Tag Archives: Hawaii

DSG Hawaii Overseas Exchange Day 10 – Mahalo & Farewell Hawaii

The final day of Dragon Scout Group Hawaii Overseas Exchange Program 2012, it’s Day 10 of our adventure in Hawaii. Waking up early in the morning, we checked out from our hotel. Our Hawaiian Hosts, Wayson and Edwina were there to bid farewell to us. While we were feeling a bit sad that we would be leaving after 10 wonderful days in Hawaii, we were also looking forward to returning back home to Singapore. We would like to say Mahalo (Thank You in Hawaiian language) and farewell to Hawaii! A school bus was booked to ferry us from the hotel to Honolulu International Airport, it was an interesting experience to ride inside the yellow coloured school bus in the United States.

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When we arrived and checked in at Honolulu International Airport, we received news that our flight was delayed from 1155hrs to 1630hrs Hawaiian time due to severe weather conditions at Incheon International Airport, that caused many flights in and out of Incheon International Airport to be delayed. Due to the circumstances, we adapted to the situation and checked in and entered the airport area waiting for our delayed flight to Incheon International Airport. During that time, we were facing the possibility that our connecting flight at Incheon International Airport would be missed completely. The teachers and myself were discussing on the scenarios on what could happen if we missed our connecting flight. With the weather conditions affecting the flights and out of our control, we just relaxed and rested, having lunch and shopping inside the airport.

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Our flight from Honolulu International Airport to Incheon International Airport took off at 1630hrs Hawaiian time, it was a long 10hrs 40mins of flight, heavy turbulence and a bit of air pockets along the whole journey. With such a bumpy ride for most of the flight journey, I couldn’t really sleep on the plane and decided to watch movies instead. We arrived at Incheon International Airport at about 2315pm Korean time and we saw Incheon International Airport ground being covered in thick snow that were cleared to the sides, that explained why our flights were delayed due to the severe weather storm in Incheon. We asked for assistance at the Transit Desk on our missed connecting flight from Incheon to Singapore. We found out that our connecting flight that we supposed to board was also delayed from 1835hrs to 0015hrs and we were able to get into this flight. It was a bit of a rush with the administrative work to change our boarding passes. Soon we were reissued with our new boarding passess and we rushed to our departure gate for boarding.

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The boys and girls quickly called back to their family and informed them of their new arrival timing at Changi International Airport. The flight back from Incheon International Airport to Changi International Airport was smooth and we arrived safely back home in Singapore, touching down around 0700hrs Singapore time. It was great to be back home in Singapore, we collected our backpacks and stuff, gathered for one last group photo before the DSG boys and girls were officially dismissed, signifying the official end of the DSG Hawaii Overseas Exchange Program 2012.

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It’s Day 11 when we arrived in Singapore due to the time zone differences. Overall, 10 days of awesome exciting Scouting exchange and adventure in Hawaii (and approximately 2 days of flying and transit time). This would not be possible without the planning, hospitality and warmth of our Hawaiian Hosts that made our Hawaii Overseas Exchange Program 2012 successful and fun. Mahalo to our Hawaiian Hosts, Sterling, Wayson, Edwina, Betsy, Nancy and  Thomas.

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DSG Hawaii Overseas Exchange Day 9

Today is Day 9 of Dragon Scout Group (DSG) Hawaii Overseas Exchange Program 2012. The past 8 days had been very fun, eventful and exciting. I had a great great time here in Hawaii with my DSG family and as our adventure in Hawaii was drawing to a close, I confessed that there were a bit of sadness in leaving Hawaii. After our breakfast at Aqua Aloha Surf Hotel, we gathered at the hotel lobby for our morning trek through parts of the city towards Mount Le’ahi (Diamond Head), Hawaii’s most famous and most recognised landmark, for her historic hiking trail, stunning coastal views, and military history.

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We were led by Wayson from our hotel through the sub-urban neighbourhoods, walking through a tunnel under the mountain and reaching the entrance whereby we started our trek up the mountain towards the summit of Mount Le’ahi (Diamond Head). Hawaii State Parks has information on the Diamond Head Summit Trail, do check out their site for more details! The trek up wasn’t too difficult for us, the route was winding along the contour lines. As we trekked further up the trail route, the view got even more beautiful along the way. Close to the summit of Mount Le’ahi, there was a steep looking staircase (like a stairway to heaven), this was a bit of huff and puff given the inclination and gradient of the staircase. Once we huffed and puffed our way reaching the top of the staircase, we were greeted by a small lighted-up 225 ft tunnel inside the mountain. Slowly walking through, we reached an old spiral staircase and continued our trekking upwards. The spiral staircase was a short journey and when we saw light and the ocean! We arrived at a observation post built inside the mountain, climbed out of the small opening between the rocks and I tumbled my way out because the exit was too small for my frame. In another short trek up, we finally reached the summit of Mount Le’ahi and we now know why this is Hawaii’s most famous and most recognised landmark, for her historic hiking trail, stunning coastal views, and military history. The coastal views were stunning and we were able to see the bunkers on the crater rim, besides that, there were many people there crowding around the small summit area, all taking panoramic photographs of the Southeastern Oahu coastline.

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After a good rest, enjoying the cool ocean breeze, breathe-taking sceneries and taking many photographs, we trekked down and back to our hotel, stopping by for lunch along the way back. The afternoon was a free and easy rest time for the DSG boys and girls, preparing for the farewell dinner later in the evening. I went back to my hotel room, showered and rested for a while before continuing with the photo video montage to be shown during the farewell dinner later in the evening. The photo montage video clip was done by Janice and Guan Ying, who were our DSG Ventures. I just provide my Macbook Pro, iMovie and photographs from Wayson and myself. It was a production by the DSG boys and girls for the Hawaii Overseas Exchange Program 2012, I just pop in a few pointers and allow them to have control of the production. My room was joined by more people later in the afternoon, we were all doing some last minute gifts, the key chain boy scout figurine and doing the photo video montage and photographs slideshow.

