Ke Kula Pa'ani Summer Camp Staff and Volunteers: The Unsung Heroes

Ke Kula Pa'ani Summer Camp Staff and Volunteers: The Unsung Heroes

At the Ke Kula Pa'ani Summer Camp, we saw children smiling, laughing, cheering, and engaging. Little did the campers know that the magic they experienced was made possible by the dedicated camp staff and the junior leader volunteers who worked together to create a fun and memorable summer.

The Ke Kula Pa'ani Summer Camp is for kindergarten to eighth graders from any school. The camp is known for its joyful, safe, and active environment for children. What sets the camp apart from others is the family atmosphere among the leaders and for those who attend. Camp leaders put their heart and experience into making the summer a success with hands-on activities.

The camp is held at the K-8 campus of Assets School at One Ohana Nui Way. Ke Kula Pa'ani Summer Camp is not the same thing as summer school. Summer School has an academic focus. Students in Summer School sometimes attend Summer Camp in the afternooon. Campers' activities include creating bubbles of all sizes, arts and crafts, STEM activities such as creating a paper volcano, games, and knocker balls. There were weekly water days where campers slid down an inflatable waterslide, play in wading pools, and shoot water guns.

Ke Kula Pa'ani Summer Camp Director Branden Kawazoe has been heading the camp since 2012. A former physical education teacher at Assets, his team of summer camp leaders have been working with him for many years.

"It's turned into a very family-type environment in regards to the camp's leadership and the culture," said Kawazoe. 

Many of the leaders were campers themselves. Summer Camp leader Mairi Travis '22 said she'd attended the camp ever since she can remember.

"You get to meet all kinds of children," said Travis." It is always fun to build bonds with them. It's really nice when kids start young, then they get older, and you see them grow every year."

Assets School K-8 Principal Sungalina Lee has raved about the camp as her son is a past attendee. 

"There's a sticker that says, ‘Keep the Country, Country,’” Lee said. "I feel like I should make one for the summer camp that says ‘Let Children Be Children.’ That can happen in camp, where they get that childhood experience of just letting them play, interact, and be joyful. They get that neighborhood experience I grew up with long ago." 

Ke Kula Pa'ani Summer Camp was outstanding as children learned and played all day. Campers, staff, and volunteers made precious memories, learned new skills, and laughed together. 

Assets School extends our gratitude to the summer camp leaders for their hard work, and making this experience joyful for everyone. From the early hours of the morning care until the last child is safely picked up in the evening, the staff and volunteers wore multiple hats to ensure the camp's smooth operation. There are summer camp leaders, junior leaders, and junior leaders in training. 

Thanks to summer camp leaders Elliot Buccat, Tyler Kamita, Norine Ishii, Hunter Dias, and Emma Lui-Kwan. Summer camp leaders who are Assets Alumni are Ian Murakami '19, Cody Okamura '20, and Mairi Travis '22. Thanks for helping to shape a brighter future for the campers. Your dedication to giving back and inspiring the next generation is admirable. Thanks also go to Athletic Director Ken Powell for helping out. Thanks to the junior leader volunteers from Assets High School: Brendan '23, Brady '24, Jamison '24, Leilei '25, Kelli Ann '25, Zak ‘25, Jordyn '26, and Abigail '26. We give a big thank you to Darcie and Kaiona, who came from other high schools, for their valuable contributions. Junior leaders-in-training are volunteers who are in the eighth grade. This year junior leaders in training from Assets School are Jesse ‘28 and Micah ‘28. Skylie ‘28 was also a junior leader-in-training volunteer from another school.

"The camp's culture is the culmination of the leaders and junior leaders that creates a place conducive for growth in all areas," said Kawazoe. "Campers are developing relationships, understanding social situations, and fostering an environment where kids step out of their comfort zone. It's a safe place for kids to take risks. Activities are super engaging, fun, and memorable. A good measuring stick is that everyone looks forward to returning to camp."


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