Since Kamaaina Kids’ inception in 1987, co-founder and president Ray Sanborn continues to care for and entertain the island’s keiki more than 20 years later.
“We’re celebrating our 20th anniversary,” says Sanborn, noting he’s a year late. “We started at He’eia State Park with 45 kids, and now we take care of 9,000 kids a day.”
Sanborn appeared on MidWeek‘s cover in 2004 “for cleaning up Oahu,” he says. “We had a fundraiser where we really focused on the community and the environment. We were using recycling before the HI-5 program came into being - just getting people to be aware of the need to recycle.” He says the program died after HI-5 took off a few years ago.
The company employs about 1,000 people who work at schools, camps and hotels teaching everything from surfing to arts and crafts.
“We’ve been at Ben Parker, Blanche Pope, Enchanted Lake, Kahaluu, Puohala, Mokulele, Nimitz and Pearl Harbor elementary schools for 15 or more years,” says Sanborn. “Currently, we have over 100 sites providing child care through before-school, after-school, preschool, day camps and a variety of other childcare programs.”
Realizing the need for after-school child care, Sanborn and Mark Nishiyama, vice president and co-founder, started the company while working at a day-care center at Marine Corp Base Hawaii in Kaneohe. “I started as a swim instructor and coach,” he recalls. “They had an entrepreneurial class at UH, which I took with Mark, and they said, ‘Do what you know.’”
From that point on, the company grew into the child-care giant it is today. The company reports a 20-percent increase in revenue each year, offering services to working parents from as early as 5:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. for kids of all ages.
“A key element of success is our ability to expand and offer a variety of programs to children ages 6 weeks to 18 years,” says Sanborn. “If the program curriculum is good and it’s good for kids and the community, then you have the winning formula for Kamaaina Kids.” He added that the company is now starting a sports program that will include baseball, football and beyond.
In his free time, Sanborn still enjoys sailing - every week at the Kaneohe Yacht Club - and is watching his own kids grow. “My kids are getting older,” laughs Sanborn, “and thinking about college and stuff. That’s the biggest change, I guess.”
To learn more information about Kamaaina Kids, visit www.kamaainakids.com or call 262-4538.
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