Acts of Aloha: Sparking a Love of Learning in Hawaii’s Youth
Since its beginnings in 1948, The Salvation Army’s Camp Homelani has inspired Hawaii’s children and their families to dream big, explore their passions, and live Aloha. Nestled in a pristine pocket of Oahu’s North Shore coastline, Camp Homelani’s nine beautiful acres offers year-round services for camping and vacationing, as well summer camp programs and summer music school. Hoping to create valuable and engaging programs for Hawaii’s keiki, The Salvation Army integrated more STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math) activities into its camp courses and curriculum.
“We initiated these new components into our camp programs last summer to give kids access to creative, educational activities and resources that may not exist at their schools,” explains Lieutenant Micheal Stack, Divisional Youth Secretary and Candidate Secretary at The Salvation Army Hawaiian & Pacific Islands Division. “This summer’s theme is ‘Spark,’ which is exactly what we’re trying to do for these kids. No matter their background or their means, we are trying to provide opportunities to spark their passion and ignite their journey. Our young people are our future and if we equip them well, especially with technology and in today’s relevant mediums, then we have a hope for the future as well.”
Up-cycling goods to create art, engineering machines with magnetic legos to solve real-world scenarios, learning and writing music, and growing fresh vegetables in the camp garden. The relaxed learning environment and team-based activities support self-discovery and social entrepreneurship, allowing these kids to have life-changing experiences. This summer, Stack’s expanding the STEAM curriculum to include a drone school in which campers will learn to build, program, and fly drones. “It’s great to see the kids’ faces light up during these activities,” explains Major John Chamness, Divisional Leader of The Salvation Army Hawaiian and Pacific Islands Division. “Many of our campers are from disadvantaged communities across the Hawaiian Islands. Some arrive to camp with just a bag of clothes and a towel. It is our privilege to provide the opportunity for them to experience summer camp and have access to such technology.”
The Salvation Army, through its various charitable partners, awards scholarships to eligible applicants for Camp Homelani’s summer programs, which cater to children ages eight to 18. “First Insurance is proud to support The Salvation Army’s Camp Homelani program,” says Jeff Shonka, President and CEO of First Insurance Company of Hawaii, Ltd. “When a program is able to create an experience that positively affects someone’s life, there’s no better return on investment. Camp Homelani does this time and time again by allowing its participants to forge life-changing relationships and memories.”