The District Youth Service Committee provides multiple opportunities for a club to engage with the youth in their community and beyond.

Interact is a service club for youth ages 14-18. Clubs benefit from sponsorship by individual Rotary clubs, which provide support and guidance. Interact has a membership of over 250,000 youth in more than 11,000 clubs worldwide. It’s one of Rotary’s fastest growing programs. Interact clubs are self-governing and self-supporting and can be either school or community based.

Interact’s name is a combination of the words international and action. With clubs in over 120 countries and geographical areas, Interact is truly an international phenomenon. Interact’s global youth network is dedicated to community and international service. Every Interact club project, great or small, has a lasting impact on society worldwide. Brazil, India, the Philippines, and the United States boast the highest number of Interact clubs.

Six Steps to a Successful Club

Step 1: Establish Rotary club support.

If your Rotary club is interested in sponsoring an Interact club, it should form an Interact subcommittee to study the requirements of sponsorship. Be sure to talk with the district Interact chair, who can provide information about how other Interact clubs operate in your district. Once it has compiled all the necessary information for sponsorship, the subcommittee should present its findings to the Rotary club. Here are some tips for making a persuasive presentation:

  • Highlight the rewards of sponsoring service-minded young people.
  • Emphasize the importance of Rotarian involvement and support to an Interact club’s success.
  • Invite current Interactors to share their positive Interact experiences.

After the Rotary club board approves the sponsorship of an Interact club, the club must decide whether its Interact club will be community or school based.

  • A community-based club draws its members from several schools from the Rotary club’s area. The Rotarian adviser must attend all of the Interact club’s meetings.
  • A school-based club draws its members from one school, and the Rotarian adviser is required to attend only the club’s board meetings.

Good to Know: When a Rotary club decides to sponsor a school-based Interact club, a member of the Interact subcommittee should meet with school officials to explain the program and its advantages. Rotarians and school officials should work together to determine membership requirements, club policies, the time and location of Interact club meetings, and the faculty adviser.

Step 2: Identify potential Interactors.

Brainstorm to develop as wide a membership pool as possible. In a school-based club, ask the faculty adviser to offer suggestions for possible club members. Sources of potential Interactors include:

  • Community centers, churches, athletic clubs and teams, secondary schools
  • Sons, daughters, and other young family members of Rotarians in the area
  • Rotary Youth Exchange students and attendees at Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA) events

Step 3: Invite prospective members to an informational meeting.

In addition to prospective Interactors, you’ll want to invite these people:

  • Interact subcommittee members
  • Rotary club president
  • District Interact chair
  • Faculty adviser (for a school-based club)
  • Interactors from nearby clubs who can share their experiences and answer questions

At the meeting:

  • Give students a general idea of Interact’s history, as well as Rotary’s history and commitment to young people.
  • Distribute copies of Rotary Basics (595-EN) and show a segment from a recent issue of RVM: The Rotarian Video Magazine.
  • Explain the policies and goals of Interact, including a description of some recent Interact service projects.
  • Highlight the program’s internationality, including the potential to partner with youth in other parts of the world.
  • Have copies of the Interact Brochure (600-EN) available for prospective Interactors to give to friends who might be interested in joining.
  • Allow plenty of time for prospective Interactors to ask questions. Solicit ideas for club projects from these future members.

At the end of the meeting:

  • Take a vote to confirm that there’s enough interest to establish an Interact club. Keep in mind that a minimum of 15 charter members is recommended but not mandated.
  • Set a date for the first organizational meeting.

Step 4: Hold organizational meetings.

Now that you’ve identified a group of prospective Interactors, it’s time to get the club organized. Keep enthusiasm high by encouraging the Interact club to schedule organizational meetings no more than two weeks apart. Have the Rotarian adviser and, if the club is school based, the faculty adviser, keep a list of everyone who attends these meetings, along with their phone numbers and e-mail addresses. Encourage attendees to invite friends to meetings. Although there’s no specific number of organizational meetings required before a club can be chartered, you’ll need to ensure that the Interactors complete the following tasks before applying for a club charter:

  • Hold elections for president, vice president, secretary, treasurer, and other members of the Interact club board.
  • Develop a membership plan to ensure the club includes a balanced number of male and female members, as well as students from each grade level or age group.
  • Discuss and establish annual club dues.
  • Determine where and when club meetings will be held. Clubs must meet at least twice a month.
  • Begin planning for service activities, fundraising events, and the inaugural ceremony.
  • Familiarize club members with the constitutional documents.

Good to Know: Before a prospective club can be chartered, it must adopt the Standard Interact Club Constitution and all its amendments, then adopt bylaws consistent with the constitution and policy established by Rotary International (see chapter 5). These bylaws are subject to the approval of the sponsor Rotary club.

