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Local High School Students Share Their Experience at Rotary Youth Leadership Awards Program

 Jake Newman, Cristian Cienfuegos and Emma Palacios gave a presentation on their experience at the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards camp during the Rockwall Noon Rotary meeting on Aug. 29. Photo by Austin Wells.

From left: Jake Newman, Cristian Cienfuegos and Emma Palacios gave a presentation on their experience at the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards camp during the Rockwall Noon Rotary meeting on Aug. 29. Photo by Austin Wells.

(ROCKWALL, TX — September 4, 2019) This past summer, three area high school students attended a life-changing leadership program known as Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA).

Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA) is an International Program that was created by Rotary International to encourage strong leadership in youth. Young people chosen for their leadership potential attend an all-expenses-paid camp to develop and enhance leadership skills through activities conducted in an atmosphere of trust and respect.

During the Rockwall Noon Rotary meeting on Aug. 29, Cristian Cienfuegos (Royse City High School), Jacob Newman (Poetry High School) and Emma Palacios (homeschool) talked about their experience at Camp RYLA. The five-day program saw the campers participate in a wide array of activities to enhance their personal qualities, leadership skills, problem solving skills and communication skills. Campers were sorted into cabins which became their teams for the duration of camp. Together, they learned the different types of personalities, developed interpersonal skills, identified the characteristics of a leader, and engaged in problem solving. They each got involved in different committees, and at the end of camp, the cabins competed in Olympic Games to test everything they had learned.

Palacios said through the camp’s often rigorous and exciting activities, she learned what it truly means to be a leader.

“Throughout camp I realized there are a whole bunch of characteristics that go into being a leader. It’s not just taking charge or being at the head of everything. While everyone in my cabin had the chance to experience that, we all quickly realized what kind of leader we are in ourselves, in our schools and in our families,” she said.

Cienfuegos said the camp inspired him to pursue his goals in life, including joining the Marines.

“Camp RYLA really opened my eyes and made me into a better person. It showed me some things about me that I didn’t know about myself, and made me into a great leader,” he said.

For Newman, Camp RYLA also opened his eyes to more opportunities. He said at camp, he and his fellow campers had the chance to meet people working in a variety of different industries.

“It really showed me what’s out there and what people can do. For a while I’ve wanted to be in public service, such as a police officer or firefighter. It has just really interested me because I can serve the public and be a good example to kids younger than me. That’s what Camp RYLA showed me as a leader,” Newman said.

For more information on the RYLA program, visit camp-ryla.org.

By Austin Wells, Blue Ribbon News.

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