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Weyburn youth learn leadership skills at Rotary's RYLA camp

Three members of the Weyburn Comp School’s Student Representative Council (SRC) spent a week at a Rotary Youth Leadership camp last summer.

WEYBURN – Three members of the Weyburn Comp School’s Student Representative Council (SRC) spent a week at a Rotary Youth Leadership camp last summer, and have been applying some of the lessons they learned to their roles on the SRC.

Camryn Greve, Nia Cleasby and Beth Hamel all took part in the RYLA camp, held at Clear Lake, Man., with a group of 60 other youth from the four western provinces, and were sponsored to go by the Weyburn Rotary Club.

Greve and Cleasby made a presentation to the Weyburn Rotary Club on Thursday, explaining what they learned, and how they are applying those lessons here.

With the week’s theme of “Create Hope in the World”, Greve said, “A lot of the leadership skills we can use and help us build our team and make a difference in our school. We personally wanted to thank you for sending us, it really changed both of our lives for the better, so we were grateful we were able to go.”

The girls went through each of the six days with highlights of what they did and the challenges given them. The campers were all divided into teams by colour, with Greve on the purple team and Cleasby on the green team.

There were ice-breaker games, relay races, and one of Greve’s favourite activities was make a music video with dancing and lip synching to the song their team’s leader chose.

At the end of each day was a sharing circle time, then a “jelly roll” group hug where they circled around like a cinnamon bun. After the vulnerability of the sharing circle, said Greve, “It was a way for us to reset.”

On the fourth day, their leaders got them up at 2 a.m. and they did a night challenge, using clues to find two stuffed dolphins hidden somewhere in the camp.

“My team won this challenge,” said Cleasby.

The girls noted that representatives of Rotary International came and explained what Rotary is about, and what one of their relief programs, Shelterbox, is about as they help people caught in a disaster, such as earthquakes or flooding.

The youth had to role play a family to convince the Rotarians why they needed to have the shelterbox, which contains a tent and numerous supplies to help out a family left homeless.

The campers had their own version of an “Amazing Race” on the fifth day, with a number of challenging scenarios each team had to work together on. They included eating spaghetti and meat sauce without utensils; paddling a canoe out to the middle of the lake and back; and helping each other to scale an eight or nine-foot wall.

At the end of the race, they had to sprint to the beach and jump into the lake, and by the end the entire group of 60 kids were in the water and had a group photo taken, with each team cheered on as they jumped in.

The youth were asked to choose projects they could work on using their leadership skills, and Camryn and Nia chose suicide prevention, “because we were both very passionate about it,” said Camryn, noting Beth chose making the education system better as her project.

Outlining some of the lessons learned, Greve said they learned how to be a team player, as a lot of the challenges required the teams to work together to solve or complete. Cleasby said problem solving and critical thinking was another lesson they took away from the RYLA camp.

Another lesson was knowing when step up to lead, and when to follow to enable others to use their talents.

Both girls are on the SRC at the Weyburn Comp, and they explained each of these lessons are applied in their work on the council.

Greve pointed out she’s been on the SRC since she was in Grade 10, and that year they had eight members, where this year there are 25 kids on the council, and lessons like team work and knowing when to lead or let others lead have been important ones to apply.

“We’ve been plugging RYLA at school, telling everyone it was the best experience ever,” said Greve, noting they would’ve loved to go back again, but as they will be 18 this summer, they won’t be eligible to return as campers.