News from The Kings of Wessex Academy

"A group of individuals who work together for a clear purpose and goal"

5th March, 2019 by Jude Owens

Year 13 student at The Kings of Wessex Academy, George Winby had a very different half term week’s holiday after he was selected to be the Kings’ representative on the 2019 Rotary Youth Leadership Award (RYLA) activity week.

Sponsored by Mendip Rotary Club, George applied last year by letter and CV, but was on the reserve list. However, his name came up this year and along with 23 other students from Mendip Rotary “District 1200” George was delighted to get the place to spend six days at Dartmoor Training Centre - with his new walking boots, trousers and outdoor clothes ready for the boggy terrain and rainy climate.

As the name suggests RYLA is about teaching young people leadership skills through a variety of outdoor and indoor activities. Working in either the Red or Blue Team – or when they worked together, the Purple Team; after each task the young people reviewed and improved their skills before moving onto the next challenge.

The rain drain task challenged the teams to locate a bottle at the bottom of a drain and to float it up to the top; requiring logic and a strategy. George’s team had a mini disaster when they lost control of a full bucket of water with the inevitable soaking for a few of their team. But they were undaunted, if not entirely dry, and found a solution in the end when another student climbed onto George’s shoulders and at the same height as the top of the tube poured in the water to complete the task. Another example of good teamwork. They also had a complete 60 tasks in 60 minutes activity; learned about different personalities: Cool Blue (analytical, thinker), Fiery Red (direct, competitive), Sunshine Yellow (happy, cheery, upbeat) and Earth Green (care more about people’s emotions than getting the task done) and learned about eye communication (to the left for remembering and to the right for constructing).

Outdoors, they walked from the Centre to the disused Froggintor Quarry to practise abseiling and rock climbing and camped out one night, feasting on bean stew for supper after setting up their tents in the dark – and of course, they toasted marshmallows around the camp fire. The following morning George practised his cooking skills when he was the bacon flipper and helped to cook a full English breakfast for all the participants and the leaders.

Reflecting on his RYLA experience, George said:

“At the start of the week, we were a collection of individuals. But by the end of the week, I knew a team was a group of individuals who work together for a clear purpose and goal.”

George will remember his insights into how people think, and act, and different personality types (he is a Cool Blue) in what was a fun way to learn how to relate better to people and has made lots of new friends from the week. They are already planning a reunion.

As one of the instructors said, “You will never look at people in the same way again.”

See the group’s film on