Thanks for the checking out the blog for this Global Leadership Adventures program!
Here are a few things you can expect:
- We typically receive 2-3 blog posts per week here at GLA Headquarters from our program staff and students, so please don’t be alarmed if you don’t see a blog post daily – that’s totally normal.
- Blog updates sent on weekends may not be posted until Monday.
- Due to many factors, including but not limited to internet accessibility, photos may not always be available to post onto the blog. Sometimes onsite program staff are only able to send text back to Headquarters, where our team updates the blog.
Cell Phone Policy: The GLA cell phone policy is currently in place this summer to help foster meaningful connections between students. This means your student’s phone will be collected every day and returned to them throughout the program during designated spaces of time we call ‘tech time’. Actual tech times and regularity will vary greatly by program location. During designated ‘tech time’, your student may use their phones as they wish. Please note that your student may not always choose to use this time to get a hold of their parents. If you are not hearing directly from your student each day, you can assume that no news is good news! We strongly recommend you follow the blog to follow your students’ experience without talking to them every day. If you are a parent and would like to get in touch with your student directly, you can call us at +1-619-758-3031 and we can set up a formal time for you to connect with your student.
Thank you for your patience and understanding, and we hope you enjoy following along on these unforgettable adventures.
For frequently asked questions about the blogs, please visit our Program Blog FAQ page.
-The Global Leadership Adventures HQ Team
BLOG POST FOR JULY 19
It’s been an eventful weekend here in Maui, the remnants of a passing tropical storm brought not only big winds, but even bigger waves, and excited surfers taking on twenty-footers off the coast. On Sunday afternoon myself and the mentors sat down on the beach with hundreds of locals to watch the show and some of the best surfers in the world take on this ‘once-in-ten-year-swell,’ as everyone here would tell you. Even our own caterer Chef Jake couldn’t help but bring his board to our home base Camp Olowalu to catch some waves between his work preparing for students to arrive!
Fortunately for us (although maybe to the dismay of our more enthusiastic surfers!), the winds have passed and the waves have calmed, and the weather is perfect and back to normal for the start of our trip!
After arrival day, our first full day here was a big welcome to the program, with a swim test at the local pool, the arrival of our last group of students, and a quick jaunt to the general store and fruit stand. Students tried new things like Dragonfruit and Star Fruit, or bought shaved ice as big as their heads from the General Store.
We also had a special guest speaker drop by, our friend Abner, who is native Hawaiian and also our surf instructor, who talked to us about respecting the island, local culture, and his experience with the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act, a policy to help restore lands and homes to native people in the face of rising costs and limited space. We had a discussion about how we as travelers can best respect the land and people during our time here, and why it is so vital to seek out local perspectives and advice when we visit new places!
Later we sat down in the shade under the flowering Plumeria trees to go over our orientation and all the exciting activities we have in store for them this week.
After dinner, with food from our exceptional catering team lead by Chef Jake (who students last session referred to as ‘a literal god’, can’t wait for our current students to taste why!), we stuck around our dining tables to play a get to know you game— one I like to call Fast Friends. As the students rotated seats to talk to everyone one-on-one, I prompted them with questions to answer, everything from what they value in friends, to what their plan would be in a Zombie Apocalypse!
Tomorrow we’ll visit our first service site, with the organization Kipuka Olowalu. It’s definitely one of my favorite parts of the trip, where we get outside and hands on with endemic Hawaiian plants, learn about their traditional uses, and find out just how important they are to the health of the island and the waters below.
You’ll be hearing a lot more from the students here on the blog as tomorrow we’ll be beginning our first rotation of Leaders of the Day. As our Leaders, they’ll be writing the schedule out, keeping us on time, planning some pre-dinner activities, and of course, recapping our day right here!
