Photograph ©Channel 4

When my boys become teenagers, they are never, ever going on a Kavos-style holiday. Ever. Did I mention never? Good.

I must say I watched this Channel 4 documentary series slightly shocked. I’m no prude and granted, some of the elements of the shows were funny thanks to the tourists who were unflinchingly followed  (Channel 4 ‘cast’ it well, enter stage left the mother/daughter double act out on the pull-no, really) but primarily it was the ridiculous statements and bewildered reactions they inspired, that made me laugh (and the fact I watched it on Catch Up with Papa G but more of him later). Mostly it was just plain sad.

The select holidaymakers who appeared were only a handful of the 100,000 British tourists who travel to this fishing island each summer in pursuit of the most hedonistic holiday their Saturday jobs will provide. They take over the resort of Kavos (no doubt saving its economy in the process) and literally go wild. Like animals. Make that, beasts. Think Lord of the Flies on cocktail bowls.

“The aim of the holiday is to pull a few birds, maybe shag three or four, maybe five at a push”.

 If you haven’t guessed already judging by the photos above, the opening sound bite from one hapless young man sums up why Kavos is quite so appealing, “The aim of the holiday is to pull a few birds, maybe three or four, or five at a push”.

Another girl touches her chest and states without a hint of irony, how chuffed she is for sleeping with two guys in one night. (Her parents must be so proud).  And ‘shagging’ is just the start. These guys dance, drink and have sex to the point of hospitalisation.

Watching it, you sometimes wonder if that is the point: to get to the trusty hospital, the only safe haven in the hell that is Kavos in the summer. Another girl refers to the medical centre as a home from home.

Then a young man shamefully admits he has behaved so badly in Kavos, he doesn’t want his friends and family back home to know what he’s gotten up to. Possibly a bit late now a camera’s been up in his face for the last few months but at least some form of self-awareness remains. Just.

The craziness of Kavos is all pervasive but the worst of it can be summed up here: boys drinking each other’s urine as punishment for sleeping with the same girl several times on holiday, sex games on boat parties, heterosexual boys, so on heat they ‘resort’ to kissing one another when failing to pull and near fatal accidents dancing on bar and table tops. Oh and the many, many, operations on penises. One Dr described a penis injury due to a tongue piercing as nothing he’d quite seen before. Nice. Ginormous cotton buds were then duly forced down ‘there’ in search of potential disease.

Young men complained the size of the buds there were much larger than back in Blighty. Papa G remarked in his hilarious commentary as we watched, the posters of these aforementioned cotton buds should be plastered in airports with warnings of STD’s and then maybe then, these teens would behave responsibly. I very much doubt it.

Seriously, I honestly worry for the girls and boys there who might feel pressured to ‘put out’ as their peers are doing, with the fallback validation that ‘what happens in Kavos, stays in Kavos’ so it’s OK to lose all inhibitions.

The question is should these things ever happen in the first place? A shot of urine anyone? Now it’s well documented in the press that this series has frankly shocked my generation (a mere ten years ahead at 30+) yet it feels as if so much has changed in a decade, more boundaries crossed, new territories of craziness uncovered.

My own experiences of party holidays to Ayia Napa in Cyprus or Falaraki and even Marbella in my teens seem, thankfully, tame in comparison. Yes, there was drinking and some sex but no, no one smashed their spine or found themselves in A&E (each night) and urine was most definitely not consumed. Ever. So I ask you, what has happened to good old fashioned fun?

“Now our generation has got it so crap, we need to go out and let our hair down”

The excuse of the contributors as we were reminded at the end of each episode’s opening montage almost as a disclaimer/way of excuse was,  “Now our generation has got it so crap, we need to go out and let our hair down”. Really? Like this?  This is the way to get back at hikes in university tuition fees and an overcrowded job market? Yes this is the way to do it, well done, your future employers will think so highly of you.

A lot of these escapades were pretty scary to watch. That girl having an STD test on TV is someone’s daughter, that young man left unconscious after a night of clubbing, (luckily revived) someone’s son/ brother/ future husband (the latter maybe not, if they ever watch this show that is). To me, this generation seems to want a hyperreal experience as  nothing feels ‘real’ anymore unless it’s taken to the extreme, be it sex, drink or even hospital treatment.