In the evening, the DSG boys and girls gathered at the hotel lobby. Our various Hawaiian hosts drove us in their individual cars to pick us from our hotel lobby to Maple Gardens, a restaurant nearby our hotel. This farewell dinner was kindly hosted by Wayson and Edwina, thank you very much for the warmest hospitality and kindness! Before dinner commenced, there were short speeches by Sterling and Wayson. After that, Eugene took over the proceedings, like what he always do during the meal times at DAV campsite dinning hall, the DSG boys and girls collected their buffet food and waited for all to come back and tuck into their meals together as one DSG family. While they were eating, they were shown parts of the photo slideshow from our 8 days of adventure, we had a good laugh there during the dinner!

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During the dinner, DSG presented gifts and appreciation to our kind Hawaiian hosts that took great care of us during the time we were here. We would like to say a Big Big Thank You to Sterling, Wayson, Edwina, Betsy, Nancy and Thomas. The boys and girls from each patrol also showed their own appreciation to our Hawaiian hosts, with their own gifts and appreciation for them. During the appreciation time towards our Hawaiian hosts, the scene and atmosphere was very heartwarming, epitomising the spirit and bonding of Scouting movement worldwide. Suddenly, we were interrupted by Wayson coming with a big birthday cake! DSG and our Hawaiian hosts were celebrating my DSG senior, Hongliang’s birthday in advance! This was a surprise for Hongliang and I am sure he’s very happy deep inside him that DSG and our Hawaiian hosts were celebrating it for him!

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My DSG senior, Hongliang, gave a thank you speech to all at the farewell dinner. He shared a lot about the history behind how DSG and Hawaiian Scouting established their friendship and relationship, dating back to 1992 when both sides first met, the first exchange was in 1994 whereby the Hawaiian Scouts first came down and in 1995, DSG went over to Hawaii. This was followed by December 2006 when DSG went over to Hawaii and in July 2007, the Hawaiian Scouts came over. This time in 2012, it’s our third exchange and we would be looking forward to more exchanges in the future! I can totally relate to the speech that my DSG senior, Hongliang, when he was talking about this because I was there when Sterling first came down to Gan Eng Seng School and visited Dragon Scout Group, the first exchange in 1994 and how the friendship and relationship between DSG and Hawaiian scouting blossomed over the years. The Dragon Scouting blood inside Hongliang and myself, we probably had a stronger and deeper understanding of what this meant, the Scouting friendship and relationship between Dragon Scout Group and Hawaii Scouting since 1990s and growing stronger into the future. I also wrote some more in-depth personal thoughts here from my DSG Hawaii Exchange Program and my photographs for the Hawaii Overseas Exchange Program can be found here on Flickr!

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During the dinner, there was a short video clip presentation for Mr Kevin Kung, one of the teachers-in-charge of DSG and the overall coordinator for the Hawaii Overseas Exchange Program 2012. This was to show appreciation to Mr Kevin Kung for all his hard work and time, over the years with DSG and this particular 2012 Hawaii Overseas Exchange Program. To end it off on a high and joyous note, Hongliang led a traditional 3 cheers of Yum Sheng and a group family photo taking! The time has come, for us to return back to our hotel, for a rest and packing up for our return back to Singapore the next day, our adventure in Hawaii was coming to an end soon.


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DSG Hawaii Overseas Exchange Day 8 – Big Island Day 2

Day 8 of Dragon Scout Group (DSG) Hawaii Overseas Exchange Program, Day 2 on Big Island, Hawaii. After an exciting Day 1 on Big Island, the boys and girls woke up in the chilly morning for a morning PT, running from the Kilauea Military Camp (KMC) towards nearby areas in the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. I didn’t join them and stayed back taking photographs of the KMC, the surroundings, enjoying the morning breeze walk with Wayson and Sterling. I had a nice hot coffee with Wayson and Sterling, chatted at the staircase leading up to our accommodation. Thereafter, Wayson, Sterling and myself picked up breakfast and lunch packages from KMC admission office for the boys and girls later to have their breakfast.

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After the DSG boys and girls were back from the morning PT, it was rest time and breakfast time. We all had packed our daypacks, cleared our things from the bunks and got ready for our Big Island Day 2 adventure. Soon, we were on a road trip along Crater Rim Drive, heading towards the coastal area, the Chain of Craters Road. The Chain of Craters Road is a 38mile (62km) round trip that descends from 3700 feet (1128m) to the coast. Driving downhill towards the coast, what we saw were vast giant land of lava flow that were hardened/solidified since 1986. The road trip was very quiet and peaceful outside because there weren’t much traffic at all. However, during the road trip, my rental van was singing in the van while it was heading towards the end of Chain of Craters Road. We had our first stop at Kealakomo Overlook and Picnic Area (if I get my facts correctly). The view was special, vast open flat lava land, it never seemed to be ending anywhere that our eyes can view. I simply had to take a group photo of DSG here, we were going to leave our Dragon Scouting footprints here!

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Continuing our road trip downhill, the coastal and shoreline became more visible. Being a landscape and travel photographer myself, I just took photographs from our van tinted windows, the views were simply breathe-taking beyond words of description and composition here. The photographs that I took simply spoke for itself the beauty and aura of Mother Nature’s gorgeous natural artworks. Driving downwards and reaching the flat coastal plains, we soon reached the end of Chain of Craters Road because the road was closed and no longer accessible by vehicles due to the young 2003 lava flows. We disembarked after parking our vans and started trekking along the road. Passing by the huts and restrooms and barricade, we just trekked on the road, unable to really see what was ahead, the scene seemed never-ending. However, straight ahead, we saw something sticking out of the road, black and totally sealing the road off. This was the young 2003 lava flows, the youngest land on Earth being rewritten into the history books. Trekking on the uneven lava land, the adventurers from DSG continued their exploration, soon, we found a signboard that was placed there “Road Closed”, that suited the location perfectly 100%.

