Week 1- Let the fun begin!

Trip Start Jun 01, 2009
Trip End Jul 26, 2009

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Flag of United States  , Hawaii
Sunday, June 7, 2009

Things in Hawaii begin a lot earlier than they do in Iowa. Sun rises around 5:00a.m. and by 5:30a.m. people are up and at 'em. So getting up to run Tuesday morning, I quickly learned that 6:30a.m. is rush hour here on base. Another thing that I learned here is that everyday around sunrise and sunset they play the song, "To the Colors" on a trumpet for the raising and lowering of the American flag. If you're outside at this time, you are suppose to stop immediately at attention and face the flag. This caught me by surprise the first time I saw it happen; everyone around me was stopped dead in their tracks including an entire navel crew and of course, I was still walking. I've caught on since then.

The base seemed really confusing at first but I've been discovering more and more things on each run I've gone on. I found out that there's a bowling ally, a theater (only $3 to see a movie), a YMCA, a really nice restaurant (which we found out the hard way, closes at 5:30p.m.), a church, and RACQUETBALL COURTS!! So I'm super excited! Wednesday we got access to the fitness center which is awesome! Its a huge lifting center that has about 10 of each kind of lifting equipment imaginable and I  Watch out Steven, I'm coming back with some guns! There's also a lot of activities that the MWR (Morale Wellness and Recreation) offers such snorkeling rentals and camping equipment.

This first week with Camp A was orientation and preparing for our camps which start this Tuesday. One downer I learned during orientation was that we weren't allowed to bring anything with peanuts or peanut butter in our lunches, NOOOO!!!! I guess it's precautions in case some camper had a severe peanut allergy and decided to eat your lunch. We covered everything from the rules on the military base and how to program our camps to "effective coughing techniques" and where the best sushi on Oahu is located. We also learned that being called a "haole" by the natives is not another form of saying hello. It basically mean "hey white boy/girl!". We've been doing a lot of team builder activities which reminds me A LOT of RA training but its been fun getting to know all the other counselors. There's a few people from Ohio and Florida but most of us are all from Iowa State, Iowa, or UNI.

Amos, the head project director, is a ton of fun; showing off his Jamba dance he does when he goes to Jamba Juice and his secret offices he holds around Oahu (a.k.a. Starbucks). We've all decided that riding is Amos's van has probably been one of
the best parts of camp. Partly because he drives like he's still in
Kenya and you don't have to be in the van getting lost behind him, and
mostly because of his awesome African music that we jam out to! He likes to tell us his African stories and he's big on getting the most out of our experience here on Hawaii. He has planned a lot of fun outings for all of us to do together during the summer, like camping out one night on the beach and going night snorkeling. Can't wait!

 Wednesday night we went down to Waikiki. For some, it was their first time seeing ocean so of course, we jumped in. The water was unbelievably warm and it was a beautiful night with the full moon. Some of us walked along the beach which was alive with music and entertainment. We walked down past the famous pink hotel "The Royal Hawaiian," and got to see the Polynesian dancers perform with fire and their hula dancing. While walking down the beach, two really nice kids (so we thought) came up to us putting leis around our necks and took our picture. Being the naive Iowa's that we were, we began walking off when the stopped us and told us to give them $10 for them. So we gave them back and that's how we got leid and unleid all in the same night!

On Friday Angela (my camp director) and I got to see our campsite for the first time. It had been previously used as a storage shed so it will definitely be a fixer-upper. It doesn't have any AC but its nice because it has a huge open lawn behind it for the kids to play in.

On the weekends we get to do whatever we want but we have to find our own transportation to get there. The bus system on Oahu takes you about everywhere you want to go its just a matter of figuring out the routes. On Saturday, we planned a group outing to Waimai Bay on the North Shore so we got to use the vans to drive all 25 of us out. It was a beautiful drive to the beach with the mountains alongside. We drove past the Dole pineapple fields and a bunch of coffee bean fields. When we got to the beach it was GORGEOUS! The ocean is so blue here. On this beach there was also this great big lava rock that you can jump off, so of course I had to jump. It was a ton of fun besides the massive surge of saltwater up the nose. Then we went to Turtle Beach to see a bunch of lazy sea turtles who were very camera shy as you can see in the pictures.

On our way back we stopped for some shaved ice. It's that "must try once" kind of thing on the island so we waited in line for over an hour to "try it once". You can get it with ice-cream, black beans (I know sounds gross and your right), and sweetened and condensed milk. I got it with ice-cream and it was pretty good. After we all got a good sugar high going, we jammed out in Amos's van all the way back to base. On Sunday we got up and went to the church on base. They were really friendly and gave leis to all the newcomers and they also had  BBQ after the service (Yay free food!). Then we took the bus to Chinatown near Waikiki and spent the day looking around. All the cheap fruit and produce there was really nice, the smell of raw fish and chicken feet, not so much.

Well it sounds like we've got a busy week ahead of us. Tomorrow we will be doing all the last minute preperation before our first day of camp on Tuesday. I'm really looking forward to finally meeting all the kids. Should be a great summer!

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