LIHUE — For 18 young women from Waimea, Kauai and Kapaa High Schools, this year’s annual Rotary Youth Leadership Awards Camp in Kokee was no ordinary campout under the stars.
The three-day program kicked off on Feb. 27 and included several experiential activities led by Camp Director Char Ravelo of Leadership Kauai and supported by a backbone of Rotarians from each of the Kauai Rotary Clubs.
“I met so many people from different schools and made a lot of new friendships,” Kapaa High School student Grace Yatsko said. “The camp was all about leadership and I think we accomplished way more than that. It was an amazing experience and I am so glad I got to go.”
The camp was kicked off by Kupu Ae facilitator and Kauai County Councilman Mason Chock, who emphasized that identifying personal values and forming group values, as well as a consensus on how to move forward, was the catalyst in building long-lasting relationships.
“The need to develop leaders who are self-directed and civic minded is so important to the future of our island and the world,” Chock said.
The young women also participated in a “career speed-dating” exercise in which 14 Rotarians represented careers in agriculture, business, education, entrepreneurship, finance, real estate and technology.
In line with the Rotary’s core value of service above self, the ladies removed invasive plants under the guidance of Katie Cassel and her team from the Kokee Resource Conservation Program.
“These extraordinary young leaders didn’t waste any time diving into the projects and making things happen,” Ravelo said. “What we didn’t know would happen was how quickly they bonded and made promises to stay connected amongst themselves. Leadership is about inclusiveness, relationships, doing something, making choices, and these young leaders demonstrated these principles beautifully.”
Among the guest speakers at this year’s camp were Pacific Missile Range Facility Commanding Officer Capt. Bruce Hay and Laura Steelquist, Hawaii’s District Governor.
“The fact that they were very happy, tired and sad upon leaving says volumes about the emotional bonds they made with each other and the commitment to their own leadership and personal development — this, they’ll remember,” Ravelo said.