Leading the way, everyday

RYLA camp helps students to cultivate leadership skills


Students attend the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards camp, and learn valuable lessons about how to be an impactful leader in their community. The camp was held February 23-25. Submitted photo

Story by Cameron Murry, staff writer

Everyone you interact with has a story. Everyone is different, each person unique. But we can overcome our differences and uniqueness with teamwork, which something that the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards camp stresses extensively.

RYLA is an intense weekend camp for high school juniors. Being selected to apply is an honor. Local rotary clubs give applications to school counselors to pass out to student leaders in the junior class.

RYLA was held at a Boy Scout camp in Athens, Texas. RYLA taught me many new things about myself, one of the most important lessons being my limits.

I did not plan on making friends from all over the four states area. I didn’t think about how much the weekend camp could permanently shape the way I view day-to-day situations. I never expected to change my entire outlook on the life I was leading or to climb a thirty foot pole and jump off.

I came into RYLA as a somewhat reserved and scared person, fearful of the judgement of others. Building friendships and bonds with total strangers over a short span of three days taught me to open my mind. RYLA has impacted me in a way that nothing else has.

The goal of RYLA is to grow past your boundaries and find who you are as both an individual leader and a team member. We participated in various activities that taught us how to communicate and work together, such as trust falls and ropes courses. We took turns assuming different leadership positions and shared parts of ourselves that would not otherwise be revealed to the general public.

Being a leader means having good communication skills. A leader is only as good as their listening skills. If the whole group isn’t on board or heard when a task involving teamwork is at hand, then the leader isn’t being much of a leader.

RYLA taught me the art of good communication. Before a plan is set into action, a team should be at thumbs up in group consensus. Being a leader means looking past what you think and putting yourself last. You have to serve others in order to lead by example.

RYLA taught me that confidence is key in every leader. Self-esteem plays a big role in the way you perceive yourself and others. A judgmental and shallow mindset benefits no one. If you can’t show confidence and self-assurance in your ideas, it’s likely that those who follow you won’t trust or commit to the plan at hand.

Pushing yourself to the limit is good, but pushing yourself past the limit is successful.”

— Cameron Murry

Self-esteem is essential in every situation, whether it be day-to-day life or big moments. If you don’t believe in yourself, then nobody else will.

Integrity is something that everyone must have in order to succeed. You must set high goals and standards for yourself and never settle for anything less. Pushing yourself to the limit is good, but pushing yourself past the limit is successful. You can’t stop a challenging task when you get frustrated or scared; you must keep going to get the best results. Without attending RYLA, I would have never known that.

Sure, I’ve had good, eye-opening experiences with friends and great memories of happy times, but this camp really let me take control of how far I will go and showed me how I could change as a person. Being a leader doesn’t necessarily mean student council or class president; being a leader can mean helping someone with a math problem or being a good friend.

Leaders can be everyday, average people. They don’t have to wear a suit and tie or come from an affluent family.

Leaders are made every day. Being a “Rylarian” is something that I will carry with me everywhere I go. I will lead by example and show the world what it means to have integrity.