During the month of July, around 25 students from the 80439 area code were sponsored by the Evergreen Rotary Club and the Mountain Foothills Rotary Club to attend the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards Conference (RYLA) in Estes Park, CO or Young RYLA (YRYLA) in Larkspur, CO. Over 700 young people attended these conferences this summer from the Denver metro area, Northern Colorado, Wyoming and extreme Western Nebraska (Rotary Districts 5450 & 5440).
In 1987, the first RYLA conference took place with around 105 young adults in attendance, and while participation has skyrocketed, the core objective behind the program has remained the same, “to encourage and assist current and potential youth leaders in methods of responsible and effective leadership.” Each student spent a week at the conference and devoted their time to becoming a better leader, student, community member, and overall a better version of themselves. As explained by Evergreen RYLA representative, Bill Manning, “We are not trying to create student body presidents at RYLA / YRYLA, rather we are trying to break down the barriers that are holding young people back from achieving their best on whatever path that might be.” Attendees experienced five and a half days of activities including team-building exercises, motivational speakers, hiking and enjoying the Colorado scenery, and even dancing, lots and lots of dancing.
“RYLA was the most exceptional week of my life.” shared Seiva Cunningham, a senior at Evergreen High School. “Having the opportunity to become in touch with who I was and who I want to be really gave me the centering I needed.” Many Young RYLA and RYLA participants agreed that the conference was truly the best week of their lives and are looking forward to being a part of the RYLA family again as Junior Counselors.