A Postcard From KAMP Hawaii (Midweek Article)

A Postcard from KAMP

Midweek Oahu July 9, 2014 by Chad Pata

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Aaron Kamau (center) grew up in Kalihi and knows the risks youth face. In response he created KAMP, which promotes teamwork while giving kids confidence in their own abilities. Teachers say the results are amazing.  Also pictured (from left): Cadance Christian, Farao Maileoi, Juliana Sugitan, Harlen Kayne UjanoBayudan, Miley-Zoe Viernes, Paula Telles, Hailey Faleunga, Danity Shickan-Kahanu and Ben Kamau | Nathalie Walker photo nwalker@midweek.com

 

With newspapers filled with stories about new Common Core standards, Race to the Top funds and teacher evaluations, we often get lost in the mission we all have as parents and educators: to raise quality human beings.

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Aaron Kamau (center) grew up in Kalihi and knows the risks youth face. In response he created KAMP, which promotes teamwork while giving kids confidence in their own abilities. Teachers say the results are amazing.
Row 1 Michele Kamau, Paula Telles, Gabby Maualaivao, Kauanani Mailou, Aaron Kamau, Hailey Faleunga, Grichelle Domingo Row 2 Stephanie Aiona, Aaron Kamau, Jr., George Kamau, Elroy Chong, Eddie Hayashi, Danny Kaleikini, Brittany Kamau, Joseph Vierra, Jr., Sharon Souza, Bert Carter, Mary Kamau Row 3 Ashley Kamau, David Pila, Glenn Goya, Linda Wong, Tyler Tokioka, Randall Okimoto, Shayna-lyn Mailou-Miller, Ben Kamau | Nathalie Walker photo nwalker@midweek.com

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Kauanani Mailou gets a boost through the Spider Web from Hailey Faleunga, Daniel Mailou, Cadance Christian and Farao Maileoi. | Nathalie Walker photo nwalker@midweek.com

All the books, technology and classroom time in the world do not ensure that happens; it takes us caring about kids and showing them the way. But what about the kids in tough situations not of their own making, the ones who have no one to turn to but our baser elements and easier roads?

These are the ones at the heart of the founding of KAMP (Kids At Risk Mentoring Program) Hawaii.

Started in the living room of Aaron and Michele Kamau, they wanted to find a way to help at-risk kids and arm them with the power of confidence and the ability to work with others.

Drawing from his two decades of experience working with Boy Scouts of America, Kamau formed an outdoor activity experience that shapes the interior of their minds and hearts.

A born-and-raised Kalihi boy, Kamau grew up surrounded by hard situations and broken families, but was raised by his father not to be scared of it, but acknowledge and help those individuals.

“My dad George Kamau is my greatest supporter as a person who has helped me form a solid base for life,” says Kamau, who also works as a track and football coach at Farrington High. “My upbringing has a huge influence on how I operate KAMP Hawaii today. He would encourage me to take care of the people who reach out to me and to never take anything for granted. Never run from adversity, just face it head on and resolve it.”

Every summer KAMP runs day camps at different parks around the island from Kahuku to Waimanalo to Waianae. The camps are staffed by 30 youth mentors hired straight out of Farrington.

“Total buy-in from the kids, right out of the projects, but they are good students and they are put into the fire right away,” says Kamau. “They are working with 45 kids for 45 minutes and they have to incorporate everything, drive the nail in and keep it fun.”

The camps generally have six activity areas staffed by these fresh graduates, who bring lessons about bullying, drugs and gangs, and correlate them with the games and challenges they have, such as Human Ladder and Kalo Bridge Crossing. They are reaching almost 9,000 kids a year currently, and with more funding — they recently received a grant from NFL Foundation in conjunction with the 2014 Pro Bowl — hope to raise that number each year.

These summers also serve as a training ground for these graduates to give them life skills and confidence in handling groups of people who are invaluable to any of us, but especially to these teens either entering the work force for the first time or preparing for the grind of college.

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Ashton Evangelista leaps after crossing the Human Ladder held by Louis Matagi (left) and Aaron Kamau | Nathalie Walker photo nwalker@midweek.com

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Farao Maileoi assists Shayna-lyn Mailou-Miller across the bridge | Nathalie Walker photo nwalker@midweek.com

Even though his roots are in the rougher edges of our Island home, Kamau sees needs in all our schools.

“To us, every kid is at-risk,” he says. “After years of working with the DOE, now they call us and we go there and provide once-a-week programs where we can.”

