Five high school students shared their Rotary Youth Leadership Award camp experiences with Ripon Rotarians.
The teens attended the RYLA leadership camp near Oakhurst where they spent four days among 100 students representing Rotary clubs from the Central Valley.
The students were guests of Rotary at its regular noon luncheon at the Spring Creek Country Club.
Students from Ripon High School included Seneca Rubianes, Amanda Wesley, Trent Hawes and Brandan Williamson. The one student from Ripon Christian High School was Nicolle Driesen who said the professional motivational speakers at the camp “had a huge impact on my life.”
The boys were attending an entirely different camp about 30 minutes away, far from earlier camp sites that were located just across a lake. The boys would eagerly swim the lake to see the girls. There were some nine cabins with about 10 students per cabin along with a camp counselor.
Seneca Rubianes said she was involved in providing entertainment at the camp for the evenings with a group of campers for two hours at a time planning skits. Analytical and spontaneous in nature she said it was challenging to think things out – remembering one speaker who urged the students to “be friends with fear.”
She told of motivational speaker Roger Crawford who had no legs and short arms and hands from the prescription Thalidomide that his mom had been given by a doctor in the 1960s that caused birth defects in children. Crawford has spent his life speaking to students on the high school and college level demonstrating that anything is possible from playing tennis to throwing a football as well as running on manmade lower legs.
Brandan Williamson said his favorite part of the camp was socializing with other students in his cabin from other communities. He said he hopes to become a civil engineer some day after college.
They enjoyed another motivational speaker presenting the topic, “You Matter – Everything Matters!” The speaker’s name was Matthew Emersion. It was all about how the students can — through community service — make the community better and make you feel better about yourself.
Amanda Wesley said the food was great and even better than she had expected. She told of her two sisters 19 and 21 who also went to the Rotary leadership camp in their junior years in high school.
Trent Hawes echoed the words of his fellow students in the good he got out of attending the RYLA leadership camp saying his interest is in International Business. He hopes to attend University of Nevada at Reno.
Each Rotary Club is allowed to send only two students to the camp, however Ripon has held back in past years to see if there are any clubs who have no one to send – then the Ripon Rotarians fill the void with their students at Ripon High and Ripon Christian who have passed the pre-camp interviews.