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!
Today’s blog post is from our favorite Sheila, Ame Schadel. Ame came this spring from Australia to take part in our Service Team program. Service Team is a program where individuals assist with practical hands-on needs of STN such as painting, construction or service in the local community with our ongoing outreaches. The schedule and jobs are based off of the needs at STN has at the current time. It is a challenge, but the reward of living and growing in the community is unique and gratifying. Service team members must commit a minimum of one month and can stay as long as three months. Take a look at what Ame had to say about her experience:
‘I love those times in life when a really amazing opportunity presents itself and you choose to step out of your comfort zone. There’s a feeling of nervousness and excitement as you start making your plans. But the best part is, after you’ve made that step and you realize that the decision turned out to be the best one you could have made. This is exactly what happened to me when I had the opportunity to be part of the service team at Surfing the Nations.
I flew from Australia to Hawaii not knowing what to expect, nervous about making this new place home for the next month. Nervousness aside, I also had a feeling that this would be the start of an amazing adventure. I was ready for a new challenge in life, ready to meet new friends and ready to have a ton of fun while doing it.
Being part of the Service Team gave me the chance to see firsthand how Surfing the Nations is making a difference in the community and around the world. Not only was I able to help people within the organization, I was also able to help with weekly community events like Feeding the Hungry and the Ulu Pono kids program. Through these programs, my eyes were opened to the need that is in the world today. The need for primary things like food and shelter and also the need for comfort and encouragement. Seeing people line up for food and being able to look them in the eyes, give them food and encourage them was truly a highlight for me.
Another part of Service Team that made my time so enjoyable was all the people that served alongside me. It was great to be working on a project or helping build something with people from different countries, backgrounds and cultures. We worked together, ate together and laughed together. The community of people at STN made me not only feel like I was part of the organization, but like I belonged to a family that was all working to make a difference.
Service Team was the best decision I could have made. It was an incredible way to see Hawaii, meet new people and ultimately make a lasting difference in a community, I loved it so much, I decided to extend my stay.
I would highly recommend taking this adventure and making it your own.’ – AS
Surfing the Nations was honored with to join Duke’s Restaurant Waikiki as they celebrated their 20th anniversary on January 18th. This day was not just a celebration of a thriving business, but an establishment that has truly upheld and lived out the spirit of Aloha. Duke’s has generously invested in and supported non-profits on the island for six years now through their Legacy of Aloha program. Surfing the Nations was chosen to be one of the recipients of a $2,000 donation along with other nonprofits: Nā Kama Kai, Mālama Maunalua, the Honolulu City and County South Shore Lifeguards, Holomua Nā ʻOhana, and Angel Network. In total, $12,000 was given to further the work of conserving the land and supporting the people of Hawaii. This is the third year Surfing the Nations has been invited and made Legacy of Aloha recipients.
We are so grateful to Duke’s for supporting us and dedicating themselves to giving back to the community!
photo credit: Honolulu Pulse
Thirty-two interns and six staff members are on the island of Kauai for the next 10 days! They will be bonding as a team through work projects in the community and activities like camping and hiking. The main focus is to serve the people of the island of Kauai and help meet the needs that are there.
The team will also be speaking at local high schools in the area and working with STN Kauai. (Did you know there was an STN Kauai base? More info to follow!)
We are stoked to send out our internship and watch them grow in leadership and selflessness as they live the lifestyle of ’Surfers Giving Back’.
Follow STN on facebook and twitter at @stn1040 for updates along the way!
Want a little taste of what Kauai is like?
Although we won’t be going on helicopter rides or lounging on a beach the whole time, the island of Kauai is definitely one of the most beautiful places we’ve seen, so we want you to share in it too. Here is a honeymooner’s view:
Jeremy Seick, Zack Williams, and Renee Arnold from Surfing The Nations are here in Mexico City recruiting. We are being hosted by the amazing Maria “Nana” and Paola in one of the craziest cities we’ve ever been in. Here are some highlights from our first couple days. One of our first stops was Maria and her brother Rodrigo’s school Beraca, in Saint Jeronimo. We chatted it up with passionate young people, one of our favorite being Emilio who gave Zack a tech deck to “remember him” by.
Then it was off to Transformacion Urbana located in Chimalhuacan, 2 hours away from our home base but amazingly still within Mexico City (this place is massive). After being led through at least an hour of shanty homes and towns we reached the organization, and were given a tour of their programs. Transformation Urbana is an organization that equips and educates people in low-income communities. This education spans from local government to healthy eating and living through Zumba and soy supplement cooking classes. Oh and for lunch Zack and I got the pleasure of eating breaded pigs feet.
