Mānoa Heritage Center

“Our kids will save and cherish their kalaʻau and kukui nut lei. And they’re so happy that they now know how to make tī leaf and lei poʻo. They’re anxious to teach the neighbor kids.”

Parent of hula camp students

Taking advantage of the Hawaii Department of Education’s Fall Break, MHC hosted its second hula camp. This year, due to COVID, it took place completely online, using Zoom (a web-based virtual platform). Twenty-five students between the ages of 8-12 participated, including one family based on Hawai‘i Island. Each student received a “hula camp activity kit” complete with materials for making art, a kukui lei and two pieces of wood (to be made over the course of the week into a pair of kāla‘au — implements used in hula). Thanks to generous funding, the cost of materials for each kit was subsidized so that there was no fee to participate. It was a special treat to feature longtime MHC docent and friend, Kumu Hula Kilohana Silve of Hālau Hula o Mānoa to lead the weeklong camp. We asked Kumu Kilohana to summarize the experience in her own words: 

“The Mānoa Heritage Center’s virtual Hula Camp was an amazingly productive fun-filled week for all. Although Zoom hula classes have become the norm to continue teaching my haumāna around the world, I was concerned that the interactive aspects and connection to nature might be harder to reproduce in a virtual environment for the theme I had set: “Ma Ka Hana Ka ‘Ike” or to learn by doing. This old fashioned value of taking the time to create something mindfully and with aloha was the essence of what we wished each participating Keiki to experience. 

It was wonderful to see the warm environment we were able to create with the technical support of  Auntie Jenny and Auntie Keʻala. Each day we visited the lush gardens surrounding Kūkaʻōʻō Heiau to view native plants that were the focus of a Moʻolelo (story). Hands-on projects involved making Kālaʻau for a hula we were learning about the beauty of nature, carefully stringing graduated Kukui nuts into a tight fitting lei, and braiding Palapalai or Kupukupu ferns into a lei poʻo. Virtual forums allowed haumāna to share their illustrations of Kahalaopuna on the bulletin board (Padlet) and they were able to interact and contact me directly with questions. The Oli and Hula performances showcased the achievements of each Keiki at our Ho’ike on the final day of Hula Camp.”

Although the idea of learning hula over a virtual platform might seem impossible, Kumu Kilohana’s kind and gentle disposition, coupled with her grace and flexibility transcended the physical distance between us all as students connected, learned and shared. We look forward to our next virtual hula camp experience!  

“I wish I could this everyday and wish I could visit the gardens.”

Hula camp student

“We love this program! It has an even blend of activities for our child to enrich and support the love for hula….We hope that this program will continue to be offered via online as we live on the opposite of the island and regretfully would not be able to attend should it only be offered live.”

Hula camp ʻohana

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