Keeping Culture Afloat

Maui's winningest canoe club is borrowing lessons from the past to surge ahead.

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Maui canoe club kids volunteer at Kahoolawe
Kamaliʻi participants haul rocks to a trail they are building on Kahoʻolawe.

Each summer, Luʻuwai takes older Kamaliʻi participants on interisland crossings to do community service projects on Moloka‘i and Kaho‘olawe. The Kahoʻolawe trip, which entails working on the trail the Kamaliʻi Program has been building for the past twenty-two years, is a privilege that must be earned.

“I make them write an essay on why they want to go,” Luʻuwai says. “Some kids have the right reasons and some don’t. The kids learn what Kahoʻolawe is all about. It’s really a cultural retreat. I always tell parents, ‘Your kids are not going to come back the same.’”

Registration for the Kamaliʻi Program begins in April and ends when all seventy spots are filled. The program itself runs June through mid-July. For details, visit HawaiianCanoeClub.org. Though the program is free, participants must pay paddling fees ($80) and expenses for off-island trips. Sponsorships available based on need.

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