Army’s EDGE offers home-schoolers variety, options

| January 23, 2015 | 0 Comments
Cristian Harris, 15, above, pauses at an informational display that explains the habits and behaviors of humpback whales. Harris participated in a whale-watching hike along the Makapuu Point Trail Wednesday, as part of the Army's EDGE Adventure program.

Cristian Harris, 15, above, pauses at an informational display that explains the habits and behaviors of humpback whales. Harris participated in a whale-watching hike along the Makapuu Point Trail Wednesday, as part of the Army’s EDGE Adventure program.

Story and photos by
Karen A. Iwamoto

MAKAPUU POINT TRAIL — The whale watching began almost as soon as Cristian Harris, 15, and Austin Weiss, 10, hit the trail, here, on Wednesday morning.

A passer-by at the trailhead pointed to a ripple far out into surrounding ocean that marked the spot where a humpback whale had just breached.

The children who participated in the EDGE Adventure program's hike along the Makapuu Point Trail on Wednesday are being home-schooled by their parents. The Army's EDGE programs offer a variety of activities geared toward families who choose to home-school their children.

The children who participated in the EDGE Adventure program’s hike along the Makapuu Point Trail on Wednesday are being home-schooled by their parents. The Army’s EDGE programs offer a variety of activities geared toward families who choose to home-school their children.

“Everybody get your binoculars out,” said Jordan Cook of the Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation’s EDGE Adventure program.

Christian, Austin and the five other youth who made up their group complied, and soon there were excited shouts.

“I see one!”

“It’s right over there!”

Once they got their fill of this particular whale sighting, Sheree Mullen of DFMWR’s Outdoor Recreation program went over the ground rules: “OK, guys. I want you to walk single-file and stay between me and Jordan. Stay away from cliffs. I don’t want you getting too close to the edge.”

The group proceeded up the trail with the kids obeying the spirit of Mullen’s instructions, if not the letter. For the most part, they avoided the cliffs, but several of the children took detours into the shade of nearby kiawe and fell into a heated debate over what being a Soldier entails.

The conclusion was, “Army Soldiers don’t hide in trees, duh.” (This is a pretty clear indication that they hadn’t seen recent issues of this paper, and, in fact, a couple of them confirmed that their reading material of choice was the “Harry Potter” series.)

This outing was hosted by the EDGE program, which offers affordable out-of-school opportunities for youth ages 6-18 to Experience, Develop, Grow and Excel by participating in art, fitness, life skills and adventure activities. EDGE programs are geared toward both the after-school crowd and home-schoolers.

Wednesday’s group was made up entirely of homeschoolers.

“The morning programs tend to be popular with home-schooled kids who don’t have to be in school during those hours,” said Kristine Yasuda Tabbal, EDGE programs director.

Cristian said he has participated in this whale-watching hike several times before, and he enjoyed it, but his favorite EDGE activity was surfing.

“I even went out and surfed a couple of times by myself (after learning the basics through EDGE),” he said.

His 11-year-old sister, Kelly, also took surfing lessons through EDGE, and their mother, Cheryl, an Army spouse who home-schools Cristian, Kelly and their 9-year-old sister Rebekah, said she considers EDGE to be a bargain.

“Personally, I think (the EDGE programs) are a good deal,” she said. “Twenty dollars for two outings is not that expensive. Also, Jordan (Cook) has made a personal connection with my children, and I really like that.”

“It (EDGE) offers stuff we couldn’t necessarily do in a one-on-one setting, and I think they really try to offer a variety of activities that are geared toward all age groups,” added Kelly Weiss, an Army spouse and former public school teacher who home-schools her two children, Katelyn, 12, and Austin, 10.

Katelyn and Austin also participated in Wednesday’s whale-watching hike, and while they seemed to enjoy being outdoors and experiencing the southeastern coastline of Oahu’s Ka Iwi State Scenic Shoreline, their mother noted that the outing wasn’t just for fun. It also supplemented her home-school curriculum.

“My kids are studying marine biology as part of their science class,” she said. “This hike was a whale-watching hike. That’s marine biology.”

By making learning fun and allowing Army children to immerse themselves in Hawaii’s environment during their time here, the EDGE programs are designed to offer families the best of both worlds.

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Category: Community, Fitness

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