This is the final update from the Hawaii & Western US Program. Captain Jackson reporting. Whether or not this has been previously mentioned is unclear, but our team has a rotating captain (leadership) role that rotates every five days. Each rotation, the chosen captain takes charge of the fourteen of us. Your update this final week is brought to you by none other than this week's captain, Captain Jack. Here is this scallywag-crew’s final log.
I began my leadership as we departed the hostel, on our way to another day of surf instruction. The seas were rocking and the waves were rowdy, but two of our hardiest members, Quinn and Mason, paddled straight through the beginner zone and into the deeper water to surf some bigger waves. After a couple wipeouts, the duo surfed all the way past the rest of the group to the shoreline. Afterwards, our group decided to spend some time in Kona. Sam, Maya, and Casey made a beeline for the nearest thrift store in a mad hunt for the goofiest looking Hawaiian shirts. Meanwhile, downtown, Hannah and Campbell were having a shopping spree. You should’ve seen their faces when they found out there was a Lululemon store on the island. Somehow, Aidan got dragged in, surely for his fashion knowledge and expertise.
The following day, we went to a beach to watch the sunset. Not just any beach, though - this particular beach held significance to our group because it was the first beach we visited in Hawai'i. Revisiting this moment as a team was a nostalgic moment that the entire team enjoyed together, some of us choosing to swim while others watched the sunset. The time of our final departure from the hostel had arrived. To save some much-needed van space, we left our duffel bags in Kona and brought three days' worth of supplies with us in our daypacks. Together, we loaded our food and belongings into the van and headed off to our final beachside campground. It was no easy task; stacking coolers, massive food bags, and other various personal items was no joke. Thankfully, Mason, Brandon, and Maya were happy to play Adult Tetris as they helped lift, organize, and re-organize everything in a smooth cubic formation. With their assistance, we loaded up the van and rolled out to our gorgeous campsite.
Upon arrival, we tumbled out of the van and set up camp as fast as possible before once again departing, This time for our Manta Ray snorkel tour. The snorkeling was incredible; the reefs were vibrant and over 60 species of fish were visible in the water. Lucy, one of my assistants, read us a touching poem: "Everyone, even Kai, looks like a tourist in a snorkel mask. And maybe we are all tourists in this underwater world—snorkels are our temporary visas, allowing us to visit this mysterious country for brief slices of time."
Simon, the captain of the tour boat, drove us to a steep cliff, where he practically threw us into the water. He gave us a snorkeling raft, which is a contraption with lights fixed to the bottom, and told us to wait. He explained that the lights attract phytoplankton, which attract Manta Rays. These majestic beasts have no natural predators, he added, and majestic beasts, they were! We all watched in awe as they swam past and ate the plankton floating in front of us. As they swam by, Casey exclaimed "bluuufbglubblubuuuhh!" through her snorkel, which probably translated to something like, “Oh my gosh!" After our amazing night of swimming with these graceful giants, the team returned to our campsite for a good night's sleep.
Our next 48 hours will be spent camping on the beach and getting through as much program wrap-up as possible in so little time. I am expecting lots of deep, personal letters, and lots of hugs and tears. After this, this awesome crew will be facing our final challenge: relaxing in Kona. That being said, I hope this final message finds you with a smile, and brings with it the knowledge that you needn't worry, because I most definitely did not hijack this program and kidnap the instructors.
~Capt. Jackson Anderson
~Quinn Hartman, Editor