On Thursday, August 30, the seventh grade class went on their first middle school camp held at the Pu’u Kahea Baptist Conference Center in Waianae, Hawaii.

“Good news, bad news, good news” was the theme of 2017’s three-day, two-night seventh grade camp.

Because there are usually a significant number of new students entering seventh grade every year, the camp’s emphasis is introducing students to the Gospel message. (This year there were 20 first-year HBA students at the camp.)

Students had a chance to enjoy each other’s company outside of school, taking part in numerous relay activities, and most importantly, hearing the Gospel message from middle school Christian Ministries coordinator Rob Lockridge. He described the excitement students had even before camp, saying, “Preparing for camp is always a time of fellowship and excitement.  Everyone wants to know who is going to be in their cabin. The students want to know what kind of snacks to bring and who is bringing a cooler.”

On the theme of the camp, which is kept the same every year, Lockridge explained, “The good news is that there is a God. The bad news is that our sin separates us from Him. But the other good news is that He sent His Son Jesus to die on the cross to take the punishment for all of our sin.” He believes the theme has been and continues to be a crucial and effective one, given the positive responses he receives from the students every year.

Besides chapel worship and teachings, many other fun-filled activities such as “Rock-Paper-Scissors” and “Frozen T-Shirt” taught important biblical lessons. Recalling her favorite camp activities, seventh grader Cadi Komenaka said she had the most fun with the camp fire, art class, and worship. “I also learned about the people in my cabin…I think I can use what I learned at camp to build friendships. I think I would like to have more time there,” she added. Fellow classmate Kira Baker reflected on what she learned at camp, saying, “Camp brought me closer to God. I enjoyed the chapel and the food, and this chapel made me realize that God can cause miracles, no matter how long it takes, and that we should be patient.”

Camp brought me closer to God, I enjoyed the chapel and the food, and this chapel made me realize that God can cause miracles, no matter how long it takes, and that we should be patient.

As with every grade level camp, a group of high school Ministry Team members were present as camp counselors. For junior Jessie Lim, this year’s camp was more than just an opportunity to help out. “My prayer for the students going into camp was that they would come out of it with a new understanding for the Lord. I believe my prayer was answered, and not only do I believe that the students have a new appreciation for Jesus but I believe that I too have a new appreciation for the Lord, and am still learning to understand Him and His wondrous ways.”

Lim, who also counseled at previous seventh grade camps, added, “It is always pure joy, and every time I have a growing love for the students. I think there was a huge difference in the worship this year.” Although HBA worship leader John Kaneshiro—who left his position to pursue seminary studies at the end of last school year—was missed by students this year, Lim felt that the camp was equally as enjoyable and successful.

This year is senior Cody Sugai’s final year as a seventh grade counselor and he’s convinced that his counseling experiences have shaped him into a more well-rounded person. Sugai said, “I have gotten endurance and confidence out of this counseling experience. I’ve counseled many camps, but this was my first time [being] in charge of writing the family group material. It was a really fun experience, writing up the curriculum that was taught to the seventh graders. And seeing how much they enjoyed camp made me happy and feeling accomplished.”

For many counselors and campers, the camp was so enjoyable that their only additional wish was for it to last a few days longer. Komenaka suggested that future camps begin earlier in the day. Sugai echoed this sentiment, saying, “[I would want] a longer weekend so I could stay longer and get to know the students and fellow counselors better.”