"What We Learned At RYLA"
Ashley Reed, FBHS Interact Club President and Elizabeth Hoffer, Secretary
Every year we sponsor two members of the coming-year Interact Club at FBHS to receive RYLA (Rotary Youth Leadership Award) which entitles them to attend a District-wide RYLA leadership training experience. It's held in Jacksonville and best understood as a leadership training school. The two students to attend each year are selected by Dawn Karpel, Club Advisor. Dawn is a member of our club but hardly ever able to attend our meetings because of her Wednesday noon duties at the school.
The two students selected this time were Ashley Reed, serving the Interact Club this year as president and Elizabeth Hoffer, serving as secretary. These two very poised young ladies went right to work giving us a taste of RYLA and what they had experienced. The school consisted of four days of leadership training.
ON DAY ONE they were introduced to the concept of personality assessments, key to understanding relationships and making the most of them for everyone. The personality types were each introduced as a different animal that suggests specific traits. The bottom line and key lesson to be learned is that all types are necessary and all need to learn how to work with each other together. Both young ladies, by the way, scored as Golden Retrievers, the friendly, steady, reliable type. Beyond that opening general presentation they broke into classes and looked at many of the nuts and bolts of leadership. That evening they all participated in a Scavenger Hunt.
ON DAY TWO they participated in community service projects, in particular for "Stop Hunger Now." These participants at RYLA in under two hours (they were extremely proud of this) managed to pack 26,508 meals (in zip locks) that would feed 159,048 persons. The zip lock bags are packed in boxes and shipped overseas. Their evening meal on Day Two was made up of the same food they had been packing.
ON DAY THREE they learned the "Seven Habits of an Effective Leader" and had the seven impressed upon them. In the midst of this they learned about the reverse, dark-side leadership and all the bad things a leader can do. This process was especially good because it helped them to analyze themselves. One of the big bonuses in this was learning how to enlist people. That evening they had a Dinner/Dance which started with another speaker and was followed by party time.
ON DAY FOUR they leaned about the Two B's: baggage and bonding. Most of us tend to think of good leaders as having it all together, but all leaders carry baggage with them. As they worked through this they realized, as participants, connections they had made with each other, connections they were not aware of. Most important, though, they learned some concrete ways to leave their baggage behind.
In closing, Ashley wrapped up her comments with, "I can't thank you enough for sending me," and Elizabeth wrapped hers with, "This experience changes the way you look at people." And now they are Rylarians. Interact's leadership is again in good hands. Questions at the end brought out that they anticipate club membership this year to be about 55 members. They have only met once, but it looks like there will be a "huge" number of Freshmen but still not a lot of boys overall. There were only two last year but it looks for sure like a lot more this year. Their biggest project will no doubt still be the Carnival for Children, but Ashley spoke to their desire to hopefully do a lot more community things, relating directly to people's needs, and not just sending whatever fruits of their efforts abroad.