Girl Scouts leave cookies at home, indulge in local history

080213_11Story and photos by SrA Christopher Stoltz

Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam Public Affairs

In most cases, when someone hears the words “Girl Scouts,” they immediately think of the delicious cookies they sell. While it is true that Girl Scouts are known more for selling Thin Mints and Samoas, the Hickam Pearl Harbor Ohana Girl Scouts visited The Fort Kamehameha and Halealoha

Haleamau Burial Platform on July 25-not to sell cookies, but to indulge in the treat that is local Hawaiian history.

A group of 60 Girl Scouts and scout leaders visited the platform area, located at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam (JBPHH), with intentions of learning more about the culture around them. The scouts visited in order to obtain the ohana badge, a unique Girl Scout badge set specifically for those who learn about Hawaiian culture, its ecosystem and its history.

The visit included three groups who taught the scouts about the Halealoha Haleamau Burial Platform. This included a display with archaeological artifacts found in the area; information about the ti leaf plant, its care and native and introduced plants in Hawaii; and the history of Fort Kamehameha housing area.

“I have wanted to visit here [Fort Kamehameha and Halealoha Haleamau Burial Platform] for a while now, and I just thought it would be a good spot for the girls to visit,” said Sharon Work, Hickam-Pearl Harbor Ohana Girl Scout leader. “Learning about native Hawaiian culture is our duty while we are here.”

As part of the visit, Jessie Higa, JBPHH volunteer base historian, brought the scouts through the historic homes of Fort Kamehameha to help the children understand the importance of maintaining and preserving history and even showed them examples of those who did not.

“I took children on a walk through the historical Fort Kamehameha houses that were built in 1916 for the Army Coast Artillery families,” she said. “The children learned how the land has been transformed and how we best take care of it.”

Unfortunately, the transformation has not been the best for much of the area. Higa showed the scouts various examples of historic homes that have been damaged and broken into. She stressed the importance of maintaining and helping preserve history, especially if you have the opportunity to do so.

“This visit is important because military children have a phenomenal opportunity to learn about history right here in their backyard,” she said.

“It impacts them personally and they have a deeper connection, ownership and appreciation with the history than they could have grasped from a textbook. I believe the key to preserving our base history is through an ‘on site’ educational experience,” Higa said.

Jeff Pantaleo, Naval Facilities Engineering Command Hawaii archeologist, said it is important to educate our youth, especially from on-base schools, so they understand past cultures and landscapes. By understanding our past, he said, we can better appreciate other cultures and appreciate where we came from and how we can be better individuals and take care of the aina. At the end of the visit, not only did the Girl Scouts leave knowing they have earned their ohana badge, but they were given a better understanding of Hawaiian culture.

They also learned the real treat is to do your best to help, rather than hinder. It’s also easier on the hips.

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Category: News