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4th Annual Keiki Kontest presented by Nā Kama Kai

By Aloha Pa’akaula   Photos: Mike Ito

Nā Kama Kai presented the 4th Annual Makaha Keiki Surf Kontest on December 1, 2019.  This year, approximately 104 keiki entered. Breakfast and lunch were provided by Kamoa’s Kitchen, at no cost and each participant received an Aloha Modern gift bag full of prized items, including school supplies, T&C Surf Shop merchandise and more.  All finalists received gorgeous glass trophies and medals and the top contestants received a custom surfboard from Styles Hawaiʻi M2 Boards, bodyboard from North Swell, LLC or skateboard from Hoʻokuʻi Pono, LLC.

Good Action Mobile Entertainment kept the contestants and spectators dancing throughout the day while watching the heats and raffles were conducted throughout the day for people to win Nā Kama Kai gift packs and the Bullyboard grand prizes. All keiki were able to get free shave ice from E&R Sweet Treats throughout the day.

All keiki are able to choose what they want to ride (surfboard or bodyboard).  The contest is divided into seven divisions and in the Kōkua Division parents can swim with their keiki and help during the heats.  This concept was incorporated by Nā Kama Kai to encourage all local keiki to enter the event. The seven divisions are:

Boys & Girls 6 & Under (Kōkua Division)

Boys 8 & Under

Girls 8 & Under

Boys 10 & Under

Girls 10 & Under

Boys 12 & Under

Girls 12 & Under

Water Patrol was provided by Uncle Brian Keaulana, and our founder, Duane DeSoto on Jetskis who kept the water clear and safe from hazards and certified Mākaha lifeguards watching the beach and keiki rolling in the shore break.

The day started off overcast with the call being made at 5:00AM that the contest was on. Duane and his team of staff and volunteers quickly and efficiently completed set up for the day in order for families to start rolling in at 6:00AM to complete beach entries and check in. The keiki from the Nā Kama Kai Alakaʻi program welcomed the crowd of approximately 300 people with E Hō Mai after morning briefing and pule. 

The waves were rolling in at 4-6 feet. Duane notified the ʻohana in attendance, “Safety is number one. If your keiki don’t feel comfortable going out, they don’t have to.” Emphasizing the Nā Kama Kai acronym, K.A.I. to participants, which stands for Know your Limits, Ask a Lifeguard & Identify the Hazards. Keiki were still welcomed to get their gift bags even if they were didn’t go out. The day cleared up for the 6 & under Kōkua Division who kicked off the contest which ran in 15 minute heats until the sun started to set. 

The winners were announced by spotlight as the sun quickly went down. Keiki saw the aloha being shared by everyone throughout the day which lead to the two 1st place kids in the Boys 10 & under and Boys 12 & under, Hōkūwelo & Kalā DeSoto, giving their picks to the 4th and 6th place winners in their divisions. Makaialiʻi Carroll & Yoshi Gouveia’s faces lit up with joy! As did all the other keiki when they received their gift bags and prizes. Their smiles made the event the most memorable yet.  

Nā Kama Kai Background:

Nā Kama Kai was co-founded by Hawaiian waterman Duane DeSoto.  During his worldwide travel as a professional longboard surfer his belief that his kuleana (responsibility) is to share his love and appreciation of the ocean with the keiki (youth) of Hawai‘i was reinforced.  In January 2008, Nā Kama Kai secured 501 (c)(3) status; and in May of that year, held its first ocean clinic in collaboration with E Mālama I Ke Kai (Pūnana Leo o Kawaiaha‘o Preschool).  These clinics are designed to help youth build a positive relationship with the ocean through traditional Hawaiian values that focus on safety and conservation. To date, our free ocean clinics have been conducted touching the lives of over 24,000 keiki.

Nā Kama Kai’s mission is to connect our keiki with the kai (sea) and nurture a deep sense of aloha and kuleana for their natural environment and themselves.  Our motto, Keiki Aloha Kai Aloha (Beloved Child, Beloved Sea) is a constant reminder that our children are nurtured at the same time their love for the ocean is nurtured.  As they mature, this contemporary `ōlelo no`eau (proverb) helps keep them aware of their special place in the world and their relationship to the ocean and our natural environment.  Our goal is for keiki to love the ocean and become “ocean smart.” Such learning occurs through guidance and experience in a nurturing environment where keiki grow physically and emotionally through interaction with the ocean.

Keiki Kontest Background:

Nā Kama Kai Keiki Kontests at Mākaha are unlike any other surf competition event in the world and they have a direct impact on the local community. There is no entry fee and all keiki must have a 96792 address in order to enter the contest. Participation is limited to 96792 residents because Waiʻanae is an underserved community that needs more positive events for its keiki.  These contests are unique as volunteers provide assistance in the Kōkua Division. Also, parents are permitted to enter the water with their keiki in all age divisions. Parent participation during the contest is a unique component of our contest format because the majority of the contestants are not proficient surfers by 12 years of age.  Such interaction helps build the parent/keiki bond while simultaneously nurturing their shared relationship with the ocean.