Today’s blog is from our amazing Ulu Pono Kids Director, Katie Connor. This woman has an amazing (and patient!) heart for the kids on our street – and in my opinion, one of the toughest jobs at STN! She is constantly striving to make the program the best it can be and provide the children with every opportunity possible. However, there is one thing she cannot do – stop the kids from growing up! In today’s guest blog, she explains her plans and hopes for the Ulu Pono Kids program as its members become too old to be called “kids.”
“Ulu Pono Teens” – to this day, the name of this 4 month old program cracks me up. But let me set the stage before I explain why it makes me chuckle so much. The Ulu Pono Kids Program was created four years ago when the staff at Surﬁng The Nations saw a great need to hold an after-school program for the elementary age kids in the local area. The program was an immediate hit and quickly became a home away from home for them.
However, as many of those kids are now in middle school and high school, their interests have changed and most of their younger siblings attend the program. This age gap has caused many of them to drop out as it is hard to engage a 5 year old and 13 year old in the same lesson and social setting. We came to the realization that we needed to go back to the drawing board and create a program that would give the teens a safe place to learn and hang out while appealing to their age group.
Hence, Ulu Pono Teens was created. But at ﬁrst the program was nameless. As a staff, we tried to come up with a name that might appeal to teenagers – Wahiawa Gangstas, Ohai Ballers etc… We decided that at our ﬁrst meeting we would present the names to the kids, let them make their own suggestions, and then cast a vote!
Their favorite was “Ulu Pono Teens,” a name they created and they have shamelessly owned ever since (despite the fact that many are still 11 and 12 years old!). It is a simple name, but it describes perfectly where they have come from, who they are now and even who they are becoming. Although, it still makes me laugh that they didn’t like any of the elaborate names we had created!
To be in Ulu Pono Teens you must be in sixth grade or older, but our oldest kids are only 14 at the moment. Because of their age we have been able to do things that some of the younger kids may not yet be able to do, such as snorkeling, hiking and trips to the museum. Our heart is to show these kids that there is “life” and a future for them beyond their street and neighborhood; that they have the opportunity to follow their passions if they work hard. We also teach them basic leadership principles through simple things like neighborhood clean-ups to help them understand the importance of being upright citizens and members of their community.
We are so proud of these kids and are excited to see them continue to grow and develop into young adults over the next few years. We know that these kids have the power to inﬂuence the future of this community and we are honored to be a part of the continued change happening in Wahiawa, Hawaii.
To keep up with Katie’s personal adventures as the Ulu Pono Kids Director, follow her blog at adventurewahiawa.wordpress.com!
Indonesia, more recently known for its perfect waves, has been recognized since the 1500′s for its prized export goods among traders and tourists. Although traveling to Indonesia no longer requires jumping on a Dutch merchant vessel, the unique items found there are still highly desired by those living in the Western world.
On our trip to Indo, each team member is asked to bring 2 suitcases full of donations to give out while there, and use only a carry-on for all of his or her personal items. Given this space limitation, we want to know which treasures the individuals on the trip decided to bring back to Hawaii! Below are a few of our staffs’ favorite Indonesian finds.
1. Balinese Dancer Carving. The art you can find in Indonesia is unreal! This carving is of a Balinese dancer, a traditional form of dance in Indonesia. From carvings to paintings, there is so much artistic talent in Indonesia.
2. Batik Sarong (Pareo). Another traditional Indonesian art form, is the practice of batik fabric dying. This sarong (known here in Hawaii as a “pareo”) is just one of the hundreds of variations in color and pattern you can find Indonesia.
3.Sunnies. With all of the Aussie tourists in Bali, we started to adapt to the culture and began to call sunglasses “sunnies”! You can find knock-offs on every corner for about $2 a piece.
4. Bracelets on Bracelets on Bracelets… If you go to Indo and leave without buying a bracelet (male or female) our hat is off to you! Vendors all over Indo love to make these and often recruit their adorable children to help them in the selling process – gets us every time.
5. Shells. One of the only souvenirs in Indo you won’t have to bargain for.
6. Bali Girls’ Shorts. Attention women: These funky shorts are the most comfortable and useful pair of shorts you will ever own. You can wear them to shop/ surf / sleep /travel – almost anything! One size fits all and you can bargain them down to 30.000 rupiah ($3!)