– James, International Director
BLOG POST FOR JULY 20
We started our day with another great breakfast by Chef Jake before going to Kipuka Olowalu. Kipuka Olowalu is a native Hawaiian area of agriculture where the goal is to restore and respect the Earth. Emma showed us around and demonstrated the volunteer work we would be doing, which consisted of picking weeds and invasive species, and leaving endemic species. Emma also taught us about the importance of the river before some of us went in the water in our clothes.
Later, Teje taught us about her worm habitat and how they create soil, and some of us, who were brave enough, got to hold them. Afterwards, Ua taught us the E Hō Mai chant, and our group was the first group to be able to recite it all on our own. The E Hō Mai chant is a chant to request permission for knowledge with the goal of showing respect to the area.
After chanting, Emma, Teje, and Ua taught us more about endemic species and showed us plants that will one day be huge trees. We then returned to a deeper part of the river to cool off before heading back to camp where we went on the beach and had free time. Finally, we did a group leadership activity about comfort, growth, and danger zones before enjoying dinner by the beach.
BLOG POST FOR JULY 21
Written by Percy and Tara
We started our Thursday morning off early with an assortment of donuts before getting ready for the long day ahead. We went on Maui’s Road to Hana,Go renowned for its beautiful views and history. Along the way, our tour guides taught our groups about the extensive history and culture surrounding the famous road. We learned about how the sugar cane plant was excessively grown throughout the island and became detrimental to the soil, causing the Maui economy to be reliant on sugarcane. We were also told about the history of the kings and queens of Hawai’i, and how the crash in the economy led to over 70% of the land on Hawaii being stolen by colonizers. Learning about these events helped us connect the sights to the past culture of Maui.
We went on multiple stops, the first being a family-owned coconut farm and coconut themed vegan cafe. There, we visited with goats, watched fresh coconuts being prepared, and tried various treats such as vegan shaved ice or coconut water kombucha. Our second stop was a well-known local stand called Aunty Sandy’s. Their fresh baked banana bread was served warm and enjoyed along with soda, chili, or chips while we waited out the stormy weather. With our hunger satisfied, we enjoyed views at the Keanae peninsula and explored the tidepools filled with marine life. Our final stop was the Pua’a Ka’a waterfall, where we broke bread for lunch. While some of us took shelter from the heavy rains under picnic shelters, others indulged in a chilly swim under the waterfall.
After a long drive home filled with naps and car games, we had free time to roam the home base and connect with our friends. We had a Chinese-inspired spread of orange chicken, pot stickers, and spring rolls for dinner from Chef Jake and were surprised by a new group game called the “Goofy Olympics”. We separated into teams of 4 and began partaking in games for points, which included staring contests, movie scene recreations, debates, and finally, a long-running plank competition. The winners were rewarded with snacks and soda, and we staggered off to bed, ready for the next day.
BLOG POST FOR JULY 22
Written by Vada, Dannan, and Grace H.
We started our day off early at about 6 AM, before heading to the Hang Loose surf shop to begin our surf lessons. After some basic training we took on the waves, attempting to master some basic maneuvers. We are happy to report that each and every member of our family was able to stand up on the board and successfully ride a wave. After saying goodbye to Abner and his crew, we walked across the pier to arrive at Justin’s catamaran.
Captain Justin, and first and second mates Justin and Cass were excellent hosts and an incredible team. We sat on the trampolines and watched in awe as the crew managed the boat and sails with finesse. They took us to Olowalu’s mother reef – which happened to be right across from our home base. The mother reef is thought to be the starting point for many of the reefs surrounding Maui, including the world’s oceans, and houses every type of coral found in Hawaii. We were very mindful about the safety of the reef, using reef-safe sunscreen and making sure not to damage or touch the reef. The entire group snorkeled for over an hour, admiring the natural beauty of Hawaii’s ocean floor, before heading in for a delicious lunch. Students were able to see spinner dolphins, green sea turtles, eels, stingrays and a plethora of native fish species. It was an incredible journey!
After our day of adventure, we headed to town for some treats before returning to home base and enjoying some pizza.
BLOG POST FOR JULY 23
Written by Blane, Ava H., and Grace C.
