USA: Finding Joy and Facing Challenges on the Ocean
Twenty participants aged 16-25 and three captains-in-training attended the 2018 National Ocean Challenge Program (NOCP) from July 8 to 28 in Kodiak, Alaska. Participants came from all across the U.S. and other countries, some from as far as South Korea and South America, for the 21-day program.
Currently in its 10th year of operation, the NOCP was created in 2009 by a group of Ocean Church captains who did the Gloucester, Massachusetts Ocean Challenge back in the 1980s and wanted to re-create the experience for the next generation using the boats in Kodiak.
Though there are no Bluefin tuna in Alaska, there is still an abundance of fish, most notable king salmon and halibut. Getting to experience first-hand the thrill of hooking a salmon and fighting to reel in the agile fish is something unforgettable and creates an appreciation and awe for nature and God.
After braving a week of rainy weather, camping, river fishing and an all-day boating safety class, the participants were ready for the ocean fishing segment to start off their second week. Boating on the ocean is not always easy. The sun, rain and seasickness definitely challenged the participants. They persisted and kept fishing, having learned True Parents’ teachings about the “Alaskan Spirit,” which is to never give up and to persevere for God.
The staff was thoroughly impressed by this year’s group of youth and young adults. The weather was rainier this year than most, but none of the participants complained and were ready to go out on the ocean, rain or shine. One staff member commented, “This is True Parents’ tradition they wanted us to inherit and learn from to raise us up.”
Many guest speakers spoke in the evenings about aspects of the ocean, the commercial fishing industry, and testimonies about their personal experiences with True Parents and fishing. These testimonies helped to give the participants an idea of how broad and important aspects of the ocean are. The highlight of the program was said to be the bonding between young Unificationists through challenging time while enjoying the ocean.