Here is our second edition of ‘Reeling in the Leaders’ and it is from one of the KYWs favourite sons Niall Clarke aka Whoosh/Bruce. Enjoy!!
I’ve been asked by one of my very good friends and current assistant senior leader Niall Cunningham to try and put into words what Knockadoon has done for me and my feelings about camp. Seen as I’ve got 15 minutes off in between episodes of Coronation Street I thought id try and type out a few of my thoughts.
For those of you who don’t know me its probably a fair comment to make that im one of the more “seasoned” leaders down there as shown by my now silver fox looking hair colour. My first year on camp was in 2002, 13 years ago this summer which for the first time means i can now say that for over half of my life i’ve been involved in Knockadoon either as a camper leader or member of staff. My first memories of camp are very hazy. I remember the dodgy haircuts at the time (Google Brazil Ronaldo haircut if you want to know what i’m talking about!) and that intoxicating smell of Lynx Africa floating around the concretes. Truth be told Knockadoon was where I had my first disco listening to hits from scooter and shaggy bopping away in dodgy adidas tracksuits and luminous yellow shirts. It was also the very first place i heard a Limerick or a Cork accent and truth be told i was terrified. I do remember a Limerick girl of about 15 at the time telling me to meet her at breakfast. terrified I ran away and didn’t go down for breakfast the next morning. I do often wonder does she still think of me!
I didn’t really know an awful lot of people very well before i went down to camp truth be told. I knew of say 5 or 6 people that I’m now honored to call some of my very close friends. Between hanging around in our free time telling people stories to see of they believed them or not to just playing football up in the back field, the emphasis was always on having the craic and enjoying ourselves rather than winning. I think thats what inspired me and made me want to become a leader was that their dedication and would go out of their way to make sure that we were having fun was really cool.I took part in activities and got involved as much as i could but never really won any competition as my singing voice is atrocious and Claire McKeever & Alan McGivern seemed to win Mr & Mrs Knockadoon every time! Liam Cunningham would always ask me did I want to go and work on my tan like he does but i said i didn’t want that club orange look. I did have a talent for scoring goals in the leader camper match which is why despite Ronan Shields protests to our manager Anthony Laucher he always kept the faith with me and why i’ve always scored to repay that faith. I hear mumblings coming from Ronan Shields about an opportunity up front but Anthony keeps quoting to him that I’m the all time top goalscorer in these matches. It feels good that Anto has confidence in me.
It’s very easy for me to talk about Knockadoon to people who have been there before and more often than not our stories of camp are usually intertwined with each other. Theres little point in me trying to explain a story with people you’ve never heard of or the nicknames and slagging that went all as its all a part of being there, and i think thats the point i’m trying to make is that to really experience Knockadoon you have to be down there and be a part of it. Coming down with a gang of friends away from home for a week and really living together will bring yous closer as a bunch of friends. You’s will wreck everybody’s head when you return home with stories of Knockadoon and how yous all slagged Sean McArdle when he was on bunk duty or fell on his arse doing something stupid. If you’re reading this as a returning camper you already know what im talking about and more than likely have your own stories you could insert instead of mine. If you’ve never been to camp the best advice I can give you is to just jump into it. Not only will you make some of the best friends that you’ll have for life and some brilliant memories to go with it, Youll also leave Knockadoon feeling more confident and self assured about yourself as I and many leaders have from coming through. You’re only regret will be that you didn’t come sooner or that you couldn’t stay another week! As an added bonus if you’re still on the fence there is also an opportunity to see some over enthusiastic leaders such as Matthew Agnew dress up as girls! hopefully you and your friends are filling out forms and looking at taking your first trip down to Knockadoon. Who knows in a few years I could be coming on to this website and reading your experiences of camp and how much it has inspired me.
I hope you do come down this summer and give it a go and that you get as much out of it as I have.
Brucey aka Whoosh