RYLA students share their stories

Meeting Minutes – August 8, 2023

The meeting was opened by President Doug Williams, with Michael Ragsdale leading the Pledge of Allegiance.

Member Mike Rausch provided an inspiration from Nelson Mandela in honor of our youth-focused meeting.

INSPIRATION: Mike Rausch- Nelson Mandela “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

Heather Cullen lead us singing “This land is your land” with her teacher visual strategies.

Today’s guests included  RyLA students-Kai, Cynthia and Ava, Windsor high school college and career counselor Jennifer Taddei,  and outbound student-Natalie.  Natalie was selling more of her beautiful baked treats!


Doug reminded us that our role as Rotarians is  to ‘make a difference’.

A special happy 40th anniversary for Bill Bolster’s 40th birthday. He said “age is just a number and mine is unlisted.”

Renee-Allison Stanfield, former exchange student is the US representative for Rotex to the board.

Rotary bar is doing well and still needs a bit of help before the season closes. Contact Renee.

Sandie Krutz announced that inbound exchange student needs a ride to Eureka on Aug. 18. Please let her know if you are available.

Jo Timmsen announced that she has been sky diving for 50 years and is now a certified foundation sky diving judge. Congratulations!

Membership chair Maureen Merrill lead an activity to engage members in membership drive.  It is a time to rebuild. Many hands make light work.  Members generally fall into one of 3 leadership areas when it comes to recruiting new members.  There are the inviters who get things going up front; there are the expediters who get things done behind the scenes; and the mentors big picture get things right.  Maureen invited up Jeff as an example of an inviter and Renee as an expediter.  She then divided club into groups by colors.  Each team committed to bringing in one new member.  Great work Maureen! We can do this!

SPEAKER: Pegi Ball introduced RYLA students Kai, Cynthia, and Ava. They began their presentation with a message from RYLA director Cassie thanking all who made the event happen.

Kai began telling us that RYLA was the most impactful camp he has attended in his life, even more so than the camp he attended at Yale.  The accommodations were rather rustic compared to others.  However, RYLA created a community and environment which fostered deep connections.  Students felt completely comfortable, welcome, and safe.

Cynthia shared that everything she learned at RYLA prepared her for all other camps and for everything she will be doing for her senior year. The counselors were really awesome, and she expressed a special appreciation for Tom Boylan, Jennifer Strong, Carol Martin, and Pegi Ball.

Ava stated that it is a really hard time for teenagers.  She found great inspiration in meeting others with similar values and creating emotional connections.  RYLA tremendously changed her life for the better.
The students said RYLA Norhern California is vastly different from other RYLA programs and is the best in the country.  It is run by alumni.  The students made a deep connection with the camp leaders. The speakers talked about professions they hadn’t heard about before, how to lead, how to get jobs.

They showed a fantastic video of the highlights of the week. In the video students were asked to complete the sentence “My community needs a leader like me”.  The responses were varied but the overriding themes were environment, diversity, connection, mental health, making the world a better place.
Favorite aspects of RYLA included speakers addressing such topics as social media, identity, and problem-solving skills.  Camp counselors talked about their own professions and life paths, providing important guidance for the problem solvers of tomorrow.

These future leaders found it to be a profound experience, pushing students out of their comfort zone, exposing vulnerabilities and creating tremendous growth.

These kids are very interested in starting an Interact club at their school. They are an inspiration and provide hope for the future.

Doug closed with words of encouragement and support from Rotary to young people. He encouraged the club to support interact.  He reminded us that we are the home club for the district governor and will have work to do.  He gave a heartfelt thank you to thank all who helped make the meeting possible.