All Church Camp

2023 Wesley Church Camp…RAIN? NO WAY!!!

By Barbara Hiura
Whoa! Rain? Really? Yes..rain greeted all of our Wesley families the Friday of Labor Day weekend at our annual Church Camp at Pinecrest Lake. And it continued pretty much all weekend clearing up on to bright sunny climes when we left on Monday. Whiie this is the lead-in to our camp weekend, it was not the highlight, just a minor distraction. Yes, it was wet. Yes it was cold, but the 109 who attended bonded together perhaps because of the weather. We huddled in the mess hall and played games, did bead work and ventured outside between drops to do some tie-dying. And the kids? They didn’t care…just so long as they were together.
On the best day, Saturday, with the least amount of rain, almost everyone went outside to fish with Master anglers Steve Tabuchi and Bob Yasukawa who helped many of our camp kids catch the “big” one.  The good news? Not that it was kinda dry, but there was no fishing license required for that one day. And the fish caught was bountiful.
What a glorious time to be together. Some of the older kids and young adults took to swimming in the lake…burr! What a pristine place with very few campers out at the Lake besides us. There was no beach to speak of because the lake was so high. Wesley rock was a mere peak above the water so everyone fished from shore. It was fantastic and a huge shout-out to God and what he provides us.
Mark Teagle led a group of hardy souls around the 4-plus mile lake and they were done in record time. Better that it was cool, had plenty of water and no crowds. Nice to be in God’s country offering time for reflection. Everyone found it! Peace, joy, laughter, and love that was graciously shared with one another.  Camps A and B the kids and family camp area had movies nightly and enjoyed soy sauce hot dogs and rice along with popcorn and snacks galore. Camp C, E and F had campfires all but one night and the adults sat and talked around the fire for hours all while eating nachos, spam musubi, smoked steelhead trout ala Steve Tabuchi, and chili rice complements of Mary Sasaki. Camp D, the teens and youth??? They did their own thing and parents noted they didn’t see them but for meals. It didn’t matter that there was no horseback riding or swimming.
We arose as always to Radio Taiso, a Japanese exercise program. Thank goodness for Mikiko Kaniike-Ball and her two children, Mizuki and Motoki, who were literally attached to her, while she led us. She commented, “whenever I hear Radio Taiso program, I immediately jump up and do it?” it is a part of me and my upbringing.” What a wonderful way to start the day as we begin together with God’s grace upon us.
Every evening all of us gathered in the mess hall and sang songs led by Mark on his Ukulele and joined by his sidekick, Barbara Hiura. Announcements followed by our fearless leader John Ng, and off everyone went to enjoy the rest of their evening. There were always games played in the mess hall well into the night. Even Paul Ueunten found a Scrabble game, but not really anyone with his competitive zeal.
We had Sunday service with Rev. John bringing the message…a very short message…as we continued to share experiences and make memories that will last forever. The final evening, we had the Scavenger Hunt reveal with only two teams participating…it was the kids and families versus the “big” people. As you know, big people can be over-the-top competitive when it comes to games and literally took the candy from the children who did an admirable job. Their disappointment lasted all of a second and they were off doing something else. It was also skit night were children and families, the teens and young adults, and adults singing out their version of the Taylor Swift song “Shake It Off” followed by some very funny skits. You should have been there. What talent.
The highlight? We were treated and I do mean treated to “ Family Camp version 2” song…
“There’s Always Next Year” written by Stephen Urata and presented as a family affair with his wife Vivian, daughter Claira, and baby Audrey. Their performance brought the house down! It was so good and yes adorable with Claira stealing the show. Hear! Hear! Like I said, you shoulda been there.
Oh, and let’s not forget the fishing derby and prizes for the biggest fish. This is the second highlight of so many. John Ng gave out top awards to: Sato, Konori and Claira who took top honors from first to third among the children; and Stephen Urata, Yuri Oda, and Yuko Yokota were top prize winners among the adults. And all the derby kids were treated to a personal toy to take home. Finally, one our newest families, the Garrisons were given a fishing rod donated by Steve Tabuchi for future use. “My whole family has enjoyed camp so much,” said Brian Garrison, who expressed how much fun he and his family had this weekend adding, ”We’ll be back next year.”
We have to thank John Ng and Christine Ozawa, our very passionate family camp directors, for the planning, preparation and work all year in putting this weekend together for us.  I’m sure the rain just added pressure to our camp situation, but they were there wheeling and dealing away all issues and problems. This year was made a little better by the new luxury cabins (10 of them with heat and full bathrooms, microwave) and the old stand-by Bosch Hall (hotel with heat, but bathrooms outside) as many of the families were initially in leaky, cold, dusty tent cabins (no amenities) and found refuge by taking vacant spaces in both locations. We are so grateful to the Ngs and their leadership because they were perfect and why…because they love this camp and the memorable experiences garnered, and they work hard going over every nuance and detail in making our camp experience the highlight of our church year. Hats off and accolades.
On a final note, we had families come from other churches because their kids met each other at Asian and Jr. High Camp. And yes, that’s what God wants always, to put us in relationship. And to God’s credit and a lot of hands-in work, we are growing. See you next year.