Youth Programs
ROTARY YOUTH LEADERSHIP AWARD (RYLA) and 
LEADERSHIP, ETHICS, ASPIRATION & DETERMINATION (LEAD)    

RYLA-LEAD Comparison
RYLA encourages high school students to drive the direction of their experience. The LEAD grade school experience is more structured. It provides seminars on ethical responsibility, and improving leadership and communication skills. These eighth graders meet students from throughout Southern California. This program facilitates shared experiences, which improves the empathy for, and the understanding of others. 

RYLA
The RYLA program originated with Rotary International in 1972. It was modified by District 5340 for the students in San Diego and Imperial Counties. RYLA is an intensive three-day leadership exper- ience organized by Rotary clubs and districts. High school juniors and seniors can thereby develop their leadership skills. They apply via their high schools to the sponsoring rotary club, and then inter- viewed by the youth coordinators of the club. Applicants are selected based on academic excellence, service to school, plus community, leadership and communication skills. 
 
PLRC club member Lloyd Weaver rekindled our RYLA and LEAD programs in 2023. Lloyd was the youth coordinator in his previous rotary club in West Lafayette, Indiana, where he worked with RYLA for several years. When he moved to San Diego, Lloyd joined Point Loma Rotary Club. He immediate-  ly became involved as its youth coordinator. COVID-19 had caused these programs to wane. 

Lloyd thus reinvigorated PLRC's RYLA-LEAD connection with Point Loma High School (PLHS). He subsequently added High Tech High International High School (HTHS) via connections with the respective principals and youth advisors. Yolandra Beltran, pictured left, is the PLHS RYLA advocate and English teacher. Dawn Wirts, pictured right, is the HTHS advocate and physics teacher.  
 
The PLRC received 14 applications (7 from each school). Lloyd and Logan Parmele interviewed the top three from each school. They initially selected two students as the delegates, and one alternate from each school. The alternates were so good, that Lloyd and Logan ultimately chose to sponsor all six to attend RYLA. 

Following the RYLA camp, the six were invited with their families to attend our rotary meeting and each gave a short talk about their experiences.  Bella Wilson and Mia Hernandez were instrumental in forming a new chapter of Interact at High Tech High International which PLRC will sponsor. Point Loma High already has an interact club, which will thus be revitalized.
 
These pictures feature the 2023 RYLA student scholarship recipients. On the left, from left to right: Mia Hernandez and Bella Wilson both from HTHS, and Natalia Sparta and Kalika Patel from PLHS. The other two students, pictured right, are from eft to right: Logan Parmele (co-coordinator for youth at Rotary), Max Allen (PLHS) and Kai Lange-del from HTHS.
 
Two 2023 RYLA students shared their following reactions: 
                                                             Natalia Sparta
          "I had a wonderful time at RYLA and hope to return as a counselor. RYLA truly changed
     my life. I still communicate with some friends I made there. We all got along extremely well
     and would stay after programs to hang out. We even woke up early, so we could spend more
     time together before the day’s scheduled activities.
          My Rice family set up a group chat and reunited over the summer! On one of the days,
     the activity was RYLA Olympics. It involved a series of games for our family groups. We really
     got to know each other, while having a great time. Over that amazing weekend I gained so-
     cial skills, stepped out of my comfort zone, tried lots of new things, met inspiring people.
                                                                 Max Allen
          My favorite part about the RYLA experience is that it didn’t just stop after that weekend.
     A member of my family group organized a home build in Tijuana through Project Mercy. Rot-
     ary thus invited our RYLA family group.
          We were able to reconnect recently while doing good deeds for a family in need. I met
     some exceptional people that I know will do amazing things. I’m proud to be a small part of
     their journey, thanks to this PLRC-sponsored program.  
 
 
The RYLA no-cost camp encourages leadership in youth, inspired by a diverse group of exceptional speakers. The students make life-long friends, and discuss the ethical and social issues of the day.
 
Students are grouped into 32 "fami- lies" of 8-9 students and one Rotar- ian Facilitator. These families are identified by a name chosen to repre- sent a large US university, such as USC or Michigan. The families spend the three days as a cohesive unit, listen-ing to the various speakers, gathering as a unit to discuss what lessons they learned, doing team building exercises, and generally modeling the maturity and discipline that resulted in their participation in RYLA.
 
2024
Lloyd Weaver did it again---facilitating the best RYLA experience ever! Per his description:

     “RYLA 2024 was a big success. Point Loma Rotary Club sponsored
     two juniors from Point Loma High School and two juniors from High
     Tech High International High School. The Point Loma students were             Annabelle Hullinger and Ava Brennan. Representing High Tech High
     were Alexsa Sagesse and Justice Pava. Both Anabelle and Ava deliv- 
     ered a heartwarming rendering of their experiences to the PLRC members in attendance about
     their camp experiences. [
They are pictured above left, on the far right, in front of committee
     member Logan Parmele. Tuba player
Ava Patri is pictured just below.]          
                              

     Each student is assigned a 'family' which is identified by the name of a
 uni-
     versity across the nation. Students were picked from a group of applicants
     by the Youth Services committee---consisting of Lloyd Weaver, Logan Par-
     mele and Lili Patch. 
The PLRC is allocated 4-6 slots. Space at the camp is
     limited to about 300 total students.                                                                                        
     As articulated by the PLRC's former RYLA-LEAD club member Jim Piburn:   
     'With the sizeable number of participating Rotary Clubs and high schools,
     we feel very blessed. We have been participating with RYLA selection since 
     2009.' 
 
                                                                                                                            
Photos by Bill S
For the extraordinary on-site video for this year's sponsored students (Apr. 15, 2024), click here.               
LEAD:
The comparable youth LEAD program is a two-day leadership and personal development program for 8th grade middle school students. They are selected by their school administrators−chosen for their maturity, leadership skills, and academic excellence. Each participating school selects one young man and one young woman. The camp is developed and presented by Rotarians in District 5340 and comes at no cost to the student or the participating schools. All expenses are paid by the Rotary Clubs of District 5340. 
 
The PLRC previously had four spaces for LEAD students−two from Correia Middle School, and two from Warren-Walker. Space at the camp is limited to about 200 total students. Before Covid, the PLRC had been participating with LEAD for over 10 years. At least one club member participates as a Facilitator at this camp as well. As of 2023, PLRC is also sponsoring two eighth graders from Warren Walker to attend the Leadership, Ethics, Aspirations and Determination (LEAD) conference in mid-October 2023.

 
PLRC SUPPORTS EKOLOGIK YOUTH PROGRAM
EcoLogik is a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) program for young girls operated by the National Park Service at Carrillo National Monument Park. The EcoLogik Project is a unique fusion of ecology, nature, and technology. EkoLogik connects the next genera- tion of science stew- ards to the natural resources and science at Cabrillo National Monument. 
 
In collaboration with the San Diego Downtown Library’s Innovation Lab, and the Cabrillo National Park Foundation, this multidisciplinary approach fos-
ters a learning platform for young girls. Its objective is to make technology more accessible to students, while inspiring them to choose careers in STEM fields. The goal of the EcoLogik Project is to provide education tools and context empowering the 21st century of park stewards in meaningful and relevant ways with science.
 
Mike Whitehurst, Leon Scales and Rob Cenko attended a project fair by the young women scientists sponsored by Ecologik at Cabrillo Monument (August 2022). Many of the parents expressed their grati- tude for all the PLRC does in the community. PLRC has donated mon- ey to EkoLogic for several years. Club members have attended Eko- Logic events, with a view toward showing support for its educational projects.