Rotary Youth Camp, July 2014

I shuffle my toes to the edge of the rock. I'm ten feet above an icy cold mountain river, wearing a wetsuit, lifejacket, harness, helmet and safety ropes. Despite this I don't quite feel ready to take the plunge. "How have I got myself into this situation?", I ask myself. The others, a nine-strong contingent of teenagers from around Europe have already jumped in, and now it's my turn, the last in line. Here goes.

I'm here at Rhos-y-Gwaliau in North Wales as a supervisor on a week-long outdoor education course. It's a Rotary-funded scheme for the development of young people aged 16-19. Rotary clubs from France, Germany, Italy and the UK have all sent representatives to complete the course near Bala to improve their teamwork, leadership and personal development skills. All team members come from various backgrounds and have differing levels of experience.

Today's activity is canyoning, which involves moving down a large river course, using rocks, ropes, zipwires and a lot of slipping and sliding. There's also plenty of opportunity for jumping into icy-cold pools of clear blue water, should the mood take you (and even when the mood doesn't take you, it's necessary)!

Other activities during the week have included:

  • Rock climbing
  • Caving (exploring an old mine)
  • Sailing on Bala lake
  • Raft building (and subsequent raft sinking)
  • An expedition to the summit of Mount Snowdon, carrying all equipment for a night on the mountain
  • Canoeing
  • Gorge walking
  • A ropes course while wearing blindfolds

The course will rotate between our European partner clubs in Bonn, St Cloud and Tivoli in the coming years. If you or someone you know is between the ages of 16-19, keep your eyes peeled for the opportunity being advertised in the local media, or via the Rotary Club of Maidenhead.

We owe our thanks to our two superb instructors for the course, Lucy and Amber. The standard of leadership and education at RYG was first-class, and far exceeded our expectations. It is this which made our course a truly unforgettable experience.

Andy Evans