Times' Summer Intern Torrie Greer checks in from Rotary Youth Leadership Award (RYLA) camp on the University of Minnesota, Crookston campus.

Dispatch from RYLA: Day 3- Plenty of FISH in the sea!

The third day of RYLA began like its predecessors, starting off with morning exercises and announcements over a nice and hearty breakfast. The morning presentations began soon after that; the topics that were being presented were the four way test and the four way fold, along with something called FISH. All three of these presentations were based off of individual choices that you as a Rylarian and contributing member of society need to make; they are merely suggestions and tools to use when deliberating on decision making.

FISH, by far my favorite presentation, was presented by my lead facilitator, Matt Proulx. FISH follows four basic choices in life: play,  make their day, be there and choose your attitude. There was a movie to go along with the presentation and it took place in a world-renowned fishing business in Seattle, Washington; people travel from all over the world to come and experience the lively atmosphere and high energy of the workers and business. Their success is evident and prominent because they follow the guidelines that FISH strives to encourage within people. It was a great way to get the group energized and thinking about how they can take things they've learned at camp RYLA and apply it in their hometowns.
After some more presentations we grabbed a bagged lunch and hopped on a bus to Thief River Falls to the Seven Clans Casino where we enjoyed slides and water games and ice cream at the water park!

If I had to choose, however, I would have to say that my favorite part of the day would be the two hours of family time we had in the evening. My family worked tirelessly on our follies skit for the Yell Off and Follies performance tomorrow night-- and let's just say we got super  creative with what we are doing. It was a great productive time and an incredible bonding experience-- I felt the closest to my camp family I have this entire stay so far when preparing for follies.

It never ceases to amaze me that seven teenagers-- none of us knowing each other previously- can have such a strong connection in such a little amount of time. I guess that's why we were all selected as leaders and were presented with such a unique opportunity-- so that together we can learn the tools for success and help everyone on the way to greatness and a way to change the world for the better. And if we make lifelong friendships along the way, well hey, that's a wonderful bonus.

Dispatch from RYLA: Day 2- Service above self

Getting off the lazy summer schedule and fully committing to a heavily- packed day--including 7AM workouts- was quite the little challenge for the first day of RYLA. However, it was necessary to get up early to begin the fun-filled week that was planned for us Rylarians.

The first thing on our agenda was waking up at 6:45 AM by the wake up committee; RYLA has multiple committees that are used to facilitate campers into planning what goes on during camp. The wake up committee is, like the name suggests, in charge of getting up earlier than everyone else and coming up with creative ways on how to wake campers from their slumber. This morning consisted of the wake up committee running down the hallway and making treacherous rumble noises while knocking ruthlessly (and loud!) on the doors, exclaiming various ways and expressions to, kindly put, wake up.

After that it was up to campers to make their way to the parking outside of Lysaker gym and work out with Sargeant Rasmussen. The exercises consisted of push ups and collective marching; it was basically RYLA boot camp!

After exercises we had time to clean up before breakfast and then proceeded to go and eat breakfast. After the posting of the flags and son daily housekeeping we started on the main activities for the day. For the first activity we talked about different leadership habits and played an activity with them where we had to rank survival gear from least to greatest importance and pretending that we were stranded on an island and had to survive with said items. We first ranked them individually and then joined as a group to discuss what we thought would be the most important items. It turns out that we all had very different paradigms, or ways of viewing situations and going about them. We then were given the official rankings for the various items and found out how long we would last on a desert island based on our scores- it turns out that I would have lasted longer than some but definitely not than most; I would have been a goner!

After a break we had another large group meeting of all 139 of us campers and talked about our previously- finished Myers-Brigg personality indicators. Through presenters and a PowerPoint and various activities, you realized just how these traits apply to you and almost how you are as a contributing person in not only RYLA but in the world. It was amazing to almost step outside yourself and realize that you naturally lean towards certain things but also that you can control and understand your ways and work on cultivating opposing methods of going about things.

Next was lunch, and after lunch we were corralled into various groups to take pictures, first a group of everyone from your hometown and then a large group picture. After a few hours of activities and pictures it was time to depart for our service project portion of the day. Different groups were assigned to different service projects; since I'm in family J we went to the food shelf first. There we collectively stuffed 1200 boxes of food and 2000 backpacks. The sheer power of numbers and the desire to do true service above self is simply incredible and unstoppable!

Our second portion of the service project was centered around the idea of doing random acts of kindness. We were given roses and taken to downtown Crookston where we went into local businesses, consulted people on the street and even went up to people in cars and gave them roses simply in hopes that they would have a fabulous day. The service project was indeed my favorite part of the day and provided a great opportunity for us to practice the leadership habits for highly effective teens we have learned so far.

We returned to UMC around 5 and had supper around 5:30, where after we went to our designated committees for over an hour. We then came back to our family rooms and met with our families where we played various games, talked about what we learned for the day, and got to know each other better.

The second day of RYLA- and the first full day-- went swimmingly. I am feeling very comfortable, accepted, and valued here, and I can't wait to take what I learn here and apply it to my life and my community.