7. Seaweed Flavored Lay’s Potato Chips! I know many of you may read this and think, “yuck!” However, if you love sushi (as most Hawaiians do!), you would love these! If you go to Indo, this is a must try!
8. Batik Backpack. Just another amazing item you can get made out of batik fabric.. Perfect for day trips in Indo.
9. Bow and Arrow. Katniss would be in heaven if she saw all the beautifully carved bows you can find in Indo. We can’t guarantee their straightness or proper weighting, but they are pretty cool to hang on your wall!
10. Bali Mens’ Shorts. Men, this one is for you! They may run a little short, but almost every male on our trip came home with a pair – and then some! We recommend them for swimming / surfing, but we’ve definitely caught a few wearing them around our office at STN!
11. Rupiah. Have you ever wanted to be a millionaire? Well, if you have more than $100 to your name you already are in Indonesia! The current rate is 10.000 to 1! Careful though – you’ll spend it faster than you would think!
12. Trucker Hats. Last, but not least, trucker hats! We decided we couldn’t leave Indo without a little something to shamelessly represent it once we got back to Hawaii.
*Not featured: Beng-Bengs!! If you’ve been to Indo, your mouth should be watering right now just at the thought of them! For those who haven’t, this is Indonesia’s version of a Kit-Kat bar .. None made it back because we ate them all!
On My Bookmarks Bar:
Charis Bauer Ifland, Business Director
This week, we are sharing Charis Ifland’s favorite bookmarked websites. As a wife, business director and world traveler, this girl knows which websites are the best for helping her keep the many moving parts of her life in order! Take note, the next few websites you may want to remember!
1. Mint.com is a great tool to organize and manage your finances! It brings your financial information to one place, you can create a budget, and set goals to plan for the future. It helps save and enjoy the important things in life!
Last Saturday, Surfing The Nations got to participate in the 11th annual Wahiawa Pineapple Parade and Festival! We had a fun day celebrating the little town of Wahiawa we proudly call home with the rest of our community. From delicious local food vendors to an entire row of colorful bounce-houses, nearly everyone resident of Wahiawa came out on the sunny summer afternoon to take part in the festivities. The change that is occurring in Wahiawa is amazing and we love getting to be a part of it! Enjoy the photo recap below and see yet another reason why we love Wahiawa.
To learn more about the Pineapple Festival click here.
For the first time since 2010, Surfing The Nations has sent off a team to the Philippines!
The anticipation is in the air when you show up at the beach in the morning.
Your hoodie is still on because the Hawaii sun hasn’t lingered over Waikiki long enough yet.
You see judges make their way to the scaffolding with coffee in hand.
You’re about to surf Queen’s with just a handful of friends in a fun competition.
Playing games in the sand, setting up your hammock and hanging out with friends
while live music plays, are the few things on your schedule for the remainder of the day.
These are just a few memories that people have made when over the past several years of the Freedom Surf Contest.
This September, we are bringing it all back to you!
September 27-29th, The seventh annual Freedom Surf Contest is happening at Kuhio Beach in Waikiki. This year’s contest will also be featuring The Surf Garage Hawaiian Nose-Riding Championship and the ITSA Prom/AM Tandem Hawaiian Classic.
The Freedom Surf Contest is one of our favorite weekends because it really is fun for everyone! Three different surf contests, live music and entertainment, all in a family-friendly environment.
Come enjoy the weekend with us as we celebrate a drug-free Hawaii and promote a positive image of surfing. Bring your surfboard, your hammock, your volleyball, your friends, your family and get ready to make some great memories!
See you there!
Any questions? firstname.lastname@example.org
Don’t you love it when something that’s already good, gets taken to the next level and made so much better? That is what has happened at the Surfers Coffee Bar.
Thanks to the generosity of people in Hawaii and all over the world, The Surfers Coffee Bar, already an amazing coffee shop serving quality, fair trade coffee, is now serving drinks using a new grinder, filtration system and top quality LaMarzocco espresso machine.
Stop by and get your chance to test out the new machine! If you’ve already been to SCB, come try out your favorite drink with the new machine. It’s almost like visiting an all new coffee shop, but with all the things you loved about it still perfectly in place. If you’ve donated through the Kickstarter campaign, come and redeem your rewards!
As for my own personal review: this is not only for coffee drinkers! I took a break from my usual cappuccino and I ordered a chai latte. It was so good, that I literally turned around and got another one right after!
