(08/23/08) This year we chose to have our All Islanders Gathering As One (AIGA1) annual retreat at Camp Jones Gulch which is a short drive from San Francisco and San Jose. We are glad that this retreat was well received by our Polynesian youth from the Bay Area mostly San Francisco and East Palo Alto. The Camp comes under the jurisdiction of the San Francisco - YMCA.

Camp Jones Gulch lies among some of the most pristine forests and comprises of over nine hundred acres - teeming with birds, animals, flora and of course the majestic redwood trees. What other site could we ask for to better our youth?

We love our Polynesian youth and look forward to the annual retreat as the only opportunity to reach out and touch those youth that need love or to understand better - Talofa. We are after all - family.

In previous years we have ventured to have retreats at Oxnard, California by the beach. We have had a marvelous retreat at South Lake Tahoe that most talk about and have not forgotten. The youth this year seemed to treasure this site and the various workshops that enlightened the youth and prompted them to better themselves.

Camp Jones Gulch in the Santa Cruz Mountains has been serving thousands of teens since 1970. Camp Jones Gulch did us proud and provided our Polynesian youth with the best and our youth appreciated the kindness of the staff. We bonded and before we knew it- we had to leave and to treasure the moments for a long, long - time. Three fully satisfying meals were provided each day.

The various workshops chosen were one of kind having the youth in mind. We tried not to permit the adults to over burden the youth - and in doing so brought the best out from the youth and revealed the actual realities that face our youth today. Youth leading youth with a little Talofa from the adults.

Our Polynesian Youth are a blessing to San Francisco, to East Palo Alto and too many other areas in the Bay Area and beyond. However, most City officials have been slow to understand the unique Polynesian Culture and even slower to fund the key organizations to support our Polynesian Youth as they do other mundane organizations with little or no contribution to Society.

Some the adults that shared their wisdom came from the leading Educational Facilities are a blessing was that they were Polynesian - first. We have others that shared their experiences from being in gangs and youth organizations mostly dealing with Polynesians - and all of them were Polynesian too. The most beautiful aspect of most of the workshops was the family sharing of experiences, thoughts, some very painful yet healing happenings of a kind.

All Islanders Gathering As One (AIGA1) means family. I have been a facilitator trying my best to serve the Polynesian Youth and Polynesians in general in my work. I admire that compared to other ethnicities the Polynesians have sacrificed a higher percentage that any group in recent wars. And again at the Federal, State, and Local levels - key authorities and policy makers have been slow to recognize the large heart and totally commitment that most Polynesians have offered this Nation - with unconditional love. It is time to change and the time is now.

On a higher level it gives some one like me an opportunity to study the dynamics of the Polynesian youth when it come to team work. Culturally, the Polynesians have it in them to work as a team and do very well. However, the opportunities given the youth are rare to test this skill and admire the results in most public settings in our Cities. Our AIGA1 Annual Retreat provides this great opportunity and I thank the AIGA1 leaders - and you know who you are for a job well - done.

We were very close NOT to have this Retreat the reason was simple - funding at the appropriate time. We pulled it and made it happened because we have faith in God and God was with us - throughout. It was a blessing to see the youth smile with that sparkle in their eyes. It was fun to see them naughty and yet get serious when the time was ripe. It was astonishing to hear them sing and play music - sweet melodies that pleased our ears.

The Talent Show was great and all the Polynesian Youth has but half an hour to really come up with their act. The talent displayed was deep and the grace phenomenal. Especially, in the line of poetry we had the best of the best and one of the participants had just come from a Nation Poetry Competition - and his rendition - awe inspiring.

We had Arts and Crafts and the end results again displayed the hidden talent. The Ice Breakers and the team games revealed the love the youth had for one another. There was some rivalry but that comes with the territory and keen and whole some competition.

We had a journalist and a Loan Consultant share their experiences with the youth. After the session the youth asked questions and made small talk.

It is the endeavor of All Islanders Gathering As One (AIGA1) to serve the youth especially in the field of dispensing quality information to the Polynesian Community, the needy youth and beyond. We are a small group but powerful enough to participate at all levels - be it in San Francisco and City Hall, East Palo Alto and their decision making, with our stakeholders in the East Bay and wherever we are called to offer the best to serve our youth.

Enjoy the photographs. Talofa.


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