Six students from the Weyburn Comp came back from a Rotary-sponsored leadership camp enthused and full of ideas to use at the school for the coming year.
The six students spoke about their experiences at RYLA (Rotary Youth Leadership Awards program), held at Clear Lake, Man., on Thursday at the Weyburn Rotary Club luncheon; the students were Dexter Happ, Ben Sidloski, Jade Pelechaty, Kauron Cooper, Kristin Smart and Katelyn Lascelle.
The first to speak from the group was Happ, who noted he had a lot of fun and grew a lot as a person.
“I will never forget the activities. It was an indescribable experience; I met so many friends that will last a lifetime,” said Lascelle.
“I’m so happy I got to start off my senior year at RYLA,” added Smart, who spoke of such fun activities as getting up at 2 a.m. to pull pranks on other camp-goers.
“We had so many leadership experiences too,” she said.
Cooper added that it was an exciting time, and she enjoyed doing “weird things” that added a lot of fun to their time there, such as having to eat a meal with their hands tied to each other, or eating a meal without utensils, which ended with a food fight.
For Sidloski, he said RYLA was a time of “extreme bonding” where he ended up with “better friends than with people you’ve known most of your life.”
Pelechaty told the Rotarians that RYLA “was life-changing” as she gained a lot as a person and as a leader.
With 58 campers at the session, “you became friends with all of them, and all six of us became really close too.”
One of the adult organizers of RYLA, Ray Ruth from a Regina Rotary Club, told the Weyburn club that they are one of the biggest supporters of the RYLA program in the whole district, and this year’s camp was one of the biggest they had ever had.
There were 57 campers at the senior camp, and 41 at the junior camp, he said, adding, “The mix was almost perfect. The senior camp was over-capacity by one, but we survived.”
Breaking down the numbers, he said there were 18 boys and 23 girls in the junior camp, and 21 boys and 36 girls in the senior camp, which was a much better mix than they had last year.
“I don’t know how you do it, but every year you bring exceptional students,” said Ruth, noting the junior students from Weyburn were particularly mature.
He quipped that Weyburn has established a tradition of sending a Sidloski every year, and hoped that will continue in the coming years.
Unlike other clubs in the district, Ruth pointed out that many clubs had funds to put towards RYLA but no kids to send to it, and suggested some of the students who had formerly attended the junior camp should now come to the senior camp.
Ruth also tied in the success of the RYLA camp to interest in the foreign student exchange program, noting 14 kids who were at this year’s camp indicated interest in going on a student exchange, including Happ.
He encouraged the Weyburn club to set up a youth wing, known as “Interact”, pointing out his Regina club was the only one in the district to have one. He said the interest coming out of the RYLA camp was high enough that the club should be able to set up such a wing.
Encouraging the Weyburn club to continue supporting RYLA and the exchange program, Ruth said, “What you’re doing is growing the next generation of Rotarians.”