‘My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humour, and some style’ – Maya Angelou.
As we edge ever further into November, for those on the outside looking in, it may seem as though the KYW has continued to move along at the same pace as it always has, with very little to distinguish it from any other year.
It is around November each year when we would typically announce any big plans or changes that we have for the year ahead. In recent times this would include; our intention to extend into new regions, our decision to integrate regions across the summer programmes instead of segregating regions into separate weeks, and this time last year came the announcement that we had extended the programme from 3 weeks to 4 weeks.
This year, we aren’t planning any major restructuring of weeks and our allocation in Knockadoon Camp across the summer months will remain at 4 weeks:
Week 1: 15th – 22nd June (open to all areas);
Week 2: 22nd -29th June (open to all areas);
Week 3: 29th June – 6th July (Dundalk and Tallaght);
Week 4: 6th -13th July (Newry, Annaclone, Cork, Kildare).
However, for those of us on the inside looking out, it is clear that the KYW has continued to stride forward and develop with the same intensity as it has in previous years.
KYW18 reached an official conclusion later than usual this year, with our final closing speeches occurring on the 25th August, as we said goodbye to the 96 campers who had been part of our very first fourth week. In September, our leaders jumped straight back into action, and we welcomed 35 new volunteer leaders to the group; 15 from Tallaght, 10 from Newry / Annaclone, 6 from Dundalk, 2 from Kildare and 2 from Cork.
In October, 96 leaders and 4 Dominicans travelled back to Knockadoon Camp for a weekend to greet the new recruits, and to say their very last goodbye to their Senior Leader, Niall Cunningham. Niall had been a part of the group which travelled from Dundalk to Knockadoon each summer for 18 years, had been a leader for 12 years and had been senior leader for 3 of those (2016-2018). Along with Niall, the KYW group says goodbye to some of our most familiar faces; Chris Lawson, David (Dido) McCrave, Kate Harrington, Kevin (Smiley) Doherty, Matty Agnew, Peter Fisher and PJ Deegan.
With four weeks to plan for, 120 volunteers to manage and the departure of some of our longest serving leaders to take into consideration, the KYW once again adapted the core committee to accommodate the needs of the group. Going forward into KYW19 our core committee is as follows:
Senior Leader: Orlaith O’Callaghan;
Assistant Senior Leader: Aaron Cunningham;
Junior Assistant Senior Leaders: Aaron Culligan, Stephen Love.
Welcoming our new leaders and transferring responsibility to the next generation has been hectic, but our most exciting story of the year so far? The enthusiasm and intensity with which our returning campers as well as our new campers have applied for a place in KYW19. November rolled around and within 7 days of opening applications, we had an overwhelming 302 young people from all over Ireland apply to be a part of our summer camp. Our figure currently stands at around 325 applications and as our capacity on camp is 400, we are over 80% of the way to reaching the maximum number of applications for this summer. This figure is a credit to all of the leaders, campers, parents and Dominicans who have been a part of the KYW, both past and present.
The KYW is continuing to reap the rewards of the hard work that was put into the organisation by Niall, but also by our other former senior leaders; Liam and Leslie. The example that they set and the work that they did continues to inspire not only me, but 120 other young volunteers who selflessly dedicate their spare minutes, hours, days and weeks to a cause which seeks to give young people the space to live, learn and grow holistically.
So what’s next? To paraphrase Maya Angelou; My mission for the KYW is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humour, and some style.
November 2018 brings an abundance of good news instead of a groundbreaking announcement -but watch this space, because week 5 may be closer than we think.
Le grá go deo,
Senior Leader KYW