‘You and me got a whole lot of history’ – One Direction.

The KYW as an organisation has been constantly growing, changing, and adapting to circumstances since it was established in 2011. Our history has been littered with challenges, but I think it’s fair to say that the pandemic has been our biggest one yet. 

Nevertheless, the KYW leaders and campers have shown great strength and resilience over the past year, and despite the fact that the camp was closed in the summer of 2020, the KYW didn’t cease to exist. Our leaders have been participating as much as we can in our usual events like Darkness into Light, and our campers joined us as we took the opportunity during the pandemic to start exploring ways to reach out to people online, such as our collaborative walk of 364km to Knockadoon last June, our pumpkin carving contest in October, and our Christmas Bingo in December. 

When camp was forced to close last summer, I reached out to our leaders, campers and friends with a heavy heart to relay the message that the KYW would not be able to go ahead, but that we were looking forward to coming back in 2021. At the time, I was confident that when we returned we would be stronger, more appreciative and more creative. 

I recently received confirmation from our Camp Director that Knockadoon Camp will not be running it’s usual programmes for the second year in a row, once again with the best interests of the volunteers, staff, campers, Dominicans and locals at heart. Even though the news is less surprising this year, it is still hard to process. Knockadoon is an incredibly special place, and it has a unique effect on the people who have been there. With each year that passes, we inevitably lose some of the most loved members of the community, who may be too old to return, or whose lives may have taken them in a different direction. Many of our campers and leaders will not have had their chance to say a proper goodbye to Knockadoon, and take their last lap around their favourite spots on camp.

So, another hurdle has been thrown up at us, but this year marks the 15th anniversary of my first journey to that beautiful part of Co.Cork, and in those 15 years I’ve seen passion, selflessness and imagination in abundance. One more year without our KYW weeks is difficult to imagine – but the return to camp is easy, with the team that stands behind it. We will come back stronger, more appreciative and more creative – our situation guarantees it. This time last year I never could have imagined what we have achieved in this remote, digital based time, and I look forward to seeing what we do with the months to come.

‘You and me got a whole lot of history. So don’t let it go, we can make some more.’

After all, absence makes the heart grow fonder. 

Look after yourselves, look after each other.

Le grá go deo,

Orlaith O’Callaghan

Senior Leader, KYW.

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