About RYLA

More than merely awards, RYLA is an opportunity for youth– to hear from professional speakers at no cost to the candidate, to participate in a four day program with like-minded individuals, to have fun with group activities, to form lasting friendships and to develop and grow as a person and as a leader. We run the RYLA program for Rotary District 5050. For information on RYLA internationally, you can check out Rotary International's page at: https://www.rotary.org/en/ourprograms/rotary-youth-leadership-awards.
Every District operates RYLA differently. We admit to bias, but in our opinion, our RYLA program is one of the best in the world. To give you an idea of what we do, here is an outline of the selection process and what successful candidates can expect. Selection Candidates have to be sponsored by a Rotary club. Often the participating clubs will contact young adults that they know personally, either at a local school, in the community, at work or at home. RYLA is one of the few programs that Rotary has where family members of Rotarians can participate. Candidate ages usually range from 18 to 30. We ask for candidates who hold a position of leadership and/or display leadership potential. In our experience, pretty well every youth has that potential. The problem isn’t usually finding candidates, but choosing between them. We find the candidates canvas many types of leaders - coming from academics, sports, arts or other parts of the community. We have both verbal types and quiet ones who lead by their behaviour and by example. We have candidates that don’t believe they are leaders, but learn that they are and can be leaders. Candidates can be male or female, married or single.
Since District 5050 clubs are in both Washington State and British Columbia, we normally have an equal mix of Americans and Canadians. There is no cost to the candidate as the Rotary club pays the application fee. We invite each club to sponsor two candidates - preferably one male and one female - by the deadline (usually in March). After that date, clubs may sponsor additional candidates, if there is space available, on a first-come basis. As we are required to confirm the number of participants one month before RYLA begins, we cannot offer any refunds for cancellations after that date. RYLA Location RYLA is typically held in either April or May at the Mount Baker Camp in Deming, WA. For more information on facility, visit their website at www.mtbakercamp.org.
Arrival At RYLA Organizing for RYLA begins well ahead of time with a committee that coordinates the dates, speakers and all other details. The programs at RYLA however, are organized and run by previous RYLA graduates that we call Facilitators. When the participants arrive on Thursday, the Facilitators are there to greet them and introduce them. Pretty well everyone arrives with some nervousness, but we try to set that at ease right away. Participants are divided into smaller groups lead by a Facilitator. Although participants meet as strangers on Thursday, they leave RYLA on Sunday with many new friends. Going into too much detail would spoil some of the fun of attending RYLA. There are professional speakers who speak about different aspects of leadership. There are also many fun activities to put leadership skills into practice while building a sense of team and community.
RYLA has three expectations: ATTEND, PARTICIPATE and HAVE FUN! After RYLA It is our hope and expectation that participants will take the lessons learned from RYLA and apply them to their personal life and to their communities. We ask participants to share what they have learned and to lead others to better serve at work, home and/or in community activities. We ask that once participants have completed RYLA, they attend one weekly Rotary meeting and share their thoughts about RYLA with the sponsoring club. We strongly suggest that the sponsoring club make arrangements before RYLA for the candidates to speak to the club at the next meeting following the RYLA weekend.
Purpose of RYLA
  • Demonstrate Rotary's respect and concern for youth.
  • Provide an effective training experience for selected youth and potential leaders.
  • Encourage leadership of youth by youth.
  • Recognize publicly young people who are rendering service to their communities.
Value of RYLA
  • Enables every Rotary Club to acknowledge service to the community of two or more young people annually.
  • Enthuses young leaders and provides them with enhanced leadership techniques.
  • Exposes a large number of young people, their families and their peer groups, to Rotary ideals of Service.
  • Is a complementary program to other Rotary youth activities and has been instrumental in the formation of Rotaract clubs.