PA Bob Hope students attend RYLA camp

Published 4:39 pm Friday, January 22, 2016


It might have been meeting day Thursday for Port Arthur Rotarians, but for a group of Bob Hope High School students it was “Peanut Butter Monday.”

At the civic club’s weekly meeting, 11 Bob Hope High School students involved in the local Rotary Club’s Interact Club detailed their week at the Rotary Youth Leadership Award Program starting with a day-of-the-week ditty they performed for members.

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From Peanut Butter Monday, Two-piece Tuesday, Wild Wild Wednesday, Finger Lickin’ Thursday, Payday Friday, Party on Saturday, and ending with On Sunday we go to church because we party of Saturday, the students sang each verse enthusiastically while encouraging Rotary members to join in the chorus.

The students, all juniors, recently attended the RYLA Woodlake training program at a camp outside of Corrigan. There, they learned teamwork, communication and leadership skills. They also made new friends from other clubs, and had fun along the way.

“We did a lot of chants and by the end of the weekend our voices were gone,” Edgar Lopez said. “We had to work in a group with other people we barely knew that first day. We learned that team leadership is used not just referring to one person, we had teamwork.”

Another student, Luis Anaya, said they group sang a lot — something that he felt he was not good at.

“I learned a lot about people and got the courage to go up to people and talk to them,” Anaya said.

Daniela Gutierrez said she was scared when the students first arrived because she does not like to talk to strangers.

By the time the three-day camp was over, Gutierrez said she had not only talked to and made friends with strangers, she also the value of communication and trust.

“This bunch is known as the “energetic bunch,” Lance Elizondo, Interact sponsor at the high school said of the student-led group.

The Interact student club at Bob Hope has grown from an initial five students to about 40 since it was started two years ago.

“These students are very enthusiastic, just a real good cohesive group,” Bobby Martin, club organizer from the Port Arthur Rotary, said.

“There is something unique about RYLA,” Mike Perez, RYLA District chairperson, said.

This year 294 students attended the camp, and 24 of those were selected to come back next year as counselors.

“This experience changes their lives. This camp is phenomenal,” Perez said. “We want the students to go back and be involved in their Interact Club more. We want them to one-day join Rotary. They are future leaders, confident, intelligent students. Rotary changes lives and you are a part of that.”

Rotary Interact clubs are for young people ages 12-18. Collectively, the members tackle issues in their community they feel strongly about. They perform two service projects a year — one that helps their school or community and one that promotes international understanding.


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