Rotary Youth Leadership Awards

Author: Nagesh Mahajan

Published: Tue, 17-May-2005
Version: 0.14
Article ID: 49
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Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA) is Rotary’s leadership training program for young people. RYLA participants can be in the age group of 14-30, but most clubs and districts choose to focus on a narrower age range, such as 14-18 or 19-30.

RYLA emphasizes leadership, citizenship, and personal growth, and aims to 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


Each year, thousands of young people aged between 14 and 30 take part in the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA) program worldwide. Participants, who are chosen for their potential as leaders, attend an all-expenses-paid seminar, camp, or workshop to discuss leadership skills and learn them through practice. Rotary clubs and districts select attendees and facilitate the events.

RYLA was officially adopted by Rotary International in 1971, and it is one of the most significant and fastest-growing Rotary service programs. RYLA often leads to the formation or strengthening of Rotaract and Interact clubs, and participants frequently go on to become Rotary Youth Exchange students or Rotary Foundation Ambassadorial Scholars. For more information about RYLA in your area, contact your local Rotary club.

The RI Board encourages clubs and districts to consider inviting socially and economically disadvantaged youth with leadership potential to participate.

Through RYLA, district chairs and other Rotarians have the exciting opportunity to become involved with young people in their community. By nurturing youth, Rotarians can provide the skills young people need to succeed as future community leaders. Taking part in RYLA also helps Rotarians develop their own leadership and communication skills


In 1959, the state government of Queensland, Australia, invited local Rotarians to help plan a festival celebrating Queensland’s upcoming centennial. Learning that Queen Elizabeth II was sending her cousin Princess Alexandra, who was in her early 20s, to the celebration, Rotarians planned activities specifically for the princess’s age group.

The gundoo , an aboriginal word meaning “festival” or “fun together,” was a rousing success. More than 300 men and women between the ages of 17 and 23 attended. Encouraged by the event’s popularity with the young attendees, Rotarians saw potential to create a similar annual youth program. With little hesitation, Art Brand, governor of what was then District 260, approved the project, and on 2 May 1960, RYLA was born.

Australian districts 258 and 260 shared in establishing a committee that developed the official framework of RYLA: to train youth ages 14-30 in character, leadership, personal development, and good citizenship. These guidelines helped RYLA expand to all Rotary districts in Australia and led to its approval as an international program by the RI Board at the 1971 RI Convention in Sydney, Australia.

By 1998, RYLA had become an established program in more than half of the 521 Rotary districts worldwide. Also in 1998, then RI President James Lacy, emphasizing his concern for children, appointed an international RYLA committee, dedicated to improving and expanding this special Rotary program throughout the world. Rotarians with different RYLA experiences were invited to RI headquarters to exchange information and ideas; they agreed that the program could be improved through regional training workshops.

After District 5520′s first RYLA camp, about 20 years ago, a participant summed up his experience in one word: Camelot . He wrote: “If you know the story of King Arthur, you may recall that as King Arthur was dying in a young man’s arms, he turned to the youth and said, ‘If you learn of anyone that has not heard of Camelot, tell them loudly and clearly that there really was that one wisp of glory called Camelot.’”

Gundoo or Camelot ? RYLA is both, and aren’t we fortunate? Dedication, passion, and love describe the heart of RYLA, a most remarkable investment that assures Rotary’s future. Every Rotarian should take the opportunity to enjoy this exciting program and life-changing experience.

Irving J. “Sonny” Brown, a 2000-04 trustee of The Rotary Foundation, was chair of the RI RYLA Committee when this article was published. He has also served as RI vice president and as chair of the 2001 San Antonio Convention Committee. 2001 San Antonio Convention Committee.

For more info visit RotaryYouthLeadershipAwards(RYLA)/Pages/ridefault.aspx or Contact District 3300 service to New Generations Committee Chairman : PP Varpal Singh Sagoo [email protected]


Rotaract Clubs

Rotaract is a Rotary-sponsored service club for young men and women ages 18 to 30. Rotaract clubs are either community or university based, and they’re sponsored by a local Rotary club. This makes them true “partners in service” and key members of the family of Rotary.

As one of Rotary’s most significant and fastest-growing service programs, with more than 7,000 clubs in about 163 countries and geographical areas, Rotaract has become a worldwide phenomenon.

How does it work?

All Rotaract efforts begin at the local, grassroots level, with members addressing their communities’ physical and social needs while promoting international understanding and peace through a framework of friendship and service.

What are some other opportunities available to Rotaractors?

Rotaractors may also Assist in organizing Interact clubs or mentor Interactors

Participate in Rotary Youth Leadership Awards Become Rotary Foundation Ambassadorial Scholars or Group Study Exchange team members

Seek membership in their local Rotary club Rotaractors are encouraged to keep their contact information current.

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