This year’s RYLA program was as full of energy, passion, commitment, and kindness as any I’ve ever been part of. A total of 113 students and 36 volunteers from across the District took part in the 2013 RYLA conference held at Camp Hinds in Raymond, ME. New additions to this year’s program included a swinging tire traverse (built by the Scarborough Club via a District Simplified Grant) and an exciting adventure course titled The Crash.
Image Most of the program, however, was similar to those in years past. It included a variety of leadership challenges, low adventure elements, and a high ropes course. But something different was in the air this year: Perhaps it was inspired by a presentation from the internationally respected presenter, Michael J. Chase of the Kindness Center; or maybe a result of the highest RYLA enrollment in recent years. Whatever the reason, this year was without question the most positive, uplifting, and inspirational that I’ve seen in 14 years.

The theme of this year’s program was “Make History.” Students were reminded of how valuable and special they are to this world. Each RYLA participant carries within them a tiny spark that, when inspired, transforms to a small but mighty flame. During our final campfire, students were reminded of the turbulent nature of the world we faceoutside of our leadership laboratory. Their wonderful and awesome responsibility is to protect that flame from the naysayers and pessimists of the world. Together, we can create a torch- a splendid torch that brings light to even the darkest spaces. We spent the remainder of camp exploring how best to handle our responsibilities as leaders -- and more importantly as stewards of our mission of service above self. I am confident in what lies ahead for us because I know this group of young leaders will surely make history. -- RYLA Director Jared Avery