Posted by Maurie McGuire on Dec 03, 2018
 Whenever I meet someone from Rotary, I’m proud to tell them I was a RYLA Awardee. Looking back over that time, I realise how lucky I was.  What an amazing opportunity!
After volunteering at the Australia-New Zealand Exchange Briefing Camp in 1991, I was selected by Rotary Runaway Bay as their representative at RYLA, which was held at Camp Bornhoffen. 
I  remember a wide range of inspirational and motivational speakers attending – John Smart, Peter Hempenstall and Robert Walls (coach of the Brisbane Lions) to name a few.  We also had a visit from drug addicts, who were attending the local drug rehabilitation centre. The stories of how drugs ruined their lives, destroyed their careers and alienated their families was a real eye opener for me.  They showed  courage and resilience as they tried to put their lives back together.
What I got out of it:  well, with a debilitating fear of public speaking, this was addressed, much to my horror!  We all had the opportunity to speak in front of our peers, and I’ve had to speak in public several times since.  A handy skill to have at weddings and funerals!   
Attending RYLA also gave me the confidence and courage to follow my dreams and pursue what I’d always wanted to try. I travelled overseas, followed by a move to the country where I took up the role of Governess on an isolated property.  Had it not been for my RYLA experience, I am sure this would never have happened. 
We were told by John Smart that “It’s the people you meet and the books you read that make a difference in your life,” so I’d like to say “Thank you Rotary. You made a difference in mine.”
Stretcher Race at the Camp - Leesa is in  the Rocky T-shirt
Leesa with her son