Their programs are currently serving 66 schools on Oahu, either a 13 or 27-week course that is run during the school day and brings those same messages and physical challenges to younger students. These have become some of the kids’ favorite part of the week and have helped reach those who sometimes struggle with the traditional school environment.

“I have seen students who have behavioral problems in the classroom, but when KAMP comes in every week, they are the ones who shine because they have a chance to get up and move around and be involved in more activities,” says Renee Hirano, fifth-grade teacher at Jefferson Elementary.

Sometimes it is something as simple as building “hobo stoves” and cooking their own bacon and egg sandwich that enables the kids to see that they are empowered and can accomplish goals.

The five main components they emphasize are team building, leadership, decision-making, communication and cooperation, many of which are hard to conceptualize in the rush of a school day.

“They have an activity, talk about the activity and reflect on it,” says Sharon Souza, a special education teacher in Aina Haina who has been involved with KAMP since its founding in 2005.

“Kids around 9 and 10, especially competitive boys, are not good at teamwork. They all want to be the leaders, and they want everyone to do what they want to do. They learned that it is a life skill being able to work with other people cooperatively on a team. They were used to a team with coaches that tell you what to do, then you go do it. In this, they have a problem, they have to figure it out and work together on a solution.”

She has watched firsthand as the students who have participated in KAMP have excelled when it comes to problem solving, and it has made her students much more well-rounded, even students you would not ordinarily worry about.

“We have kids who are very smart. They can do all this stuff on their own, but they can’t work in groups,” says Souza. “They do real well all through school and then they get out, and when they get into the world they can’t function because they are smart but they can’t work with other people.”

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Nathalie Walker photo nwalker@midweek.com

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Nathalie Walker photo nwalker@midweek.com

Learning to work with other people started from the home as the Kamau children have found they love to help Dad in his work.

“I love to empower our youths to facilitate our life mentoring program, and what better place than at home with my children?,” says Kamau. “My children have learned to mentor at-risk youths, mentor our youth staff, help with our special event, be responsible for our program equipment. They are always the first ones to arrive for our program and special events and the last ones to leave.”

The program’s physical component also has had a lasting impact, according to principal Shannon Goo of Lincoln Elementary.

“Obesity and healthy living has been a challenge for many students,” says Goo, who had 200 students a week participate. “This program has helped us to expose students to an active lifestyle in a fun way. Interacting with each other in a fun and active way is impactful, yet the mentoring that takes place has a lasting effect on student behavior.”

Their “Pride and Victory” enrichment days have started for the summer, with a new batch of mentors heading all over the Island with the hopes of impacting more than 5,000 kids this summer.

All the programs are free. Funds are raised to help offset the cost of the programs by Aloha United Way, which recently approved KAMP as a Partner Agency; Island Insurance Foundation and the aforementioned NFL Foundation.

This backing, though still needing more, has allowed them to begin new programs such as Anti-Bullying Lunchtime.

In it they use positive activities for students to help discourage fighting and eliminate negative activities among students during their mealtime.

They use a series of COPE courses (Challenging Outdoor Personal Experience) to help bring these messages home, and it is seeing the effects of this message on kids that tells Kamau he made the right decision when he left the Scouts.

“It was about getting to work with flesh and blood, and not having to live up to Mainland standards,” says Kamau, who has crafted his system to appeal directly to local kids. “We don’t have to go reach 20,000 kids. It’s about the heart, the passion for kids.”

KAMP Hawaii Named to Aloha United Way

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The Aloha United Way Board of Directors approved KAMP Hawaii’s application for Partner Agency status. This approval means that KAMP Hawaii will be listed on their website www.auw.org and in their campaign materials as an eligible organization in 2014. KAMP Hawaii has met all of Aloha United Way requirements since 2008.

Please visit Aloha United Way’s website for a Partner Agency designation form or designate KAMP Hawaii on your Aloha United Work Place/Company card. Our designation number is 70800.

Mahalo to Aloha United Way and to our supporters.

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NFL’s 7th Year with KAMP Hawaii

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All-Pro Jimmy Graham from the New Orlean Saints with Aaron Kamau; Executive Director

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All-Pro Jhari Evans from the New Orlean Saints with Aaron Kamau; Executive Director

KAMP (Kids-At Risk-Mentoring Program) Hawaii, Inc. Honolulu — Executive Director Aaron Kamau Life Mentoring Programs has been selected to receive a grant from the National Football League Foundation (NFL Foundation) through its Pro Bowl Community grant program. The grant program provides funding for youth-serving organizations in Hawaii in celebration of the 2014 Pro Bowl.