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After many photo taking by the boys and girls from DSG, we took a Group Photo there with the “Road Closed” signboard. It’s simply can’t be missed and I loved it how DSG had been leaving many Dragon Scouting footprints in Hawaii. We then begun to trek towards the coast line, where we can watch and enjoy the beautiful ocean waves and breeze. The views were simply gorgeous, yet it could be dangerous since there weren’t any barricades around the edge of the cliff and it was a vertical straight drop. Therefore, the teachers, along with Wayson and myself, being adults, had to ensure that the DSG boys and girls were kept a safety distance and being looked after carefully at all times while they were looking and enjoying the ocean breeze and waves splashing against the cliff. Although our plan to view the lava flow around this area wasn’t available, we still enjoyed ourselves a lot trekking and exploring the End of Craters Road.

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After many photographs were taken, we returned back to our rental vans and started our return journey uphill towards Kilauea Visitor Centre. We stopped by the Thurston Lava Tube (Nahuku) and this was a very popular tourist attraction with coaches, rental vans and private cars parking nearby and hordes of people walking towards the Lava Tube. Therefore, there was a bit of queuing up to enter the Lava Tube cave. This was a pretty short trek because the other half of the Lava Tube cave was closed to the public. This was an eye-opener on how lava once flowed this tube (given the size and height of the tube/cave). After finished trekking and exploring Lava Tube, we departed Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, had our quick lunch nearby from Volcano Village. We drove back to Hilo, whereby the rental vans would be returned and getting ready to board our domestic flight from Big Island to Oahu. Before that, we visited Rainbow Falls Lookout, that had a nice pool of water below yet no waterfall due to the dry weather that day. We then drove toward Big Island Candies for shopping and rest, some of them bought cookies while I just bought ice cream and rested. Sterling and Wayson went to refuel the rental vans that were due to be returned.

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In the late afternoon, we reached Hilo Airport, the boys and girls rested, did their reflections and wrote down their thoughts and stories on their second day in Big Island while Wayson and Sterling returned the rental vans. Once they were back, we entered the immigration area, waited for our flight and returned back to Oahu. Our hosts were there to pick us up from Honolulu Airport and we were now headed for Waikiki, our hotel was the Aqua Aloha Surf Hotel, located at 444 Kanekapole Street, Honolulu, HI  96815. We collected our backpacks that were brought to us by our Hawaiian friends from their home, waited at the hotel lobby. Once rooms were assigned, we went to our rooms, dropped our bags and quickly went for dinner in their respective groups. I had a quick dinner at the nearby International Market Place and went back to my hotel room for a good sleep and rest after helping Janice and Guan Ying to prepare for the farewell dinner video. It had been an awesome 8 days in Hawaii and tomorrow would be our last night in Hawaii!


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DSG Hawaii Overseas Exchange Day 7 – Big Island

On the 3rd December 2012 (Hawaii Time), the day that we had been looking forward to in our Dragon Scout Group (DSG) Hawaii Overseas Exchange itinerary, it’s Day 7 and we would be flying over to Big Island from Oahu for a 2D1N adventure. Waking up early in the morning, leaving the DAV campsite and heading for Honolulu Airport, we checked in and waited for our domestic flight to Hilo, Big Island. It was a short flight around 45mins to 1hour and with the beautiful weather in the sky, we saw beautiful white clouds and saw the islands of Moloka’i and Maui below us.

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Soon we arrived at our destination, Hilo Airport. Sterling and Wayson went off first to pick up the 2 rental vans nearby Hilo Airport. Once they were back, we started our adventure in Big Island. First up, it was lunch at a nearby eatery, always fun to taste local food, their portion is always upsized according to our standards. I ordered a large meal and shared around. When we finished our lunch, we continued our journey and our first stop was the famous Mauna Loa Macdamia Nuts plantation and factory. It was shopping time for Macdamia Nuts, souvenirs, looking at the production/packing line of Macadmia Nuts factory from the glass windows. We didn’t take up too much time there and soon we were on our way to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, something I was eagerly looking forward to during this whole trip! Do follow Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on Facebook!

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As our rental vans traveled uphill towards Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, the weather got cooler and we knew we were reaching soon. We reached the entrance of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park where the ticketing booths were located, continued driving in and we reached Kilauea Visitor Centre. At the Kilauea Visitor Centre, we learned about the geographical landscape on how Hawaii was formed, the flora and fauna on the islands of Hawaii. We watched a video presentation at the Kilauea Visitor Centre before starting our exploration around the Kilauea Visitor Centre area. Our first location was Volcano House, a short walk from Kilauea Visitor Centre, that was the start of our eye-opener adventure in Big Island. The vast open volcano land view was simply breathe-taking beyond words, it shows the beauty of Mother Nature and her creations. This was just a part of the viewing locations for the Kilauea Caldera, it’s really really big and vast!

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Continuing on, we trekked back to Kilauea Visitor Centre, hopped back into our rental vans and began our Crater Rim Drive adventure. We soon reached the Steam Vents (Wahinekapu) and spent some time there, exploring the steam vents. It’s really strong and hot, like a hot sauna into your face! I asked the DSG boys and girls to take a group photograph there in front of the steam vents and they had a “hot” time while we were photographing away! The Sulphur Banks (Ha’akulamanu) was nearby too and we started trekking towards there from the Steam Vents. The flora and fauna were unique, there were lush greenery with beautiful flowers from the road walking inwards towards the Sulphur Banks. However before moving closer towards the Sulphur Banks, it became dry and barren with strong sulphuric activities and smell. After photo taking and exploring around the Sulphur Banks area, the DSG boys and girls trekked back towards the rental vans and we drove towards Hawaii Volcano Observatory.

