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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

We started our third session off with the question “what is your weather today?”. This is one of my favorite check-in questions. Sometimes we can’t name a feeling or emotion that will pin down how we are but images tend to work well. People can get a lot from phrases like “cloudy with some sun” or “rainy but still a little warm.” Or, if you’re like me, you can just gesture outside and everyone can literally see your mood transpire behind you through the glass. Images like these are really good for figuring out where people are and in a mental wellness camp, this is all around perfect. 

After our check-in circle, Vera leads us through a presentation on production roles and the crews go straight into figuring out who does what right after. I can hear the conversations and laughing through my earphones and I can’t help but smile knowing everyone is getting excited about the process. Alongside the naming of each participant and their role in the film, we also get to hear the names of each crew. Noa’s crew has decided on Nameless Productions and Emily’s crew is Paper Hearts Studio. After practicing calling shots with the slate, the crews get a break and BTS once again fills the air-conditioned room. Then we enter into the ultimate brainstorming process: storyboarding. 

The rest of the session is spent storyboarding and working out the script, setting, and storyline. We close the session in our pilina circle with some thoughts on the importance of brave space and one word from each of us on what helps us to be brave. Looking forward to the creative and artistic bravery we get to witness in the next few days.

Day 4