Our meeting last week featured Mike Darnold, the founder of Rotary District 5320 Camp RYLA. Since retiring as a police officer in Fullerton, Mike’s career has focused on helping students, along with their participating families, put themselves back on the track to higher education and the establishment of healthy personal values. Annually, Mike works with over 300 students and their families on drug/alcohol abuse and other challenging issues.

Mike helped found District 5320's Camp RYLA program over 21 years ago and has served as one of its coordinators ever since. Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA) is all about Rotarians working with youth in leadership development. It is an intensive training/experiential program for students that are currently juniors in high school.


Students are chosen for their proven or potential leadership abilities. They are provided an all-expense paid camp, which includes three evenings of on-line leadership training followed by three days/two nights of camp in the local mountains of Idyllwild. Food, transportation, housing and activities are free to all student participants; proudly sponsored by Rotary clubs from throughout District 5320. Students at camp will include alumni from prior years camps and other talented young adults and Rotarians who will contribute valuable leadership and life skills to the experience. RYLA provides a memorable opportunity to learn, grow, have fun, make new friends, and gain a new and improved life focus. Camp RYLA needs just not students but volunteers to help with the weekend program. This year, our club will sponsor two students to attend Camp RYLA to be selected by our Scholarship Committee. If anyone is interested in serving as a volunteer for the next RYLA session, to be held April 18th - 23rd, please visit the Camp RYLA website to sign up.