The walk-in centre in the series had simply become an extension of the nightlife scene there, where lines were blurred and scars, casts and wounds, worn as medals.

It totally reminded me of this clip below, like the drunken animals of Africa, the voice over states, “Life offers no challenge, the only excitement comes in high summer when the Marula trees are in full fruit…ripe…” Watch and see what I mean…

So, who is going to take responsibility? The parents? The nightclub owners selling alcohol for next to nothing prices-desperate for tourists, or the teens themselves?

It’s as if those Brits enter another world when they arrive at Kavos customs, to a world where anything goes. Like when Pandora opened her box (excuse the pun) in Greek mythology, releasing the world’s ills-the holidaymakers wait, passports in hand,  ready to consume its contents.  One young man proudly remarks that this is the place to come if you’re a virgin…and that you can even lose ‘it’ as soon as you arrive at the airport. Hedonism indeed, but at what price?

One young man proudly remarks that this is the place to come if you’re a virgin…and that you can even lose ‘it’ as soon as you arrive at the airport. Hedonism indeed, but at what price?

Social mores and common sense disperse there in the heat but will self-respect and dignity return when the holiday is over?


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25 Responses

  1. alan herbert

    I was only thinking today about our attitude to drink.
    It scares me to think what our children will be under pressure to do when they hit 17/18.

    I wasn’t so concerned with the boys. Eldest has kidney trouble and knows he can’t drink. Number 2 son is Autistic and won’t be allowed out on his own. Buddy I’m not sure about. But he has brains so hopefully its just giddyness at the moment and he will use them when he’s older.
    The number of girl now going out and getting as drunk as lads has me terrified for #BabyPink when she gets older.

    Great post.

  2. Jo

    Brilliant response Vicki and great post too, this kind of behavior really upsets me and makes me wonder to what extremes people will go to next!!! Xx

  3. honestmum

    Thanks Liam for your comment. Your last remark is what is so genuinely sad about everything the programme covered. That kind of behaviour is natural to you and it’s really not good, believe me. Wishing you all the best!

  4. Liamvann

    I am that young man who said you might even lose it at the airport. I was drunk when I said it. It was just a joke. Kavos is like any other 18-30 holidays out there at the moment. No need to slate the place. It’s the generation I’ve grew up in.

    Add me on twitter @LVann91

  5. Karen

    I’ve not seen this one. Benidorm ER is bad enough, I think this programme would send me screaming or hurling things at the TV!
    I don’t want to think about my kids going on holiday alone, for a LOOOOONG time, having watched stuff like this! 😮

  6. Babes about Town

    Fantastic post, Vicki. I was wondering about the sudden proliferation of Kavos programmes cropping up, but felt it was all the same ‘Brits going insane abroad’ stuff that’s pushed out, so gave it a miss. I can see elements of humour (I watched some programme on holiday tattoos and the things people marked themselves with for life!) but you’re right, it’s mostly sad sad sad.

    It’s normal to be shocked by the generation coming after you but there does seem to be no limits in all aspects of pop/youth culture these days. And I worry for both boys and girls and the pressure they feel to conform/perform. Great analogy with the drunken monkeys. Top notch writing as always x

    • honestmum

      @Babesabouttown thank you Uju..so well put, it really does seem like all boundaries and general common sense have vanished with this next generation x

  7. sharcasm

    Shocking, just when you think you’ve seen or heard it all… you’ve described and reviewed it so well, I feel like I was actually there. We have a similar show in the Netherlands called Oh oh Cherso, about a bunch of young chavs living it large and behaving like beasts on Cherssonisos, actually it’s very similar to Jersey Shore. So it’s definitely not just Brit youngsters behaving like animals on holiday, although this does seem very extreme. It makes you wonder, what are these kids trying to escape from….this is beyond thrill seeking….very sick!

    • honestmum

      @Sharcasm I’d be interested to that programme…yes not sure what’s caused this mad hysteria really? I might need to ask some teenagers…

  8. Countryidyll

    Brilliant post, well said! I happened on this programme when I was channel hopping a few weeks ago. I think I must have sat with my mouth open, incredulous, for the duration of my stay on that channel. These youngsters obviously have no pride, nor respect for their bodies. They are a lot of sheep with no character not to behave in this way. Besides they want to behave in that way. I hardly think it’s rebellious, like in the punk era, and many of them aren’t worrying what their mothers would say, because there mothers probably don’t care. Just look at the binge drinking in the clubs in all our large cities, again they show little respect for themselves, let alone others. Maybe their parents haven’t What I would like to know is what’s wrong with our society that breeds kids like this? I don’t see teenagers from other European countries behaving this way. Or perhaps they do, but nobody writes about it?

