Reeling in the Leaders – Rachel Watters
If I’m honest I’m not too sure my words could ever do justice for the impact that Knockadoon has had on myself and so many other lives, but if I can even convey a fraction of that joy and contentment here, then I’ll be more than happy.
Have you ever got that feeling when you love something so much that you kind of want to hide it from the world like it’s your own personal thing? Like a favourite book or a song that means so much you wish it was exclusively yours?
Well Knockadoon is the complete opposite of that – it’s a place that holds so much joy and happiness that it’s something I wish absolutely everyone could experience. It’s something I think everybody deserves to feel at least once in their lives. Being on camp is like being in a bubble away from the busyness of life. It’s sitting on the benches in the evening, overlooking the sea with a cup of tea in hand, that I notice how content and at ease I feel. There’s just a lightness in your heart that you can’t quite get anywhere else, and I can say without a doubt that everyone who has been on camp knows exactly what I’m talking about. As I’m sure people have heard over and over, the Knockadoon feeling isn’t something you can resonate with words, and it’s not something you experience alone. It’s this blissful atmosphere between all friends and strangers, a calmness in the air that feels like a weight off your shoulders that you never even knew was there. It’s a feeling that gives me such a sense of duty to give back and help as many campers as possible experience the sense of belonging that I did, and still do when I’m on that little camp in the middle of nowhere.
My first time on camp was summer 2014, a newbie compared to so many leaders, but looking back on my experience I can see it doesn’t matter how long you’ve been on camp, whether it’s one year or ten, it always manages to bring out the best version of yourself. Everyone who knows me now probably wouldn’t even believe just how shy and self-conscious I was before my time on camp, but when you see leaders you admire making a fool of themselves on stage every night with nobody judging or caring, it kind of catches on. The security and belonging felt on camp with 100 strangers was like nothing you could experience anywhere else. The opportunity to get to know yourself in a whole new environment and being given the confidence to be the most yourself you could possibly be is not something that comes around often – especially for a fourteen year old let me tell you.
In my six years on camp, I have seen kids arrive on their own, and seven days later leave with friends for life. I’ve seen kids who kept to themselves on day one, perform on stage at the talent show to a standing ovation. Every year I see leaders being role models to aspire to, and I’ve seen just how much love and dedication they put into their work, not just for one week, but throughout the whole year. I have seen myself in so many of the campers, and nothing makes me happier in knowing how far they’re going to go, because standing where I am now I can see just how far I’ve come.
Knockadoon has been there for me at my very lowest, and seen me at my very best. My closest friends are the ones who I’ve spent time with on camp, and my fellow leaders are the most hard-working, caring and most genuine people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. The values and lessons I’ve learned from camp are the ones I hold closest to my heart, and ones I will carry throughout my life. I am proud of the person Knockadoon has shaped me into, and knowing that that experience is out there waiting for so many future campers, and being able to give back to the camp that made me is more than I could have ever asked for.
That’s all from me lovelies x
Heaps of love,