Posted by Cara Tipping-Smith on Jun 07, 2019
RYLA Oamaru 2019 was always going to take a different approach. The key thing the club understood was that RYLA awardees wanted to experience leadership, not just hear about it. So Rotary Oamaru devised a programme that would provide leadership opportunities from the outset. And according to RYLA attendees, our programme delivered.
 
One of the pluses of RYLA is that it’s a hugely flexible programme so clubs can do pretty much whatever they want. One of the challenges then is that with no set programme to follow, each host club tends to build a programme from scratch. Because our research told us that awardees want to do leadership not just study it, we created a programme called Leadership in Practice.
 
At the heart of this programme awardees would devise their own ‘leadership challenge’ project and create a real-world proposal for judging at the end of the week.
 
We decided that you can’t learn leadership in a vacuum so the challenge would have to be team based. Given the time frame (four days), the awardees would have to bond well and super quickly right at the beginning of their week. And to set them up for success, we’d need to give them confidence and support all the way through.
 
Mission one – break down barriers and get them bonding, fast! Mission two – get them in challenge groups on day one. Mission three – deliver all the resources (people, principles, lessons) that will help them succeed. Oh… and tell them about Rotary, let them explore the cool parts of Oamaru and ensure they have some fun!
 
Let’s just say that by the time they hit their final Friday morning, they’d visited local businesses and met with dozens of business leaders, community leaders, Rotarians and subject matter experts (from Toastmasters to project-specific experts, e.g. in riparian ecology).
 
 
They had experienced hosted sessions in leadership specifics such as critical thinking, behaviour discipline, persuasion and personality & communication styles. They’d also ticked off penguins, Steampunk HQ, Whitestone City, Fat Sally’s Pub Quiz and incredibly, had a go in Oamaru’s brand-new flight simulator!
 
And on that Friday morning, they presented their proposals for creating positive change in their home communities. We were blown away and humbled by their passion, commitment, drive and purpose – all hallmarks of exceptional leadership.
 
One of the best bits of feedback we received was a comment from one awardee who said, "If you gave me one of those feedback forms asking what you could improve, I wouldn't have anything, this programme couldn't be better".
 
What we think they discovered most in their week with us is confidence in themselves, friendships with each other that will continue to serve them and the fellowship that makes our Rotary family so wonderful. What we discovered most is that we're in super great hands with these young people as our future leaders.
 
And if you are running a RYLA and want the specifics of what we did, why and when, we’re happy to share. Just get in touch.