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Bridge Club Hawaii Camps with students from Northern Japan

Rainbow for Japan Kids, by Evan Lin ('05 JA)

Photos by Karina Shea

Bridge Club Hawaii had an unforgettable opportunity to camp with 20 students from northern Japan. This took place during July 29-30 at Camp Erdman on the North Shore of Oahu. The kids from Japan were all affected somehow by the natural disaster that occurred not too many months ago.

Members from Bridge Club Hawaii arrived at the camp shortly before lunchtime on Friday. Once there, they presented the “Rainbow for Japan Kids” with flowers headed towards the cafeteria to have our first meal together. During lunch, BCH members and the “Rainbow” kids got our first chance to communicate with each other and learn more about each other.

As soon as lunch was finished, everybody got ready for a short hike guided by the YMCA staff. The hike was very engaging; we heard a famous Hawaiian legend, saw a parachute hanging on a mountain as a result of a plane crash, and tried lilikoi, a locally grown fruit.

BCH members were now constantly hanging out with the “Rainbow” kids. After the hike, campers were allowed to choose their own activities, ranging from going to the beach and playing basketball to just relaxing at the benches. It was truly a sight to see the “Rainbow” kids playing along with the BCH members; it was as if we all have been great friends for months.

For me, the best part of camp was the campfire. We got a huge campfire started and roasted marshmallows for s’mores, a sandwich with graham crackers and chocolate. Some of the kids from Japan even roasted their apples from dinnertime. The campfire was a great bonding experience for us all; some even played music together on ukeleles.

Nobody wanted to say goodbye the next morning. We had just spent a whole day getting to know these kids, and already they had to go. Before helping the “Rainbow” kids with their luggage and bags, we presented them with BCH stickers and Hawaiian key chains. Right before they got on the bus, we exchanged contact information so that we wouldn’t lose touch with each other, and finally said “sayonara.” The BCH members then formed a small human tunnel for the “Rainbow” kids, which led into the bus. As the final “Rainbow” kid stepped into the bus, all of us dropped our hands, and we waved and bowed to all of them as the bus slowly pulled out of the camp.

After the Rainbow for Japan kids left, Bridge Club Hawaii members had a chance at the rock wall and archery range. It was a great chance to get to know each other better and push ourselves to overcome our fears. Thanks to the Japan-America Society of Hawaii and many other sponsors for allowing us this opportunity.

A few days later, BCH members were given the chance to partake in the Farewell Dinner party for the Rainbow for Japan Children. At first, we were sad because BCH was sitting on one table and the Japan children on another. However, the gap between us was easily bridged by our outgoing members and soon, friends were reunited with friends amidst laughter, gifts, and picture taking. The entertainment for the evening was a variety of local ukulele groups who all led up to the grand finale performance by Jake Shimabukuro. BCH members were excited to see the local legend, and the Japanese kids got a kick out of his attempts to speak Japanese to them while he played. The farewell was long and full of tears, but the evening and their visit was a success. We hope that these “Rainbow” kids enjoyed this as much as us BCH members have, and we truly hope to do this again someday.

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