It all started way back when in 2011. I was a mere 12 years old, oblivious to what Knockadoon was and what it entailed. The only thing I really knew was that it was a week away from my parents and a week of good craic with my closest pals. I didn’t know what it looked like, where it was or where I would be staying. I was totally clueless.
On the bus journey down I had the older kids heads’ wrecked with questions about what knockadoon really was about. Each of them replied ‘you’ll see when you get there we can’t explain it to you’. Of course, 12 year old me began to get anxious about what lay ahead and what exactly I had gotten myself into.
So after the long bus journey and after the lovely lovely ham and Cheese sandwiches provided at the half way stop we had finally reached our destination. Camp.
As the buses pulled up the gravelly hill everyone began to cheer and scream with delight that we had finally made it. I looked out the bus window and instantly felt at peace. As the bags got unpacked and bunkhouses were arranged I was eager to begin the activities and settle in.
The thing that amazed 12 year old me the most was that everyone was equal down on camp- everyone spoke to everyone regardless of age, race, place of birth,wealth. Nobody was better than anybody and I do believe that to be the secret to the KYW. Nobody is better than anybody.
It is more than just a holiday. It is more than just a week away from parents and a week of craic with pals. It is a place of safety and a place where one can develop in a comfortable atmosphere. It is a place of equality. To many, it is home and it is indescribable. Like my good pal Dorothy says ‘there’s no place like home’ and I really don’t believe there is anywhere else on the planet similar to knockadoon.
So here I am, after finishing my 3rd year as a leader and each time I get back down there it’s as if I have never left. As the bus pulls up that hill every year the warm, tingly feeling of home returns and I’m eager to get the week of activities rolling.
Whenever young kids approach me on the bus up who are coming for the first time and ask ‘what is it all about? What’s the big fuss?’ I turn around and tell them ‘You’ll see when you get there. I really cannot explain it to you’. There is no better feeling than watching their eyes light up as they pull up to camp and experience it for the very first time. I can see in them what I saw in myself all those years ago and I pray with all my heart that they will cherish this place like I have.
It did me the world of good to feel it and experience it for myself. Camp cannot be described in words, only by experiencing it first hand.
I will end on a powerful quote from Oliver Wendell Holmes, ‘Where we love is home- home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts‘.