Holding Hands

Kama‘ehu Middle School Youth enjoy a day at Sea Life Park January 27, 2011

Kama‘ehu Middle School Youth enjoy a day at Sea Life Park January 27, 2011

The weather was not cooperating. It was a cloudy, gloomy day in Waimānalo and it looked like it would only get worse. There was no turning back since we had just traveled all the way from Kapolei in order to make this happen. Nine youth and five staff were on-hand as part of a project that encouraged students to use their minds through the eyes of a camera to show how sea life is connected to our Native Hawaiian culture.

We had just paid the admissions fees and walked leisurely down the long ramp next to the giant reef tank when it began to pour. And pour it did . . . not just a passing shower, but a heavy soaker that lasted at least an hour. We stood in the enclosed walkway and watched the sea life as they circled past the thick glass window many, many times. The students had taken so many photos of the same stingray and shark that we pleaded with them to save their cameras and batteries for what was to come later. The few who heeded our advice managed to capture Hawaiian monk seals, porpoises, penguins, and a wolphin in their lenses, while the others suffered battery failure by the third hour.

A personal memorable moment was the Sea Lion show that was not going to happen because of the heavy rain. Sea Life Park trainers opted to cancel the show when no one attended the 11:15 showing due to the downpour . . . until we showed up. They changed their minds and did a special performance just for us. We would have felt like V.I.P except that V.I.P usually get special seats too. At the least, we had an unobstructed view!

Summer Uehara, Kama‘ehu Mentoring Instructor for the middle school group, was thrilled to have her students engaged in the project. With school already closed for the winter break, the field trip to Sea Life Park was a nice opportunity for her to spend valuable time with them outside the shelter environment and an opportunity to reinforce Kama‘ehu’s mission of building academic success in their lives. Toward the end of the day, the sun finally emerged to make it a little more pleasant, but by then it was time to leave.