We started off our super fun Saturday by heading off to Kanaha Beach Park to do service work with the Maui Ocean Center Marine Institute (MOCMI)’s marine scientists. We were greeted by Sam and Savannah, who led us on a bingo scavenger hunt to find different pieces of trash that were left behind that could harm sea animals. Allie and Grace H. were trash finding bingo masters and were todays MVPs. During our cleanup we noticed a lot of trash in the park next to the beach and we learned that this trash was just as dangerous to marine life as the stuff on the beach because the wind can drag it into water just as easily. After picking up the trash, we helped record data for the Marine Institute by categorizing each piece we picked up to help them understand what types of trash are most frequently found littering our beaches to help them identify plastics and other trash that finds its way into our ocean and sea life stomachs.
Our marine scientists taught us through the means of a game of jeopardy to these four topics: Threats, Conservation, MOCMI and The Environment. The threats category taught us about the many biotic, and abiotic dangers to marine life, specifically Benzones, which are chemicals very common in sunscreen. The Benzone rings coat coral and makes it so the algae living inside the coral can’t photosynthesize, which kills it. Through the conservation topic we learned the importance of reduce reuse recycle and how only certain types of plastics can be recycled, and most cannot. Through the MOCMI category we learned about their turtle hotlines and how fishery gear is the biggest known threat to turtles. Finally, through the Environment topic, we learned how turtles use electromagnetic fields to get back to their birthplaces to lay eggs and have an internal compass to guide them.
Before arriving back at Camp Olowalu, we stopped by a locally owned coffee shop to reward ourselves after all our hard work. To wind down the day some of our us chose to take out some snorkel gear and observe the reef right outside our cabins. After our break we participated in some grueling teambuilding activities where we got together in groups and had sets of challenges that have made the campers of past scream and cry. We were pretty good though, and we destroyed the challenges laid out for us, even though there were hiccups here and there.
Overall, today was pretty awesome. We met some really cool and knowledgeable people, and got to top it off with some amazing dinner.
BLOG POST FOR JULY 24
Written by Bri and Marilyn
On this sizzling spectacular Sunday, we started off our morning by wishing our incredible Chef Jake a happy birthday. After breakfast, we all headed in the vans off to Mana Kai Beach to go Tidepooling! There, we met two amazing marine biologists that gave us checklists for everything we could find in the tidepools. We got lucky and saw three Green Sea Turtles up close eating what vegetation they could find in the tidepools.
After our exploring and learning about all the varieties of life that populate tide pools such as Sea Urchins, Hermit Crabs, and Sea Slugs, we had lunch and played a trivia game about the life stages of Sea Turtles set up by the marine biologists where we had to race to various stations to declare our answer to the question. This was all done to prepare us for an intense day of even more learning tomorrow at the Maui Ocean Center.
Later, we took the vans into the town of Lahaina to do some shopping, where we explored, and bought clothing, gifts for family and friends. A few of us also got henna and ice cream.
When we got back to our beautiful camp, we had our afternoon activity. We broke off into mentor groups and rehearsed a lip sync battle to the songs of our choices. We were able to work as a team to practice inclusivity and creativity. After a good hour of practicing, we enjoyed burgers and baked mac n cheese for dinner, to get our energy back for our incredible performances. Everyone killed it with their dance moves, performing Wannabe by the Spice Girls, Hot & Cold by Katy Perry, and California Gurls also by Katy Perry. After, we had some free dance time, so everyone could join in whenever they wanted to group dance songs like the Cha Cha Slide, Cupid Shuffle, The Macarena, Cotton Eyed Joe, and more. Our night came to an end, and everyone enjoyed their time together until bed.
BLOG POST FOR JULY 25
Written by Written by Blaine and Claire
We started off our final day with MOCMI with a good breakfast of bagels. After breakfast, we grabbed our journals and made our way to MOCMI headquarters. We learned about sea turtles and their life cycles. We learned things such as there are seven species of sea turtles but only 5 in Hawaii and that 202 Sea turtles were harmed in fishing accidents in 2021. After listening to our guide Chanel, one of the leading Marine Biologists at MOCMI, we split into teams played a game of Jenga with questions about what we learned to prove our knowledge on the subject. We competed for 1st, and Claire, Percy, Kourtney and Tara swept the competition and were todays MVPs. After our Jenga battle, we headed out for a delicious lunch on the beach, courtesy of chef Jake. After lunch we walked around MOCMI headquarters and aquarium in groups and learned about whales, jellyfish and other aquatic life affected by humans. A little fun fact: Jellyfish are practically immortal because they can change their cells into younger ones.
After our MOCMI adventure, we met with chef Merissa and played a quick but fun team building game involving names and had a relaxing hour to ourselves. At the end of our long day, we held a celebration for two of our campers, Blaine and Claire, who turned 16. We ate cake and bonded at dinner, and then we went and watched a beautiful sunset at the beach. It was filled with vibrant purples, yellows, oranges, and blues. We then sat and enjoyed each other’s companies by the firepit and roasted smores while listening to some fire tunes.
Overall, today was our favorite day, but that might be because the people who wrote this was Blaine and Claire.
BLOG POST FOR JULY 26
A few moments ago, I said goodbye to our students. They’re still here, they won’t be heading to their flights and back home to their families until tomorrow morning; I hear them outside my cabin, laughing and reminiscing, sharing phone numbers and making plans to hopefully see each other again. But as a group, all together for the last time, we said goodbye, and took the time to do one of my favorite trip rituals, to sit down and hold an appreciation circle.
We had such an eventful day today, heading out to drive up to 10,000 ft elevation to hike above the clouds on the volcano Haleakala. We walked into the crater, ate lunch on its rim, visited its summit and searched for the endangered Nēnē. Later, we had the grand finale of our trip: a five-course feast of traditional Hawaiian cuisine on the coast, lit by the setting sun, and entertained by the Old Lāhainā Lū’au Hula dancers. It’s an incredible day to wrap up our trip and all the experiences we had here on Maui.
But still, as appreciative as we are of the activities and adventures we have had, the most important thing to appreciate here at the end of the trip, is each other. In our appreciation circle, I reminded them of what I told them on day one, when we were finally all together for the first time: Even on a trip as fun as this one, where you will surf and sail, climb volcanoes and swim in the ocean, work to clean beaches and restore native habitat, learn from the world’s best marine biologists, and even experience Sea Turtles up close in the wild, at the end of it all, the most important thing—the thing that will matter most to you— will be the friendships you build over the course of these next ten days. My promise to them then was that they would be surprised by how close you can get to a stranger in such a short amount of time. When I asked them this evening who was surprised by how true that was in the end, every hand went up.
There’s some magic in this experience, to be together in a small group, trying new things, succeeding, struggling, challenging yourself. To be out of your element, away from home and somewhere unfamiliar, that somehow forges fast friends. Inspires meaningful conversations. Opens us up quicker. Forces you to ask yourself who you are in this new setting, and who you want to be when you leave. It is trips like these that set the field for this transformation, but it’s the people who come together to be a part of this temporary Ohana that create the space for all of us to be ourselves, feel safe to grow, and ultimately thrive.
For that, the appreciation circle is to do what we do too little of in our daily lives, to take the time to let each other know what we meant to each other. So for the past hour, we sat out in the grass under the best night sky we’ve had all trip, and we listened to prompts like ‘tap someone who made you laugh,’ or ‘tap someone who you will never forget,’ or ‘tap someone who you really admire,’ and we went around letting each other know just that. And after, I encouraged them to find each other again, before they said goodnight, to let each other know everything else they appreciated.
Personally, I appreciate our students because they are kind. They’re inclusive. They’re curious. They’re adventurous. They’re hardworking. They even have surprisingly good taste in music if you ask me. I appreciate them because if they’re the future, we’re in good hands.
– James Townsend, International Director