Keauhou Canoe Club inspires students with Hawaiian culture, paddling with fun – Big Island Now

A program born out of a partnership between the Keauhou Canoe Club and the West Hawai’i Exploration Academy challenges the school’s eighth-graders to learn and grow in ways they could never sit in the classroom

Na Mea Kupaianaha, meaning “discovery of wonderful or surprising things,” is a monthly program offered by the canoe club that shares fitness, fun and Hawaiian culture through the sport of canoeing with students . The intent of the program is to bridge the generational gap by increasing the knowledge, awareness and appreciation of participating students and their adult mentors of the cultural richness of rowing and heritage offered in the Keauhou Bay area, according to Keauhou Canoe Club Membership Secretary Bill Armer. .

Keauhou Canoe Club stroker Richard Shouse demonstrates paddling techniques for Izaya Edmonds, Tobias Davis, Rowan Paoli and Sam Anderson-Moxley, while rider BC Celello keeps an eye on the stroke time. Photos courtesy of Keauhou Canoe Club.

“The question is which generation is teaching and learning more from the other generation?” Armer, the organizer of the program, said in a press release.

Each monthly session held at the club’s Keauhou canoe hālau begins with the recitation of a Hawaiian oil and a cultural presentation led by Noelani Campbell, cultural liaison for the Keauhou Canoe Club. Keiki learns the cultural significance of paddling and the key Hawaiian words used in the state’s official team sport.

Students also visit historic sites in Keauhou, such as the birthplace of King Kamehameha III and the Kuamo’o battlefield with its Lekeleke burial ground. In addition, eighth graders will construct a mo’okauhau, or family tree, from a visual math perspective.


Rowing activities are led by 20 club volunteers who act as chaperones and coxswains to assist 40 students and teaching staff. Program participants are taught a variety of skills: paddle handling, stroke stance and techniques, timing, canoe etiquette and boating safety. Six- or 12-person canoes are used for paddling and students help launch and return the canoes to the beach. The fun also includes competitive sprints on Keauhou Bay.

After the last canoe is safely stowed, the 2.5-hour sessions end with participants gathered around a canoe for a moment of silence and a short rejoicing in the Hawaiian language.

The program started in September and will run until February.

“I like rowing; it’s fun and definitely a workout,” West Hawai’i Exploration Academy eighth-grader Sola Laliberte said in the press release. Sola’s classmate Leo Lenta added, “It’s well how they all work together, synchronizing and all that.”


Student Kira Matsuoka said the program “makes you connect with yourself, the ocean, this place and Hawaiian culture.”

Sam Anderson-Moxley with West Hawai’i Exploration Academy’s Bridge Year program, a middle school transition initiative that provides real-world challenges to inspire and empower the school’s eighth-graders , approached the Keauhou Canoe Club’s cultural committee and board member Jessie Chambers about the possibility. to form an association. Na Mea Kupaianaha is the result of this petition.

West Hawai’i Explorations Academy students and Keauhou Canoe Club participants gather to end a paddling session with a moment of silence with all hands in the canoe.

“The bridge year is all about getting students to learn in the real world, experience and engage with their ‘aina, and participate in outdoor adventures,” Anderson-Moxley said in the news release, adding that the goal is to get students to learn in an environment far from being behind a desk. “Roar with [Keauhou Canoe Club] it gives students the opportunity to have a hands-on learning experience where they learn about history, culture, language, sports and math while practicing teamwork, collaboration and timing.”

Anderson-Moxley emphasized that the partnership between the canoe club and the school allows the eighth graders to learn and connect with mentors in the community, not just their teachers, which is invaluable.


West Hawai’i Exploration Academy covers the cost for students and staff members to participate in the program and also offers them full club membership for the duration. The school also provides transportation for students in the hālau canoe. The Keauhou Canoe Club offers the use of paddles, life jackets and canoes. Many of the participating canoe club members, who range in age from 40 to 80, have teaching and coaching experience.

Keikis come prepared to get wet, bring their own towels and have lunch to enjoy afterwards.

Chambers, who envisions Na Mea Kupaianaha as a recurring educational offering for school groups, hopes the program will attract keiki to participate in the canoe club’s youth program, which includes participation in the Moku O Hawai’ summer regatta season i.

“Our [West Hawai‘i Explorations Academy] The partnership allows us to expand the foundation of our continued youth outreach by expanding our cultural, educational and athletic activities,” Chambers said in the press release. “Na Mea Kupaianaha enriches the student experience and finally strengthens it [Keauhou Canoe Club’s] commitment to our youth through the perpetuation of outrigger rowing based on culture.”

Founded in 1980, the Keauhou Canoe Club’s mission is to educate youth, its members and the community at large about Hawaiian culture, values ​​and traditions. The club offers rowing opportunities for people of all ages. For more information, visit the club’s website.


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