If you’ve never been to Ohana Family Camp, you should absolutely plan a visit.
As the Director of Ohana, I know I’m biased. The experience is hard to capture in words, and just like any other Aloha Foundation program, you have to see it to believe it.
Ohana is summer camp for the whole family—Aloha style. All types of families join us, and we spend a lot of time making connections. Sometimes it is in the Art Barn, during yoga, at the Woodshop, or playing tennis or shooting on the archery range. Sometimes it’s at the waterfront trying a new sailboat or kayaking around the lake and often it’s just sitting together at breakfast, getting lost in your thoughts while picking berries or just swinging in the breeze.
Chances are you have or know a child who has been to summer camp—for a day, a week, seven weeks, or somewhere in between. Your child has come home changed, a better version of themselves. They are full of confidence and ease, determination and compassion, a sense of lightness and humor.
This is the same effect a week at Ohana has on a family.
Families arrive tense and somewhat unsure. Each family has its own interests, dynamics, and struggles. We lay out a plan for the week that offers plenty of activities, but also leaves space for freedom and spontaneity. A family is able to take or leave an activity based on their needs.
Early morning is often a time for a paddle, stretching, or a walk. The rest of the morning is full of staff-led activities and the afternoons are less planned—the waterfront is open for swimming, boating, and basketmaking. Other spots on camp are open so children or parents can keep working on a project, nap, read, or play a favorite game. In the evening, there is always an activity open to the whole camp. Meals are delicious, fresh and tasty, with choices to suit all. Walking into the Ohana kitchen is like visiting your favorite friend’s kitchen, you can wander in to say hi and be invited into the conversation, whether it is about life or where the kale came from or what you did yesterday.
We invite families to come as they are and to be exactly who they are. At Ohana, you will not find Wi-Fi, instead you will see conversations over ping pong. You might see a tantrum, but not as the result of a hurried, overscheduled day, but rather the result of a long, full day—a child who’s ready for dinner. You will see me, and all the other camper families, being who they are, laughing, discovering, and most importantly, learning.
After dinner the other night, a group of Ohana campers and I stood on the porch of the Lodge, looking at the gorgeous view of the mountains and the lake, and observing all the different campers who had joined us for the camp session. An assortment of lawn games were underway—some recognizable and others imaginatively designed. Small groups were engaged in conversation and one older child was reading aloud to a collection of children and adults. Surveying the scene, one of our adult campers remarked to me, “This is camp. This is Ohana at its best. I wish this was how the world was everywhere. Maybe if more people remembered how essential it is to be a part of a community, to parent around others, to have the wisdom of experience nearby and the freshness of youth close, it would happen.”
My reply: “We are bringing Ohana to the world, one summer at a time.”