Rotary Youth Leadership Camp in Stephenville


Submitted by Burton Smith, Rotary Club of Stephenville

This Saturday the “RYLA” campers rolled up their sleeves and went to work in laying the foundation for the new six-acre park at the Collins Street trailhead of the Bosque River Trail, which will feature an inclusive playground in the middle of the park.

Each year the program for the RYLA camp includes a community service project as part of the leadership training program to impress upon the young future leaders the value of serving their local communities. Sixty of the 120 campers literally “hit the trail” at 8:30 in the morning and worked until 11:30 under the guidance of Jen Basham, the city’s Director of Parks & Leisure Activities and Stephenville Rotarian Bob Cranford. As part of the initial landscaping at the park, they cleared brush and cleaned and prepared the city’s collection of red Thurber bricks to be set to form the Brick Trail Loop (which is the first phase portion of the four-phase project).

The effort was duplicated in the afternoon by the remaining 60 campers who labored from 12:30 to 3:30. The total day’s effort resulting in over 350 hours of manual labor the hard-working campers saved the city of Stephenville. (Rotary also donated $3,000 to pay for materials and
other costs associated with the development of the park!) I might mention that several SHS students were part of the camp who participated in the project – two in the afternoon photo were Ellie Hodgen and Maddie McLemore. The others, in the morning’s group photo included Karsen Salyards, Valeria Sena, and RYLArian Counselor Victoria (Tori) Permann. Practically all of the out-of-town campers exclaimed they were looking forward to returning to Stephenville in the not too distant future to see and show off to their families and friends, the fruits of their labor!

Next year the RYLA campers will return to Stephenville to tackle Phase 2 of the park – the Pollinator and Sensory Gardens.

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