Local Students Attend Rotary SLAPSHOT

Four of the five high school students who recently attended the Rotary District 7090 SLAPSHOT leadership weekend in Ancaster, Ontario were, from left, Kaylee Thornton, Sherman CSD; Madeline Brogan, Brocton CSD; Jasmine Kiswani, Westfield Academy & CSD; and Keeshawn Smith, Bemus Point CSD. They gave insights about their experience during a recenty meeting of the Rotary Club of Westfield-Mayville.

Five students from area high schools participated in the Rotary District 7090 Student Leadership Award Program for Students High On Training (SLAPSHOT) experience at The Adventure Learning Centre at Canterbury Hills, Ancaster, Ontario, Canada during the weekend of April 28-30. The five young leaders and their respective school districts were Madeline Brogan, Brocton CSD; Jasmine Kiswani, Westfield Academy & CSD; Sydney Lachajczyk, Chautauqua Lake CSD; Keeshawn Smith, Bemus Point CSD (Maple Grove HS); and Kaylee Thornton, Sherman CSD.

Four of the students were able to attend the May 9 meeting of the Rotary Club of Westfield-Mayville, which was held at The Parkview in Westfield, to tell the members and guests who were present about their unique experience. Due to a track and field competition, Sydney Lachajczyk was unable to be present. She will attend a future Rotary club meeting to share her insights.

The Rotary Club of Westfield-Mayville sponsored the conference attendance of four of the five students, and grandparents were the sponsors of the fifth student. Transportation to and from Ancaster, Ontario was provided by some members of the same Rotary Club.

SLAPSHOT offers 100 high school students throughout Rotary District 7090 in the US and Canada the opportunity for a fun learning experience. Its main focus is to foster the development of leadership, positive self-esteem and teamwork in youth of the ages of 15 to 18 years. This was the 12th year of this Rotary District 7090 program that promotes, honors, celebrates and fosters leadership in teens. Each Rotary club may annually sponsor up to five SLAPSHOT students.

Participants receive training in listening and interpersonal skills, assertiveness and problem-solving, team building and presentation skills. Included in the experience are six meals and two overnight stays in cabins in an outdoor adventure camp. Rotarians, motivational speakers, exceptional leaders and previous graduates of the SLAPSHOT program provide various large and small group training sessions.

Daniel Smith, Rotary Club of Westfield-Mayville Youth Services Chair, annually encourages area high school students to participate by contacting the guidance counselors and administrators of local school districts. Each of the districts is asked to nominate one student to be a SLAPSHOT participant. The student is selected on the basis of leadership potential. The desired outcome is that program participants will gain confidence and the necessary skills that will enable them to make a positive difference in their schools, local communities and beyond.

Smith stated, “SLAPSHOT is uniquely a Rotary District 7090 youth experience. It was created by Past District 7090 Governor Kevin Crouse, and each year a “Crouster Award” is presented to one outstanding SLAPSHOT participant. This was the 12th year of SLAPSHOT, and I am very proud about the fact the Rotary Club of Westfield-Mayville has had 100 percent participation in all 12 of the programs. Thank you to our Rotary Club for sponsoring many students, and also to the parents, relatives and school officials for supporting and promoting SLAPSHOT.”

The schedule for this weekend leadership development opportunity is jam packed with talent shows, round robin programs, Adventure Works high ropes courses, teamwork speaker Joel Hilchey, plus information on Rotary youth programs, including the Interact Club. Special speaker Annaleise Carr, a marathon swimmer, offered inspirational comments about overcoming challenges. Also, there were campfire presentations, and preparations for the “Cabin Teen Challenge” presentations on Sunday morning. Plus, each participant was asked to make an “ABC” or “Action, Benefit or Commitment” statement during a circle debriefing session.

Participant Madeline Brogan said, “I had an amazing experience at SLAPSHOT. I was very nervous at the beginning, because I usually struggle to quickly open up to new people. I immediately made many new friends. My favorite part was when Joel Hilchey talked with us and gave us a personality test. He showed me and everyone else that you don’t have to be the loud person in front of the room to be a leader. A leader can be someone who demonstrates the ability to have courage, can find solutions to problems, and can have success. I received many benefits from this experience, including getting out of my comfort zone, meeting new people, and realizing that I am a leader.”

Jasmine Kiswani, another SLAPSHOT participant, stated, “Since I’d never been to a leadership camp before, this was a strange experience for me. The place was gorgeous, and when I walked into my cabin, the girls were so nice and respectful. During the experience, I learned a lot about teamwork. Two people at a time had to do the ropes course. Because I’m terrified of heights, this was definitely out of my comfort zone. And I got much higher up in the air than I thought I could! I learned that it was easier to accomplish a task when people work well together to get to the same goal. Leadership is definitely not just one person being in front of others. It is acquired through a community that is built by teamwork.”

SLAPSHOT participant Keeshawn Smith said, “At first I wasn’t thrilled about attending, but once I was there, I found that the other students were very social and were average teens. I made lots of friends really quickly, especially since at first I went to the wrong cabin, and then was relocated to another cabin, where I met more people. My thoughts are to not make prejudgments about the program. I’m glad I had this opportunity, and, if possible, I would go again.”

Kaylee Thornton, another participant, stated, “At first I was really nervous, especially since I was one of only three persons from the States out of a total of 12 people in our cabin. I met many people, and learned more about Canada. Some of my favorite parts were going to the waterfall, which was called “Sherman Falls.” Since I’m from Sherman, NY, I liked that. Our group won the talent show. We did the “Chicken Dance,” while one girl played the melodica. We had so much fun! What I learned is that anybody can be a leader. Thank you to the Rotary Club of Westfield-Mayville for giving me such a great opportunity to travel and to meet new people!”

SLAPSHOT reflects Rotary motto of “Service Above Self.” The Object of Rotary is to encourage and foster the ideal of service, and the following in particular: 1) the development of acquaintance as an opportunity for service; high ethical standards in business and professions; 2) the recognition of the worthiness of all useful occupations; and the dignifying of each Rotarian’s occupation as an opportunity to serve society; 3) the application of the ideal of service in each Rotarian’s personal, business and community life; and 4) the advancement of international understanding, goodwill and peace through a world fellowship of business and professional persons united in the ideal of service.

Rotarians use “The Four-Way Test” for their personal and professional relationships. This test, which has been translated into more than 100 languages, is as follow: “Of the things we think, say or do, Is it the TRUTH? Is it FAIR to all concerned? Will it build GOODWILL and BETTER FRIENDSHIPS? Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?”

The five Rotary “Avenues of Service” are Club, Vocational, Community, International and Youth. The most recent statistics from Rotary International are that there are 35,263 Rotary clubs worldwide with 1,227,217 members. Rotaract clubs, which are comprised of young adults of the ages 18 to 31, have 9,843 groups and 226,389 around the globe. Interact clubs are the high school organizations associated with Rotary. There are 21,100 Interact clubs in the world and they have 483,230 members. Rotary EarlyAct clubs are school-wide service groups for elementary students from ages 5 to 13.

In addition, there are Rotary Community Corps (RCCS) consisting of men and women who work in partnership with Rotary clubs to improve their communities. Each RCC is sponsored by a Rotary club, and as with the Rotaract and Interact clubs, the Rotary club acts as its partner in service. In the world, there are 210,500 RCCS members in 9,154 corps.

The Rotary Club of Westfield-Mayville, which encompasses the communities of Brocton, Mayville, Ripley, Sherman and Westfield, is actively seeking potential members. For more information about this Rotary club, contact Pete Bills, Club Membership Chair, 326-2227.