What is RYLA?
Started in 1959 in Queensland, Australia, the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards is a thriving international leadership program actively endorsed in over 528 Rotary International Districts, including District 6970 in northeast Florida. The program promotes leadership skill-building, networking and preparation for college for upcoming high school juniors and seniors who display leadership potential. In District 6970, participating Rotary clubs award a RYLA scholarship to one or more participants whom they choose to attend an intense, all-expense-paid, four-day residential leadership retreat in a northeast Florida college or university setting.
Who Attends RYLA?
In District 6970, male and female participants entering their junior and senior year of high school are eligible to be nominated for RYLA. These young adults should already exhibit leadership qualities and possess the potential to become leaders in community service, school, and their chosen careers. A majority of the District’s Rotary clubs sponsors one or more participants to attend RYLA each year.
What does RYLA intend to accomplish?
The aim is to launch already talented young people back into their communities, inspired and provided with fresh ideas, understandings, and skills. RYLA also seeks to send participants back to their communities better equipped to become leaders of tomorrow and prepared to apply what they have learned at the conference.
What will participants learn while attending RYLA?
During the four-day program, the participants will reside on campus in dorm rooms. Supervised and accompanied by counselors and Rotarian volunteers, participants will attend a variety of training seminars on such topics as:
- Career Choices
- Successful Interview Skills
- What is Rotary?
- Leadership Skills
- Developing a Club
- Personality Profiling
- How to Run an Effective Meeting
- Business Etiquette
What other activities are planned for RYLA?
The RYLA experience consists of activities which put into action the Rotary motto – “Service Above Self. He Profits Most Who Serves Best.” RYLA infuses this spirit of Rotary through a wide variety of community service projects, such as visiting senior citizens, assisting children at local summer camps, volunteering at pet rescue shelters, and assisting the needy throughout the host community.
RYLA also incorporates opportunities for fun and socializing, including such activities as bowling, pizza party, ice cream social, formal banquet and farewell dance.
How many participants will be attending RYLA?
Approximately 100 participants generally attend.
Is the campus safe for participants?
Yes, very. Stetson University provides 24/7 security on campus and at the dorms. RYLA staff will also be available to participants around the clock if needed.
What does it cost to send a participant to RYLA?
The RYLA participant pays nothing. The cost for participants to attend RYLA is incurred by the sponsoring Rotary Club. This sponsorship includes lodging, meals, snacks, activities, and transportation during the event. participants should bring no more than $25 spending money.
How does a participant get to RYLA?
Transportation of participants to and from the event should be coordinated between parents and the sponsoring Rotary club.
Are all the camp staff required to have criminal background checks?
Yes – this is required by us and by Stetson University. All staff that will be working with the participants will have been checked. Speakers will not have had background checks, but they are only with the participants for an hour or two and are never on an individual basis, and the camp staff is always with the participants.
Will the participants that come together from the same schools’ room together in the dorms?
No, actually, and this is on purpose. Part of our goal is to help bring participants out of their comfort zone, and one way we have learned to do this is by giving them random rooming assignments. We do however take age into account and only room them with participants their own age.
Do the dorm rooms have a bathroom in each room- or is it a bathroom used by all people on the floor?
The bathrooms are in the dorm rooms and shared by the 2 people sharing that room only. There is no outside access to any bathroom.
Is the bathroom is used by the entire floor or is it coed or restricted to females?
We have a male floor and a female floor(s) this year, they will not be in the same floor at any time. Providing a safe comfortable environment is extremely important to us when they are in their personal space, so we protect this at all costs. There is no intermingling ever.
Will only female staff be supervising the female dorm rooms?
Yes – our camp staff is very strong on this. The only time you will potentially find the other gender in a dorm room is during move in and move out, or in an emergency. Again, the participant’s personal space is something we want to respect and make them feel comfortable and not make them worry about the opposite gender being on their floor.
Are there any situations in which my participant will be alone with staff without other participants present? If so what are they?
There should never be unless of medical emergencies. If put into a situation where they have to be taken to a medical center or hospital, they may at that moment be alone with a staff as we get them to whatever is their destination. That is the only time in our experience a RYLArian has been alone with a staff member, and even then we try exceptionally hard to make sure it is same gender. (In case of emergency we will do whatever is necessary to handle the situation, even if that does include situations we typically try and avoid. We feel the emergency takes precedence, hopefully you would agree.)
Will there be a curfew for them to be in their rooms at night?
There is a curfew. It changes night to night, depending on our agenda that day, but there is a curfew to be in their dorms, and then a curfew to be in their rooms. We are “old school” and we do “tape” the doors which provides us with extra protection and security to know that the door was not opened except for an emergency situation.
Will there be any medical staff on-call?
Yes, we have a local Rotarian doctor on-call that can triage any situation on Stetson campus and can also handle situations at his office during the entire duration of the conference.
Are nice jeans or nice shorts considered appropriate for the business attire sections?
We do not consider jeans or shorts appropriate as business attire. If going for a job interview that would not be acceptable and we do try and push the participants to excellence so that they will be more prepared in their life when they return home. We just try and help them understand how every part of themselves matters in the adult world and first impressions do make a difference.