In July 2016 we sponsored some dynamic young people to take part in the Ocean Youth Trust sailing experience and also the Rotary Youth Leadership Award [RYLA]. On 10 October three Ocean Youth Trust volunteers came to the Club to report back, and this week on 20 October our RYLA candidate came to tell us how he got on.
Ocean Youth Trust
First, Ocean Youth Trust. This is a charity specialising in the personal development of young people through the challenging experience of ocean sailing. We have sponsored one, or very occasionally two, places per year, but this year we were asked to find two volunteers on behalf of the Rotary Club of York Vikings, in addition to one of our own.
We recruited three exceptional candidates for the adventure through the good offices of PC Ash Razzaq. Ash is one of the inspiring leaders of CATCH [Community Action To Change Harehills], a voluntary group which provides positive role models and recreational and development opportunities for young people in Leeds. He had recruited three exceptional young men from diverse ethnic backgrounds.
Two sailed from the Cumbrian coast to Ireland via the Isle of Man, while the third braved the rigours of the North Sea from North Shields on the good ship Ocean Venture. [see photo]. They triumphed over occasional sea-sickness, surprised themselves how quickly they acquired sailing skills, and came home with increased self confidence. In addition to telling us about their sailing experience, each candidate spoke eloquently of how their lives had acquired new direction and purpose through their involvement with CATCH. They graciously thanked Rotary for giving them ‘a once in a lifetime adventure’.
Rotary Youth Leadership Awards
Our RYLA candidate was 17 year old student Isaac Primrose, from Roundhay School. He gave us one of the most vivid and well illustrated descriptions of his week’s experience that the Club has ever heard, taking us through the five day course from ice-breakers, to double jeopardy, hashing, simulated mountain rescue, orienteering, bivvy, traverse, raft building, and final presentations.
Isaac told us that he would have welcomed a bit more information about what he was in for when he signed up for RYLA, and had gone along thinking ‘this is no big deal’. When he arrived, he felt as though everybody else knew each other, and wondered how he would fit in. He found it was a very big deal, but he adapted very quickly, and was immersed for the entire week in constant activity, all designed to inculcate leadership skills: co-operating with his team of four boys and four girls, learning to accept and work with the inevitable friction, competing with the other teams, taking a turn as leader, having to accept a leader from another team, and re-doing tasks at which his team had initially failed. He went on to make close friends over the week, and such was the bonding experience that he found himself confiding things to his new companions that he had never told anyone before. At the end of the week his team were the overall winners, in spite of having been told that no team had ever failed so miserably as his team in their first attempt at getting across a river.
In answering questions from the audience, Isaac displayed impressive insight about leadership. You don’t need all the physical skills, you just have to be willing to pitch in. The best leaders are those who take the time to talk to their team members on a personal level and give encouragement. He also had what I considered to be a reassuring tip for the President of a Rotary Club: the leader doesn’t need to have all the skills for all the tasks that need doing, just the ability to organise and allocate tasks to those who have the right skills themselves.
Isaac concluded by telling us that he ended the week having gained in confidence and changed his approach to life. He finds he works harder, and socialises more.
We are grateful to our three young sailors, and our RYLA candidate, for their inspiring talks, which they gave with great confidence and maturity. They made us proud of our sponsorship of these two excellent programmes, which will continue.