Step 5: Complete paperwork.

Once a prospective Interact club has achieved a strong membership base, the club can be chartered by RI. The sponsor Rotary club should work with Interactors to finish the following tasks:

  • Complete the Interact Club Certification Form (see chapter 5), listing all charter members who have agreed to attend a minimum of 60 percent of the club’s service and social activities.
  • Obtain the signatures of the sponsor Rotary club president and the district governor on the form.
  • Send the form to RI World Headquarters or the appropriate international office (see the inside back cover for addresses).

Once the Interact club has been chartered, which typically takes about two to four weeks, the sponsor Rotary club will receive the club’s Certificate of Organization from RI.

Step 6: Plan an inaugural ceremony.

The chartering of an Interact club is a meaningful and exciting event. The sponsor Rotary club may wish to host an inaugural ceremony where sponsoring Rotarians can welcome Interactors as partners in Rotary service. Invite Rotary district leaders, such as the governor, Interact chair, and Interact representative, to this celebration to introduce the new Interact club to the district. Every inaugural ceremony is unique, but modeling it after the sponsor Rotary club’s traditions is a good way to begin. Here are some other ways to put together a memorable ceremony:

  • Create an inauguration ceremony program book that lists club members’ names.
  • Briefly explain Rotary and The Four-Way Test.
  • Describe how the new Interactors are now part of the family of Rotary.
  • Review the history of Interact and how the new club was formed. (Consider including a humorous story or anecdote.)
  • Induct members individually, and announce board members and officers.
  • Include school- or community-related themes, mottoes, and traditions.
  • Present each member with an Interact pin.
  • Take photos to commemorate the event.

Rotary Youth Leadership Awards

Each year, thousands of young people take part in the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA) program worldwide. Young people ages 14-30, chosen for their leadership potential, attend an all-expenses-paid seminar, camp, or workshop to discuss leadership skills and to learn those skills through practice. Rotary clubs and districts select participants and facilitate the event's curriculum.

RYLA aims to:

  • Demonstrate Rotary's respect and concern for youth;
  • Provide an effective training experience for selected youth and potential leaders;
  • Encourage leadership of youth by youth; and
  • Recognize publicly young people who are rendering service to their communities.

RYLA was officially adopted by Rotary International in 1971, and is one of the most significant and fastest-growing programs of Rotary service. RYLA programs often lead to the formation or strengthening of Rotaract and Interact clubs. RYLA participants often go on to become Youth Exchange students or Ambassadorial Scholars. For more information about RYLA in your area, contact your local Rotary club or your district RYLA chairperson.

History of RYLA

In 1959, the state government of Queensland, Australia, invited local Rotarians to help plan a festival celebrating Queensland's upcoming centenary. Learning that Queen Elizabeth II was sending her cousin Princess Alexandra, who was in her early 20s, to the celebration, Rotarians planned activities specifically for the princess' age group.

The gundoo, an aboriginal word meaning "festival" or "fun together," was a rousing success. More than 300 men and women between the ages of 17 and 23 attended. Encouraged by the event's popularity with the young attendees, Rotarians saw potential to create a similar annual youth program. With little hesitation, Governor Art Brand of then-District 260 approved the project, and on 2 May 1960, RYLA was born.

Australian districts 258 and 260 shared in establishing a committee that developed the official framework of RYLA: to train youth (ages 14-30) in character, leadership, personal development, and good citizenship. These guidelines helped RYLA expand to all Rotary districts in Australia and led to RYLA's approval as an international program by the RI board at the 1971 RI Convention in Sydney, Australia.

By 1998, RYLA had become an established program in more than half of the 521 Rotary districts worldwide. Also in 1998, then-RI President James Lacy, emphasizing his concern for children, appointed an international RYLA committee, dedicated to improving and expanding this special Rotary program to the entire world. Rotarians with different RYLA experiences were invited to RI headquarters to exchange information and ideas. Participants agreed that RYLA could be improved through regional training workshops.

After District 5520's first RYLA camp 20 years ago, a camper summed up his RYLA experience in one word, "Camelot." He wrote the RYLA chairman, "If you know the story of King Arthur, you may recall that as King Arthur was dying in a young man's arms, he turned to the youth and said, 'If you learn of anyone that has not heard of Camelot, tell them loudly and clearly that there really was that one wisp of glory called Camelot.'"

"Gundoo" or "Camelot?" RYLA is both and aren't we fortunate? Dedication, passion and love describe the heart of RYLA, a most remarkable investment that assures Rotary's future. Every Rotarian should take the opportunity to enjoy this exciting program and life-changing experience.

Tab Resources:

Page Resources: