Making Memories Paddling Canoes

Ron Mizutani
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Wednesday - August 18, 2010
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I often tell my children that gold medals and blue ribbons are only temporary. Sure, winning feels good and is the result of hard work and commitment, but in the end it’s about making memories.

Ask anyone about a race or game they took part in as a child and chances are they’d have a difficult time recalling their “time” or even the final score. What they will remember are moments of the event. That’s what’s important.

Leaders of the Honolulu Elks Kumulokahi Canoe Club have focused on a similar concept since entering the Hui Wa’a Association 10 years ago.

“We provide underprivileged youths with the opportunity to partake in a program that encourages healthy spirits, minds and bodies,” says head coach Sally Moses. “Our focus is on ‘opio (children) and their ‘ohana, developing love and respect for self, others and our environment.”

Winning is encouraged, but providing opportunities and making memories are priorities. The club serves children from Aina Haina Elementary, Washington, Jarrett and Kawananakoa intermediate, Roosevelt and McKinley high and Halau Ku Mana Charter schools.

In mid-July, the youth paddling program held a unique fundraiser: a car and dog wash at the Honolulu Elks Club in Waikiki. Forty children and volunteers lathered up more than 60 vehicles and one “brave” dog and raised about $500.

Their goal was to raise enough money to buy a 600-pound pig for a kalua pig sale. The profits from the Oct. 23 kalua pig fundraiser will pay for a free paddling banquet next February for the children.

“Honolulu Elks Lodge 616 has been very generous in providing registration and race expenses for youths who participate in our program,” says Moses, who welcomes children between 10 and 18 year old to join the paddling program. “There are many children within the community who may not be able to experience canoe paddling for different reasons.

We find that offering this program at no cost allows such children to come forward and embrace the opportunity to live and learn wa’a culture.”

Moses says the program is much more than just paddling. She believes it encourages family involvement, old-fashioned values of hard work, commitment and follow-through.

“The lessons learned in and out of the canoe in our hui hoe wa’a develop character, responsibility and many other positive traits that will help our youths to become well-rounded, community-contributing adults,” she says. “It is most gratifying to see the changes and growth many young ones have gone through just within one season of paddling.”

Says Moses, “Our ocean is a wonderful resource, giving youths the joy and experience paddling offers hopefully will encourage them to malama our kai!”

And they’ll be making great memories.

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