Kūpuna Camp – a tradition among best friends

by Brandi Salas

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87-year-old Florence is meticulously painting her star ornament and warns her best friend, Daisy, that they only have a few minutes left to finish their project. “Daisy, they’re going to tell us to wrap up soon. Space Bingo is next and I plan to win.”

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“I’m almost pau, get one more section to paint,” responded 92-year-old Daisy. Florence and Daisy are two of 80 seniors that attended The Salvation Army Kūpuna Camp this summer. “Daisy and I are best friends. We have been coming to The Salvation Army Kūpuna Camp for 24 years. She told me about it one day and it has become a tradition for us,” said Florence.

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The Salvation Army’s Kūpuna Camp is a half-day retreat that takes place at Camp Homelani on the North Shore and invites seniors in various communities across O‘ahu to enjoy fellowship, participate in arts and crafts, games, and a luncheon to follow. This year’s theme is “Blast Off” and each activity is packed with space-themed colors and galaxy patterns. “Kūpuna Camp is an important program because it gives us an opportunity to connect with the seniors in the community, pray with them, and show them that they are loved,” said Major Lani Chamness. “We have some senior campers here that look forward to it every year, because they are isolated most of the time and are in need of fellowship and companionship.”

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Florence and Daisy

The buzzer goes off, signaling Florence and Daisy to move onto their next activity, which is Space Bingo. “I’m great at Bingo it’s a game we all enjoy,” exclaimed Florence, walking ahead to save a seat for Daisy. “Daisy and I go way back. We used to be neighbors at one point. Now we play ukulele at the Mo‘ili‘ili Community Center and wait until we get our invitation to attend Kūpuna Camp. It’s the highlight of the summer for us. We even get goodie bags.”

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Each senior camper receives a bag full of items they may find useful such as snacks, blankets, socks, and more. Florence, Daisy, and other campers rotate around the campus, playing skee ball, getting free balloon hats, and shooting down aliens with Nerf guns. “Every time I come, get something new to do,” said Daisy, “that’s why we sign up every year, they keep us entertained, there’s fellowship, and get all kine activities.”

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The day ends early with a prayer and a healthy lunch. “Daisy, I see we gonna get astronaut ice cream and cheesecake for dessert,” spies Florence.

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Lunch ends with another round of balloon tricks, hugs, and goodbyes. “We better pack up and get on our bus back to Ka‘uluwela Corps,” said Florence. “Let’s go Daisy. We’ll be back next year!”

To learn more about our services and programs for seniors, visit our website.

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