    • honestmum

      @Countryidyll interesting point and @sharcasm mentioned a Dutch show that is similar so clearly Europeans are behaving badly too…really sad times. Wish more teenagers had greater self respect.

  9. TheBoyandMe

    I haven’t seen that programme as I can’t abide things like that, and I’m certainly not going to now. How awful that these teens think it’s ok t behave in such a savage and reckless manner and not think of the consequences. Who is to blame? Them? Their parents? The bar-owners? The tour operators? The television crew? Society? All of the above as far as I can see.

    I never went on any holidays like that, my parents would never have allowed it. I had a mildly rebellious phase at about 21, six month before I met my husband, which didn’t go anywhere near the above and was even then quite tame. Always at the back of my mind was ‘my mother would absolutely kill me!’ Why is that not in the minds of those children?

  10. Franki

    Love this post!!
    I’ve not watched it as I know it will enrage me, I can imagine the carnage it shows. I have friends who’ve done holidays like this which although invited to I never went on. Call me boring, I don’t care. I wouldn’t do any of that at home so why do it somewhere where if you get yourself into trouble it could be a million times worse due to language barriers etc!

    It actually baffles me as to what the appeal is at all! I’m far from boring (trust me) but I have morals, standards, self respect and dignity drilled into me by my parents from a young age. I could rant for ages about this till the cows come home so I’m gonna stop.


  11. Katie Portman

    Brilliant post. Best you’ve written to date in my humble opinion. 🙂

    I’ve only seen this show a handful of times and like you I was absolutely horrified. If it wasn’t a reality show, it would be hilarious, but as this is really going on, it’s just appalling!

    In my teens and early 20’s, I was THE party girl and I’ve had more than my fair share of mad nights and crazy holidays, but never did I behave like this, to these extremes.

    Something in society has gone horribly wrong the last 5-10 years or so. I dread to think what it might be like in years to come when our beautiful innocent babies are this age. (Safe to say Elsie will not be going to Kavos!)

    Let’s hope our young people start to wise up and aim higher in life than a few quick (and no doubt utterly lousy) shags in Kavos and a week of drunken debauchery.

    • honestmum

      @Katie I agree, it really reminded me of Lord of the Flies..those kids are totally out of control. Staycations the way forward, forever!

  12. Molly - Mother's Always Right

    I’ve been lucky enough to avoid this series – as I think watching it would send me over the edge. It would leave me angry, sad, in disbelief and guilty if I found any of it remotely amusing. Overall, I think it’s just incredibly sad really. The thing is, the people featured in these episodes are only likely to end up regretting behaving like that – as well as letting it all be shown on TV. Whether it’s now or a few years down the line.

    • honestmum

      @Molly-Mother’s Always Right the hilarity often came from how ridiculous these young people were behaving and what rubbish they spouted…plus the Dr’s reactions to them. I agree…let’s hope they realise how shocking they’ve all been!

  13. Samantha Hadadi

    Brilliant post, and quite honestly I’m repulsed! I didn’t have the ‘pleasure’ to watch this show, and am almost glad I didn’t. Like you, I’m no prude, but I find it horrifying that this kind of thing happens! Although I do remember talking to one mum at a baby group once who said, “I don’t know who did it, there were five of them taking me from behind at once.” I must have looked horrified as she quickly said, “no, it’s ok, I wanted them to do it! I’ve been to parties like that since I was 12.” Does it really happen?!

    Honestly, I’ve had my moments, but nothing like that. I feel quite sad for young people that this is seen as the “norm”, or as something to boast about. Will they feel the same pride when they’re older? Or if they contracted something?

    I’m all for enjoying life and embracing being young, free and single while you can, but there’s a way to do it!

    • honestmum

      @Samantha you hit it on the head when you said they feel their behaviour is normal. So many did contract STD’s too…totally agree, this is not the way to enjoy your youth!


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