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I didn’t know much about this region at all, it’s very beautiful and I was mesmerised by the beautiful creations of Mother Nature, the vast land size, the geographical and geological nature of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. It’s a hidden gem! From Hawaii Volcano Observatory, the views were so gorgeous and amazing. All the DSG boys and girls cameras went into overdrive mode and started photographing the sceneries, themselves and with their friends of this beautiful place. I also went a bit overdrive too, however, there were times I just paused, sitted down there, just silently viewed the entire Kilauea Caldera from left to right, like a panoramic eye. I haven’t had such an opportunity to sit down, relaxed and enjoy the gorgeous artworks of Mother Nature. The time there was very Zen, tranquil and peaceful for me, this was something very special inside my heart and soul (the Boy Scouting / Outdoor Adventurer / Traveler spirit) that had been missing from my life for quite a long time.

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Our DSG boys and girls visited Jagger Museum and learned more about the Kilauea Caldera, looked at the volcanic rocks and the history of this area. Wayson and Sterling spoke to the Park Rangers Office and one of their Park Rangers kindly brought DSG for a short tour/presentation of Kilauea Caldera. Our boys and girls were grateful, they were attentive when the Park Ranger was sharing his knowledge and stories of this area. His talk was very interesting, captivating our DSG boys and girls, listening attentively. Our Park Ranger host was so great that tourists also flocked behind our DSG boys and girls, and listened to his sharing together too! When he finished his sharing, we all had to take a photograph with our lovely Park Ranger host!

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It was dinner time and we left Hawaii Volcano Observatory for Kilauea Military Camp (KMC) for our dinner and accommodation. They are a pretty good place to stay while visiting Big Island especially for group tours and it’s definitely worth considering! Do check out their KMC website for more information! After dinner, we drove back towards Hawaii Volcano Observatory for another different view of Kilauea Caldera. It was pitch black darkness, except for 2 main things, the glowing fume from Kilauea Caldera and the many many beautiful star trails above the Hawaii Volcano Observatory. While we weren’t able to view a real life lava flow, we were quite close to the volcanic activities and right in the heart of volcanic land.  This time again, I was brought back to my heart and soul again, like it was earlier in the day. Taking photographs, enjoying the night Hawaii Volcanoes National Park sceneries, sitting down and relaxing, I wished I was able to spend more time there at night, photograph the star trails and concentrate on photographing the glowing fume. However, time was not on my side and I didn’t have my tripod, telephoto lens and remote control. Therefore, I want to visit Hawaii Volcanoes National Park again with my full gear of camera equipment.

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Due to time constraints, I couldn’t spend more time there during the night at Hawaii Volcano Observatory. We needed to head back to KMC for washing up, rest and recovery. The place was warm and cosy, nice beds with thick blankets. The dormitory was just like going back to Army Days for me except it was more relaxing! After a group debrief and personal reflection time for the boys and girls, we all had a good night’s rest before continuing with Day 8 adventure on Big Island, Hawaii.


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DSG Hawaii Overseas Exchange Day 6

Day 6 of Dragon Scout Group Hawaii Overseas Exchange, it’s a day of packing up and preparation for the upcoming domestic flight to Big Island on Day 7. First thing in the morning, the boys and girls strike tents, dismantle and place it on the basketball court to clean, dry it from the morning dew and packing it into the bags for storage. The tents would be given to us as gifts that DSG would be bringing it back to Singapore and share with fellow DSG scouts.

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During the morning flag break ceremony, Troop 147 took charge and shared with us how they do their morning ceremony. It’s a Flag Raising ceremony and they taught our boys and girls how it was to be conducted.  During the Flag Raising ceremony, we all learned something new about Scouting in other parts of the world and how they conducted their morning ceremony.

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This was the final few hours that Troop 147 would be spending time with us. During breakfast, there were more interaction, chattering, gifts/badges exchange and photo taking. It was great to see the Scouting spirit and exchange from both sides of Dragon Scouts and Hawaii Scouts. After breakfast, dismantling continued with the big dining tents being taken down by both DSG and Troop 147. With such teamwork together, the job was completed with efficiency and lesser time. The spirit of DSG and Hawaiian Scouts helping each other epitomize our Scout Promise and Law

THE SCOUT PROMISE

On my Honour I promise that I will do my best
To do my duty to God and the Republic of Singapore
To help other people and
To keep the Scout Law

THE SCOUT LAW

A Scout is to be trusted
A Scout is loyal
A Scout makes friends, establishes and maintains harmonious relations
A Scout is disciplined and considerate
A Scout has courage in all difficulties

 The dinning tents were dismantled and stored away. DSG and Troop 147 shake hands and bid goodbye to our Troop 147 friends. They would be packing up and depart from the DAV campsite later in the afternoon while we would be going for a visit to the other side of Oahu, on the windward coast where the Valley of the Temples is located. Mahalo! Till we meet again, Hawaiian Scout Troop 147!

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We had a very scenic drive towards the Valley of the Temples, cutting through the lush green mountains, through a few tunnels too. At the Valley of the Temples lies a cemetery and the main attraction is a Japanese Temple called Byodo-In, which translates to Temple of Equality. Located at the base of the lush valley, Byodo-In was very beautiful and tranquil. There was a big sacred bell bon-sho when visitors crossed the bridge from the car park towards the temple. It was customary for visitors to ring the bell before entering the temple for happiness and longevity. With many DSG boys and girls ringing the bon-sho, we would bring many happiness and longevity to themselves and the DSG family/heritage/history too! Do check out this website for more information on the Valley of the Temples! We stayed there for a while, relaxing, enjoying the peace and tranquility that the Valley of the Temples gave to all of us.

