"Our professor was trying to get us to guess what ethnic groups made up the high, middle and lower social economic classes," said Ephraim. "After we all guessed which ethnic groups made up those classes, our professor then divided up the lower class into another three additional levels. It was sad to see that below Native Americans came the Polynesians as the lowest economic level.
"I chased him down after class and asked him where he got his information from, and he said, ‘I got it from the government census bureau.' It was then that I told him, ‘I will never become a statistic.' He said, ‘Good, because we need more Polynesians like you to move the Polynesians out of that social economic class.'"
Fast forwarding to the present, Ephraim now stands alongside his uncle Alema in organizing charity events and activities for that very purpose. Looking towards the youth, Alema decided to organize a camp of dual purpose, knowing full well that young Polynesians have a natural talent for football but often struggle in the classroom. Hence, the creation of the All-Poly Camp.
"We can do a whole lot of things to help the kids do better than their parents," said Ephraim. "When Alema and I talked about it we thought we could use the natural leadership qualities found in football to help raise the expectations and standards of the kids."
The purpose was simple. First, the camp would help educate young football players on the importance of acquiring good grades. It is mandatory standard that all camp participants must be registered for the academic workshops designed to emphasize the importance of good grades. Camp participants are taught about the ACTs, SATs and Clearinghouse, which tracks students' academic records to ensure conformity with the NCAA rules.
Second, traveling around the country in an effort to showcase one's talents and having to pay camp fees is very costly. Alema would solve this problem by organizing a camp that not only helps develop a young athlete's talent, but also includes coaches from many different schools. Thus, the All-Poly Camp provides more visibility and exposure all under one umbrella and reduces the need to travel to many different camps.
Last year, athletes from Leone High School in Samoa finally raised enough money over a two-year period to attend the All-Poly Camp in Utah. Upon request from native Hawaiians, Alema will pack up his staff and take the All-Poly Camp to Hawaii from June 29 to July 1. There, local athletes won't be burdened with the large cost of airfare, lodging and meals in an effort to take advantage of what the camp has to offer.
Despite the cost, Alema has refused to increase the registration fee for Hawaiian kids, knowing full well how economically burdened families are on the island state.
"Already, the cost of living in the Hawaiian Islands is truly at an expense," Alema said. "Many local kids could even barely afford the $175 registration fee. I don't intend to increase or raise the fee."
"The fees the kids pay isn't what it costs to run the camp," said Ephraim. "We often subsidize their camp fees or provide them with a camp fee scholarship if they can't afford to attend. Our target has always been to help these kids because they simply can't afford to attend such camps in an effort to better themselves. That has and will always … be our goal."
By bring the All-Poly Camp to Hawaii, Alema Te'o will reaching out to hundreds of Polynesians looking to gain instruction in academic workshops, on-field football training and the top college exposure they've longed for.
For years the Te'o family has paid for all camp expenses out of their own pocket. Those that wish to get involved with the effort can make a difference by making a donation. Please visit the All-Poly Camp website at www.allpolysports.com. Every donation goes entirely towards helping to drive down any camp expenses for the benefit of these young athletes.
Making a Difference Video
Go here to watch a video by Totalbluesports.com in which a few camp participants share how their lives have been positively affected by their All-Poly Camp experience.