Students Selected for Rotary Leadership Youth Award


Sam Lee

Juniors Jayden Gregory (left), Bethany Dupree (middle left), Rebekah Beard (middle right), Tyler Thompson (right) have been chosen to attend this years’ Rotary Youth Leadership Award camp. RYLA is a camp that teaches juniors to expand and improve their leadership skills.

Sam Lee, Assistant Editor of Photography/Tech

I chose to partake in RYLA in order to meet new people and learn about the Rotary Club in Lindale, Texas. RYLA is an excellent way for people to get involved in their community as well as gaining leadership skills.”

— Rebekah Beard

Rotary Youth Leadership Award (RYLA) camp is a youth leadership camp for high school juniors hosted each February by Rotary District 5830 at Clements Scout Ranch in Athens, TX. Rebekah Beard, Tyler Thompson, Bethany Dupree, and Jayden Gregory have been selected by RYLA rotary member, Chris Custer, to attend the camp in February.

“RYLA helps to promote an environment that will provide each individual with a basis of insight and understanding for intelligent leadership,” Custer said. “ [Ryla encourages] involvement that pushes the participants to think through appropriate actions based on values and ethics.”

The purpose of RYLA is to provide students with an opportunity to expand and develop their leadership skills at a weekend scholarship camp. The camp focuses on integrity, trust, communication and teamwork, among other things.

“[We plan] to provide an atmosphere where future leaders will experience learning situations that will aid them in developing sound skills and values,” Custer said. “[We plan] to encourage students, through cooperative activities and group dynamics, to develop leadership skills to be brought back to their communities.”

Applicants are recommended by their high school counselors, teachers and principals. The school staff chooses the candidates on the basis of service work performed, leadership ability, academic performance and citizenship.

“To be eligible, students must be high school juniors at the time of camp,” Custer said. “Representatives of local Rotary Clubs will interview applicants and then make the selections.”

Students will arrive at Clements Scout Ranch on Friday afternoon, and the camp will conclude on Sunday. The curriculum is comprised of small teams tackling various problems and working together for solutions. 

RYLA was a unique experience in the way that instead of being in a group coming together to learn about some specific topic, we had come together to learn about the group itself and how to work effectively with others,” senior Aja Curry said. “Taking the time to build trust, enforce communication, and confirm our objectives helped us accomplish our goals much easier.”