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Next up, we traveled to a nice beach (I would try to find out the name of the beach from my Hawaiian hosts soon), relaxed, took photographs and DSG was leaving their footprints on the sandy beaches, with some interesting captions too! We proceeded to shopping in Honolul, at Hilo Hattie and it was a time for us to grab some gifts for our family and friends back home in Singapore.

Returning back to DAV campsite, it was community service time, for DSG to give back something to society, helping out at the caretaker’s compound while some of them were cleaning the 2 rental vans and cars. With dinner and Flag Lowering, this signaled the end of our stay at DAV campsite for the last night before we fly over to Big Island the next morning. Our backpacks were packed and loaded into a small pick-up truck, helped by our kind Hawaiian hosts who took care our backpacks while we just brought our daypacks over to Big Island. The adventure at Big Island promised to be an eye-opener for all of us and we enjoyed the travel experience far and beyond our imagination.

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DSG Hawaii Overseas Exchange 2012 Day 5 – A Mini Jamboree

Rise and shine, it’s Day 5 of our DSG Hawaii Overseas Exchange 2012. Today, there would be more Hawaiian Scouts and Scoutmasters coming to the DAV campsite in the morning. During the morning breakfast cooking, we had a parent/scoutmaster, from Hawaii Troop 147 who was a chef during his Navy career helping us with the breakfast preparation and cooking. His son was a Boy Scout from Troop 147 and he was camping with us at DAV campsite. It’s an interesting experience and we all learned something about Scouting in USA, they have great parents support who would come along with their kids to camping and Scouting activities. The community based Scouting in USA is not much seen in Singapore because majority of Singapore Scouting is school based.

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While breakfast was being prepared, DSG and Troop 147 were preparing for the morning’s Flag Break Ceremony. The boys and girls from DSG shared with Troop 147 Scouts on how we conduct our Flag Break Ceremony, the procedures and movements, something that they do it very differently. This learning exchange was very beneficial for all them, to share, to teach and to learn from a fellow Scout. After ensuring our brother scouts from Troop 147 were ready, they all went for breakfast in the dining hall. The dining hall was noisy with the chattering and interaction between DSG and  Troop 147, we were also joined by more Hawaiian Scoutmasters who came to join in the mini Scouting Exchange day – A Mini Scout Jamboree as I called it! When we all had breakfast, it’s time for the Flag Break Ceremony, conducted by DSG along with Troop 147 and a Cub Scout Troop joining us. The combined ceremony signifies a key essence of DSG visit to Hawaii for a Scouting Overseas Exchange Program in 2012, both DSG, Troop 147 and a Cub Scout Troop in a horseshoe formation, with 2 Flags flying high – DSG Flag and USA Flag.2T2J2244

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The event began after the Flag Break Ceremony, split into 5 different patrols since there are 5 different stations for the Scout Craft/Skill Exchange and Learning. DSG is very natural and experienced in taking care of their younger Cub Scouts since DSG had quite a number of Scouting events/activities back home in Singapore with Cub Scouts too. There were 5 different stations whereby the different patrols were able to learn and have fun at the same time. It was heartwarming to see Hawaii Scoutmasters helping, sharing and passing on their Scouting skills and knowledge to the younger generation, I believed that our boys and girls from DSG would find it useful and beneficial to their Scouting knowledge and skills, that they can pay-it-forward and pass-it-on to their fellow DSG scouts. At a later time, Scouts from Hawaii Troop 42 visited us at the Scout Craft/Skill Exchange and Learning and we really had a Mini Jamboree!

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In the late afternoon, after the events concluded, DSG presented a plaque to Mr Thomas Hee, scoutmaster from Troop 42, a token of appreciation for his contribution and support of Dragon Scout Group visit to Hawaii in 2012 for the Overseas Scout Exchange Program. I can remember Troop 42 coming down to Singapore in 2007 for an exchange program, I was part of the welcome party at Changi International Airport, we brought them for steamboat buffet at Marina South (when it was still around), farewell dinner at Singapore Recreation Club and bidding them goodbye at Changi International Airport! Beautiful memories with Troop 42 when they were in Singapore!

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During dinner time, we had Chef from Troop 147 to help us with the cooking and he prepared dishes for all of us there to have a taste of his cooking. Before dinner time, we had our Flag Lowering Ceremony and a group photo taking in very challenging light condition, having to borrow gas lamps from Troop 147 to illuminate the surroundings. Thereafter, dinner was served and the Mini-Jamboree of interaction and exchange continued on inside the dining hall with food and at the campfire pit outside later after dinner.

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DSG Hawaii Overseas Exchange 2012 Day 4 – A Scouting Exchange

Day 4 of Dragon Scout Group (DSG) Hawaii Overseas Exchange Program. This day was packed with many things from the morning till the night, a long day of fun interesting visits and the start of the Hawaiian exchange program between Dragon Scouts and Hawaiian Scouts. After the normal daily routine of PT, Flag Break and Breakfast, the boys and girls of DSG changed into their uniforms for an official visit to the Aloha Council in the morning.

National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific

However before heading to the Aloha Scout Council, our Hawaiian hosts brought us up to a very beautiful place, National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (known as Punchbowl among the locals). It’s not just a cemetery, it was a garden and there was a lookout at the top of Punchbowl. We trekked up towards the lookout point, along the pathway up, it’s actually a Memorial Walk lined with a variety of memorial markers from various organizations and governments that honor America’s veterans. The view at the top of the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific was a bird’s eye view of Honolulu, the weather was great with clear blue skies and beautiful clouds.

