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Rotary hosts annual youth leadership camp in Castlegar

The free and fun camp took place at Selkirk College earlier this month
Some of the attendees at this year’s RYLA Camp in Castlegar. Photo: Jennifer Small

A fun and intensive leadership training session took place earlier this month at Selkirk College in Castlegar.

Rotary has funded and hosted the Rotary Youth Leadership Award (RYLA) camp for more than 40 years, encouraging young adults in their leadership and personal development. This year’s event was held from July 1 to 6.

The total immersion camp offered an intensive leadership training program for 39 young people aged 18 to 25, and along with 12 adult leaders, the program incorporated challenging small and large group work and interaction through a number of presenters. It provided opportunities for these young adults to discover and strengthen their leadership skills in an encouraging environment.

Some of the topics included awareness of self and others, group dynamics, dealing with conflict and change, styles of leadership, critical thinking, and a wide variety of other topics that helped attendees discover more about themselves and others.

Once COVID19 hit, the program was conducted over Zoom, and prior to the pandemic, the camp had moved down to Idaho for four years, according to Lorraine Hartson, RYLA committee head.

“We were happy to have RYLA back in Castlegar at Selkirk College, as the camp has been held for many years at the college,” she said.

Castlegar has two Rotary clubs — a morning club called Castlegar Sunrise and an evening club called Castlegar Rotary. Both clubs are always looking for new people to join and participate.

“Both clubs are always on the look out for young people willing to attend camp that would benefit from this fantastic camp,” Hartson said. “Employers are encouraged to send their young employees to this camp, as when they return, they are a better employee with a pocket full of newly-learned skills.”

Applications and an interview process are needed for the selection of candidates to attend. Castlegar Rotary sent two young adults to this year’s camp, while Sunrise sent one.

READ MORE: Rotary invites young adults to apply for leadership camp

The two Rotary clubs in Nelson provided lunch and dinner for the campers, and were able to meet with the participants and listen to their experiences.

Similar leadership training programs are estimated to cost more than $2,000, and considerably more if you add in the cost of travel, food and accommodation. The RYLA camp is completely free through the generosity of sponsoring community Rotary clubs.

The RYLA was a success once again, as those who attended had the time of their lives while learning new skills, according to Hartson.

“Feedback each and every year from the campers is, ‘This was the best week of my life.’”

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About the Author: Alexander Vaz, Local Journalism Initiative

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