What is RYLA?
Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA) is an intensive training program for community youth leaders. Talented young people attend an all-expense-paid seminar, camp or workshop, generally three to ten days in length, organized and run by Rotarians with records of achievement.
The program enables young people to debate problems of professional responsibility and human relations, learn about and possibly visit businesses or institutions, and encounter Rotarians – all while having fun and making friends. For members of the New Generations, RYLA affords the opportunity to refine skills and explore topics of interest to their age group; for Rotarians, the chance to help develop leaders and good citizens and bridge the gap between generations.
Officially adopted by Rotary International in 1971, RYLA is one of the most significant and growing programs of Rotary service. Each year, thousands of young people take part in the program worldwide. The impact of the program spreads further as the program awardees influence other young people. Moreover, RYLA programs often lead to the formation or strengthening of Rotaract and Interact clubs with their leadership formation and service activities. Thus, RYLA is both a major Rotary youth activity itself, and it complements all other Rotary youth activities.
RYLA aims to:
- Demonstrate Rotary’s respect and concern for youth;
- Provide an effective training experience for selected youth leaders and potential leaders;
- Encourage leadership of youth by youth;
- Recognize publicly young people who are rendering service to their communities.
RYLA Campers In 1995, the Rotary International Board of Directors expanded RYLA programs from district and multi-district levels to encompass club-level seminars. At the same time, the Board recognized the importance of RYLA not only for the benefit of youth, but also for the outstanding leadership preparation it provides to the Rotarians serving as RYLA administrators and counselors.
In 1996, the Board recommended a core curriculum for every RYLA in an effort to ensure that the program everywhere develops the leadership potential of youth and young adults. Simultaneously, Rotary International called attention to the important role in RYLA that Rotary’s Interactors and Rotaractors can play, both as participants and as leaders in the program.
Organizing and implementing a RYLA program is a complex undertaking, requiring the time and effort of many Rotarians at the club and/or district levels. Its worth is realized by those Rotarians who, through RYLA, have seized the opportunity to work with one of the world’s most valuable resources – tomorrow’s leaders.