Richard Linden (middle) director of curriculum for Missouri RYLA Academy, and other leaders of the Nex Gen training event for RYLA directors.

By Richard Linden, director of curriculum for Missouri RYLA Academy

Missouri RYLA Academy has a saying, “Right person. Right place. Right time.” This was never more evidenced than in August of 2023 when a group of RYLA directors from around the United States, Canada, and Taiwan met to discuss all things “RYLA” and elevate programming to meet the next generation of RYLA leaders. 

RYLA directors met for three days of training, networking, and high-energy fun. As usual with RYLA, friendships were created that will undoubtedly last lifetimes. But it wasn’t all fun and games.

The primary purpose of Nex Gen 2023, as the event was called, was to equip RYLA directors with the policies, procedures, and ideas to elevate their RYLA programs to greater heights for years to come. The first day of Nex Gen was about friendship. RYLA Directors met in a casual setting, made introductions, addressed training expectations, and began friendships. 

Day two focused on training directors in the success of Missouri RYLA Academy. All attendees were given a detailed, 200-page facilitator guide. This guide includes complete steps on everything from staff selection and student selection to budgeting and capacity building.

Day three was go time! Attendees shared successes and horror stories with each other. Round-table brainstorming sessions resulted in innovative ideas. The training ended with upbeat, energized directors ready to apply new policies, procedures, and strategies to their own RYLA programs. 

The event happened in typical Rotary fashion. Two highly successful RYLA programs met each other at the Rotary International Convention in Hamburg, Germany, in June 2019.  Both programs realized they had something the RYLA world needed and set out to bring RYLA directors together for fun, learning, and networking. 

District 6760 RYLA from Clarksville, Tennessee, is based on a model of youth leaders developing future youth leaders. Mentoring, shaping, and molding future Rotarians in an intense week-long program. Missouri RYLA Academy is a multi-district RYLA, partnering Rotarian volunteers with professional school educators to implement a curriculum of Rotary servant leadership. Both RYLA’s are founded on two principles: the first is that youth are the most important ingredient in the future of Rotary, and the second is that if Rotary is going to invest time and money in youth through RYLA, it needs an immediate return on investment. 

The return on investment for our event’s trainers, vendors, and attendees was huge! Programs were strengthened, networks were established, and friendships were forged. Based on overwhelming praise, we’ve decided to do it again on 14-16 August in Kansas City, Missouri. Learn more at