VSSRotary Attends District Conference in Leavenworth, WA

May 24, 2023

On May 18th our own Dave Weatherill and his wife Joanne, Eric Gombrich, and our Youth Exchange Student Maria Mateus headed off to Leavenworth, Washington for the annual District 5060 Conference. The event lasted until Sunday, May 21st.

In the beautiful Bavarian-esque city amidst the mountains and rivers Rotarians from all over BC and Washington gathered under the theme of Imagine, Rotary Reimagined. After a series of prologue" events to build and renew social friendships that saw Canada defeat the US in the first annual mini-golf tournament, Rotarians were encouraged by event leader and District Governor, Karl Ruether to proactively reimagine what each of our Clubs is and might become.

Facilitated by James Carter of "Be Legendary" consulting, Rotarians were encouraged to face the fear of change as teams, and be courageous enough to take risks. This was a perfect segue into our first keynote speaker, Kikkan Randall, America's first Olympic Gold Medalist in Nordic skiing. Kikkan shared her life-long journey to reach the podium based on creating a team of supports. Interestingly enough, this team of support included competitors who came together during training to push one-another to be the best they can be on the day of competition. Kikkan also described the several times along the way where she failed to achieve her goals, but the trajectory continued in the right direction, driving her forward.

Rotarians then joined together for a surprise challenge; assembling 100 bikes for youth waiting outside. "The faces of the two boys we were privileged to provide the bikes to was incredible," said Eric. Joined by family and friends, it was a perfect example of what it means to be hands-on in making a difference, something that is at the core of Rotary.

The day continued with Rotarians coming together in their geographic areas to work on the 4D challenge. We were asked to collaboratively identify a significant issue in our community and brainstorm ways in which we could address it. Sticking with the theme of "reimagining" things, we were encouraged to not rely on the same old ways and ideas, but to really be open-minded and creative.

After coming up with our initiative for the greater Vernon area, along with Kalamalka Rotary Club Member Tom Lewis, we had to storyboard the challenge (problem) and the solution, and then build a 3D model of the project we proposed.

We then had to record a 3-minute presentation of the project.

We were then provided another exciting speaker, Ed Viesturs, the only North American to have summitted all 14 mountains over 8,000 meters without oxygen. Like Kikkan before him, the theme in Ed's journey was that it takes a team, with a singular goal and focus, and then a plan to reach the summit. Again, we heard of Ed's challenges including getting as close as 300 feet to the summit of Mount Everest and Annapurna multiple times, and having to turn back because the conditions were not right.

The jam-packed day ended with a concert by Vancouver's own "The Paperboys."

The final day included the 19 Rotary Youth Exchange students including Maria introducing themselves and what their experience the District has been like. They were joined by the youth participating in the reinvigorated RYLA program.