Rotary Youth Leadership Academy (RYLA) 2023
By BiancaRose Nnabue – 16 years old
Spring 2023

          The weekend of February 20th, 2023,  I had the pleasure of attending Camp RYLA with the sponsorship of Pikesville Rotary Club. During this incredible journey, I had the privilege of immersing myself in the inspiring narratives of visionary leaders, crafting a meaningful service project, and honing the essential skills required to emerge as a trailblazing leader in my generation.

          When I first arrived, I was met with a welcoming group that helped me become settled in. This was my very first weekend away from my family. I had heard that we were taking part in a project which included designing a service project that would help our community. My group, called “Slump 7”, started to brainstorm ideas. Later we decided on a Clothing drive involving various schools. Our idea, “Be the Warmth”, targeted the homeless of Baltimore City during the winter months. It sought to provide clothes to people who couldn’t obtain them. We chose 2 homeless shelters at opposite sides of Baltimore to distribute clothes. We would ask schools for incentives for their students to donate gently used clothes and money for the shelters. We would then use the money to fund the supplies needed to run this drive, and the rest would be donated to the shelters.

          After planning the project out, we prepared for the first activity of the day, team building. In this exercise, we would have to attach ourselves together by holding hands and find a way to get untangled without letting go. Although sounding simple, this was much more difficult than I had originally thought. We had to communicate while in a difficult situation that was being timed. From this we learned that healthy communication is necessary for a great leader. Without this, we would never have gotten free from our struggle.


          The next day, after we had taken a hike along the coast and had done some Archery, we had a lecture about leadership. The man that came told us about impacting the opinions of colleges when applying. He said that specialized resumes are essential to colleges because it allows them to see you as someone who is different from the rest. A resume that showcases a diverse range of accomplishments, coupled with a focused expertise, effectively communicates to colleges that you possess unwavering dedication and a resolute drive towards your objectives. This approach highlights the significance of being perceived as a budding leader by educational institutions, as emphasized by his valuable insights.

          On the final day of this trip, we presented our projects to everyone at the camp and the Rotary representatives present. During our presentation, we talked about where this would take place, how we would sustain it, and how it would benefit the people of our community. Even though we didn’t win, a group that wanted to help refugees with the recent earthquake in Turkey was awarded the First place and it was well deserved. Later a representative told us that all of our projects could possibly be brought in front of a Rotary for sponsorship.

         Finally, as my mom arrived to pick me up, I couldn’t help but reflect on the impactful project I contributed to, the invaluable lessons I acquired, and the valuable skills I nurtured throughout my unforgettable weekend at RYLA. Not only did I make new friends, I also expanded my knowledge in numerous ways. Above all, I am deeply grateful to the Rotary Club of Pikesville for their generous sponsorship, which made this transformative experience possible.

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