First Kohitsuji Camp Held for Families from Fukushima

The first Kohitsuji (lambs) Camp, a short-term program designed to provide rest and recreation for families living in Fukushima Prefecture, was held at the Tokyo YMCA’s Yamanakako Center, Jan. 13 (Friday)-15 (Sunday). This program was planned by Okamoto Tomoyuki, assistant director of the Kyodan’s Relief Planning Headquarters, as a project for protecting children from radioactivity.

The camp was carried out under the joint sponsorship of the Relief Planning Headquarters and the Aizu Radioactivity Information Center, in cooperation with the Tokyo YMCA. Although 24 participants from seven families applied, two families had to cancel, so the final number of participants was 17. Matsumoto Takehiro, director of the Tokyo YMCA’s South Community Center, took the role of camp leader; three people with rich experience, along with myself as representative of the Relief Planning Headquarters, also took part. On the third day, Honda Shinya, assistant general secretary of the Tokyo YMCA and director of its head office, came to join us.

For this inaugural event, we aimed at creating a program that caused no inconvenience related to school attendance. We departed from the Aizu Radioactive Information Center at 4 p.m. on Friday and then met with participants from Koriyama Church. There, with Pastor Niwa, we joined together in a prayer for their safety at the camp. We had arrived a little later than expected due to bad weather and poor road conditions between Aizu and Koriyama. However, those waiting had a good time singing camp songs with YMCA leaders in the Koriyama Church sanctuary while waiting for our arrival. Also, as many of the participants had never been in a church before, it was a good opportunity for them to visit one in their own neighborhood, for which we were all thankful.

The following morning we arrived at Yamanakako Center, after taking an all-night bus, but because the children were so tired from the trip, the scheduled morning assembly was cancelled so that they could rest. One of the main features of the Kohitsuji Camp is that small children who cannot participate in other rest-camps as well as children with severe allergies can feel comfortable taking part in this camp experience because of the YMCA’s expertise in dealing with these issues.

Nevertheless, the main drawing card of the camp was scheduled for that first day, when the families would be able to choose from a number of activities that had been prepared. Some families chose to go fishing for small lake fish called “smelt” in English, while others went ice-skating or took an easy walk along the shoreline of Lake Yamanaka. Some children simply spent time doing their homework. Our aim was that they would be able to spend time feeling free and easy at the health resort, with all of them doing whatever they liked.

A family from the city of Koriyama decided to go fishing, and in order to get out to the fishing boat, went in a small paddleboat they propelled by foot pedals. The children were in awe of the scene, with the magnificence of Mt Fuji towering over the lake. Putting live bait on the hook took a bit of getting used to, but when they caught their first fish, they soon became engrossed and thoroughly enjoyed themselves for those three hours.

Likewise, a mother and her daughter from the town of Date, who had never been ice-skating before, decided to take the challenge. Just getting the skates on was a struggle, but as they envisioned their favorite skater, they kept at it. What struck me most was how the child repeated over and over how much fun she was having. The afternoon program involved a similar set of choices, including crafts, such as making tops, playing card games, playing outside, and going hiking. Participants had roasted marshmallows in the fireplace and baked apples for a snack at three o’clock. Quite a few parents and children participated in programs separately, and those parents no doubt had some time to be refreshed by being able to leave their children in the care of others.

At night, everyone went on the Lake Yamanaka Art Illumination tour, which was held at the Lake Yamanaka Hana-no-miyako Park. Although it was cold, the spacious site was gleaming with LED decorative lighting, and the children were so excited that they lost their sense of time and were not bothered by the cold. They said it was like being in a dream, and they all enjoyed being in this dreamlike space.

On the third day, they started from the morning assembly (noncompulsory participation), with a constant smile on their faces, doing fun morning exercises led by Tokyo YMCA leaders. They took commemorative photographs, with Mount Fuji in the background. The signal for taking a picture was “Yamanakako (click)!” They became wonderful photos, as not many children had seen Mt. Fuji before this camp.

Tokyo YMCA leaders showed their true ability during the final program, which involved a series of games. Each of the families enjoyed themselves to the full in the friendly atmosphere and also enjoyed eating the fish some children had caught the previous day, deep-fat fried as tempura; and those who had actually caught the fish displayed a triumphant look.

Finally, they had only a little time left before boarding on the bus, but for the children, it was a precious time to play before departure. Some joined in a jump-rope contest, while some of the girls played soccer, and they all spent a fulfilling time at the camp until the very end. Several issues remain to be solved, such as the aspect of publicity. However, I am grateful that we could spend these three days together safely, carefully focusing on each participant’s feelings. One mother expressed her sentiments by saying, “I couldn’t help but shed tears at the closing ceremony. Thank you for such a delightful memory.” If I can help to protect children’s precious lives even a little and help share the pain of the victims of the nuclear power plant disaster by continuing this program of rest and recreation, I will be very happy. (Tr. SM)

—Maekita Mio, staff member
Kyodan Disaster Relief Planning Headquarters

短期保養プログラム第一回「こひつじ」キャンプ報告

 

放射能から子どもの「命」を守るプロジェクトとして、岡 本知之救援対策本部副本部長が 企画した福島県内の親子を対象とした短期保養プログラム第一回「こひつじキャンプ」が東京YMCA山中湖センターで1月13日(金)~15日(日)まで行われ ました。

