RYPEN 2020

Negotiating 2020, the year of COVID19 has been a challenge. RYPEN 2020 was initially scheduled for March 19-21 and with two weeks to go, it was decided to postpone and set a date later in the year when it was felt to be safe.
Eventually it was rescheduled for 16-18 October in the hope that the Alert Level would allow us to proceed and it was at Level One, although parents were still nervous and some students were withdrawn. The theme of the weekend was (Rotary) “Opening Opportunities” and the students embraced this with vigour over the weekend. Whilst 61 students were nominated and accepted onto the program, just 37 attended as all the others withdrew at some point prior to the event, for a variety of reasons. Many students were mindful of mock exams and exam study.
The students were selected to one of four teams, each team named after one of the Rotary Founders, Team Paul, Team Hiram, Team Silvester and Team Gus. The first challenge each team had was to research their Rotary Founder and then report back so the whole group got an understanding of the people who founded Rotary and why. The Friday night discussion sought to draw out those things that was a challenge for the youth of today. The standout concern of all students was the influence of social media on their lives.  However despite knowing what the issue was, there were no ideas of how to address the problem, but there was an acceptance that how people used the medium was maybe more the issue, rather than the medium.
A typically late to bed night on Friday preceded the team challenges of the Lake Traverse, Jellyfish and Flying Kiwi. Time was also allocated to practicing for the team skits to be presented that evening after dinner. A new aspect was introduced this year, in that dinner was an Opshop Dinner, where attendees were asked to bring clothes that they had bought from their local opshop, wear them Saturday night and then leave them at the camp to bolster the wardrobe there. Those that didn’t bring their own were dressed for the part by Rotarians amidst some protestations!
Several Rotarians and partners joined the group for Saturday dinner and enjoyed the skits from each team. The highlight of the night was all four groups presenting complete and well thought-out skits, from impersonating TV shows, to jump-jam singing and dancing, it was great and all really enjoyable.
Sunday was the Mud Run followed by the Water Slide, then the annual Raft Race up the lake, which was all taken in the students stride and the smiles were beaming. Their never thought they’d enjoy it so much! Mind you, I’m picking the warm spring weather helped a bit!
The guest speaker this year was Moira Shepherd with her Sled Dogs Life Lesson presentation. Moira has spent the last seven NZ summers in Alaska working with sled dogs, as sledding is the National Sport of Alaska and the best dogs are as well-known as we know our All Blacks. The quirks, characteristics and traits of the dogs and their training, can be directly compared and applied to humans and our behaviour which was engaging for the students. A surprise for everyone at the close of the presentation was meeting Lydia, a retired 9 year old sled dog living in NZ now.
RYPEN 2020 is set for the 26-28 March next year to capture Daylight Saving and warmer weather. However, this will bring the additional challenge of clubs and schools being able to cope with organising nominees earlier. Further photos and sample of the students feedback will be uploaded to https://www.facebook.com/groups/778227563022040/ .
RYPEN 2021 nominations are open now for the weekend 26-28 March 20021 and applications close 5th March. Clubs should be proactive and approach schools before the end of this school year as they will be able to identify students and have nominations done before school holidays and Christmas. Seek out the teacher in charge of Pastoral Care .