In Gear | Rotary in Southern New Zealand In Gear - Issue 3 - Page 33

A team trip to Clyde Dam. was raised in Alexandra, and was encouraged by the host club, which ultimately sponsored her, to apply. Amaka, who now works in banking in Wanaka, took home a silver in the 4 x 200m freestyle relay and a bronze in the 4 x 100m freestyle relay from the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games, and was a member of the New Zealand swim team at the London Olympics two years later. What the retreat has given her, she says, is the focus and drive to finish her studies, and keep her eye on the ‘why’. “It’s shown me, if you keep getting up, you keep moving forward,” Samantha, who is also a keen rower, says. Samantha She plans to use her new knowledge in her role as Kea Scout leader. “I loved every moment, and I gained so much from the experience. “I’ll use it in my scouting career to help and support others to find their ‘buzz’.” Dunedin’s Slade Miller, 22, was another who became involved after being shoulder-tapped by his boss. Slade “I try to give every opportunity a go, so said ‘yes’ right away. “I feel like the world has opened up to me. It really shows you and inspires you to think bigger when you realise that you can make a difference. “The amount of things you don’t realise you can do is phenomenal. A lot of the speakers came from very normal backgrounds, yet have achieved great things. I plan to take a few more risks and challenge myself. When my brother is older, I’d love to see him come.” Slade was sponsored by the Rotary Club of Taieri. “I haven’t had anything to do with Rotary up to now, so I’m looking forward to paying them back with something.” A chance glance at an ad in a local community newspaper promoting the retreat led Wanaka’s Amaka Gessler, a champion swimmer, on the road to RYLA. As well as great life lessons, Amaka, who was sponsored by the Rotary Club of Wanaka, says she’s come away from RYLA having made strong connections with like- minded people. “It is an amazing, fun experience where you meet awesome people. I now have more confidence in following my own path and passion,” she says. “I want to continue doing what I love, and get more involved in my community, and get other youth involved, as well.” Amaka Each year, more than 25,000 young people from around the world graduate from RYLA courses, camps and seminars, which are designed to help them better understand the dynamics of business, community, their personal needs and relationships. The programme was developed to support Rotary’s strong commitment to young people, and relies on clubs’ ongoing backing to both identify leaders-in-the- making and to sponsor their participation. Now in its fourth decade, RYLA has proven extremely successful both in New Zealand and globally, and has been an important stepping stone for many of today’s world leaders. Page 33