David Roberts was a RYLA participant in 2014 sponsored by the Rotary Club of Brighton North. He subsequently returned as a RYLA Team member in 2016 giving back to RYLA and Rotary. David studied a Bachelor of Science at Monash University, majoring in Physiology and Psychology and has volunteered for a number of organisations, including Scouts Victoria and other youth camps.
I was a RYLA participant in 2014. Having a sister who had been involved in RYLA for several years, I had heard both lots and nothing about it. I had heard that it was an amazingly rewarding week, yet still had no idea what actually happened on the camp. After every year, I would receive the same fervent plea asking me to attend. And every time I would convince myself it wasn’t for me or that I didn’t need it. However, my sister was very persistent and so one year I decided to go (if nothing else to stop her from nagging me).
And so I turned up on the Sunday morning at the bus pick-up feeling a mixture of confusion, nervousness, and a little bit of this-is-all-just-a-waste-of-my-time-ness. The bus ride was as normal as I could have hoped for – I met a few people and we all laughed at how uneasy we felt about what was in store for us. None of us knew anything about the week. But some of us knew people on the programme so it couldn’t have been all bad.
These reassuring feelings quickly dissolved once we arrived at camp. We were greeted by strict and stern looking team members who instructed us to be quiet and to form an orderly line while they marched us into the gym. We were told to sit in silence until everyone was seated. A team member then started to talk to us in a severe tone all the while glaring at anyone who made the slightest noise. It was at this point that I started to worry about what the rest of the week was going to be like, and a new friend and I genuinely started to plan how we were going to make our way back home. Before any of our escape plans could be finalised, the stunt was revealed through a team member led dance and the relief washed over us all. If there was anyone ever who should not have fallen for the stunt, it was me - but I was caught hook, line, and sinker.
What followed was a week of my life I will never forget.
The RYLA programme gave me many things: new perspectives, a deep appreciation of diversity of thought, and a clearer sense of who I was and who I wanted to be. It was able to do this through a supportive culture set up by the team and the speakers that allowed me to challenge myself and to push myself out of my comfort zones. RYLA gave me the confidence to pursue my passion – medicine – a path which I am still following four years later.
In short, RYLA has been the most rewarding week of my life so far. And I, along with hundreds of other young adults over the years, would not have been awarded this privilege if not for the support of Rotary. Rotary has quite literally changed my life, and I cannot thank you enough. I urge Rotary to continue your tremendous support of this programme, and to continue to change people’s lives.
For any further questions or to discuss our RYLA program contact the District 9800 RYLA Chair, Stuart Cardell on 0412 448 420 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.