Kevin Hogan
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Kevin Hogan - Aberdovey, Wales, 1975

In relation to the detail my memories have faded, but the whole experience has remained fresh and alive. I remember well the feeling of camaraderie and belonging. We worked hard all day, walking, climbing, sailing and much more. We returned to the camp of a night to a welcome hot shower, evening lectures and the smell of cooking coming from the camp kitchen. This aroma promised to feed a hunger born of energetic activity. The evening meal was always well earned with the hard work that took place on water and land. We ate together; meals were simple, wholesome and well prepared. While sitting at long tables we would share our stories of the day's activities, along with the food, which if my memory serves me well was served from our tables in large dishes. If you were unlucky you copped for evening kitchen duties, helping to clean up after the camp had eaten, but this task was approached and completed with good humour and high spirits.

A lasting memory is that of the home made flapjacks, these were always in plentiful supply, given out at tea breaks, and they were part of the expedition rations, often devoured late at night, in a tent and by torch light. I remember swimming in a cold Welsh mountain lake after a day's hard hill walking and returning to our tent, shivering and alive, to brew up and chew on nourishing sweet tasting flapjacks. We would then crawl in to our sleeping bags and fall into a warm deep sleep, a sleep that would prepare us well for the next day's demanding itinerary.

Out on the mountains and in the camp, out at sea, on a rock face, or in the middle of a lake, a sense of unity and high morale was ever-present. The instructors promoted and embedded the values of team spirit into everything we did; including the duties we had in relation to our accommodation and camp. Our accommodation was practical and clean. As groups we lived together in solid wooden huts. Keeping these huts clean and tidy was part of the overall and on going course competition, and we all took pride in our hut - This kind of simple activity summed up the power of the experience for me: a feeling that everything we did was done as a team and in the best interests of the common good of all on the course and future courses to come. Looking back it was a real healthy mix of community and individuality, with a crisp clarity of purpose and direction. This in turn led to a sense of well being that nourished our bodies, our minds and spirit.

Our group or hut was runner up in the over all course competition. I was very proud to have been the group leader in the final days of the course. What a fantastic memory of hard work, challenge, fellowship and happy times. Unfortunately I have no pictures of the time and have lost our group hut photo. But the memories are always there and will always be cherished. Today I manage a hostel for people who are homeless - what an experience and benefit all of the above would be to those who feel so disempowered, disconnected and lonely.