RYLA is one of the greatest movements in District 7780
BY PHIL GIORDANO
RYLA is a movement within Rotary District 7780 that goes beyond the confines of a four-day experience. There is a bond to service connected by increased confidence that propels the individuals that are associated with RYLA into current moments of creating positive change. RYLA is a year long and even a lifetime endeavor. 2017 represents the 27th group of campers that will participate.
Every June camp ends with campers leaving with their parents & guardians with hope and optimism of what their lives can accomplish. New skills of listening, team building, public speaking, bring confidence levels up. Friendships forged in the process of extending comfort zones and reflecting in a way that allows for deeper understanding of various paradigms. Letters are sent in from both parents and students saying that the experience has been eye-opening and transformational.
The staff does not leave when campers depart. Instead, the next feedback process begins with examining the past 5 days. Each team member takes the time to write a reflection letter that is given to the camp director. We then gather as a full team to debrief and ask many questions. How did we prepare as both a team and individuals? Did we provide a safe and supportive environment to meet campers where they are currently at, and then take them to where they wanted to go in their leadership/communication journey? How did the changes we implement work, what were the obstacles, and strengths discovered? The camp is departed with a commitment to the off-season and live the values of RYLA.
This year the week immediately following a group of 10 RYLA facilitators conducted a mini RYLA day for two groups of teenagers with the Friends Forever Program in NH. RYLA staff worked with mixed groups from Northern Ireland and Isreal on team building and communication processes. This was the first time that the Friends Forever Program allowed for the mixing of students from different cultures. The day was an incredible growth experience for all involved.
During the Summer of 2016, RYLA staff came together for a few events. Two major service projects were completed, including assisting at a food bank and cleaning up the grounds at the Seacoast Science Center in RYE NH. Summer training was held in August to continue with building the team and helping to prepare the staff for their upcoming transitions.
The fall brings a time of planning. Staff actively participate in many ways. Committees are formed to build marketing material, curriculum development, physical plant development of the rope courses, scheduling and much more. The team gathered at Christmas to renew bonds and celebrate the RYLA spirit. The movement and commitment to spreading and growing the values of RYLA are alive.
The turning of the calendar into a new year means that the countdown begins. New staff applications start to arrive in the mail. Planning committees meet, and Rotary engages in the process of finding 144 campers to participate in RYLA 2017. RYLA team members look for ways to be involved and ensure that the program continues.
RYLA District 7780 is an actual movement that has made a tremendous difference in Rotary’s commitment to Youth Services. Contact Phil Giordano – email@example.com or call his cell at 207-636-6500. We have the capacity for 144 campers, anything fewer means lose the opportunity to have the greatest positive impact on our youth and our communities. RYLA build Interact, Rotaract, and overall Youth Development for all of District 7780. The calendar has turned the countdown to RYLA 2017 is on. Camp begins Sunday, June 25th at Camp Hinds. Time to get involved.