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After photo taking around the lookout, we walked down towards the memorial ground Court of Honour. We took a group photo in front of the Statue of Lady Columbia and had a quick tour of the chapel and maps of the various battles that were fought in the Pacific. After a quick tour, we boarded our vehicles for our next destination, Aloha Council.

Official Visit to Aloha Council

Our first formal Hawaii Scouting exchange program started with a visit to the Aloha Council. First and foremost, we took a group photo with our Hawaii Overseas Exchange banner in front of Aloha Council compound where the signage was located, whereby DSG can share with family, loved ones, friends and Scouting community that we were here in Hawaii! We went to the Aloha Council, took another group photo with a representative from Aloha Council and our Senior Patrol Leader, Eugene presented a plaque from Dragon Scout Group to Aloha Council, for our Hawaii Overseas Exchange Visit 2012. When the formalities were done, it was shopping time at the Aloha Council shop and the boys and girls bought quite a number of Scouting stuff from there!

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Nu’uanu Pali Lookout

When the official visit to Aloha Council was over, we made our way to a location known as Nu’uanu Pali Lookout, it’s a section of the windward cliff (pali in Hawaiian) of the Koʻolau mountain located at the head of Nuʻuanu Valley. It was not too far away from Aloha Council and a nice drive up the mountains, passing through the lush greenery through the mountain range towards Pali Lookout. This is another very beautiful lookout point with a panoramic view of the windward (northeast) coast of Oʻahu. Our Hawaiian hosts told us that powerful winds would blow towards Pali Lookout, however, during our visit, we didn’t get to have a feel of the powerful winds blowing towards us while we were up there! The panoramic lookout view was some of the best that I had seen and I loved it a lot up there!

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Downtown Honolulu

We had a stopover nearby the coast, whereby we enjoyed the sea breeze and had a beautiful view of Diamond Head and Waikiki Beach before heading to Costco Wholesale Warehouse for lunch and shopping. After that, we were back into Downtown Honolulu and it’s a historical and heritage tour of the following locations

– State Capital Building

– King Kamehameha Statute

– Iolani Palace

– Mission Houses Museum

– Hawaii Supreme Court

– Kawaiaha’o Church

Our Hawaiian hosts were knowledgable and shared a lot about the history and heritage of Hawaii from the few locations we visited above, we had all learned something from this exchange visit of Downtown Honolulu.

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The Start of Hawaiian Scouting Exchange and Friendship

We all returned to camp early around late afternoon, preparing to receive Hawaiian Scout Troop 147 at the campsite around evening time. During the rest time, the boys and girls were preparing to welcome them for the Scouting Exchange, ice breaker and making new Scouting friends while duty patrol was preparing dinner for a much larger group of people assisted by our Hawaiian hosts. The contingent from Troop 147 soon arrived in their cars/pick-ups along with their camping gear/equipment and  this signaled the start of DSG Hawaiian Scouting Exchange and Friendship. With many warm handshakes and introduction by Sterling between Scoutmasters of Troop 147 and the teachers of Dragon Scout Group, the boys and girls soon started mixing, shaking hands and making new friends. Our friends from Troop 147 were mixed and divided into different patrols whereby they built their friendship and interaction further.

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Our boys and girls from DSG helped fellow Scouts of Troop 147 in unloading their camping equipment and gear, helping them to pitch the tents. It was a mini Scouting Jamboree here at the DAV campsite, upholding the Scouting spirit and movement, helping fellow Scouts and learning from each other. While working through the evening and nightfall, it was through combined teamwork between DSG and Troop 147 that their tents were setup pretty quickly.

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With the tents pitched and ready, dinner was served to a whole new bigger group of DSG and Troop 147 eating together. By this time, DSG and Troop 147 had a great start working together pitching the tents, carrying equipment and they carried on their lively interaction during dinner time. After dinner, we all went for a night gathering at the campfire pit, using the gas lamps as a campfire light, we had our campfire singing and dancing, hosted by a Hawaiian Scoutmaster.  The atmosphere was great, singing songs, dancing, great performances by our host’s son and grandson. Although there wasn’t a campfire burning, the feel, crowds and singing made it just like a campfire that I participated when I was a Boy Scout, it brought me back many beautiful Scouting memories of my time.

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The Grand Finale was everybody standing up and forming a circle together, singing and clapping along, with a gas lamp in the middle (as a campfire). With the beautiful memories from the night upon us, we all rested for the night to prepare for another interesting day of Scouting Exchange activities with our Hawaiian Scouts.


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DSG Hawaii Overseas Exchange 2012 Day 3 – Coastal Scenic Drive

Day 3 of DSG Hawaii Overseas Exchange program 2012 began each morning with the standard routine PT regime, duty patrol preparing breakfast and having the Flag Break ceremony. The schedule of activities started to get more interesting and exciting from this Day 3 onwards. The schedule was filled with coastal scenic drive to along the highway towards the Southeastern tip of Oahu, up along the coastline towards northern part of Oahu. After dividing the group into 4 vehicles, 2 x 12 passenger rental vans and 2 sedans. We started our coastal scenic drive along the highway.

Hanauma Bay

First stop was Hanauma Bay, is a very beautiful and scenic location, it’s a marine embayment formed within a volcanic cone and it is a very popular tourist destination. The view from the top was superb, the waters were crystal clear and clean. Due to time constraints on our schedule, we didn’t go down to Hanauma Bay. Instead, we took many photos around the top of the mountain overlooking Hanauma Bay and the crystal clear waters of Hanauma Bay.

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Lanai Lookout, Halona Blowhole, Sandy Beach Park

We continued driving along the highway and stopped at Lanai Lookout (based on Google maps and my photographs), another great location for photo taking of the gorgeous Oahu coastline. We all enjoyed the sea breeze and sceneries, taking many photographs and relaxing.

