Mālama Loko ea Foundation (MLEF) hosted its first summer program, Nā Pili Wai, with haumana third to eighth grade. For 6 weeks, MLEF welcomed weekly sessions of keiki for a five day program, Tuesday to Saturday. Four days were student based culminating in an ʻOhana Day (Family Day), where keiki could share and showcase new knowledge and skills developed during the week.
Haumana engaged in hands-on lessons with the theme of Celebrating ʻĀina Momona. The program was designed to help these participants form greater connections to the places that feed them physically, mentally, and spiritually, as they start their journey, learning the importance of natural resources and how we can become more sustainable as a community by protecting and/or restoring them.
Each day haumana participate in a curriculum that combines different outdoor learning experiences informed by years of educational programs at Loko ea as well as new lessons to promote kilo-observation, critical thinking, problem-solving, teamwork, and an appreciation and respect for ʻāina and the cultural richness of Hawai‘i.
A few program highlight features include:
Community Circle: Days began and ended with a community circle, to foster a safe and healthy learning environment, where students feel safe tackling topics, reflecting and sharing manaʻo (thoughts) on their day, and laughing together through discussions facilitated by MLEF Staff.
Kilo: Each day students have morning students practiced kilo (observation) with a worksheet in their puke to guide them. Daily kilo nurtures student ability to "see" more in the natural world around them. Also, throughout the day students are participating in hands-on lessons. Each day allowed for quiet detailed observation of a they dayʻs specific theme: Iʻa, Niu, Kalo, Imu. Haumana were asked to sketch a detailed labeled drawing of their observations.
Papa Mele: Students learn a ʻoli kahea for Waialua and ʻoli mahalo that they shared with their ʻohana throughout the week and during protocol at the ʻohana day.
Imu: Throughout the week, haumana learn about different foods and how to catch, grow and process them. All of which comes full circle with the keiki preparing their own food that they gathered all week, then build and cook it in an imu (traditional underground cooking style). The feast was shared and eaten by the keiki and their ʻOhana on final day of each session.
My three kids arrive on Tuesday morning uncertain and a bit worried about their summer program and not sure if they would like it. The change we saw from each day was remarkable. They loved it, told me how much fun they had, how much they learned and observed, and they did not want to leave. They were so proud of the hard work they did and were so excited to share their knowledge with their parents, with their friends, with anyone willing to listen. We love the Nā Pili Wai program and hope it continues. Best Summer Program! Mahalo!