine, this had everyone beavering away and the resulting catapults looked nothing like each other. By then the campfire was lit, marshmallows and refreshments prepared and the fun began.

Both teams gave superb presentations telling of the activities enjoyed and how they overcame challenges in organising their teams to complete tasks effectively.As you can imagine, the atmosphere relaxed after this. Music was found along with liquid supplies and having put the fire out the "Oldies" gratefully retired to their beds and left them to it!

Sunday morning dawned and it was straight on with team activities. Both teams had really got to know each other by this stage and it was fascinating seeing how quickly decisions were made.

The two groups were sent in different directions, one to tackle Jacob's Ladder, a formidable structure where all were enlisted to help pairs climb as high as possible. They were harnessed up and others were holding and pulling on the ropes as required.

It really was fascinating to watch and, in some cases, tables were completely turned. Some that were really quite fit did not have a height advantage and so had to be helped by their taller but less able partner. Others were encouraged not to shout " come on, you can do it", but to give practical comments like, "Turn to the left and pull". It was amazing to watch.

The teams then changed and the other activity was an assault course, the first requires them to carry a cup of water over tall hurdles and under very short ones with the added complication of one team member being blindfold. At this point one of the team began to listen very carefully to the wording of instructions in order to find easier ways to complete the task. From then on, underground twisty tunnels, climbing walls, and other challenges were tackled in ingenious ways. By now the team knew who to put forward for each task and instinctively knew how to support the less able.

What fun it was.

The weekend wound up with lunch and then feedback from all those taking part. Everyone had gained in self confidence and felt that the skills learnt would hold them in good stead in the future.

I think they had also become firm friends and were planning to keep in touch and exchange pictures of the weekend. I hope I've managed to convey the success of the weekend. I'm sure you will hear from those sponsored by this club.


Roger Philips
Youth Team Leader 2018-19

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