Every summer the Duncan Rotary Club sponsors two teens to attend the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA) Camp at the Goddard Youth Camp. This year Preston Weaks and Ian McEntire represented Stephens County.

The duo, who also went to Boys State together, shared their time at camp and some of the lessons they learned.

“RYLA was this summer and both me and Preston were very excited to be able to go to that,” McEntire said. “It was basically a week long leadership training camp and we did a lot of things — we did a service project, with developmentally disabled folks from around the south part of the state. We basically made a mini carnival where they could play games, get face paint.”

McEntire was paired with a young man named David and they went to the booths together.

“You learn that even though on the outside they may look different, they are really just people and they deserve to be treated with respect. I learned a lot that day,” McEntire said.

Something that happens near the start of camp is learning your leadership animal.

“Another thing we did was as a leader you have to work with people who aren’t like you and you have to work with people who are exactly like you so we did this personality test which split us up into four different animals of personality types,” McEntire said. “There’s the lions which Preston was, the dolphins which is what I was, then the koalas and the eagles. There’s all different types of people, the lions are more dominating and ambiguous type — very ferocious. Dolphins are the more social type, the koalas are the more laid back type and the eagles are the more organized and logical type.”

The two were luckily assigned to the same cabin, which basically becomes the family group for the week. The cabin groups work on two competitions at the camp, a skit and a banner. There are also individual awards called the “I Care Award.”

“Cabin 18 — we were going to take that skit victory,” McEntire said. “Preston came up with this idea, it was basically like a mock job interview. I was the interviewer and he (Preston) was the interviewee. I said ‘This job takes a lot of focus, is it alright if we try something a little unorthodox?’”

McEntire’s character brought out “the distraction crew,” their fellow cabin mates who’s sole purpose was to make Weaks laugh and “blow” the job interview.

The duo was happy to report their group did win the skit. McEntire also received an individual award.

“I actually won the ‘I Care’ award — I was really fortunate to get that award and that means I am automatically able to be a counselor next year so I will definitely be a counselor,” he said.

Weaks was also applying to be a counselor next year.

The seniors were both very grateful for the opportunity to attend RYLA.

“This camp was super influential for me … I’ve come back from other camps which kind of changed my prospective on being a leader for the negative but this camp really showed me how to find the joy in being a leader,” McEntire said. “Learning how to talk to people and work as a close knit group for the benefit of everyone.”

Weaks agreed and said the way the lessons were given was a big help.

“All of our leadership, like the things that we learned — it wasn’t just sitting down in the classroom, it was hands on activities,” he said.

When asked about the comparison between Boys State and RYLA, Weaks said he liked RYLA better.

“It was more relaxed but I think I got a lot more out it because it wasn’t so (ridged),” he said. “I had time to process everything and actually reflect on what happened each day.”