More Blessed to Give than to Receive Seniors Donate Trip Funds

October 01, 2011 | Carol Bovee

This year, as hard economic times got tougher, a Milo Adventist Academy senior student had to go home because of past unpaid tuition with no hope of further payments. Another senior proposed that instead of a trip, the funds that had been raised since their freshman year to go toward a class trip, be used to bring this student back, and to help the four or five others struggling to pay their tuition. The class discussed their options and voted to do just that, leaving tears in the eyes of their sponsors. They wanted to make sure no one was left – “We want to graduate all of us together!”

The students got busy, calling businesses and writing letters, hoping to bring in enough money to pay the students’ tuition. In all honesty, the senior class was hoping enough money would come in to allow them a tiny class trip, instead of the California trip they’d been thinking about. But as time passed, and donations did come in, they began to realize there were not enough donations to allow for any trip. They discussed options, and the silly suggestion was made that the class trip would have to be to Camp Umpqua, the junior camp a mile down the road from the dorms; still on the MAA campus.

As the days ticked by, the joke of the junior camp being the destination became reality. As one senior stated, “It’s what we make it!” The seniors decided they were going to have fun. They brought camping supplies back from home leave and worked to make menus that would not go over the cafeteria’s normal food budget.

Clarissa Hughes, class president and a 4-year senior from Longview, Wash., wanted to have a class trip send-off like every other class had since she’s been here. So they made the plan of everyone saying good-bye in the parking lot, Saturday night, with the intention of circling around and sneaking back into the dorms for a good night’s sleep.

The sponsors and a few parents from Roseburg, Ore., and the surrounding areas had other plans. As the bus crossed the Milo bridge and the seniors hollered out the windows, Dale Milam, class sponsor, pretended they were being stolen away for their class trip. The seniors were baffled about the destination but having a great time. The bus stopped and students were asked to close their eyes and were led in a long line into the Canyonville (Ore.) Adventist Community Services Center where parents were waiting with pizza, ice cream, old-time music and graduation decorations. The class had a wonderful evening with their surprise.

But the surprises weren’t over. Evan Smith and Ben Hubbard, two of the seniors, had set up a giant woodpile with wood donated by Mark Starr. The bonfire was so huge that the worship circle had to stand well back from the blaze!

Others had also heard of the sacrifices of this group. The Rogue Valley (Ore.) Adventist School Student Association decided to give up one of their end-of-the-year activities, donating the money to Milo’s seniors for a few hours of bowling. A board member of RVAS, Rory Wold, and his wife, Darla, opened up their home for the afternoon, offering pizza, salad, cookies, movies, games, and a heated swimming pool. On the way home, the bus stopped at a mall for some shopping.

The sponsors arranged more surprises. A big hit was what the seniors affectionately call the “red-neck hot tub.” Jeff Miller, plant services director, lined two pickup beds with plastic and filled them with water from the school’s boiler – providing private hot tubs for men and women. There were many games and activities throughout the three days of the senior class “trip” (campout), but the best thing about the trip was the time the class was able to spend together: hanging out, playing games, cooking the food exactly how they wished, watching movies on a wall lined with white butcher paper, building wind chimes for the lodge, doing repair work on a cabin at the lodge, singing songs, painting a big senior mural and practicing for graduation.

At graduation, when all 28 of the seniors marched together, the parallel could not be missed. This class cared enough to make sure all were together at graduation; the prayer was made that they would continue that love and care and make sure all reached the great reunion in heaven as well — all 28, with no one missing!

The Milo senior class of 2011 chose to be happy. They chose to give, and in the end, they received many blessings from others and from each other.