Hawaiian Adventure: 2018 Roundup
July 22, 2018
Plane from Taipei to Honolulu
It’s the big day! We’re off to Hawaii. After saying goodbye to parents and families outside airport security, you could feel the excitement and nerves in the group escalate. It’s always scary to leave home. I can empathize; I’m 8,000 miles from my hometown of San Antonio, Texas. I know that this experience will be the adventure of a lifetime for these kids, though. I can’t wait to see where it takes us.
July 24, 2018
Camp Olowalu, Maui, Hawaii
Today, we got to Camp Olowalu, which feels like one of those all-American summer camps I used to go to as a kid. The kids love it. Our tents are set up in a half circle around some picnic tables and a firepit, so it feels like it’s all our space. On one side, we have a gorgeous beach, and surrounding us we have these mountains that are so pretty they look fake.
It was also the students’ second day at PWF, the Pacific Whale Foundation. So far, they’ve gone hiking, explored the beach, and learned about Hawaiian culture. They’re easily making friends with the American kids, and already looking at our students and hearing their English, you’d think they’d been born and raised here. Their PWF counselors have also started teaching them Hawaiian slang -- shakas up!
Tonight, I plan to teach the students how to make s’mores -- my favorite from my own camping days. Right now, they’re helping make dinner on the grills, so I’m sure they’ll be up to the challenge!
July 27, 2018
Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii
It’s hard to believe we’ve only been gone a week. The kids are camping pros at this point, easily helping start fires, cook food, and finish off the last of our s’mores.
We’ve also discovered a lot of astronomy buffs in the group. We set up a large telescope a few days ago, and since then, we’ve been looking at the moon’s craters every night. In our workbooks, we’re tracking the phases of the moon and learning about the different craters, so it’s been great for the students to connect their lessons to this hands-on experience. We’re also having a lot of fun with an AR app on my phone that lets us see more information about the constellations. Already, one kid has said to me, “I want to be a scientist when I grow up!”
Over the last few days, PWF has taken us on a lot of adventures as well. The students have gone canoeing, surfing, and snorkeling. They’ve seen turtles and reef fish out in the ocean. Every day when they get back from camp, they can’t stop talking about all of the awesome things they did. It was the last day of the PWF camp, and I know they’re also sad to say goodbye to their new friends. The adventure will continue, though, and there’s plenty more to look forward to!
July 30, 2018
Hilo, Big Island, Hawaii
We’ve made it to our next destination: the island of Hawaii, also known as Big Island to the locals. During our last weekend in Maui, we went from submarine rides deep down in the Pacific to world-class climbs on the highest peak at Haleakala National Park. All the students are now Junior Park Rangers, and they’re wearing their badges everywhere with pride.
We needed a calmer day today to balance all that activity, so we spent our afternoon swimming in the pool followed by an epic quest for turtles. There’s an area called Coconut Beach not far from our hotel that is known to have turtles hanging out at the edge of the water. It takes patience and sharp eyes to see them, though, because they blend in so well with the rocks and the water. I couldn’t find a single one, but the kids found them so fast it was as if they already knew where they were. Because of what they learned at PWF and from our evening lessons, the students already know a lot about these turtles, so seeing them up close was especially interesting. We’re all hoping we see plenty more before the trip is done!
August 2, 2018
Kona, Big Island, Hawaii
These last couple days have been my favorite so far on the trip. The students have become veteran adventurers, always eager to learn and explore. Yesterday, we split into two groups. One group explored ancient petroglyphs at Kaloko-Honokohau National Park while another group found sea turtles at Makalawena Beach. We ended up meeting at the beach and all enjoying the sunset together. The students are so curious, so eager to learn more at this point, that they can really take control of their own experience.
Tomorrow we’ll go snorkeling at Kealakekua Bay. The rest of the students went snorkeling a week ago, but I was busy and couldn’t join. I’m a little afraid, honestly, so I’m hoping they can show me the ropes. It’s also our last chance to find some of the reef fish in our workbook, so I know our eagle-eyed scouts will be on the lookout. These are our last few days in Hawaii. We’re all ready to finish strong!
August 5, 2018
Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii
We’re in the Honolulu airport waiting for our plane back to Taipei. We spent our final day at Waikiki Beach in Honolulu, where we went surfing, boogie boarding, snorkeling, swimming, sand castle-building, and more. Saying goodbye to this place and this trip will be hard for all of us; some of the kids are even telling us they’d like to stay here forever!
I am so proud of these students who have grown up so much in the last two weeks. They’ve taken risks and pushed their own boundaries. Every single one of them tried new things, even if it scared them. They’ve had the chance to learn more about America, about Hawaii, about our Earth, and most importantly, about themselves. These kids are true adventurers now. I can’t wait to see them take the world by storm.