I was half way through “Devotion Time” and I’d just read that day’s assigned bible passage to my cabin of campers. I was about to read off the bullet points of What the passage teaches us when a camper interrupted to tell me that my shoes were “whack”. I don’t know what it was about this quaint slang that drove me into a state of anger and shame, but the next minute I was alone in the staff cabin and knocking the Windows 98 screen out of its reverie. I wasn’t quite sure what I was looking for but I knew I had to find a community that was not entirely at odds with everything I valued.
I don’t know how I found the Camp Quest UK site. The site had one white page with a little tent in the middle and, if I remember correctly, an animated gif of a fire. But more importantly it also had a values statement and an application form for new staff to join this as yet non-existent organisation with three weeks before the deadline. I researched more about Camp Quest and I knew I’d found my purpose.
Don’t tell anyone, but for the rest of that summer, during “Devotion Time”, I mixed the bible passages with short stories by Asimov, Vonnegut and Carter and let the campers discuss what they thought it was all about.
Ten months later I met my first crew of similar-minded young renegades at our first camp in Somerset. It is still truly remarkable to me that we the few who learn the names of stars, cry at “Matilda” and disrupt small talk with our strange questions should have found such a home in Camp Quest. Be it archery, singing or debate, everything is better when you do it with people who listen to the world. The members of this community, both young and less-young, invigorate, stimulate and yearly fill me with new wonder and new hope. As our very first campers become our camp leaders, I hope that we may remain a beacon to lost travellers forever.
Kyrill is an English teacher in London, and has been a part of Camp Quest UK every year since our first camp in 2009. He is very close to completing a novel.