The following article appeared in the August 2014 issue of the E-Chronicle, and was written by Sarah Klitzke, Diocesan Youth Director, about the summer 2014 camp:
When I was a child, my summer church camp week was unparalleled to anything else I experienced all year. For one week each summer, I traveled hours from home, met new friends, participated in new games and activities, and experienced God in ways that I never imagined possible. It was so formational for me as a youth that I chose to be a lifelong Episcopalian, worked at numerous camps, and even married a priest. It was through the “mountain top” experiences learning and experiencing God with other kids from all over my diocese that made me the person I am today.
Now as an adult, it is a privilege and an honor to be able to help offer this experience to youth here in Hawaii. This summer at Hui Pu 2014, the camp staff welcomed 45 campers from all over Hawaii to experience faith and friendship in the beauty of Camp Mokule’ia on Oahu’s north shore. Episcopal youth came from St. Augustine’s, Holy Apostle, Good Shepherd, St. Christopher’s, St. Peter’s, St. Nicholas, St. Andrew’s Cathedral, Holy Nativity. We also had youth participants from Lutheran Church of Honolulu, Calvary by the Sea Lutheran, Queen Liliuokalani Protestant Church, and the Wounded Warriors program, as well as Camp Mokule’ia staff children.
The high school group, ‘Opio, was made up of 13 youth, many of whom had never met, but guaranteed, were transformed. The friendships that emerged that week were strong. The support and acceptance that every single one of those youth exhibited made me so proud to be a part of this group. Together this group completed a night hike to Kaena Point, the high ropes course, endless games of “Moose Moose” and “Ping Pang Pong”, hundreds of riddles, and duct tape boat races. They watched the epic tale of “The Princess Bride”, caught crabs on the beach at night, made up silly handshakes, did a photo scavenger hunt, buried Kevin in the sand, and so much more.
Our youngest participants came next, our elementary or Ahe group. This was a three day preview camp, and a great opportunity for young kids to experience camp for the first time. They were a breath of life and excitement and energy. They loved all the games, the music and of course, the swimming. There were sunrise hikes on the beach, crab catching contests, s’mores by the campfire, endless games, and incredible attitudes among this group of sixteen kids!
Lastly, was our amazing middle school group, Lokahi, who astounded me with the profound questions about faith during our chaplain’s chat times. These youth were so awesome! They were so accepting of one another, so eager to join activities, and so encouraging. One of the best parts of the week was watching them do the zip line and the pure happiness on their faces as they flew across the tent field. From the initial timidity of a few youth at the beginning of the week, it was obvious by the end how much each youth has been changed by this camp experience. The spirit and charisma of this group still makes me smile when I think about them. I can’t wait to see this group for years to come!
There are no words to describe the power of watching all these children and youth being moved by the Holy Spirit during games, activities, music, and worship. We had different clergy and kupuna for each session of camp, and the theme “Epic Faith” really came to life! Each session had their own special programming for “Kula” time, and the teachers were so creative and awesome! Angela Freeman, pastor at the Lutheran Church of Honolulu, was our clergy/teacher the ‘Opio week, with a special visit from Bishop Fitzpatrick. Pastor Angela came up with some amazing hands-on bible studies and activities! Jenny Wallace, Stephanie Wight, and David Turner (UCC minister and executive director of Camp Mokuleia) did an incredible job with the Ahe group. Never will these kids experience the epic story of Jonah the same again! It was a blast for all the staff to participate even! Rev. Paul Klitzke and Bishop Fitzpatrick were the “clergy of the week” for middle school and I can guarantee that those youth will never forget the epic stories that they learned from scripture, including Jacob wrestling with God, Meshach, Shadrach, and Abednego, and the story of Ruth. The shouts of “Nebuchadnezzar” could be heard all over Camp Mokuleia!
We were fortunate enough to have Kelly Connell, Tom Gatti, and Lizzy Gatti from St. Nicholas worship bands come up to camp several evenings to bless us with wonderful music and songs of praise. One of the most powerful moments for me was watching Lizzy, a high school sophomore, sing the song “Gold” to the middle school (Lokahi) campers, telling them that they are beautiful, worthy, and loved. For many, the songs were new, but by the end of each session, each session sang with such fervor and volume that the presence of God was palpable.
A huge mahalo to the numerous people who made this year of Hui Pu such a success. I’d like to especially thank The Bruce, Connell, and Gatti families, for all their help with set-up and take-down, and the many people who donated scholarship for youth to attend. An experience such as this for youth can be priceless, and I am very pleased with the support and encouragement from all over the Diocese. Again, thank you for allowing me to be a small piece of this formation, and for helping provide this opportunity for our future leaders in the Church.