MALAKOFF–Malakoff Rotary members were enthralled Feb. 11 by the experiences of four high school students whom the club sponsored Feb. 7-9 at the annual Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA) camp at Clements Scout Ranch.
The junior students – Baliey Hobbs and Zoey Brewer of Cross Roads and Katie Jack and Collin Kifer of Malakoff – were selected by the club to hone their leadership skills and make connections with other likeminded students from around Northeast Texas and Southern Oklahoma.
Rotarians Mike Burns and Julie Armstrong shuttled the students to the camp south of Athens. “They were really nervous and didn’t know what they were getting into – a strange man driving them into the woods,” Burns said.
The students told about leadership-building activities that focused on traits such as integrity, trust, communication, teamwork, planning, problem-solving, decision-making and self-esteem. The activities “brought our team together and sealed the bond for all of us,” Jack said.
Spending time outdoors in the cold from sun-up to sundown soon alleviated any apprehension, they agreed. “Even though you only knew them 48 hours, you feel like you’ve made a bond for life,” Brewer said.
Sybil Norris and Sonny Humble comprise the RYLA selection committee, and Humble asked whether the RYLA students plan to stay in touch with their newfound friends. “I can feel my phone buzzing from the messages right now,” Kifer said.