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Saki Kinjo, 10, Margo Pauli, 11, and Frances Delossantos, 16, left to right, from Kubasaki High School hug in a huddle Tuesday at the Teen Center on Camp Foster to discuss survival tactics for a game of dodge ball. Six teams made up of 30 American and Japanese children competed at the teen center during a three-day youth summer camp sponsored by Marine Corps Community Services Okinawa.

Saki Kinjo, 10, Margo Pauli, 11, and Frances Delossantos, 16, left to right, from Kubasaki High School hug in a huddle Tuesday at the Teen Center on Camp Foster to discuss survival tactics for a game of dodge ball. Six teams made up of 30 American and Japanese children competed at the teen center during a three-day youth summer camp sponsored by Marine Corps Community Services Okinawa. (Mark Rankin / S&S)

Saki Kinjo, 10, Margo Pauli, 11, and Frances Delossantos, 16, left to right, from Kubasaki High School hug in a huddle Tuesday at the Teen Center on Camp Foster to discuss survival tactics for a game of dodge ball. Six teams made up of 30 American and Japanese children competed at the teen center during a three-day youth summer camp sponsored by Marine Corps Community Services Okinawa.

Saki Kinjo, 10, Margo Pauli, 11, and Frances Delossantos, 16, left to right, from Kubasaki High School hug in a huddle Tuesday at the Teen Center on Camp Foster to discuss survival tactics for a game of dodge ball. Six teams made up of 30 American and Japanese children competed at the teen center during a three-day youth summer camp sponsored by Marine Corps Community Services Okinawa. (Mark Rankin / S&S)

Saki Kinjo bounces high into the air in a kangaroo sack as she approaches the finish line on the obstacle course challenge Tuesday at the Teen Center on Camp Foster.

Saki Kinjo bounces high into the air in a kangaroo sack as she approaches the finish line on the obstacle course challenge Tuesday at the Teen Center on Camp Foster. (Mark Rankin / S&S)

Frank Johnson, left, the game master, leaps in the air and cheers Toshiya Namihira, 11, and Yu Arakai, 10, to the finish on the obstacle course Tuesday at the Teen Center on Camp Foster.

Frank Johnson, left, the game master, leaps in the air and cheers Toshiya Namihira, 11, and Yu Arakai, 10, to the finish on the obstacle course Tuesday at the Teen Center on Camp Foster. (Mark Rankin / S&S)

Brett Claeys, 10, left, and Erin Walker, 10, bolt off the starting line onto the obstacle course challenge Tuesday at the Teen Center on Camp Foster.

Brett Claeys, 10, left, and Erin Walker, 10, bolt off the starting line onto the obstacle course challenge Tuesday at the Teen Center on Camp Foster. (Mark Rankin / S&S)

CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Thirty American and Japanese children, gathered Tuesday at the Camp Foster Teen Center, proved you can have fun in any language.

They were starting a three-day summer camp, the third annual one sponsored by Marine Corps Community Services Okinawa. The camp’s goal: Provide the kids with as much fun as possible with their new friends from across the ocean.

On Tuesday, they hung out at the Teen Center; Wednesday, they planned to visit Awase Water Park at the Okinawa Comprehensive Park before seeing a movie at a Japanese theater in Chatan. Thursday is to be a beach blast at the Okuma Recreation Center.

“Good morning. Ohayo gozaimasu,” Col. Bradley Turner told the children during opening ceremonies. “All these activities will help you to achieve greater understanding of each other and your parent cultures,” said Turner, chief of staff for Marine Corps Base Camp Butler.

Isao Higa, director of the Board of Education of Kitanakagusuku Village, expressed gratitude to the Marine Corps community for inviting children from his village to take part in the summer youth camp.

“Both American and Okinawan children can unite their hearts to accomplish one goal, despite the cultural and language differences,” he said.

The children were divided into six teams; each team had its own color T-shirt — blue, green, yellow, red, orange and gray. After the opening ceremony, the 9- to 12-year-olds frantically tackled an obstacle course.

The different language and environment, and new experience, initially baffled Yuta Tamaki, 10, from Kitanakagusuku. “I don’t know what we are supposed to do,” he said.

But his misgiving was short-lived. Soon, Tamaki was among the more excited members of his team. He ran to a small board with wheels, then jumped on it and used two poles to “ski” to a line where he jumped off, then hopped and jumped through a series of obstacles to the finish line.

“It was so much fun!” a beaming Tamaki said after finishing the race.

The American children appeared just as excited.

“Wow, that was fun!” said Brett Claeys, 10, after the game. “I’ve already met some friends from my team that I think are pretty cool.”

Ray Luna, 11, said, “I like making new friends.” He said he also liked hearing the Japanese children laugh: “They are kids just like us.”

Arisa Tanahara, 10, said she was having so much fun she couldn’t wait to take part in the coming days’ events.

Jason Kozerski, youth sports program manager for MCCS, said American children tend to show a special kindness to their Japanese friends during such programs. “They try to include them,” he said, “because they want them to have fun.”

Mark Rankin contributed to this report.


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