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Continuing the journey along the highway, we stopped at another lookout, that is very popular since we spotted other tourists there too. This was Halona Blowhole Lookout and our Hawaiian hosts shared with us that the blowhole would shoot sea spray high into the air through the cave/hole during windy days when the tide is high and the ocean breeze sends the waves hitting the shore. However, the weather in the morning was very calm and relaxing thus we couldn’t get to see the Blowhole in real time action. Nevertheless, that didn’t dampen the spirits and morale of the boys and girls, they were busy taking photographs of the sceneries, natural surroundings, friends and with our Hawaiian hosts.

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As we continued our journey, we reached Sandy Beach Park for a toilet break and stretch break because our next destination is Makapu’u Lighthouse and there is no toilet facilities around the area when we would be trekking up towards the lighthouse. Sandy Beach Park is a very relaxing place, we can feel the strong sea breeze blowing towards us.

Makapu’u Point Trail

The coastal scenic drive continued and soon we reached the base of our trek, the Makapu’u Point Trail. This is also a very popular trail and it’s listed on Hawaii State Parks hiking trails information. After parking our vehicles, led by our Hawaiian hosts,  the boys and girls trekked up towards Makapu’u Point Lighthouse, it wasn’t too much of a difficult trek for us. The weather was great except it was a bit hot and dry. The views along the trek up were really beautiful, the vast open land and mountains, the open blue ocean on the other side. Being the main/chief photographer, I tried to trek up faster than the rest of them, in order for me to take more photographs of them trekking up towards Makapu’u Point Lighthouse. This task proved a bit challenging, having to move up and down the lead patrol to ensure that I am in front ahead of them. The views up at Makapu’u Point were magnificent and very rewarding for all of us even though we were a bit tired out, we were able to view the windward coast and offshore islands –  Manana Island a.k.a Turtle Island, the historic red-roofed Makapu‘u Lighthouse built in 1909, which produced a gorgeous, breathe-taking and stunning photograph against the deep blue sea below (that I got it captured down here!!)

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After resting and taking many photographs at Makapu’u Head, we all climbed up further towards a higher point where the ridge line was. There were old World War II pillion boxes and the view was just as magnificent. It was a great trek and DSG took a group photograph up there, with their distinctive coloured school t-shirts against the beautiful clear blue sky and weather, DSG conquered a peak and unlocked another achievement to their impressive history! The Makapu’u Point Trail is definitely one of my favourite highlights of my 10 days Hawaii trip and I personally enjoyed it a lot!

Kualoa Regional Park

After a lunch break somewhere along the way (I can’t recall our lunch location), we proceed with our drive towards Kualoa Regional Park, located at the edge of Kane’ohe Bay on the Windward side of the island. It was a nice park and looking across the ocean, we can see an island, it is known as Mokoli’i Island and it is also known as Chinaman’s Hat. We all took a longer break here, group photo taking, relaxing and enjoying the sea breeze.

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North Shore and Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle

The coastal scenic drive continued up towards the Northern side of Oahu, we had 2 stops, one to look at surfers in action and the other to see the Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle along the beach (I would fill in the details for both beach locations once I am able to obtain them). From the surfing action along the beach, we can see that it’s a big sport and following up here in Hawaii. At the other stop, at approximately this address location – 61 Kamehameha Highway, this was where we walked towards the beach area and spotted the Hawaiian Green Sea  Turtles, protected and kept a distance away from human beings. The Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles is protected as a threatened species under State and Federal laws. For more information on the Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle, please visit Malama Na Honu website. Remember to treat the Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle with respect and do not feed, touch, tease or disturb them!

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We were then on our way back to our campsite for dinner and rest time after a very eventful coastal scenic drive for the whole day. During the night, the 4 patrols presented their skit  to their peers and teachers-in-charge that they prepared for the upcoming Scouting Exchange with the local Hawaiian Scouts. It was fun to watch them in action and each patrol had their unique strengths in each of their skit. Therefore, their skits were combined together, taking the best out of each patrol’s skit, mixing it together into one united DSG skit, that would be presented during the night when the local Hawaiian Scouts arrived for the exchange program.


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DSG Hawaii Overseas Exchange 2012 Day 2

It’s Day 2 of DSG Hawaii Overseas Exchange program 2012, after a resting and relaxing Day 1, the boys and girls were ready to start their adventure with a sightseeing and educational tour to Pearl Harbour. Before the visit, the boys and girls had a morning physical training (PT) regime while one patrol would be away in the kitchen/dinning hall and taking charge of the breakfast for the rest of their friends. Our Hawaiian hosts/friends, Nancy, Wayson, Edwina, Betsy and Sterling would be there in the early morning to be with them when they were in the kitchen preparing breakfast, guiding  and helping them with preparation, cooking and serving. As for me, I was shuttling between the PT regime, breakfast preparation in the kitchen, Flag Break Ceremony and breakfast time, capturing the moments and memories.

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While the duty patrol was busy preparing in the kitchen, the other 3 patrols would be back from their PT regime. They would proceed with the morning Flag Break ceremony just like their usual Group Camp back home in Singapore. After the Flag Break ceremony, they proceed to the dining hall and would collect their breakfast together, each patrol waiting patiently for their turn and for their whole group to collect their breakfast ready to eat together, a trademark of Dragon Scouting, a sense of community bonding and closely knitted family.

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After breakfast was over, the washing up was done by the duty patrol. The group prepared their water bottles, cameras and personal stuff. Dividing the group into 2 mini-vans and 2 cars, we were soon on our way to visit Pearl Harbour. The weather was simply superb, the clear blue skies, the gorgeous white silky clouds and wavy formations. The Pearl Harbour is a must visit location in Hawaii, world famous for her history, heritage and Pearl Harbour is gazetted as a National Park too. DSG had some time before the movie screening inside Pearl Harbour and we walked around the historic sites, taking many photographs, visiting gift shops and exploring museum exhibits around the historic site. Soon, it was time for our movie screening to learn more about Pearl Harbour hosted by US Park Service.   During our visit to Pearl Harbour, DSG had the privilege of a volunteer guide, a friend of our Hawaiian host Wayson. He accompanied us throughout our visit from the movie screening, helping us to move around easier since we were in a group. His friendliness and willingness to share his stories was appreciated by the boys and girls from DSG.

