Rotary Youth Leadership Award.


At the start of July I went on a trip,that I can definitely say changed my life, to the Abernethy Trust Outdoor Centre in NethyBridge. I was there for a week as part of RYLA, a camp where 80 girls from across Scotland are chosen through there local Rotary groups. This story started for me back in March when I heard about RYLA through an assembly given by fellow pupils in the year above. I liked what i heard and applied. I then had an interview with the head of the Rotary club in Alford and district and the head teacher of my school where I had to say why I wanted to go on the trip and what I thought would gain from the trip. A few days later I found out I had been successfull getting a place on the camp. 

On the Saturday 5th of July I travelled over to Inverurie to catch a On the Saturday 5th of July I travelled over to Inverurie to catch a bus with 7 other girls from the surrounding area. The bus was about half an hour late but we finally got on board at 2:20, and after we all got on we set off. Stop after stop we picked up other girls and finally just after 5 o'clock we arrived at the Abernethy camp! We all headed out to our rooms, I was in chalet B with 9 other girls and 1 mentor. After we had settled in we all walked over to the hall to get our evening talk from the leaders, meet our mentors and then meet our groups. The first evening went quite quickly and I can't really remember what happened, but I know we had pizza for tea.

On day two we had a speaker in the morning for an hour and then we headed out for our activities, we were rock climbing near Lossiemouth on the beach. We rock climbed for a couple of hours, taking turns climbing and belaying. We had lunch and myself, a few other girls and the instructors started looking at the clouds and saying how dark they were and how it might rain but the clouds probably wouldn't come near us. After eating our sandwiches and seeing a lightening strike or two we headed back to the rocks. When we started climbing it's started drizzling and then it soon turned to a downpour! We carried on for a while and we then started hearing thunder and a few minutes later there was a lightening bolt right above our heads! Everyone quickly absailed down and ran into the cave which was hidden by the cliff. We waited it out in the cave (which was actually really dark) and then started singing "let it go" from frozen. After the lightening had moved on and we had finished our singing we headed out of the cave and back to the beach to collect our wet belongings (my bag was soaking) and headed back to Abernethy. That night we did Zumba in the hall, which was actually quite fun! I also went swimming with a few girls as well. After tea I headed back to my chalet and I sat around with the girls and we just spoke about various things, later on two other girls came to investigate what the chalets looked like, I spent most evenings with those girls after that.

The next day we had hill (mountain) walking. We climbed up Cairn Gorm. Our morning started as it did the day before with breakfast and a speaker then out for our activities. We drove up round loch morlich and up the side of Cairn Gorm to the centre where we got out of the van and started our walk. Group 7 (the group I was in) walked up the steeper way to our partners Group 8. After walking for ten minutes or so I got quite breathless and I stopped to get my inhaler out.. Turned out I had forgotten it.. The rest of the way up was filled with breather stops, laughs, photos and chatter. We reached the first summit and everyone thought that we were at the top, although we were close we weren't quite there yet. We had our lunch at the first summit behind the cairn for protection from the wind and then carried on up. We met Group 8 while we were walking up the last part and stopped and had a chatter with them and then carried on. When we finally reached the true summit we got a few photos and videos of the group and then did some map reading before we started the descent. On the way down we chatted a lot more, I think we were all quite excited to get down. When we got down to the centre we all piled into the van and collapsed, a lot of us fell asleep. That night we then did Nukem Ball for our evening activity which was great fun!

The next day started off the same, wake up call, breakfast, speaker, activities. Our plan for the day was Abernethy challenge in the morning and then Sports day in the afternoon. The challenges were really fun and our team really pulled together to do all the challenges which was great! And in the end it turned out that we won! For the activities we had to run around the site going to different places to do the activities to get points. I really enjoyed this activity because it brought our team closer together and we all worked really hard to complete the challenges. After lunch we then headed over to the sports hall where we did Zumba a few nights before to take part in the sports day. Because the weather had taken a turn for the worse we couldn't do the proper races so we did potato and spoon races and such. It was really great fun and it was really funny doing some of the races. After a little break we headed into the swimming pool to do the final part the of the sports day.

