Reeling in the Leaders – Shannon McLaughlin

Knockadoon Youth WeekLeadersReeling in the Leaders – Shannon McLaughlin



Reeling in the Leaders – Shannon McLaughlin

My experience of Knockadoon should have started back in 2013, 15 year old me was one of the few people in my friend group that had never experienced Knockadoon. After hearing plenty of stories and seeing plenty of photos of the previous year, me and my friend decided that we wanted to experience it and understand why people looked forward to going to this camp every summer. We both decided to ask our parents but unfortunately they thought it would be best to wait an extra year because we had never stayed away from home for that long without our families. Looking back now, I wasn’t too sure on the idea of it myself and my mam was right, it was a big jump but waiting the extra year was definitely worth it!

Fast forward to 2014, I jumped on the bandwagon and would get the chance to understand why everyone loved this place so much. I had got my place for Knockadoon and I was ecstatic to finally get to experience it all! I started to pack about 3 and a half weeks before I would be going and I spent the week before packing and unpacking and packing again nearly every day to make sure I had everything. No matter where I go I over pack, very unnecessary in most cases but sure look.  I had a big suitcase and an even bigger duffle bag, filled with everything but my kitchens sink basically… but I didn’t know what I would and wouldn’t need. I can’t even explain how exciting the build up to the week was but I was secretly hiding the fact that I was very nervous. It had only hit me then that I would be away from home for a full week. What if I wanted to go home? What if I didn’t like camp?

The day had finally come, we would spend the next 7 days there, with no parents, but with all of our friends and the exceptional leaders who make all of this possible. My Mam and Dad loaded my bags onto the bus, give me a hug and waited to wave the bus off. I’ll never forget how many emotions I felt at that moment in time, because on one hand I was excited to finally be apart of KAD but so nervous incase I couldn’t last the full week or be able to attach to it like everyone else had.  We all loaded onto the buses and that was it. No turning back now! I would finally experience Knockadoon, meet new people and make memories. After a couple hours of traveling, we came round the winding roads, you could see the water and everyone started screaming and shouting because this is it, we had arrived. The minute I stepped off that bus, every second of the next 7 days were undoubtfully the best 7 days of my life at that point and it is something I will never forget. I did feel homesick for the first few days but there was so many activities happening all day everyday, you barely got time to think about home, because as each day went by, it was one less day we could spend on camp.

In 2015, I was made a Knockadoon leader, which has been one of the best opportunities I’ve been given and so far I’ve spent 2 years as a leader on camp, and each year you be as excited to get down to your home away from home, where you make memories and friends that last a lifetime. I would be lying if I were to say I wasn’t nervous about having the responsibility of making the campers have the best holiday and be a role model for them as the leaders were for me when I was a camper.

I used to be a very shy person (shock right!?), but experiencing and being apart of Knockadoon really helped me come out of my shell a lot and I will be forever grateful to all of the leaders and everyone else who helped me be the person I am today. Everyone used to tell me Knockadoon cannot be explained in words but only by experiencing it for yourself. Over these past 3 years I now know for a fact that words will never be able to do Knockadoon justice because it is undoubtfully the BEST experience I’ve ever been involved in. One of the things about camp that I will forever cherish  is knowing a place can make you grow and develop as a person in such a short period of time is one of the most important things in life!

“A strong friendship doesn’t need daily conversation, doesn’t always need togetherness, as long as the relationship lives in the heart, true friends will never be apart” –Anonymous

That’s all for now,

Shannon x