Posted on May 10, 2018
Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA) is a program that originated with Rotary International and has subsequently been specifically designed by Rotary District 5340 for students in San Diego and Imperial Counties. RYLA is held at Idyllwild Pines Camp in Idyllwild, California.  Joe Ramirez is the District Youth Exchange Officer for the annual Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA).
Joe Ramirez asked everyone to imagine:
  • 350 students who come together from all walks of life
  • Some have never left their neighborhood or gone away for overnight trip
  • Some have never really spent time with those of a different race, culture, or  
    social-economic  status
  • But there is one thing in common: a zest for life, desire to work hard,
    and they are leaders!
RYLA encourages servant leadership in youth by recognizing and rewarding deserving 11th grade students 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-expense-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.
RYLA's intent is to encourage students to be more effective servant leaders. RYLA is not a camp intended to teach leadership skills (it is assumed that the students in attendance already possess those skills).The following topics naturally arise in the course of RYLA activities and discussions:
  • Fundamentals of leadership
  • Ethics of positive leadership
  • Qualities of a "servant leader"
  • Importance of communication skills in effective leadership
  • Conflict management and problem solving
  • Building self-esteem and self confidence
  • Elements of community and global citizenship
  • Rotary's purpose of service to the community and world
Walt Waggener from Carlsbad High-Noon Rotary has been a RYLA coordinator and facilitator for 6 years. He reported that there were 287 young people who attended RYLA this year. They were separated into 22 families of 8 or 9.  This year, the program included building a home in Mexico for a poor family. 
Zyra Kingston, Lindsay Murphy, Pippi Nasi, Jenny Tucker and Kellen Bassler were RYLA presenters for the evening’s program.  Each one spoke about their favorite part of this year’s RYLA. Favorites included the social aspects, the guest speakers, family games, the culture walks, Skyping with girls in Afghanistan.  Many said it was indeed a life-changing, inspirational experience. Pippi Nasi, our guest-student from Italy, said this was “the best experience of my life!”
Several Carlsbad Rotary members have been RYLA facilitators – they stood up to be recognized.  Kathi Kailikole and Rita Famulare related their experiences. This was Rita’s third time at RYLA. She said, “It all became family!”
The 5 RYLA student presenters then fielded questions from the Rotary members.
Weblink - 2018 RYLA Conference: