Rotarians of District 5100,
After much thought we have decided to cancel the 2020 RYLA program. It is not an easy decision to make about a program that has so much impact on the individuals that participate. Due to the current uncertainty, we cannot put on a program that will meet our expectations and still maintain fairness to the participants attending this year. We also recognize there may be other priorities for our staff, our volunteer speakers, and the participants, as they all find time to dedicate to this week.
District 5100 has been widely recognized as having one of the best RYLA programs in the world and we strive to maintain this honor. We aim to ensure that the program will stay strong during the year off and we will use this time to work with clubs to come back with an even stronger program next year. We look forward to an extremely impactful RYLA 2021.
District 5100 RYLA Chair
July is so far away, you have time to plan around COVID-19.
The state of Oregon currently has a limit on non-essential gatherings until further notice. This would include RYLA, should the policy remain until then, which is impossible to predict. Furthermore, Multnomah county, where RYLA is held, has extended their state of emergency until July 9th, the day before the RYLA program would begin.
Planning and organizing of RYLA takes place in the 6 months leading up to the program. The level of uncertainty makes this extremely difficult. In addition all of our speakers are volunteers, most of whom have full time professional speaking jobs or who are trying to figure out how their businesses work. We do not feel it is fair to request their time at this moment. RYLA functions by building goodwill and better friendships with our volunteers and by taking this year off we can maintain this.
Safety for all – Our entire program is held in a single building with dormitory type rooms which makes maintaining social distancing not a feasible option. The health of everyone involved in the program is one of our top priorities.
My club has a participant, what do we do?
A handful of clubs have done a great job locating participants during this difficult time. All applications for 2020 will be valid for 2021. The age range will be extended an additional year so those who had planned to attend this year will not be excluded from attending next year. The majority of participants that attend RYLA are young adults who, during this crisis, have potentially lost their jobs or hours at their work. Being able to take time off for this program may not be possible for many, including some staff members.
We set aside funds for this year, what should we do with those?
If you are a club that normally sends one participant, consider rolling it over to next year and sending two. Otherwise, we encourage you to use that money to do something good to help your community who needs it more than ever right now.