For Students and Families
Dear Students and Families,
Since 1969, the RYLA Northwest program has had the honor and privilege to teach leadership development to over 5600 students. Our program is based on the ideals of servant leadership and challenge by choice. We hope each student will grow, learn, and come back with the skills to lead teams in their community. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out.
— The RYLA Northwest Committee
What is RYLA Northwest?
RYLA Northwest is a project of Rotary Districts 5020 and 5030. Each year, students from western Washington, U.S.A, and Vancouver Island, B.C., gather to participate in this rewarding 4-day leadership conference.
How do I register?
A link will be emailed to you that takes you through the registration process. Please make sure you know the name of the Rotary Club that is sponsoring you when you complete the application. If you have any questions contact the RYLA Northwest Committee at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Where do I go?
RYLA Northwest 2024 will be held at at YMCA Camp Colman (20016 Bay Rd SW, Longbranch, WA 98351). Check in will be June 6 at 1-2pm. If interested, please contact your Rotary Club to discuss coordinated transport with other local students. If you don’t know who your Rotary contact is, please email the RYLA Northwest Committee at email@example.com.
Can students drive themselves?
We highly encourage carpooling and/or drop-off. There is limited space for parking.
What should I pack?
We will share a packing list in advance by email and post one here, closer to the event.
What kind of leadership activities will we be working on?
Of the many leadership theories available, our program is based on “servant leadership.” This theory can be found in books like Simon Sinek’s Leaders Eat Last and Turn the Ship Around by David Marquet. Since servant leadership is focused on the role of the leader within a team, there will be team building activities and challenges to practice these ideas.
What are sleeping and showering arrangements?
Each student will be assigned a bunk bed in a cabin. Each cabin holds 12-14 people, and two RYLA Northwest staff members sleep in each cabin with students. All students will have at least six feet physical distance from other students’ heads in cabins. Each cabin has separate, private bathing and bathroom facilities. Students may shower at night before bed or in the morning before breakfast. RYLA Northwest offers students the option of a same gender or mixed gender cabin, based on their preferences. Students should bring sleeping bags or sheets/blankets (see the packing list above).
What do meal times and options look like?
YMCA Camp Colman serves nutritious, well-balanced meals. Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner will be served at roughly 8:30, noon, and 6pm each day. A vegetarian option is available at every meal for vegetarian campers. Healthy snacks consisting of fruit and other items served in the afternoon. Water consumption is encouraged throughout the day. We have been informed that they prepare meals that are flexible enough to accommodate food restrictions. If a student has more than one food restriction or allergy, the options will become more limited. If you have concerns, please reach out to us. Students are permitted to bring food/snacks to supplement the meals provided by Camp Colman. Camp Colman is a peanut-free facility, so please do not bring any items with peanuts. If you have concerns about food restrictions or allergies, please contact us.
Is RYLA Northwest safe?
Safety is one of the core values of the program. YMCA Camp Colman and RYLA Northwest embrace a “challenge by choice” curriculum. We ask each student to set goals that match their comfort and skills, and support them in reaching that goal. What does that mean? Not every student is expected to reach the top of the climbing wall, but to set a goal that is challenging for them.
RYLA Northwest follows the robust youth protection policies of Rotary International, which you can read about on the Youth Protection page. RYLA Northwest policy prohibits hazing, harassment, or bullying. We offer a variety of cabin arrangements so that all students feel safe.
Can I visit my student while they are at the RYLA Northwest conference?
Parents or guardians are allowed to enter camp only in the case of medical emergencies or when needed to bring home a student early. Visitors are not allowed at Camp Colman.
Will RYLA staff take students’ medication and administer them?
Students may bring prescription and non-prescription medication. In the registration form we ask for information about medications so that we can provide medical care if needed; we will not collect/dispense medicines. RYLA Northwest is an alcohol- and drug-free program, so medications must arrive in their original packaging for identification purposes. If you have concerns about any health conditions, please contact us.
Can students keep their cell phone on them? Can they carry a small backpack w/ water, etc?
We highly encourage students to bring a water bottle, and to carry however they see fit. Students may also want to bring a notebook and pen to take notes. Students may bring phones, but there is limited cell coverage at the conference site. In addition, we encourage students to disconnect and fully jump into meeting other students and participating in the activities.
Will it be a fully structured day, or will there be any free time? What’s the agenda for the conference?
Programming is scheduled from approximately 8am until 10pm each day. The 2022 schedule can be found here.
When does the conference end? Can my student leave early?
Check out is at 11am on Saturday, June 10. Of course, students may leave early (for instance, for standardized testing or graduation), but we request to be informed so we can keep track of all students.
What’s the best way to reach RYLA Northwest staff at Camp Colman?
Please reach out to If there is a medical reason for students to be housed together, please contact the RYLA Northwest Committee at firstname.lastname@example.org. We have been advised by YMCA Camp Colman staff not to use the phone numbers listed on the Camp Colman website, because they are answered by YMCA staff located offsite.
Can students from the same school be assigned to the same cabin and/or small group?
We purposely sort students from the same schools into different cabins and small groups. Students will practice leadership skills in small groups with students who they don’t know. If there is a medical reason for students to be housed together, please contact the RYLA Northwest Committee at email@example.com.