Dear Anchorage International Rotary Club,

I'd like to thank you for providing me with the opportunity of a lifetime by sponsoring my attendance to Dstrict 5010's Rotary Youth Leadership Awards 2014 camp. I thoroughly enjoyed the entire weekend I spent with Rotary. Previously, I have not had the knowledge of Rotary that I accquired recently. My interest in Rotary has heightened, and I'm proud to say I took part in a leadership seminar put on by Rotary. 

Throughout the weekend, I was constantly learning. A majority of our lessons took place on the first full day, and the three major categories covered were: risk taking, self responsibility/self-esteem, and goal setting. Discussion took place both as a camp and in smaller groups, and in each I felt comfortable sharing. The goal that was announced was to teach us to learn who we are, and I feel that I have done just that. In camp, I took risks by putting myself out there and opening up, which I normally would not do. I came up with positive risks I can start taking now that will improve my life. During self responsibility, I learned about defense mechanisms and was able to acknowledge the ones I absent-mindedly use so that I can begin taking full responsibility. RYLA built up my self-esteem with it's accepting and loving atmosphere. When discussing goal setting, I was encouraged to open my mind more. I had a very specific plan of action as to what I want to be when I grow up, and I now accept that my job isn't going to define me and my ultimate goal doesn't have to be job-related. I hope to positively impact the world. Friday was packed full of learning how to be a leader through lessons and acitvities.

On Saturday, we started the day with affirmations by thanking and complimenting all the people we had met. In RYLA, I made more friends than I have in my first two years of high school. Everyone was open and friendly, and I grew close with people who I hope to keep in contact with. By having my social skills enhanced, I will be able to utilize the leaderships skills I now know to a variety of people. In the afternoon, we were split into groups and went off to do service projects in Wasilla. I traveled to My House; an organization that provides homeless teens with food, clothes, showers, etc. Because I have had first-hand experience with helping and befriending teens who have been homeless, this organization affected me personally and now that I know about it, I plan to do more volunteer work in the future there.

Overall, I feel that RYLA allowed me to grow as a person and as a part of this community. I will take the skills and knowledge from this one weekend and use it for the rest of my life as I lead and serve the community. I look forward to personally sharing my experience with my grandpa, Raymond Ellis, and my uncle, Tim Ellis, who are members that I know in Anchorage International Rotary Club, and I also plan to seek out any Interact club close to my home so that I can become more involved.

Again, thank you for sponsoring my attendance to RYLA 2014. I was sad to leave, and only hope I will be able to return again next year. If you would be willing, I woulld appreciate it if you would consider sending me back as a student so I can further learn and solidify all of the skills, or as an alumni so I can be a part of other teens' leadership education and help to the best of my ability. When you are notified of RYLA 2015, please think of me and if you could, contact me with the information so that I may once again apply. I appreciate everything you have done for me.

Thank you very much,

Monica Heintzman