Our safe summer camp for Fukushima children held in July was a great success with 56 children participating.
Many parents in Fukushima are reluctant to let their children play outside, because of uncertain health risks from radioactivity. Operation Blessing has been providing what those families need: a variety of experiences in beautiful nature and a risk-free environment where kids can experiment and play. The theme of the camp was: You are Special!
The camp was held at the Morigo Camp Site surrounded by a beautiful mystical forest. First, there were ice-breaking games. Many children looked nervous to be in a new place with new people, but they soon began to interact and were having fun.
For dinner, the children made hamburgers and hot-dogs cooked on a barbeque and finished up with marshmallow s’mores.
Our second day began with craft time. Today we made Pine Cone Lambs! Supplies were pine cones, clay, beads and pipe cleaner which the children made into pretty little lambs. After lunch, as it was raining, we visited the Sendai Science Museum. There were exhibits about life science, the science of play, environmental science, and flight. The kids seemed to be quite interested in examining the shapes, colors and sounds in nature. After returning to the campsite, there was dinner and time for singing and enjoying animated Bible stories.
On the third and final day, as the rain had stopped, we finally were able to go to the beach. Swimming in the sea is a big event for Fukushima kids, as beaches near their home have been off-limits following the nuclear disaster. We piled onto the camp buses and headed to Tsukihama beach. This scenic beach on the southern tip of Miyato Island in Higashi Matsushima is a popular swimming spot because of its calm waves. This was an exciting time for the children.
After changing clothes and getting back on the bus, it was time to make our way back home. Many kids told us that camp was so much fun and that they had made new friends. Some said they wanted to join the summer camp again next year.
One of the boy’s father reported that this was the third time that his son had participated in an Operation Blessing safe camp for kids. He really appreciates this opportunity because his child can play outside freely without the fear of health risks from radioactivity, and is able to join in new activities. He always looks forward to seeing his son coming back from camp because his boy always comes home "bigger and stronger.”
Our camps for Fukushima kids started because of the nuclear disaster of March 2011. We see that a long-term solution is to not only provide some temporary relief for the children from their home situations but to instill hope in the children which will benefit each family in the future.
Thanks to partners like you, we have been able to make a real difference in the lives of the kids in Fukushima that we serve.