Unification News for September 1998

Camp Tongil Northwest 1998

by Vanessa Nishikawa-Seattle, WA

The morning bell clangs out over the sleeping camp-ding dong, ding dong, ding dong-resonating over the lake, breaking the stillness of the quiet summer morning. A new day at Camp Tongil Northwest begins for youth from five different states-Washington, Oregon, Montana, Alaska, and Idaho, plus British Columbia. This was the fifth annual event for youth ages 8 - 14 and the second year that it was held at the beautiful and rustic site of Millersylvania State Park, Environmental Learning Center, 12 miles south of Olympia, Washington, from July 19 - 24, 1998.

This year’s camp hosted 84 very lively children with 30 attentive adult staff to guide and organize the multitude of activities. The camp theme, "Becoming a Champion for God," was enthusiastically applauded-with special emphasis during Divine Principle Education presentations being placed on the life and mission of Jesus Christ.

Over the past five years, the camp has grown steadily both in numbers of participants and staff members and duration. For comparison, the camp in 1995 had 24 children with six staff members, and was held over a weekend.

Tongil means "unity" and that is most effectively accomplished by the internal camp structure-teams comprised of eight children and two adult counselors each. This somewhat conservative ratio is not just a safety precaution but also enhances the quality of the campers’ and counselors’ experience. Camp Tongil is a learning environment as an extension of the family, and the adult volunteers, largely parents of campers, are the ones who create the circumstances through which true family values are taught and practiced. In a unique campfire ceremony, which the children have come to love, the campers state ways by which they may become champions for God. Some of the promises clearly show just what is valued at Camp Tongil: "to be kind to others, even when they are not kind to me,"; "to speak the truth when it must be spoken"; "to respect everything God makes,"; "keep a positive attitude,"; "trust God,"; "help Mom more at home,"; "be helpful to people," ; "challenge self to be strong,"; "be obedient to parents."

Team structure

The teams stay together for most of the activities for the duration of the camp, and by the end of the five-day experience, there are many moist eyes among team members saying farewell until next year. Each team wears a different color T-shirt (i.e., the "Red" team, the "Periwinkle" team, the "Sage" team) with a beautiful logo designed by David Hose, Jr. emblazoned on the front. The specific colors have been cause for endearing titles-this year, on skit night, the "Blue" team did a take-off on the "Men in Black" and presented a skit by the "Boys in Blue".

An early start to the day is necessary in order to fit in all of the exciting activities, and campers are roused from sleeping bags at 7:00 AM. Exercises follow, then Hoon Dok Hwe by teams. Morning clean up and "teamwork" with assigned chores are accomplished prior to breakfast. Appetites do not present any problems, as campers have healthy ones at each meal and snack time. Extensive appreciation is shown to the hard-working cooks, Helen Abelseth and Helen Downey, by the fact that there are very few leftovers. Divine Principle Education in the form of brief "youth-friendly" presentations are next in the schedule, followed by skits including adults and campers as actors. This allows for a fresh understanding of significant religious principles. David Malloch guided the presentations and skits for the "Junior" campers while Eric Sylte offered guidance and led discussions for the "Senior" campers (the Mountain Challenge participants-the Sage and Silver teams).

After team meetings, teamwork and lunch, the afternoon is divided into four sessions, including "Hands On Education" directed by Toni Lee Curry, swimming and canoeing, plus "Team Choice" activities such as sports, games, hiking, etc. After a bountiful dinner, each evening program has a particular theme: promises to "Become a Champion for God", skit night, songfest around the campfire, culminating in an extraordinary "Awards Ceremony." Lights out at around 10:00 PM concludes the official camp day, however, many treasured stories are in the hearts of campers and counselors who found themselves still awake after official "bedtime".

Mountain Challenge

An innovative and very exciting highlight of this year’s camp was the Mountain Challenge experience. Led by Craig "Mountain Man" Dahl and "Aunt" Penny Frisk and assisted by Eric Sylte, Teddy Hose and Mary Hose, two teams of "Senior" boys and girls (Sage and Silver) went on an off-site overnight hiking/camping adventure. This expedition, by all accounts, was an incredible experience for all that challenged themselves to trek up Mt. Ellinor in the Olympic mountains.

All Mountain Challenge participants went way beyond their personal limits of physical endurance, and in so doing, were blessed with deep spiritual experiences of the presence of God. At the top of the mountain, besides the spectacular view of the world below them, they were amazed to find mountain goats coming up to lick their hands. The Seniors were treated to a day of technical rope work and utilized their new skills to rappel off a 50 foot vertical wall. Upon completion of the cliff challenge they enjoyed the coolness of a swim in a pristine mountain lake.


On the final afternoon of camp, all participants spend time to fill out a reflection and take a quiz to assess the educational development, progress and effectiveness of the Divine Principle presentations. Eric Sylte challenged the "Seniors " with three essay questions. A few excerpts from their responses follow:

Q: How could Adam and Eve have protected themselves and avoided "fallen" relationships.

