Youth service is a foundation of the Rotary tradition, and the Rotary Club of Lake Placid is proud to support our commitment to students in our region through our sponsorship of the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards seminar. RYLA, as it is known throughout the world, is a multi-day conference for young people with leadership skills, both demonstrated and potential. The program is aimed at helping students foster better awareness of themselves and their unique skill set, as well as the importance of an engaged community and world service. The program's inception dates back to 1960 in Australia.
The Rotary Club of Lake Placid holds its RYLA seminar on the shores of glistening Lower St. Regis Lake, at the Paul Smith's College Campus. In 2016, 35 American and Canadian high school students ages 15-17 from around Rotary District 7040 attended the three-day event at the end of June. The students were nominated as delegates by their local Rotary Clubs, which gave them a full scholarship to attend the conference while residing in the college's suite-style dorms.
An engaging and entertaining weekend of motivational speakers, workshops and problem solving activities included a smorgasbord of programming, including everything from interactive discussions of various leadership styles and late-night creativity exercises with frosting and Legos to yoga and African dance. A panel of community leaders and activists presented on their experiences turning community needs into reality. Students groups were coached on the process of identifying their own community needs, and then charged with the task of putting that idea into action by creating a plan to address such needs.
The delegates traveled to the Paul Smith's College Visitor Interpretive Center, where they were educated about the role of youth engagement in climate change issues, and later returned to campus to enjoy a session about international community service including the Peace Corps, USAID and Canadian SIDA.
There was also time for rock climbing, swimming, a campfire and a ropes challenge course. Students who arrived as strangers left as friends when the conference concluded at the Wild Center in Tupper Lake. There, the student teams presented their community action project plans "Shark Tank" style and enjoyed a celebratory banquet.
RYLA is an incredible experience for local youth to invest in their future with like-minded peers under the tutelage of local professionals who are a force for service in their local communities.
This year's RYLA event will be held from Saturday, June 24 to Monday, June 26, and local students ages 15-17 interested in participating should contact the Lake Placid Rotary Club (email@example.com) or their local Rotary club for application information. The delegate selection process will begin in the early spring.
The Lake Placid Rotary Club meets every Thursday morning from 7:20 to 8:30 a.m. at the Courtyard by Marriott. All are welcome.