You often hear people talk about ‘life-changing experiences’. As clichéd as it sounds, I define a life-changing event as one that makes you discover more about yourself, or think about yourself in a different way.

RYLA is a legit life changing experience.

You often hear people talk about ‘life-changing experiences’. First time skydiving, getting lost in the middle of the Amazon, moving out, surpassing your friend’s high-score in Flappy Bird or reaching 2048, the list goes on. As clichéd as it sounds, I define a life-changing event as one that makes you discover more about yourself, or think about yourself in a different way.

What’s RYLA?

RYLA stands for Rotary Youth Leadership Award. It is a one week program that seeks to develop, improve and enhance your leadership skills. The program is fully funded by a sponsoring Rotary club.

Different Rotary districts run their own RYLA program. If you are applying to the Rotary club of Mosman, you will be attending the District 9685 RYLA.

The next District 9685 RYLA will run from Sunday 11th January 2015 to Saturday 17th January 2015. I’m not sure where it will be held, but when I attended in 2014, it was held at Vision Valley, Arcadia. I spent a whole week up there with minimal phone reception and no computer. That was a challenge in itself!

How was RYLA life-changing?

Meeting new people – you will probably start off not knowing anyone at RYLA, but that doesn’t matter, because it’s a great opportunity to meet lots of different people. You will share many things in common – such as commitment to serving the community and having great leadership potential. But one of the biggest challenges is getting to know one another really quickly and learning to work with people you’ve only just met.

Discovering yourself – through a combination of seminars, workshops, activities and ample opportunity to reflect, you will be challenged to ask yourself some pretty deep questions. Am I a leader? Can I really make a difference? Why am I doing this? Am I doing the right thing? Pretty much every probing self-discovery question that falls short of ‘What is the meaning of life?’. It is actually quite challenging and sometimes very confronting. But, it is as much of an individual journey as a shared journey, as you will be supported every step along the way by your fellow RYLArians and the fantastic RYLA facilitator team.

Developing skills – RYLA is all about building on a smorgasbord of essential skills, such as leadership, teamwork, communication and creativity. All of which are important in all aspects of your life – whether that be study, work or socialising.

Who can apply?

RYLA is open to young people aged 18 to 27 years old, who have graduated from high school for at least one year. You will need to demonstrate that you currently have, or have had, existing leadership positions in the community, or demonstrate leadership potential. For example, captaining a sports team, active participation in community groups, scouts, church groups, university societies or other student leadership groups.

Applications for RYLA are now open, and close by 31 October 2014. Make sure you get your application in early so that it gives your sponsoring Rotary club time to get to know you and help you with the application process.

If you are interested in joining or want to learn more, stop playing 2048 and apply* for RYLA. You won’t regret it.

 More information?

District 9685 RYLA website:

District 9685 RYLA Facebook:

Rotary Australia website:

Rotary Club of Mosman website:

Contact: Robert Hamilton, incoming Youth Director, Mosman Rotary

*You can apply for RYLA online at However, I recommend that you contact your local Rotary club and request a physical application form and submit that directly to your sponsoring Rotary club’s contact person. If you are applying with the Mosman Rotary club, please contact Robert Hamilton.

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