What do you tell your children about Rotary?

Simone and Ariana Collins.

Simone and Ariana Collins.

By Simone Collins, past president of the Rotary Club of Freshwater Bay, Western Australia, Australia

I have never forgotten a conversation I had with a Rotarian who was one of our strongest supporters, back when I was still a Rotaractor. Her own children had never joined Rotary or Rotaract, because they didn’t want to belong to something “boring” like their parents did! I was gobsmacked.

What precisely are we as Rotarians telling our children about Rotary? What do they see? Do they just see you going to “boring” meetings? Or do they see what inspires you about Rotary?

Sure, the meetings can be boring (a whole separate issue!), but Rotary is not just weekly meetings. Rotary is much, much more than that.  If you truly believe in what Rotary does, the difference it makes, surely that should be communicated to your children.

Growing up in Rotary

I am a second generation Rotarian. I have grown up immersed in Rotary, because my parents have always been passionate about Rotary, and Rotary was an integral part of their life. It still is.

I have a copy of a 1978 photo showing the inauguration of a Rotary project to provide a center for seniors to socialize. I’m toddling under the lectern while my father is speaking. Back then, the average age of Rotarians was much lower. My dad was in his 40s, and other Rotarians in his club had young families. It was a lot of fun to catch up with the children at projects and social gatherings. Sadly, as Rotarians have aged and younger members have not been brought in to those clubs, a lot of the family-friendliness has evaporated.

I’ve grown up seeing Rotary in action, visiting projects all over the world (and many meetings too!). Some of these experience changed my life; like seeing life inside refugee camps in Hong Kong and visiting the Philippines while bombs were being dropped during a military coup. I wanted to be a Rotarian when I grew up. How could I not, after witnessing such need first hand, and seeing what Rotary is doing to help?


And it’s not just what Rotary does – it’s the people too. Most of my parents’ closest friends are Rotarians. Every aspect of our life involved Rotary! And as I grew older, and went to various Rotary camps, joined Rotaract, and eventually joined Rotary, the majority of my closest friends (and two ex-husbands!) likewise have come from the extended Rotary family. I took a three-month break between leaving Rotaract and joining Rotary. Just reading on Facebook what all my Rotary and Rotaract friends were doing around the world made me realize just how much I missed being a part of it.

My own children, now 6 and 5, attended their first Rotaract meeting the week after their births. They have been able to point out Rotary emblems since the age of 3. They do think Rotary meetings are a bit boring, but they enjoy going every now and then, especially when they win a raffle prize! They are particularly looking forward to going to the RI Convention in Sydney next year! I hope that their experiences of Rotary will continue to be positive, so that they too will grow up wanting to be a part of it all.

What impressions of Rotary do your children and grandchildren have?

11 thoughts on “What do you tell your children about Rotary?

  1. My oldest daughter is a 4-pete – all RI youth programs! Interact, RYLA 3 years – 2 as a Jr. Counselor, RYE to Italy and 2 years as trainer afterwards, and Rotaract in college. She better join after grad school!


  2. Rotary has been a huge part of my life – I met my wife and best friends through Rotaract. During my year as Club President my son was born and attended his first meeting when only weeks old. I hope that in time he will follow me into Rotary, if he wants too. My responsibility is to ensure that he sees the value and benefits of it.


  3. Rotary has played such an important part of my life! I was a Rotary Scholar in Spain in 1985-86, where I learned Spanish and flamenco dance. In 1992 I was a GSE team member in Argentina, where I represented the field of American education. What an awesome exchange it was! As a result, I have become a Rotarian myself, now president of my club. I now engage my teenage son in our community activities, hoping he will adopt the love to serve humankind, as I enjoy doing daily through Rotary. We must all continue to involve our children in our Rotary activities so they can witness the results of goodwill and friendship. Youth Service is our theme for September, so go out and get at least one young person you know to participate in a Rotary event! You may not get immediate results, but the memory of the good work will pay off later in their life.


  4. There is a lot to think about here. Too often we do concentrate on on the weekly meetings (but if they are boring then there is something wrong – if I do not leave my club with tears of laughter running down my face then something was wrong…) and fund-raising. We do not spend enough on the way Rotary can transform the lives of people in our own communities or many thousands of miles away. Also, Rotary can transform our own lives. It did mine after a I led a GSE team to a developing country and discovered how much difference the local Rotary clubs were making to the quality of life of people in their own communities. How do we get our children interested? I have tried… and failed so far!


  5. Pingback: Today’s Links | Rotary International District 3040

  6. My children found out the reason behind it ….is all about giving back the rewards that Rotary International did help their father cured by the vaccine that our End Polio Now does!!!! We the people of the Philippines was so thankful to all the good and the fellowship of helping which is our Services Above Self!!! I am so glad and that my reasons of being there at all times!!! My children are all full of Passion about Rotary!!! I love Rotary Yours In Rotary Terri

    Terri McGraw Rotary International South Texas The Laredo Rotary Club Areas of Focus- Chair 2013-2014 District 5930 P. O. Box 450162 Laredo, TX. 78045 mcgrawterri@gmail.com


  7. I’m 72; join Rotary in 1980, wife Jesmin. We are enjoying Rotary. Kids all out and on their own. I’m semi retired; I love to reunite with my friends in all Rotary programmes. There is always something new to learn about Rotary. It has been continuously changing to meet the needs of time; this explains the longevity of Rotary. But I failed to convince my children to join Rotary. Due to too much fundraising and lack of entertaining programs they did not feel included. –Sk. Abdul Hadi, RC Khulna North, RID 3281


    • Hello sir. Salaam & Greetings from Penang in Malaysia. It is now 7 years on since your posting. May I wish you a Happy 80th whether you are approaching it or past it. What a milestone. . what might have changed since then? Have a wonderful day wherever you are and whatever you are doing.
      Kind regards. Tony Arkey P/E, RC Tanjung Bungah, Malaysia.
      Member No 1710468. Club No 45407. District 3300.


  8. Pingback: What do you tell your children about Rotary? | Warsaw Rotary , Club 3393, District 6540

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