Response from Rachel Curry, age 14, (Silver team): First, Adam and Eve could have been more careful with each other (Eve convincing Adam into a sexual relationship) and others (Lucifer convincing Eve into a sexual relationship). If Adam and Eve were more careful, Eve wouldn’t have fallen and neither would have Adam. Second, Adam and Eve had to trust God completely and with absolutely no doubt. (Satan convincing Eve to have a sexual relationship by saying that God wouldn’t care). If she did trust God and not the archangel, she would have eventually become the Queen of the universe = True Mother. In turn, Adam would have become the King = True Father.

Response from Josie Wells, age 14, (Silver team): Eve allowed herself to be alone with Lucifer. If she had not done this it might have been avoided. Yet this did occur and even then it could have stopped there if Eve had not involved Adam. I have my own wonders though. What if Adam and Eve had been honest right afterwards? Also, what if they had taken the blame themselves, and said, "it was all my fault". Instead of blaming each other. They were given everything. Freedom to choose, ability to bear children, and a rule, not to "eat the fruit" until they were married and mature....If Eve had listened to God and not Lucifer, the whole fall could have been avoided. If Adam had listened to himself, God, and his conscience, instead of Eve and Lucifer, he would have been able to protect himself and save mankind from "fallen" nature and relationships.

Q: What do we mean by the term "True Parents"?

Response from Gregory Nishikawa, age 13, (Sage team): "True" meaning what is more pure or spiritual implies that "True Parents" are the parents that are most pure or spiritual. "True" Father and Mother are therefore more spiritual than other people; they’re more religious, understanding, loving and "True". It’s also said that they can speak with God and understand God or God’s heart. Since God is spirit, and Jesus (who brought the "Sword of Truth") was the Son of God, this also makes "True Parents" more spiritual. I believe this because I am part of the Unification Church; and "True Parents" are the leaders of the Unification Church. So, naturally, I was brought up being taught that. Also, if I take "True" literally, it would mean that "True Parents" are more honest and truthful. That would mean that they tell the truth about religion and God. And, thirdly, since "True Parents" are more spiritual than other people, they have stronger spirits. And, because of this, they act as protectors or guardians to our spirits. Therefore, acting as spiritual parents. Also, because they are the leaders of the Unification Church, they guide us in teachings and blessings, again acting as parents to all of the followers of our Unification Church movement. We also look up to them when things become difficult.

Q: Why do we call Jesus a champion for God?

Response from Yoshiko Araki, age 13, (Silver team): Jesus...dedicated his entire life to God. Jesus loved God and understood his heart; he was willing to do anything for him. Jesus would go and speak God’s words to the people wherever he could. He knew that all the people on earth were God’s children and loved by him, so Jesus loved them just as much, even when he was thrown in prison. When Jesus knew that he was going to die on the cross, he did not back down. He did not go run and hide but sacrificed his life for God and his children. It was probably really painful for Jesus because he could never experience having a wife and children, having a family. Jesus knew how important it was to restore this world and allowed himself to go through worse than hell to indemnify all the sins of all the people. Jesus gave his sweat, blood and tears for God; Jesus gave his everything for God and therefore is a champion for God!


For the past four years, an innovative "incentive program" has been developed by Assistant Director, Vanessa Nishikawa. This year, campers collected tickets for good deeds and healthy attitudes from counselors and other adult staff and exchanged tickets at the Camp Tongil Store which was open nightly and offered some fun prizes that truly excited most of the younger campers. Some campers earned alphabet beads to spell out their names or the acronym of our camp theme B.A.C.F.G. (Be a Champion for God) and promptly made necklaces or bracelets. Next year, we will focus more on heart and intent, and seek to elicit and reward selfless behavior and heavenly attitude. At the Awards Ceremony each camper received a beautiful, laminated Certificate of Participation and congratulations from many of the adult staff members, including a handshake from Rev. Won Geun Kim.

Each year, the Camp Tongil experience gets bigger and better. Feedback from campers and staff is reassuring-Camp Tongil Northwest is a very good thing that is here to stay. Next year, we are seeking to add on one more day and will create a precedent to embrace children of newly blessed couples in the program.

In addition to those already mentioned, we’d like to extend our appreciation to the following staff members: Dreux Amaral, Diane Araki, Yoshinori Asaoka, Michiko Barrett, Izabela Byrne, Will Couweleers, Sun-Hee Davies, Deloise De Goede, Fred Dehen, Junko Jones, Mubina Lagare, Ray McCready, John Nattrass, Tom Picard, Dario Pisano, Richard Stumpf, Eva-Maria Taylor, Lucy Wells and Katsuya Yamauchi.

For more information on Camp Tongil send email to camptongil@aol.com. We are interested in comparing notes with other summer camps.

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