このキャンプでは主催を日本基督教団救援対策本部とし、共 催として会津放射能情報センター、東京YMCAの協力のもと実施され、7組24名が申し込み、当日は5組 17名(キャンセル2組)の参加者が与えられました。

キャンプリーダーは東京YMCA南 コミュニティーセンターの館長松本竹弘氏が中心となって3名の経験豊富な方々がつき、教団からは救援対策本部より私が参加しました。 3日目には東京から東京YMCA副総主事・本部事務局長の本田真也氏も駆けつけてくださいま した。 

第一回目は就学に支障のないプログラム作りを心がけ、金曜 日の16時会津放射能情報センターを出発し、途中郡山教会にて残りの参加者と合流。郡山教会では丹羽牧師のお祈りで、参加者たちは心 を一つにし、これから始まるキャンプの無事を主にお祈りすることから始めました。会津から郡山までは荒天と道路事情により、予定の到 着時間より少し遅れましたが、参加者たちは待っている間も郡山教会の礼拝堂でYMCAのリーダー達とキャンプソングを歌ったり、楽しいひとときを 過ごす事ができました。また今回初めて教会の中に入った参加者の方も多く居られ、近隣の教会を訪れるよき機会になったことは喜ばしい ことでした。 

さて夜半にバスが山中湖センターに到着した翌日は、幼少の お子さん達に無理がない様、前日の移動の疲れを十分にとる時間が持てる配慮がなされ、朝の集いなどはYMCAの現場の判断により、取りやめられました。今回の「こひつじ キャンプ」ではこうした他の保養キャンプに参加できない幼少のお子さんや重度のアレルギーをお持ちのお子さんなどもYMCAの豊富な経験と実績から、きめ細かい対応をしていただき安心 して参加してくださった事も大きな特徴の一つです。

2日目のこの日は、キャンプの目玉でもあるチョイスプログ ラムが各種用意され、午前中はワカサギ釣りに行く家族、スケートに行く親子、山中湖湖畔をのんびり散歩する家族があり、また宿題をす るお子さん達も居りました。それぞれが思い思いに好きな事をすることによって、日常性 も大切にしながら、気兼ねなく保養地で過ごしていただく事が狙いです。

ワカサギ釣りに参加してくださったのは郡山市から参加のご 家族。湖畔より小さなテンダーボート(足舟)に乗って釣り舟に向かいます。子ども達は湖上からは見上げる雄大な富士山のその迫力に圧 倒されていました。釣り船でワカサギを釣り始めて約3時間…、生き餌に少々戸惑っていたのも束の間…一匹釣れると勢いがつき、全員夢 中です。

一方、スケートをチョイスした家族は伊達市から参加くだ さった親子で、お二人とも初めてのスケート…。靴を履くところから苦戦しましたが、あこがれのスケート選手を思い浮かべて一生懸命練 習しました。まだ幼少のお子さんでしたが、楽しかったとなんどもお話されていたのが印象的でした。

午後のチョイスプログラムはクラフト制作(コマ作り)や カードゲームをする子、外で遊ぶ子も居りハイキングに行くもよしという自由参加のプログラム。3時には暖炉で焼いた熱々のマシュマロ や焼きリンゴのおやつも頂きました。保護者の方と子ども達が別々のプログラムに参加したご家族も多く、子どもを安心して預けた後は保 護者の皆さんのささやかなリフレッシュ時間にもなった様です。

この日の夜は山中湖花の都公園で開催された「山中湖アート イルミネーション」を見に行くツアーもあり、全員が希望し参加しました。寒かったけれど広大な敷地がLED電飾できらめき、子ども達は「夢の中みたい!」と時間も寒さ も忘れて大興奮。親子みんなでこの幻想的な空間を味わいました。

3日目、この日は東京YMCAの リーダー達が楽しい朝のエクササイズを指導してくださり、笑顔の絶えない「朝のつどい」(自由参加)から始まりました。その後、富士 山をバックに記念撮影。シャッターを切る合図は「山中湖!(パチっ)」もっとも今回のキャンプで初めて富士山を見る子も少なくありま せんでしたので素敵な記念撮影になりました。 最後の全体プログラムは東京YMCAのリーダーたちが本領を発揮!ゲーム大会を行いました。各家 族お互いに仲良くなっていたのが幸いし、とても和やかで目一杯楽しみました。又、この日の昼食は前日のチョイスプログラムでつり上げ た「ワカサギ」を天ぷらにしておいしく頂き、獲物を釣った子ども達はつい得意顔…。

 さて、いよいよ後はバスに乗るだけ、とい う出発前のわずかな時間も子ども達に取っては大切な遊び時間。グラウンドで大縄跳び大会をしたり、女の子たちがサッカーを楽しんだり 最後の最後まで濃密なキャンプとなりました。広報面など多くの課題も残しましたが、参 加してくださったお一人おひとりのお気持ちを大切に受け止めて、この3日間を無事に過ごさせて頂けた事は感謝です。参加者の一人のお 母さんからは「閉 村式には思わず涙があふれてしまいました。本当に楽しい思い出を、ありがとうございました。」 というお言葉も頂きました。今後も継続的に保養プログラムを続ける事で、原発事故の被害に遭われた方々の痛みに寄り添い、子ども達の かけがえのない「命」をほんの少しでも守る事がお手伝いできたら幸いです。(前北未央)