Rotary Youth Leadership camp recently wrapped up in Athens, Texas and the youth, as always, have made amazing friends and had life-changing experiences in one amazing weekend.

RYLA is an international program that was created by Rotary International to encourage strong leadership in our youth. Young people are chosen for their leadership potential attend an all-expenses-paid camp each year to develop and enhance leadership skills through activities conducted in an atmosphere of trust and respect.

Throughout the camp RYLA focus' on leadership characteristics: integrity, communication, planning, decision making, trust, teamwork, problem-solving and self-esteem. 

On a personal note, my wife and I would like to thank the Wilbur Smith Rotary Club here in Texarkana for sponsoring our son Tyler this year. He went in skeptical as I'm sure most of the teens did, and came out a true believer. Tyler said he had a blast, had no idea you could bond so closely with total strangers so quickly, and would love to go back next year. We heard that same story from almost all of the youth that went on the trip so kudos to you all, great job!

The following juniors were chosen to attend this year:

From Texas High School:

  • Molly Kyles
  • Triann Nguyen
  • Sarah Lingle
  • Autumn Parrot
  • Connor Powell

From Arkansas High School:

  • Broderick Walton
  • Adelia Coleman
  • Garrett Fowler
  • Maria Labrada

From Fouke High School:

  • Sebastian Bolin
  • Autumn Peters

From Genoa High School:

  • Paige Davis
  • Jayden Dawson

From Veritas Academy:

  • Cole Herberg

From Pleasant Grove High School:

  • Braden Sarrett
  • Stella Angerer

From Liberty Eylau High School:

  • Victoria Davis

From Hooks High School:

  • Lauren Graham

From Maud High School:

  • Grace Raburn

From Premier High School:

  • Tyler Standridge

Seniors and adult team leaders also attending

  • Laila Al-Dubais
  • Tonya Dunphy
  • Natalie Hale
  • Kera Daughtery
  • Joshua Carnes
  • Noni Hilley
  • Catherine Robertson
  • Jacob Carnes
  • Jade Ruth
  • Julia Hornok
  • Andi Darby
Andi Darby at RYLA Banquet
Andi Darby at RYLA Banquet

We would like to spotlight Mrs. Andi Darby. Andi is a long-time member of the Wilbur Smith Rotary Club and has been taking teens to RYLA camp now for 22 years! A quick check of the math brings us to over 300 teens that have been through the RYLA camp program with "Big Red," that's her RYLA nickname by the way. That is an amazing number of youth to have helped over the years and something to be very proud of, and we are very proud of our friend and colleague Andi Darby.


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