Hawai‘i Nature Center at ‘Īao Valley Readies for Return of Maui Keiki
A team of volunteers and staff are readying the Hawai‘i Nature Center campus at ʻĪao Valley on Maui for the return of children next week. The campus has been absent of children for months since the pandemic forced its closure in March, canceling spring programs and much-needed revenue that sustains the nonprofit’s environmental education work.
The center will welcome children back to the campus on Monday, June 22 with modifications in place to meet CDC and government guidelines. The center will implement groups created for social distancing that feature smaller numbers of children, seating arrangements, the wearing of masks, temperature checks and more frequent and easier-to-monitor handwashing.
Hawai‘i Nature Center’s O‘ahu summer programs have nearly sold out with just a few spots left for August camps.
Cost for each week-long session on Maui is $325 for the general public, or $250 for members. The program runs from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. and takes place at the facility located at 875 ʻĪao Valley Road in Wailuku. Call (808) 244-6500 or HawaiiNatureCenter.org to register.
While the economic crisis which has hit Maui families hard as the island holds one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation, the nonprofit is offering partial scholarships to support getting Maui children back to nature.
The following Maui Camps have reservations available:
Week of June 29 – July 2, 2020: Mālama Honua
(Closed Friday, July 3 – Independence Day Observed)
In 2014, the Hōkūle’a set out on a three-year voyaging journey to forge relationships and connections with different cultures and people around the world and to navigate toward a more sustainable future. This session works to spread the message of Mālama Honua – Taking Care of the Earth. All week, participants explore nature and learn about how to do our part to care for our island home and planet. The session will discuss how Hawaiian ancestors created sustainable systems in order to maintain their resources and thrive. Kids will learn how little things can make a BIG difference: like gardening, composting, choosing to use non-plastic products, conserving water, and picking up litter.
“Just as it is critical for us to take care of our precious island home in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, it is equally crucial for us to work together as a global community to take care of our one, life-sustaining planet in the vast sea of space,” organization leaders said.
Week of July 6 – 10, 2020: Nurturing our Natives
Hawai‘i sits in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. The closest land mass to the island chain is over 2,200 miles away; and yet, thousands of plant and animal species survived the long and difficult journey and eventually made Hawai‘i their home. This program features a week of Nature Adventure Camp as participants set out on a quest to learn more about and discover the true treasures of the islands.
Week of July 13 – 17, 2020: Our Blue Planet
Fun fact: our planet is more than 70% water. Water can be found in our salty oceans, in the ground trapped within rocks, and even in the clouds that fill the sky. No wonder Earth is often referred to as, “The Blue Planet.” Campers will be diving into a week of water-related discoveries, crafts, games, and outdoor adventures. Kids will soaking up the fun as they explore nature and learn about how plants and animals (including humans) depend on our planet’s water for survival.
With stay-at-home orders mandated for Hawai‘i during the pandemic, and schools closed the last few months, the nonprofit Hawai‘i Nature Center developed HI Nature, an online video series for children, ages 6 to 11, that delivers nature education directly to children. All four distance learning videos are featured online. The environmental education series examines Hawai‘i’s natural habitats including streams, forests and meadows. Each episode concludes with a craft activity such as making a fish out of recycled materials and a terrarium that parents can do with their children at home.
The March closure of Spring Nature Adventure Camp on Maui and O‘ahu inspired the nonprofit to create the series in service to children. Its environmental education programs have been recognized by the National Association of Enivronmental Educators for excellence.
HNC has served more than 1 million children since its 1981 inception. The nonprofit fosters awareness, appreciation, understanding and stewardship of Hawai‘i’s environment by educating children with an interactive and immersive approach. With a staff of nearly 30, HNC offers children’s education at its locations on O‘ahu and Maui, programs for the whole family, and volunteer opportunities.