Disconnecting and reconnecting

Story by Renee Jenkinson ‘98, Director of HPA Outdoor Program

One by one we each climbed out of our tents at sunrise. Some of us grabbed fins and swam out, some combed the beach for shells, others meditated in the sunrise. Thirteen upper school students from Hawaii Island, Mexico, Oahu, the continental United States, Czech Republic, China, and Slovakia spent the weekend together at Kiholo. On Friday the first group left campus early to hike the eight miles of coastline South from Anaeho’omalu Bay to Kiholo.  Just as we began to overheat, a crystal clear ice cold pond would appear before us and we’d stop for a dip.

One after another we got to report the cycle of heating up and cooling off along the stark lava coastline.  As the hike went on, conversations deepened and jokes got sillier and the magic that is time with friends in the outdoors took over. By sunset we were swimming in pink velvet water, cracking each other up and reflecting on the wonders and challenges of the day.  Saturday the rest of the group arrived and we all headed to the North end of the bay where we got to work together with Hui Aloha Kiholo and the Nature Conservancy to restore the fishponds of Kaloko O Kiholo.  Students hauled kiaw, and moved debris while chest deep in the waters. There’s such joy in doing work for a place you love, and it’s rewarding to see one’s efforts in a pile a green waste and a cleared pond-edge. A potluck lunch and talk story from the University of Hawaii was enjoyed before we headed back to camp for an afternoon of swimming, stand up paddle boarding, napping, exploring, and a cut-throat game of catchphrase. Beaming faces, a little scratched up and some slightly sunburned joined around the fire as the lanterns came on. We were joined by some HPA alumni camped nearby and all shared our highlights and gratitudes for the day.

Sunday morning we hiked south to Luahinewai, and talked about the stories and history of the area.  Sweaty and ready, we returned to camp, packed up, and took one last dip in the cool dark waters of Keanalele before piling back on the bus and heading home. It’s incredible how a weekend away from campus, connecting with this place and disconnecting from phones and clocks can rejuvenate. It seems like just when we think you couldn’t possibly find time to get away is the time we need it most. This weekend was just that.  A time to pause, to look around, to connect with new friends from all over the world and with Kiholo.

Photos by Alex Peskova '19, Sophia Bunch '19, and Sally Lundburg.

Kids at Kiholo