A number of different summer activities are targeted at supporting children in rich and exciting learning opportunities. Annual robotics camps and Environmental Stewardship camps have become part of the PALS tradition.
2014 Koa 'Aina Environmental Stewardship Camp
The PALS Koa ʻĀina (warrior of the land) week-long overnight Environmental Stewardship Camp supports children in their investigations into, and experiences with what it means to be an advocate for their community and a steward of the environment. Children were provided with experiences that supported them in gaining a sense of power (i.e., developing the discourse of environmental stewards and community activists and applying Hawaiian cultural values that foster positive self identity) regarding their abilities to investigate important issues and effect change. Camp supports children to be confident risk takers, assume leadership roles, and take on active responsibility in their own learning. The camp culminated with a hōʻike (exhibit) in which children presented their knowledge about environmental stewardship to an audience of parents, community members, and cultural practitioners.
Nanakuli Intermediate School Field School
The Wai'anae Malama 'Aina Field School for Nanakuli Intermediate students was held June 3 - July 12, 2013. This was an exciting collaboration among PALS, Malama Learning Center, University of Hawai'i, Ma'o Organic Farm, and Kamehameha Schools. Students from NIS had the opportunity to recover science or math credits and explore Hawaiian science and technology through hands-on activities and classroom learning. College interns from Ma'o Farms supported the field work and field experiences. Projected field trips included Palehua/Palikea, UH Manoa, Piliokahi, and Nanakuli Valley. Guest speakers emphasized the science, math and cultural values of the valley.
Robotics Coaches Camp
The Summer Camp for Robotics Coaches took place during the first week of June 2013. Robotics tutors from all of the PALS sites had the chance to work together to learn new skills, practice new strategies, and create new curriculum. The tutors benefited from the wisdom of the Wai'anae High School Robotics coach whose teams have successfully competed on the state and national levels. The experienced coach led daily sessions on the use of sensors, programming, robot construction, and core values for the trainees.
First Lego League Summer Camp in New Hampshire
During the 2012 summer, ten PALS robotics students from three schools attended the First Lego League Summer Camp in New Hampshire, a rare and special opportunity, and the first time that some of the students had ever left the island. The camp in New Hampshire allowed children from Wai'anae to sharpen their programming skills, develop group problem-solving strategies, and gain access to the 2012-2013 Robotics Competition Board prior to it being unveiled for the rest of the world. Overall it provided an important opportunity for PALS children to widen their horizons, gain confidence, and develop new levels of motivation and intellectual curiosity around the STEM fields!
2012 Environmental Stewardship Camp
Many of the projects in PALS focus on the environment and nurture a sense of environmental stewardship in students and tutors. As a result of this strong focus, PALS initiated an annual Environmental Stewardship Camp.
The first Environmental Stewardship Camp was held in June 2012 for approximately 40 fourth through sixth graders. It lasted for 5 days and 6 nights and was held at a local retreat center. A number of community partners helped plan the camp including Ka'ala Farm, local cultural practitioner Vince Dodge, the HI Board of Water Supply, Philosophy for Children, and a local Native Hawaiian artist, Solomon Enos. The focus of the camp was on the importance of water, interdependence, restoration/reclamation, and stewardship and responsibility. Children visited many important sites along the coast. Restoration opportunities helped students to gain firsthand knowledge about the importance of sustainable practices as well as how to create a more sustainable lifestyle for themselves and their families. Processing their learning through the arts provided the chance for children to reflect, think deeply, and embody their learning.
Students camped out in tents, ate under the stars, talked, laughed, swam, played games and held a ho'ike at the end to share their learning with their families and community members. In all, it was a most memorable camp experience! The fourth annual Environmental Stewardship Camp happened in June 2105.
PALS brought Lego League Robotics to elementary students along the Wai'anae coast in 2011-2012, supporting programs in 3 PALS schools. The program was a success with students participating and growing immensely in this first season of robotics competitions. Summer Robotics Camps have grown out of this success!
What the kids are doing, what's happening is so exciting. They never have been able to do projects in the classroom. I've seen kids grow so much... a boy in robotics blossomed, and [students] see robotics as a team sport. I see kids grow that are not typically growing in the classroom. I see kids become self motivated.
- PALS Tutor