A group of Boy Scouts from Oahu spent an unforgettable few days on Lanai learning, volunteering and having fun during their annual High Adventure summer camp.
You may have seen them off Dole Square, pulling weeds, clearing overgrown grass and mowing the lawn in the hot summer sun; riding their bikes up Munro Trail; or piling rocks at Waiaopae fishpond.
While the boys racked up merit badges in cycling, cooking, traffic safety and archery, they also learned valuable lessons about building a culture of volunteerism and service, even outside their own community.
Boy Scouts learn through work and play
Troop 179 from Central Oahu takes a trip to the neighbor islands every year as part of High Adventure, a program that gives young scouts the opportunity to experience the outdoors. While they had visited the Big Island, Molokai, Maui and Kauai in years past, this year marked their first trip to Lanai.
The troop leaders created an extraordinary mountain biking expedition for the 25 scouts, ranging in age from 11 to 17. They biked different routes throughout the island, learning about the history and environment of each place, from Keahiakawelo to Lanaihale and Munro Trail.
At the same time, in line with the Boy Scouts commitment to volunteerism, the leaders planned a series of community service activities around Lanai.
“We always try to do service projects wherever we go,” explained Scoutmaster Earl Miyamoto.
On their first day, after a long bike ride, the boys ended up at Waiaopae. For three years, community volunteers have worked to restore the fishpond wall extending nearly 300 feet out into the water. The boys got into the water and spent some time gathering and placing rocks to help further the restoration work.
The following day, the scouts put on their work gloves and earned their unofficial landscaping badge. They learned lessons in Hawaiian culture and plants while pulling weeds and digging up wauke (paper mulberry) at Lanai Culture & Heritage Center. They also cleared overgrown grass and bushes from a kupuna’s house near Dole Square.
“Sometimes, residents would pass by and thank the boys for their hard work,” said Miyamoto. “The owner of the home came by and was very grateful, that was very rewarding and had an impact on the boys.”
On their last day, the boys went to the koa forest and helped remove strawberry guava from a habitat enclosure. They also did some yard service and maintenance at the LDS church grounds where they were staying.
The impact of community service
The boys put in many hours of sweat equity in service to the community, but they also gained experiences that Miyamoto believes will stick with them throughout their lives.
“Our older boys who have gone on a few High Adventure trips said this one was special. It was our first time on Lanai so that in itself was an experience, but what we did here made an impression on them,” he said.
What made this trip extra memorable, Miyamoto added, was the people.
“One of the things that stuck out was how generous and kind everyone was,” he said. “People from the community came to drop off drinks, snacks and treat the boys to ice cream. The church members who hosted us helped transport our troop and checked on us.”
While the Boy Scouts can’t wait to return — they plan to put Lanai in their rotation of neighbor island trips — the time and effort they spent continue to be much appreciated by the community. It’s just another example of the culture of aloha and and gratitude that makes Lanai special.