Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA) is Rotary's leadership training program for young people. It is a unique opportunity for tomorrow's leaders to gain hands-on experience in developing leadership skills with a focus on community service. While the RYLA Conference is for high school sophomores and juniors, RYLA also provides opportunities for RYLA Alumni to step forward and work with Rotarians and other organizations to put their leadership skills into action through the coordination of leadership seminars and community service projects throughout the year. Each year, thousands of young people take part in the program worldwide.
In May 2011, ShelterBox and Rotary District 7950 leadership partnered to host the first ever RYLA ShelterBox Experience. On Sunday morning during breakfast, camp leadership staged a mock earthquake in which the “RYLArians” mustered to a pavilion in which they were given a scenario that Cape Cod experienced a 7.0 earthquake which resulted in a terrible tsunami.
The RYLArians were then tasked to become ShelterBox Response Team Members for the day to complete a series of tasks to provide shelter, warmth, and dignity to those displaced due to the mock disaster. Students then had to get their international aid through customs, put the iconic ShelterBox equipment to work and assess two locations to determine the suitability for a tent camp.
The program is a great success and loved by both Rotarians and RYLArians. It adds a unique twist and develops team work, communication, and leadership skills. Plus, the experience can be modified to fit any location and time slot. Consider making the ShelterBox Experience a part of your next RYLA Conference!