St. Patrick Catholic High School seniors Stephen Azar and Chris Collins attended the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards in Louisiana last week (Rotary District 6840: Southeastern Louisiana & Southern Mississippi).
The two were selected to represent SPCHS by current members of Rotary Club of Edgewater. RYLA camp is held each July for almost 80 high school juniors who will be entering their senior year in the fall.
Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA) is an intensive training program for community youth leaders. Talented young people attend an all-expense-paid seminar, camp or workshop, generally three to ten days in length, organized and run by Rotarians with records of achievement.
One night, all the campers were challenged to break a piece of wood with just their open hand. Beforehand, we wrote our personal obstacles on one side of the block and the benefits of overcoming those obstacles on the other side. I remember feeling so excited when I split my block. When I get back to St. Patrick, I want to be a kinder person. At RYLA, I learned about the impact a simple act of kindness can have on someone, and I hope to make that impact on others. – Stephen Azar
The program enables young people to debate problems of professional responsibility and human relations, learn about and possibly visit businesses or institutions, and encounter Rotarians – all while having fun and making friends. For members of the New Generations, RYLA affords the opportunity to refine skills and explore topics of interest to their age group; for Rotarians, the chance to help develop leaders and good citizens and bridge the gap between generations.
My favorite part of RYLA was becoming more confident in myself. RYLA allowed me the opportunity to break out of my comfort zone and try things that I would not normally do. Before going to the conference, I thought it was going to be a lot of smart kids who had amazing grades and were going to prestigious colleges. Most of the students actually ended up being just like me and did not even really know where they wanted to go to college. By as early as the second day, I found myself doing things that I would have never been comfortable doing before. All of the counselors and new friends I made motivated me to be the best person I could be, and I already miss all the new people I met at RYLA.This program has left an impact on me that will hopefully last a lifetime. I hope to be able to go back to school in August and be the best example I can be to not only my younger peers, but also to the other people in my grade. I hope that I can use my new leadership skills on the Campus Ministry Team and give everyone in the school a positive role model to look up to. I hope that the confidence I gained while at RYLA will really allow me to inspire and touch people through Campus Ministry. – Chris Collins