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Youth Mental Wellness Reel Camp for Girls July 26-31, 2021


Day 1

We are back at Ka Waiwai this week and we are kicking off day one in the most befitting way for a space like this: sitting in a circle. As our lovely facilitators Punihei and Makanalani inform us, the circle is about pilina and bringing in/creating/maintaining solid, healthy, and fulfilling relationships. Our first session was concerned with bringing that mana into the space and ensuring it would be there as the foundation for participants as they tell their stories over the next few days. Through this circle, the story-sharing exercises, and vulnerability, honest connection, and aloha the participants and mentors shared/made with one another, there is a stronger papa to stand on and tell their stories from. Exercises like these as well as spaces like this one serve as reminders that this camp and everyone involved are here to maintain a brave and welcome venue for anyone who feels called to it. This is a platform through which one can share their stories or the stories of their people. This is a place where people will receive those stories and hold them safely. 

Being in this pilina circle reinforced the mission that HWIF and these reel camps have. As we wrapped up for the day, everyone went around and shared a word on how they felt about the session. Day two will be a lot more filmmaking-focused and this circle helped to build a firm foundation to launch into that medium. Looking forward to what day two brings us. 

Day 2

We open the second session up with a game. Everyone brought their shoes from the front to the center of the circle and, after shuffling them up, people had to come and pick one shoe from the pile and match it to the owner with the other half of the pair. Everyone had a few minutes with each other and once again, as usual with these camps, the space rose from individual whispers to the most beautiful chorus in just a short time. After the exercise, it was straight into the fundamentals of filmmaking. There is a good number of new participants mixed in with previous participants but everyone seems equally focused on the PowerPoint. Taking notes, nodding along, flashes of memory across the face from past camps, and excited jumping in one’s seat: everything one expects leading up to the hands-on camera work to follow. The majority of the session was spent on camera work and working directly with mentors to learn how to capture a shot as well as how to be in front of the camera. 

Our closing was lead by Punihei and Makanalani and involved more pilina building exercises amongst the participants. Discussions about mental health, how we include or don’t include self-care in our lives, and how all of this looks different for everyone in the room were the main points of the kōrero. My favorite part of these exercises is watching everyone learn more about each other, both in how they are different but also how much they have in common. As young people trying to navigate this world and everything that comes with that. I have no doubt all these conversations will lead to something amazing in film form.

Day 3