On Thursday, September 22, the freshman class packed into three school buses for a three day camp organized and led by the Christian Ministries department, with help from volunteer student counselors.

Held in Waianae at the Pu’u Kahea Baptist Convention Center, the ninth grade camp was a time for stress relief, class bonding, and spiritual growth. However, scheduling conflicts threatened to put a damper on the class of 2020’s first camp together as high schoolers.

This year’s camp took place during the last week of the first quarter, ending on the first Saturday of fall break. (Previous freshman camps took place about a week earlier in the quarter.) This meant that the camp coincided with Spike Night, which always takes place on the last day of the quarter. As a result, a number of girls volleyball players had to leave the camp early to make it to their Spike Nite game. There was also a cross country meet that Saturday, which meant cross country runners had to leave the camp early too. Freshman Cross Country runner Kela Kaida said, “I’d love to have skipped [the meet], but I had to leave [camp] early. It kind of affected how I ran the next day.”

Freshman volleyball players and cross country runners were not the only group affected by the scheduling conflict. Upperclassmen camp counselors taking AP US History, Introduction to Christian Thought, and a few other classes had to take their end of quarter tests a day early in order to make it to camp. Biology teacher and class advisor Risha Mishima also felt the stress of having so much packed into the last week of the quarter. “I had to stay back on Saturday [to finish inputting grades], the day I came back from camp. That was not fun,” Mishima said.

Campus Minister Rob Lockridge acknowledged the problems caused by the camp’s date but said there was little he could have done about it because the dates were set before the school’s calendars were released. He explained, “Because the camp [site] is so popular now, we have to project camp dates five years out. We already have the years 2019 and 2020 ready.” Lockridge added that once it was discovered that the date set for camp this year coincided with the end of the quarter, the school “tried to move it up one week, then… two weeks, then [the school] tried to move it up three weeks, but all of those weeks were already reserved.”

Christian Ministries Associate John Kaneshiro said that he was thankful for how the student counselors dealt with the stress of that week. “Although it was not convenient [for them], there were no complaints. Sometimes ministry is inconvenient, and we’re thankful for their sacrifice, ” he said.

“Although it was not convenient, there were no complaints. Sometimes ministry is inconvenient, and we’re thankful for their sacrifice.”

Overall, however, the unfortunate timing of camp did not dampen spirits. Kaida still enjoyed “relaxing and having some time on [her] own.” Sophomore and student counselor Emily White was excited to get to know the ninth graders more, and glad for the opportunity to attend freshman camp again as she had to leave early the year before. Mishima was eager to see the freshman class in action. She said, “[I was excited] to see if they could accomplish all the challenges, in all the games, and how they interacted as a class, because this class, 2020, actually has twenty new students.”

The theme of the camp was The Cross, and through family groups led by student counselors as well as worship and chapel sessions, the freshmen learned of the significance of the Jesus’ death on the cross and how it applies to their lives. Kaida said, “It was powerful…it’s different from seventh and eighth grade camps. At this camp they were really talking big and going deep about the crucifixion of Jesus.”

Freshmen Reese Haly enjoyed the messages given by Lockridge at each of the chapel sessions. “They challenged me to think outside of what I would normally think,” Haly said. Kaida added that the camp helped her understand “how much God loved [people]…and that [she could] be a part of his story.”

Kaneshiro was particularly excited because this year, the family groups were “doing new material that clarified things about Jesus a lot better than previous material.” Kaneshiro was proud to seeing student counselors in action, teaching what they’ve been taught.

Outside of chapel and family group times, the camp’s schedule was filled with activities such as a campfire with s’mores, a trip to the beach, and even a banana eating contest. Haly’s favorite part of camp was when the class played Amoeba tag. “We ran [holding hands] in a circle,” Haly recalled, “and tried to catch the leaders in the circle, but they would run away and hide.” Junior and student counselor Dorian Ho’s favorite part was on Friday night after family group, when many of the freshmen came to talk with him and a few other counselors about their faith. As for Lockridge, he particularly enjoyed the first night of camp. “[It’s] always fantastic,” he said, “the kids get a lot out of it.”

In spite of the official lights-out policy during bedtime, many campers admit to staying up till the early morning hours. Freshman Hunter Yokoyama stayed up late talking with his friends and slept for five hours on first night. Ho reported that his cabin slept early on the first night, but on the second night, “went to sleep around two [in the morning].” Lockridge’s role as Camp Director did not give him the opportunity to get much sleep either. “I’m usually the last person to get to bed and the first person up, but I try to get at least four hours of sleep at night,” he said. Assistant Camp Director Kaneshiro likewise did not get much sleep, and simply said “no comment”.

Despite the scheduling mishaps, Kaneshiro felt that overall, ninth grade camp this year was a success. In particular, he gave credit to the student counselors for helping to make that happen. “The student counselors studied very hard, and were really good at being intentional in getting to know the students. [They] did a great job and set the bar high for the next counselor batch for eighth grade camp,” he said. Lockridge agreed, and expressed his gratitude to the campers as well. “The freshman class is really just a fantastic class. They get along really well with each other,” he observed. “And that’s just the thing we really like to see at camps—kids going out to play and blow off steam, learning more about Jesus [and getting to] fellowship out here where you can just run, jump and do a lot of crazy things.”

Related Post: Freshman Camp Photo Gallery