On Thursday, January 21, the junior class departed HBA to attend their annual grade level camp at the Pu’u Kahea Conference Center in Waianae. At camp, students were given the opportunity to relax and enjoy a break from classes and homework while learning about their identity in God through chapels and student-led small groups.
This year, camp took place during the weekend after Spirit Week. Junior class council social chair Jalen Sur was excited for a chance to recover from the strain and intensity that the annual competition demanded. “I knew that it was going to be a really good break because the class council had been going through a lot of stress… and we would be able to just find rest, because that’s something we really needed,” he said.
Some juniors were excited to minister to their classmates during camp for the first time. Beginning with last year’s junior camp, select juniors (instead of seniors) were invited to lead their peers in small groups, called family groups, at camp. Cody Sugai, one of the junior leaders, was very excited to minister to his classmates and show them that “Christianity is not just a tedious religion with a lot of rules, but [that they could] have fun with God, and the things he has given them.” Other juniors were simply looking forward to spending some quality time with friends. Junior class president Anika Keuning had heard that junior camp was a bit more relaxed than previous camps and looked forward to “being able to hang out at the cabins and talk with friends.”
Over chapel sessions and family group time, the camp explored the theme of “Identity”. Senior and camp counselor Karly Tom emphasized the importance of this year’s message for the soon to be seniors, saying, “Finding one’s identity in Jesus is way more important than most other messages, it just overlaps everything… [and] is a lot more important than we realize.”
Campus minister Rob Lockridge, English teacher Lauren Takao, Assistant Christian Ministries Director Jon Kaneshiro, and junior Dorian Ho shared during chapel sessions about what it means to find one’s identity in God. Sur said, “As someone who is like a leader, I found that a lot of things I used to put my identity in were a lot of projects that I put out, like Spirit Week. [But I realized that] I should be giving these things up to God instead of putting them out for myself.” Keuning especially appreciated that family group leaders also shared their own experiences with their groups. She said, “The testimonies [were] kind and touching… I had seniors as my family group leaders and I knew them and was close to them so it was interesting to hear their stories about identity going into college.”
The highlight of camp for many was a game dubbed the “Messtival 1.5”. Organized by the class council, the activity took place on Friday afternoon and involved the whole grade getting messy and dirty. Keuning explained, “We wanted something that was a little crazy, really messy, and really fun. Last year we did something similar and it was a lot of fun for a lot of people. So this year we wanted to do that but take it to a whole different level of messiness and anarchy.”
When first brainstorming ideas for the game, class council social chair Blythe Yoshikane remembered a game she had played in which players had to protect eggs taped to their backs while trying to break someone else’s egg, while Sur recalled a Hunger Games themed activity that he had participated in at a separate camp. So Sur decided to combine the two games. “It was the lovechild of two different ideas… and we played it in the bighouse yard, with a lot of weapons, and it was really fun,” he said.
The class council divided the junior class into teams and each team was given a rope that they were required to hold on to at all times. Three raw eggs represented each team’s lives and were taped to a team member’s back. The teams were then placed in a large circle surrounding a pyramid of messy “weapons” that included shaving cream, bananas, pies, spam, and plastic lightsabers. Teams were to use the weapons from the stash to attacking each other while protecting their own eggs. Sensei Elena Yoo’s homeroom emerged as the winner.
Tom, who watched from the sidelines, said, “Seeing the Messtival was really fun. [The senior camp] does fun games, but that was a whole new level.” And with a chuckle, she added, “Getting to spray shaving cream at [the juniors] was so much fun because [they] deserved it.” However, despite the Messtival 1.5’s resounding success, Keuning isn’t keen on repeating the activity at Senior Camp. “I wouldn’t do it again next year because once is enough,” she said as she remembered the massive amount of work it took to clean up after the activity.
Fun and games aside, Sugai said the “Identity” theme was particularly meaningful and wished that he had more time at camp to connect with more people. Tom appreciated getting the chance to experience camp as a counselor for the first time. As for Messtival in senior year, Sur hopes to improve the activity should they choose to repeat it next year “by making it a little bit safer” and incorporating “more spam, even though everyone hates it, add more spam.”
Photographs by Joel Lau (’18) and Paige Oshiro (’17)