Two students, Harrison Gillham, and Bohdan Bezpalyi from year 12 at the Marches School, Oswestry, presented an illustrated talk about their experiences and adventures at this year’s RYLA field course to Borderland Rotarians at Sweeney Hall Hotel. RYLA, which stands for Rotary Youth Leadership Awards, is held every August at Arthog Outdoor Activity and Education Centre on the North Wales coast.

During the talk they described some of the tasks they performed which ranged from walking hand in hand whilst blindfolded, team building, rock climbing, caving, raft construction and much more in between – and, they had to keep an eye on their budgets throughout as part of the challenge is accounting for the all the team’s spending.

Harrison said, “I was often out of my comfort zone but found that by facing the challenges head on, I was able to overcome any fears and enjoy the process”. And Bohdon added, “I discovered that you can sometimes lead from behind as by being more considered you can see the bigger picture and guide others”.

Paul Crosby, a long serving Rotarian who brought RYLA from Australia to the UK in 2000 said “I’m proud to say that 750 students have benefited from RYLA since the turn of the century and although I have now stepped back from running the event, I still take a great interest in the project”.

“So, what is RYLA?” Paul continued, “Well, the young entrants are divided into teams and given the overall task of setting up a business and are faced with all the physical and mental tasks that this entails. They earn RYLA Dollars for each task and must decide how best to reinvest these funds to buy and prepare materials for the future tasks. It’s a big challenge and not for the faint hearted but it appears that being suspended over rivers, lashing rafts together or trying to find novel answers to cryptic questions, really does bring out the best in people!”

Paul Crosby, Harrison Gillham, Bohdan Bezpalyi & Andy Boroughs.