Meeting the current Miss U.S. Virgin Islands, Stacey Smith, was only part of the fun for 23 teenagers who took part in a Rotary-sponsored event at Maho Bay Camps last weekend.
Now in its second year, the Youth Leadership Awards is a collaboration between five Rotary clubs on St. Thomas and the St. John Rotary Club.
With participants this year from St. Thomas, St. John and the British Virgin Islands between the ages of 13 and 30, the Leadership Awards marked the first ever international youth leadership Rotary event, according to the club’s St. John Youth Leader Michael Jordan.
“The kids were recommended by Rotarians or community members,” said Jordan. “One of the things that we were looking for in the candidates was their potential to become future leaders — and future Rotarians.”
On the St. Thomas side of things, Heflyn Royer was instrumental in organizing the weekend event, Jordan added.
Teens enjoyed a full weekend of activities, beginning on Friday, April 13, and ending on Sunday, April 15.
“We wanted to give these kids leadership skills, communication skills and team building skills to help them really become leaders for the next generation of the islands,” said Jordan. “It’s just basically a weekend where we try to get the kids to think about their futures and give them some of the tools to become leaders.”
Public Speaking Workshops
Each Rotary group covered the cost for two or three teenagers to take part in the weekend-long program and a number of Rotarian chaperones themselves attended.
In addition to interviews with Smith, the teen-agers were also treated to public speaking workshops and met with a local doctor, who discussed possible careers in the field of medicine.
“The participants got a chance to bond, meet other youth, learn various leadership skills and take part in interactive and experimental learning activities,” said Royer, Youth Leadership Awards director and the club service director for Rotary of St. Thomas, also known as Rotary One.
The Maho Bay Camps setting was perfect for the leadership weekend, Royer added.
“The remote camp setting brought the participants to another world, and another way of living and thinking,” said Royer.
On Sunday afternoon, each participant was awarded for their contribution in a touching ceremony at the campground.
Keeping Kids On Track
Programs like Rotary’s Youth Leadership Awards are important in order to help kids reach their full potential, Royer explained.
“I believe in the youth of today and tomorrow,” she said. “As a Rotarian and a leader in the community, I see potential in our young people. Other leaders have to join together and create programs or partake in those that already exist in order to keep our youth occupied and focused on the right track.”
The weekend highlighted some of the goals of Rotary groups around the world, Jordan explained.
“It’s a great organization and I’m really proud to be a member,” said Jordan. “The weekend introduced kids to what Rotary is all about and hopefully gave them some new skills they didn’t have before.”
The island’s rotary club has been an avid sponsor of many community organizations, including the St. John Kids And The Sea and St. John Rescue.
Supporting Community Groups
“We just gave KATS a check for $2,000 and we’ve pledged $10,000 to the group,” said Jordan. “Two years ago we gave $90,000 to St. John Rescue and we are constantly doing things to help the community. We raised more than $6,000 at the
St. John Blues Festival which will all go to charitable organizations.”
The St. John Rotary Club is one of the largest fund raising organizations on the island, Jordan explained.
“We have about 30 members and we probably generate, through events like Flavors and other fund raising events, almost six figures — all of which goes to community needs and groups,” he said.
Maho Bay Camps aided the Youth leadership program by offering special discounted rates for participants and Starfish Market donated food for the group, Jordan added.