Life Changing Experience: Rotary Youth Leadership Awards camp

Corrine GilesDear Boone Sunshine Rotary,

Hi, my name is Corinne Giles and I am the rising senior you sponsored to go to the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards camp in June 2015. I want to say thank you for sponsoring me to go to this life changing camp.

For a week, I was able to be surrounded by like-minded people while we did challenging activities and helped the community and had fun doing it. I got the chance to listen to speakers give advice about leadership and how to better our community with our leadership. Some speakers helped us campers find new ways to overcome obstacles that we did not believe we could in the beginning of the camp. One speaker even had us write down an obstacle that we wanted to break through onto a piece of wood and we got to break through the obstacle by breaking the wood with our own hand. Another speaker taught me that there is not always one way to do something, but there are many ways.

The RYLA camp brought us campers together on the same level of thinking and communicating. One of the first nights of the camp all of the campers got to participate in a square dance where we all had a lot of fun together. Throughout the week all the campers got together in smaller groups and got to do team bonding exercises that brought us closer together. I am able to take these exercises and bring them to my own teams at home and bring us closer together as well.

The most memorable event of this camp though was getting to go to the Brevard Community Garden to help harvest fresh produce and help maintain the garden. As a small group, we harvested 60.2 pounds of fresh produce for the community including kale, squash, cucumbers, peas, and lettuce. The group also helped weed the garden beds and even help make a garden bed for new plants to be planted soon. After finishing at the community garden, the group got to go to a share house, kinda like hospitality house here, and see where the produce we harvested was going. Getting to help the community in this way made me feel like I was really making a difference for someone.
At the camp, we got to do fun activities as well such as a camper talent show, kickball tournament, four square tournament, capture the flag, and we could choose from tubing, horseback riding, rock repelling, and hiking.

On the last day all the campers went to Camp Greenville for a day of fun leadership activities to do with our small groups. I got to do a high ropes course with my new friend Cody that was really fun. We worked together as a team to get across obstacles and get to the other side of the ropes course. Another activity my small group got to do was a team building exercise where we had to get everyone, as well as a apple,  from one platform to another by rope swing. A cool activity that we also did was we had to get all the campers from one side of a net to the other by going through holes in the net. My small group would help lift people through the holes to get to the other side.

Not only did I get to experience cool leadership activities that I can share with my community, but I also met some great friends as well. My room mate Mary Lynn and I got very close over the week by getting to do activities together and just by bonding over stories and playing charades the first night while eating Oreos and cashews.

Thank you so much for letting me be able to experience this amazing camp. I have gotten to learn things that I never got to before. I am now able to bring my experiences and new knowledge back to my community and back to my teams to continue to be a good leader. In the future, I plan to use my experiences and lessons to further my RYLA training by becoming a Counselor in Training for the camp.

Best Wishes,

Corinne Giles

2015-2016 Senior, Watauga High School

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