Each year young people from throughout southwest Michigan take part in the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA) program sponsored by Rotary District 6360, a community service organization. Awardees are chosen for their leadership potential to attend an all-expenses-paid camp to discuss leadership skills and to learn those skills through practice. Rotary clubs select participants and facilitate the event's curriculum.
The focus of the RYLA program is leadership, citizenship, and personal development with elements designed to:
- build on the existing leadership potential of the student, providing them with the opportunity to sharpen their leadership skills and put them into practice.
- encourage participants to further develop their own talents and abilities.
- remind the students that they have a responsibility to their communities and to the world.
What do campers do at RYLA?
RYLA is a Friday evening to Sunday evening program of intense leadership training. Students learn about what it takes to be an effective leader and create an effective team-based organization. The program features:
1. outstanding Rotarian speakers from all over the region
2. hands-on critical thinking and problem solving experiences
3. personal leadership skill development.
Activities include daily interaction between students in various team roles, challenging physical and mental activities, and fellowship with peers, trained counselors and Rotarians. Campers make friendships that last a lifetime!
If I get accepted, does RYLA cost anything?
RYLA is sponsored by the 58 Rotary clubs of SW Michigan and
Rotary International. It is staffed and operated by volunteer
District 6360 Rotarians and professionally trained leadership
Individual Rotary clubs pay the entire fee for each RYLA camper. The District does expect each RYLA participant to actively participate in the entire program.
Who can attend RYLA?
Rotary District 6360 is looking for outstanding young leaders and potential leaders who are about to enter their junior or senior year in high school when they attend. Students should have a good academic record and be involved in school activities such as athletics, student council and community service.
If you are a student or a parent interested in RYLA, please contact your local Rotary club, school guidance counselor, or writeJill
for more information.
In 1959, the state government of Queensland, Australia, invited local Rotarians to help plan a festival celebrating Queensland's upcoming centenary. Learning that Queen Elizabeth II was sending her cousin Princess Alexandra, who was in her early 20s, to the celebration, Rotarians planned activities specifically for the princess' age group.
The gundoo, an aboriginal word meaning "festival" or "fun together," was a rousing success. More than 300 men and women between the ages of 17 and 23 attended. Encouraged by the event's popularity with the young attendees, Rotarians saw potential to create a similar annual youth program. With little hesitation, Governor Art Brand of then-District 260 approved the project, and on 2 May 1960, RYLA was born.
Australian districts 258 and 260 shared in establishing a committee that developed the official framework of RYLA which then expanded to all Rotary districts in Australia. In 1971, RYLA was approved as an international program by the RI board at the annual Convention in Sydney, Australia.