(Note to self: order the largest size next time!)
Come by this weekend! Surfers Coffee Bar, 63 Kamehameha Hwy, Wahiawa, Oahu.
This generation uses social networking to involve their friends in everything they do, from sharing what they had for lunch to their wedding photos. Social media has been instrumental in breaking down walls between people, cultures and distance to make communication almost limitless. If social networking influences so much of our lives, what could this mean for traveling? Two friends considered this question and came up with an idea that could revolutionize travel. Traveling not by map or guidebook or hit-and-miss couch surfs, but travel via friends.
Krissa and Daljeet met in Hong Kong as high schoolers. As ‘TCKs’ or Third-Culture Kids (a person that has spent a significant amount of time growing up in a different culture than their parents), they naturally built up a group of friends from all over the world. For Krissa and Daljeet, the world was wide open and accessible through their network of friends spread across the globe. Recognizing that others shared their wanderlust, they decided to find a way for people to have this powerful network, without having to live overseas for years! The vision was to enable people to access the world on a budget, while making friends and staying in a trustworthy environment. From their vision came the amazing new traveling network Friends of Friends Travel (FOF Travel).
FOF Travel is a website where travelers can connect with people they already know and their friends (the friends of friends or “FOFs”) to exchange travel services at no cost.Being travelers themselves, the founders of FOF Travel understand a traveler’s needs, concerns and expectations. Some of the services offered are: free accommodation (“Roof”), storage space (“Locker”), travel tips and information (“Guide”), or something as simple as meeting up with a trustworthy local for a coffee (“Coffee”). The rare and wonderful thing about FOF Travel is that your connections are never random strangers; you are always interacting with a friend of a friend. FOF Travel is able to provide a place of trust that is invaluable when going to an unfamiliar place. That’s something that no other travel network provides.
Safety concerns aside, having a local to connect with ensures you get the best experience possible on your journey. Surfing The Nations always aims to live as close to the local culture as possible during our international outreaches. There truly is nothing like spending the evening eating dinner on your new friend’s rooftop in the Middle East, getting to experience traditional ceremonies in Indonesia, or explore places that are known only by the locals. These experiences are not bought with tickets. They are gifts birthed out of friendships that are formed when we take the risk to enter into a world completely foreign to us. Friends Of Friends Travel has three pillars of their philosophy: Trust, Philanthropy, and Wanderlust. One of the Founders, Daljeet Singh says, “This is the kind of travel we want to share with everyone else. When we, as TCKs, add our global network onto FOF, someone only has to add ONE of us as a friend, and suddenly they’ll have access to a whole global network of people that they can trust. It’s about traveling the way TCKs do – it’s our way of life.”
For those of you who haven’t gotten your passport out for a while, or have been dreaming about packing that suitcase or getting that ticket, there are no more excuses! To get started, simply sign up with FOF Travel for FREE, and start building your network. Then, you can start making your connections and getting plans set into motion for your trip! You can also choose to upgrade to the hugely beneficial Premium Club Membership to get access to exclusive travel deals from some of the world’s best travel providers. We can’t wait to see how Friends Of Friends Travel will empower this generation to go! Check it out!
This past week, we said ‘Congratulations’ and ‘Aloha’ to our graduating students in the Internship and Surfers Leadership School.
The summer internship was composed of five students representing five different nations: Australia, Sweden, Switzerland, Colombia and The USA. It was the one of the most internationally diverse internships yet! The interns accomplished a lot over the past three months: book reports, essays, working with our Ulu Pono kids program, teaching surf and swim to at-risk youth and feeding hundreds of people each week. Topping all that off, was a 10 day outreach to the Big Island!
Surfers Leadership School also graduated five full-time students and two part-time students this week.
The SLSers completed three months of leadership training, which included apprenticing in an STN department, leading activity days, teaching leadership principles, book reports, a final project, and of course, their Big Adventure trip to the Big Island where they lived off the land for a week!
Our part-time students, Jonas and Ann-Sofie, from Sweden, made the leap and moved their whole family to Hawaii to work with STN! They participated in the SLS assignments while still balancing their family and work life.
Now with the three months of SLS behind them, these students are stepping into full time staff positions at STN.
We are so stoked to have new members in our Ohana and an amazing crew of new staff members!