Blair Bailey, Kayla Tremblay, Bryce Neal, and Riley Laflin (absent from photo) learned team building and leadership skills at the recent RYLA conference.

First of all I want to sincerely thank you all for the opportunity for me to attend such a wonderful event and a weekend full of challenges and growth. The best part about RYLA for me were the people that I was able to meet and the connections that I gained. Even with a limited amount of time I feel that we were all able to get to know one another and become friends very quickly. I learned about the different types of leaders that there are, and that it’s okay to be different than others. For me, I am not one to be over the top, assertive, and very vocal when it comes to leading a group and taking charge. I am however, empathetic, thoughtful, and analytical, which actually does come in handy some times! Haha. The point is that I now understand that there are benefits to every type of individual and their leaderships skills, as well as the importance of learning from one another and being accepting of those differences. 

One of the most challenging parts of the weekend were the high ropes courses. I cannot tell you all enough how scared I was to be hoisted up some 30-40 feet in the air by a group of people that I don’t entirely know, and being able to trust a harness and a very thin rope. Especially having a fear of heights and being susceptible to motion sickness. It took a lot of courage for me to “let go” and let me tell you, it was one of the best things that I could have done. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t easy. It was actually terrifying. Al and Sue Feather can actually attest to how scared I was. Al pulls me aside and says, “look, if Sue can do this, I KNOW you can do it!!” It brought a big smile to my face and more determination than ever. Putting that trust into hands other than my own not only boosted my sense of comfort and support, but self confidence and self esteem as well. The way we all worked together during RYLA, and the support and encouragement that was shown was honestly incredible and blew my mind. I remember sitting in the lodge on the last day and looking around, proud to be there, and proud to have accomplished everything that we did as a team, no matter how small. I just want to thank you all again for the opportunity to experience this trip, as well as to the special leaders who put so much time and effort into making sure that it ran smoothly, we were happy, and that we had meaningful programs and activities to accomplish. Thank you all again, I appreciate it very much!  - Riley Laflin