We then had dinner we met up again for our brief for the next day and then went to the dining hall to start designing our banners. It was really fun designing our banner because myself and the other girls had lots of laughs thinking about the funny things that had happened on our activities that we had already done. We also won out of all the groups with our banner which was great and when two members of our group spoke about the drawings that were on our banner I laughed so much at all the things that we had done over the week, it was brilliant!

On the Wednesday we went Kayaking, which was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G! I absolutely loved it! We started off at around half ten and kayaked until around 4 or so. We were on the river spey which was beautiful, especially because it was warm and sunny. A few people fell in the water and a one bus had to take a trip to the doctors but overall it was a really good day. The rapids were so fun, they were not as fast as what I expected them to be but they were still really fun to go down. After we got out of the water and put all the kayaks onto trailer racks we set off back to the camp site for some free time. After getting changed out of my wet clothes I talked to some of my chalet room mates. We did this most days after we got back from activities which was really nice because we got closer over the whole week. We then headed for tea and then our evening activity which was debating.

The next day we did Mountain Biking and Raft building. The mountain biking i found quite hard as it made me really push myself. I was really breathless the whole time we were on the bikes. But it was so worth it as the views and scenery on the hills we went up were absolutely stunning!! We found a blue pond/lake while we were going down the final hill, it was beautiful and it was quite weird seeing in on the side of a hill. After cycling down the hill we reached Loch Morlich and met up with group 7 to have lunch. After our lunch break we said good bye to Team 7 and we started to build our raft. We learnt how to tie knots to keep our raft afloat and after about an hour we were on the water. Our group had to complete a series of tasks within a time limit, it took our group around 45 minutes. Myself and another girl in my team had to swim to make us go faster but we all pulled together and paddled as hard as we could to finish. A few of us also jumped into the water after we had completed the course. Later that evening once we had dried off and had dinner we went out to our evening activity which was the Nukem Ball Final which the two best teams played together and then out came a winner. We then went on to play again the Abernethy Staff which was hilarious! 

Now we had reached out final full day at RYLA which was really sad but that day was great fun! Again the morning started the same and then at 10:30 after picking up wet suits and helmets we traveled a few miles along the road to the river and gorge where we would be doing our activity. Gorge walking was amazing and really adrenaline pumping! And i would definitely do it again if i got the chance!! In the afternoon we then did challenges where we had to go around the site and defuse 'bombs' to save the world. We didn't manage all of the bombs but we tried really hard on all of them. For one of the tasks we had to go out onto a pond on a raft to get a bomb, I volunteered and paddled out. Now one of my most worst fears is ponds, I HATE them! I hate the mud, the weeds and the murky water. But i pushed myself and paddled out to get the bomb and then paddled back, only my feet went into the water. After we had completed our other 'bombs' we headed back to our rooms to get changed and ready for dinner. That night we didn't have an activity to do in the evening we had a mini awards ceremony instead. Team 7 won best banner and also we did the best on the Abernethy challenge. Later on that evening we had a BBQ and a sing song. It was really nice just speaking to everyone, signing books and singing along to people playing a guitar we found earlier in the week. That night the girls in my chalet stayed up later and just chatted and spoke about the whole week, it was really lovely.

On the final day we did not do a lot, we just packed up all of our belonging and designed a logo design for a charity. We then got to hang out, have lunch and say our good byes (I cried). RYLA was an amazing experience and if i could go again with all the girls i honestly would! I miss the routine, the activities, the girls and friends i made, i just miss everything! 

  Through RYLA I gained so much, I have different views on things, I learnt to think things through and not just rush into them, to push myself and try to put my all into everything I do, I learnt to help others through motivation and getting them involved, I boosted my social skills, I knew no one at the start of the week and by the end I thought of a lot of the girls as my friends. It was just all round amazing and I am so glad I applied.

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