Interact club members recount recent trip to Rotary leadership camp
Published 9:44 am Tuesday, November 10, 2015
A few weeks before they returned to class near the beginning of September, Dowagiac’s Ellen Cox and Teddy Bjork spent a few days of their summer vacation learning.
But instead of building upon their knowledge of the typical academic curriculum taught to them in high school, the lessons the two students received at the 2015 Rotary Youth Leadership Awards camp developed their ability to lead and work together with a team to achieve a common goal.
The Dowagiac Union High School students and Rotary Interact Club members described their experiences attending the organization’s recent student leadership camp to the members of the Dowagiac Rotary Club Thursday afternoon. They, along with Interact Club advisor (and Ellen’s mother) Kara Cox, were invited to serve as the program for that afternoon’s weekly meeting by Rotarian Marilu Franks.
The two students attended the Rotary District 6360 RYLA camp, offered at the Battle Creek Outdoor Center in Dowling, Michigan, from Aug. 14-16. During the two-day camp, Bjork and Cox participated in several teambuilding, negotiation and leadership exercises. Several prominent Rotary leaders also gave talks during the camp, building upon the lessons the campers learned during their hands-on exercises, the students said.
Among the activities Bjork and Cox completed during their visit was building remote controlled submarines using PVC pipes and other simple materials, and climbing a giant rock wall, which Bjork said was the most challenging part of the experience.
“I don’t like rock walls,” he said. “But I didn’t have a choice, so I climbed it — it was awful.”
The two were the latest batch of Interact members who were sponsored by the Dowagiac Rotary Club to attend the leadership camp. Every year, the organization contributes the $200 per student necessary to enroll a student into RYLA. It’s one of several ways the Rotary club assists the high school club, which does several service projects every year, including purchasing wheel chairs for polio survivors and volunteering at local food pantries.
At the moment, the club has around 20 active members, the club advisor said.
“I just hang on for the ride, and let them go,” the elder Cox said.
The club advisor, who also is a guidance counselor at the high school and middle school, said their attendance at RYLA has benefited her daughter and Bjork tremendously. As both are introverted people, the opportunity to meet and work with students from outside their community was a neat experience, Cox said.
“I’m a lone wolf, but you can’t do that in the real world, so it helped a lot,” Bjork said.