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After the movie screening, we boarded a boat to visit the USS Arizona Memorial, it was a solemn and beautiful place in bay waters of Pearl Harbour. Beneath the floating memorial under the sea, lies USS Arizona, the final resting place for many of the ship’s 1,177 crewmen who lost their lives on December 7, 1941. There was a shrine room at the end of the 184-foot-long Memorial structure, whereby the names of those killed on the Arizona were engraved on the marble wall. At the side of the shrine room, there was a marble slab that engraved the names of the survivors from USS Arizona who chose to be interred with their shipmates. While we were at the Memorial structure, the oil spill from USS Arizona can still be spotted on the surface above USS Arizona. This visit was a great lesson for all, to learn about history, heritage, culture, loyalty and remembrance.

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When we left USS Arizona Memorial and returned to shore, DSG group continued their sightseeing, visiting exhibits and gift shops. Due to time and schedule constraints, we didn’t get to visit some of the museums inside Pearl Harbour. Soon after, we left Pearl Harbour, took a group photograph at the signboard outside the entrance and headed for lunch at McDonalds nearby. A fast food lunch was interesting since they have more burgers varieties, their soda drinks are 1 size bigger (Large drink in US is our Extra Large drink in SG) and free refill while you are there. After a hearty big McDonalds lunch, we headed to nearby Aloha Stadium for their Swap Meet, it’s like a flea market and it was shopping time to get gifts and souvenirs!

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Returning back to DAV campsite after a very eventful morning visit to Pearl Harbour and Swap Meet. Preparing for dinner, resting and Flag Lowering. After dinner, it was a time for the group debrief, passing down the gifts showered by Sterling to the boys and girls, followed by instructions for the upcoming Day 3 activities, schedule and timings. This was followed by rest and washing up before lights out, for them to rest and recover from jet lag and fatigue, in order for them to be fresh for a full Day 3 of activities.


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DSG Hawaii Overseas Exchange 2012 Day 1 – ALOHA Hawaii !

The Korean Air flight from Incheon International Airport to Honolulu took approximately 8hrs 20mins, after flying from Singapore to Seoul and spending a 12hrs transit at Incheon International Airport. The 8hrs 20mins flight was filled with a number of turbulences, (constantly rocking on the journey to our destination Honolulu) since the plane was flying over the vast and open Pacific Ocean. Arriving at around 1015am Hawaii local time, we touched down at Honolulu International Airport and it’s ALOHA Hawaii !!

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It’s Day 1 in Hawaii, we were all happy to be on the ground after 8hrs in the air. Clearing immigrations and customs check, the boys and girls changed into their Scout uniforms, collected their backpacks and getting ready to move out together. As for me, since I am no longer wearing a Scout uniform, I made arrangements to exit first and linked up with our Hawaiian Scoutmasters who were waiting for us outside. This would also allow me to prepare my camera and start taking photos when the DSG contingent exit from the airport. When I reached the Group Arrival Entrance, I managed to spot Wayson and Edwina! I received a warm Hawaiian welcome from them, chatting with them while waiting for the boys and girls to come out from the airport. Sterling soon appeared and it was great to see him again and in Hawaii!

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Soon the DSG Hawaiian Overseas Exchange Program 2012 contingent were led out by Mr Kevin Kung, one of the teachers-in-charge and coordinator for this exchange program. The 25 boys and girls followed suit behind with their backpacks and daypacks on the trolleys. The DSG group gathered around the side and each of them was presented with a nice Hawaiian Kukui Nut Necklace by our lovely host Edwina, just like a Mummy to the little boys and girls. After the welcome and presentation was completed, we started making our way to the other end of the airport, where the postal services compound was located. We started to load up our bags and our hosts/Hawaiian friends started to ferry all of us to our campsite, DAV campsite beside Keehi Lagoon Park that was not too far away from the airport.

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The schedule for Day 1 wasn’t too packed for the boys and girls. After settling down with their bags, we took a group photo with our Hawaiian hosts/friends to mark our arrival at Hawaii and the start of DSG Hawaii Overseas Exchange 2012! Lunch was first on the list, hosted and prepared by our Hawaiian hosts/friends, this was also a chance for the boys and girls to rest and interact with our Hawaiian hosts/friends too. After lunch, it was camp development time, pitching up the tents, getting the bags into the tents. Once that was done, DSG had their first Flag Break ceremony in Hawaii. Since the schedule wasn’t too packed, I was able to explore around the campsite, walked to the bay area and captured a very beautiful Hawaiian sunset!

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As time goes by for Day 1, it was dinner time, a continuation of rest and interaction with our Hawaiian hosts/friends. The Day 1 program was planned to be relaxing, as our kind and warm Hawaiian hosts considered jet lag and having to adjust our body clock to local day/time conditions. During Day 1 dinner time, we had old Hawaiian Scout Troop 42 friends and other Hawaiian Scoutmasters dropping by to visit us and catching up.

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During the night, there was a group debrief, that was a common feature for this whole exchange program and also a briefing for Day 2 activities, schedule, timings and instructions to be carried out e.g. Duty Group (Patrol) for Flag Break/Lowering Ceremony and Duty Group for Breakfast/Dinner cooking. Thereafter, it was lights out, sweet dreams and this signals the end of Day 1 for DSG Hawaii Overseas Exchange Program 2012.

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