I first became aware of Rotaract when I attended a Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA) camp in 2005. At that camp, I made many friends and lifelong contacts. I even scored my first post-school job from one of the Rotarians. After RYLA, it took me a while to come back to Rotaract, since I was participating in lots of other voluntary activities anyway. When I went to the University of Wollongong, Meghan and I sought out and joined the campus club.
UoW Rotaract gave us a chance to get involved in the Wollongong community, meet lots of new friends, and build our leadership skills. In late 2009, we decided to form a Southern Highlands Rotaract Club. With a lot of urging and support from local Rotarians, our club was chartered on May 28, 2010, with Meghan as president. Our sponsoring clubs were the Rotary Clubs of Bowral-Mittagong, Berrima District and Moss Vale. We insisted on all three Rotary clubs being a part of our group because we didn’t want our club to be only associated with one part of the Highlands.
The Highlands Rotaract Club has given me even greater opportunities to make new friends and build leadership skills. I became president for the year 2011-12 and, while we have faced some challenges, I am very proud of our achievements. In our first two years, we raised several thousand dollars for various causes, contributed to a variety of community events and participated broadly in Rotaract and Rotary activities.
My favourite activity has been leading the Rotary Youth Program of Enrichment (RYPEN) camps for 14-17 year olds twice each year. I also look after the Facebook page of the local RYPEN committee and act as Camp Photographer.