More of our adventures have included 2 AM taco runs with the whole family, mariachi sessions, dogs with dreadlocks, eating ram, cactus, pigs womb, horchata, and socially acceptable pork rinds. Probably the highlight spontaneous moment of the trip happened during a quick lunch stop at Arroyo. While looking for the mens room Jeremy stumbled upon a bull fighting arena. While watching for just a moment he saw what was a young boy no older than 10 fighting a massive bull. During a maneuver the bull’s horn lifted him up and threw him to the ground Hulk Hogan style, leaving the boy frozen on the ground bleeding. Jeremy ran back to find us and we returned to witness this young boy return to the ring after being bandaged, and having lost the use of one arm, to dominate this beast. He returned with dignity, passion, and confidence like none I’ve seen. He commanded the mariachi’s “Musica!” and defeated the massive bull to the applause of hundreds of onlookers.
…And they’re off!
Last night we sent out five of our staff to California, thus beginning our 2012 California/Mexico Recruitment Tour. I had a chance to peek at their schedule and it looks pretty packed with visits to Azusa Pacific University, Point Loma, Hurley International and the Dane Williams Memorial Surf Festival – and that’s just in California. Continue Reading
It has been a quick yet fabulous month in Bangladesh and the team has been making their way back home to Hawaii. 12 hours on a bus from Coxs Bazar to Dhaka, an airplane through Thailand, and a couple more flights over the Pacific and I’m sure they will be sleeping for the next day just recovering from an exhausting travel.
Rickshaws rides and elephants, surfboards and street-kids, three-pieces and board shorts. You can begin to realize the world of a difference the sport of surfing might pose in a country like Bangladesh. But after only 30 days, the 2012 Bangladesh team hosted a nation-wide surfing competition in Cox’s Bazar, an all-girls surf camp and outreaches to the neighboring country of Myanmar. Continue Reading
As promised, the Bangladesh team update! Get a glimpse of what it’s like to be there through the eyes of team member Kirsten Jackson, as she shares her perspective on the country, the people, the experience.
After 3 days of flying and a 14 hour bus ride, we finally made it to beautiful Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh.
We’ve got an awesome team out here! So much has happened in such a short time. Our days are filled with early morning dawn patrols, promptly followed by breakfast at the local hotspot “Poushee” (Our absolute favorite)! Next, we cruise around Bahatchurat, the town the surf club boys live in. There’s so much to see and experience during the ten minute walk down the main drive : constant honking from the rickshaws and tomtoms, people everywhere, kids on their way to school, market craziness, cows walking in the middle of the road, selling, buying, bartering. You’re hot and sweaty (and, mind you, it’s only 9am). Finally, half way through the town we meet all the families we’ve come to love. This is what life’s about. We are so blessed to be a part of this community and to live life with these beautiful people.
In Bangladesh, life and relationships grow over meals. On average we get fed about 6 meals a day!
The rest of our days are filled with cruising with the surf club guys, visiting with their families, taking the kids surfing, meeting new people, sharing life, market shenanigans, dancing and singing.
Coming up soon we’ve got a pool tournament, birthday parties and of course, STN’s annual Bangladesh Freedom Surf Contest on Friday, September 28! We’re amping and ready to share the stoke of surfing!
Keep checking back for more updates from our Bangladesh team!
On July 16th -August 18, founder of Surfing the Nations Cindy Bauer and two STN staff members, Renee Arnold and Julie Nelson, took off on a trip to Sweden and Ireland. STN Sweden is in its early days of forming and developing so Cindy, Renee and Julie went over to meet with the Swedish staff, help cast the vision and equip the leaders. Renee and Julie jetted off to Ireland for a week to get to know the people there and scout out a place where STN Sweden could send teams to for humanitarian and surf outreaches. Here is an excerpt from Julie that she wrote as the trip was coming to an end: Continue Reading
I hope that you enjoyed Josh Garrel’s free album last Friday. If you have not, his newest album Love & War: B-sides and Remixes is available online and you can read up on it in our recent post.
Amazingly enough, Josh Garrels has written, recorded and produced all of his albums, including Love & War & The Sea In Between, from home, outside of the “ideal” studio-space. And with the next full-length album on the horizon, Garrels has chosen the route of building an adequate studio – a space that would cater to his recording needs and be used to create limitless albums for many other musicians. Continue Reading