By Sheila Rollins, governor of District 7780, parts of Maine and New Hampshire, USA
Changeover ceremonies, in which Rotary leaders transition to their new positions, are often formal events. I knew I wanted our district’s ceremony to be different. I wanted an event that would positively reflect the ideals of Rotary, that would be family-oriented and cost-conscious, and that would not take place in a hotel ballroom. I considered combining the district changeover with a service project, but I decided to create something even more unique: I planned the changeover to coincide with our annual Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA).
Our RYLA takes place each June at Camp Hinds, a Boy Scout camp on a lake in southern Maine, which has a full Challenging Outdoor Personal Experience (COPE) course. The course activities — including group initiative games, trust events, and low-ropes and high-ropes courses — are designed to teach participants leadership and problem-solving skills.
I also thought combining the changeover with RYLA would encourage more Rotary members to visit this amazing youth leadership program we run. Before long, a Changeover at Camp, complete with a potluck supper, was in the works. Rotary members were welcomed to the changeover with live music, and then many of them tried the challenging ropes course. Not all of them finished, but all who participated came back more aware of — and definitely impressed by — the RYLA program and what the 15-year-olds who take part experience each year.
All in all, it was a changeover that celebrated leaders of all types and promoted the goals of all Rotarians. I hope other Rotary districts are inspired to create a cohesive community event in the same way!