Due to border closures caused by the Covid-19 worldwide pandemic, we were not able to travel to New Zealand for Amplify and Summit Camp this year. Instead we decided to create our very first outdoor adventure camp here in Tonga using local leadership and exploring the backyard of the tropical paradise of the Friendly Islands.
What an amazing opportunity to have 10 young people (14-17 year olds) and 2 leaders from different corps and spend a week with them in adventure, learning, exploring and experiencing God’s love through nature, the people we met and the activities we did.
On Monday January 11, straight after the week of prayer here in Tonga, we began our adventure camp. Everyone arrived at the campus at Aloft Accommodation, Fua’amotu on Monday evening, and we kicked off our week with welcomes and introductions, house rules and team-building activities. Before heading to bed we had to make sure that everyone packed their gear ready to go to ‘Eua on Tuesday morning. The ferry left at 9am from Nuku’alofa heading to ‘Eua Island. We arrived in ‘Eua at 12pm, got our gear and headed to our campus in Mata’aho ‘Eua. For some of our young people, this was their first time in ‘Eua. Also, for some, this was their first time on a ferry and was such an amazing experience for them. Straight after lunch we packed our gear again, getting ready to go hiking and camping in the mountains at the eastern side of ‘Eua, a place called Matamahinahopo (where you can see the sun when it rises early in the morning). At camp that night we had a bonfire.
On Wednesday morning we got up early, packed our stuff and put it in the truck so we could run from where we were camping to the closest village nearby (almost 3km away). From there we got on the truck and headed back to the base camp. In the afternoon we went to a place called ‘Heke’—which means ‘Slide’. Here there are three different stages of sliding which you can do by following the river flow: short slide, long slide and also the step slide. In the afternoon we went exploring and visiting some of the historical places in ‘Eua.
On Thursday we returned back to Tongatapu and in the afternoon we visited a missionary from America named Chris Paquette. He and his family moved to Tonga in 2012. He is a master builder and has built a treehouse in the middle of the bush. Part of our adventure was to explore nature and see how beautiful God’s creation is. We were also able to learn from other people’s stories and skills; Chris shared his story with us of how God called him to Tonga, about the house that he built (most of the building materials are natural resources—trees that had fallen in cyclone Gita) and about his vision and his passion for the young people of Tonga.
On Friday morning we started with a short morning run of almost 3km before getting ready for a day of kayaking. For kayaking we did an island tour around Fanga’uta Lagoon led by the Fatai Kayaking Team.
On Saturday morning we did a little bit of early morning exercise at the base camp and then continued on with cleaning up (service) before heading to the cave in the afternoon. We did a little bit of exploring and also swimming in the cave (‘Anahulu Cave).
Every night we had a debrief with the campers of the day's activities and shared in a time of devotion and encouragement from the Word of God. On Friday night we had a movie, and on Saturday night a talent show. On Sunday, the camp came to an end and the happy campers returned home—somewhat exhausted, but still full of excitement and enthusiasm from the time spent with each other and the activities they experienced
A.K.A. SAM | Nuku’alofa Corps | 16 years old
My highlight is going to the ‘Heke’ (Slide). It reminds me to understand that life has different stages of difficulties sometimes, but it is for us to choose whether we can overcome it or not.
A.K.A. NANE | Vaini Corps | 14 years old
I liked all the activities at the camp and also learnt how to work together and support each other when things got tough. I also saw the beauty of God’s creation—it always reminds me of how big God’s love for us is.
A.K.A. LEPI | Talasiu Corps | 16 years old
Sometimes I am afraid of doing something that I know for sure that I can’t do, but through this outdoor adventure camp I had people who encouraged me and pushed me to try and do things I think I can’t—and I did try!
A.K.A. ‘OU | Fua’amotu Corps | 16 years old
When my corps officer told me that I was chosen to be part of this programme, I did not want to go—I felt that even up to the day that the programme started. When my parents dropped me off to the campus I almost cried because this was the first time for me away from home and from my parents. But at the end of the camp I was blessed that I got to share with my family a lot that I’ve learnt from the time away. One of my highlights was when we went caving. While we were swimming in the cave we started singing worship songs; everyone joined the singing and that's when I felt the Holy Spirit moving within us inside the cave.