 “A big mahalo to the NFL Foundation for its donation to our Life Mentoring Programs- The KAMP Classroom Outreach Program, Outdoor Camping Enrichment Program, Summer “Pride and Victory” Healthy Lifestyle Program, Special Needs Outreach Program, After School Enrichment Program and the Anti-Bullying Lunchtime Program.  To date, KAMP Hawaii’s specialized programs have affected over 60,000 Hawaii at-risk children. For more information about KAMP Hawaii or to make a donation, visit www.kamphawaii.org.

The National Football League Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of those touched by the game of football – from players at all levels to communities across the country. The NFL Foundation represents the 32 NFL clubs and supports the health and safety of athletes, youth football, and the communities which support our game. For more information on The NFL Foundation, visit: www.NFLFoundation.org

 

Island Insurance Foundation Supports KAMP Hawaii

photoNews Release: March 7, 2014

 The Island Insurance Foundation donates $15,000 to Kids At Risk Mentoring Programs (KAMP Hawaii)

HONOLULU – The Island Insurance Foundation has donated $15,000 to the Kids At Risk Mentoring Programs (KAMP) Hawaii in support of KAMP Hawaii’s Life Mentoring Programs. Tyler Tokioka, President of the Island Insurance Foundation, presented the $15,000 check to KAMP Hawaii Executive Director Aaron Kamau and current camp participants at a presentation ceremony held at Lincoln Elementary School.

Kids At Risk Mentoring Programs (KAMP) is a Hawaii-based non-profit organization, that focuses on disadvantaged and at-risk youth in the community. KAMP Hawaii’s goal is to make a positive impact and make a difference in the lives of the youth of Hawaii by improving the attitudes and learning environment of Hawaii’s youth.

To date, KAMP Hawaii’s specialized programs have affected over 60,000 Hawaii children and include: The KAMP Classroom Outreach Program, Outdoor Camping Enrichment Program, Summer “Pride and Victory” Healthy Lifestyle Program, Special Needs Outreach Program, After School Enrichment Program and the Anti-Bullying Lunchtime Program. For more information about KAMP Hawaii or to make a donation, visit www.kamphawaii.org.

The Island Insurance Foundation was established as the charitable arm of Island Insurance Hawaii’s largest locally-owned and managed insurer, offering a full range of property and casualty protection. With a financial strength rating of “A” by A.M. Best, Island Insurance is the only Hawaii-Based company to be recognized as one of the Top 50 property & casualty insurers in the nation by the Ward Group for six consecutive years. For more information, visit its website at: www.islandinsurance.com.

 

 

Day 11: Kahuku District Park

On June 27 KAMP Hawaii made itʻs way to Kahuku District Park. Youth Mentors kept the youth entertained while they sent out a positive message about how to live a healthy lifestyle. The youth at Kahuku District Park had a blast while they participated in low C.O.P.E course activities.

At KAMP Hawaii summer day camps everybody has fun! Everyday KAMP Hawaii is interacting with youth from different parts of Oahu. Youth mentors learn that you do not have to change the way we conduct our program delivery because the message and games fit any community that we are in.

After lunch special education students from Kahuku Elementary enjoyed the afternoon with KAMP Hawaii. The students had a blast participating in the low C.O.P.E course activities with the Kahuku Summer Fun youth. The smiles on all the kids beautiful faces showed how much they enjoyed participating in KAMP Hawaiiʻs summer Day Camp Program.

KAMP Hawaii stays true to itʻs mission while providing the youth of Kahuku a day that they will never forget.

Day 10: Laie Elementary Summer Fun

It was a cool day as KAMP Hawaii youth mentors visited Laie Elementary to put on its program for about 100 kids. It was a day filled with great comments from the leaders, kids, and the summer fun director Reggie Torres.
The kids seemed to love the games and small talks. The day ended with a tug of war game which was a big hit. After the tug of war game KAMP Hawaii played the “Cha Cha Slide”. The got all the kids moving and the youth mentors had a blast with the kids. It was a perfect way to end an awesome, smooth day.
KAMP Hawaii will be at Kahuku District Park on June 27!

Day 9: WAIMANALO D.P.

Day 9: Waimanalo D.P.

KAMP Hawaii ended the second week of its summer program with a bang at Waimanalo District Park on June 22. About 100 youth had fun with the energetic staff of youth mentors.

During KAMP Hawaiiʻs summer enrichment day camp youth mentors never failed to keep the youth and themselves entertained while spreading a positive message to the youth of Waimanalo. Throughout the day KAMP Hawaii youth mentors showed the kids that you can have fun and enjoy the outdoors while learning about having a healthy lifestyle.