(Press Release) — Last week 500 Sails staff and volunteers sailed three canoes to Tinian to be part of 4-H Marianas’ 4-H Camp Maga’låhi.
About 40 youth between 7 and 14 years of age and 12 camp counselors/adult volunteers joined 16 staff and volunteers from 500 Sails for two days of swim lessons and sailing in the waters off Tachonga beach.
The time on the water was a wonderful experience for all, with lots of learning about canoes, history, canoe culture, water safety, and the chance to experience the thrill of sailing on a traditional canoe.
Not only did the 4-H Camp Maga’låhi youth learn, but the adults did as well.
The crossing from Smiling Cove in Saipan to Tinian covered 26 miles and took eight hours under sometimes challenging conditions.
For many on the canoes it was their first crossing.
That the youth got to experience swimming and sailing as part of 4-H Camp Maga’lahi is a story in itself.
After a year of pandemic, funding for non-critical activities is hard to come by and it didn’t look like we could make it this year.
But with the coordinated efforts of Joan Flores of NMC-CREES and 500 Sails board member Marjorie Atalig, the Tinian community pulled together and made it happen for the youth. Others from Saipan pitched in as well.
We are grateful to:
• Joan Flores, Northern Marianas College Tinian Center, Cooperative, Research, Extension, & Education Services for organizing Tinian’s 4-H Camp Maga’låhi and inviting us;
• The Office of the Mayor of Tinian and Aguiguan, for providing fuel for the escort boat, an open account for supplies, accommodations for the older travelers, dinner at the beach on arrival, and a rental car;
• Members of the 22nd Tinian & Aguiguan Legislative Delegation: Chairman Senator Francisco Q. Cruz, Senate President Jude Hofschneider, Vice Chairman Patrick San Nicolas, and Senator Karl King-Nabors for sponsoring lunch and dinner on Tuesday and Wednesday nights for the canoe crew. Senator King-Nabors also stepped in to provide breakfast to 20 people at very short notice;
• Juan and Lourdes Atalig, who hosted a late evening barbeque for the crew camping at the beach, and brought snacks on Tuesday night, and breakfast on Thursday morning;
• Tahj Salas for donating his skills, time, and expenses when he flew in from Saipan to photograph and videotape the event;
• Tinian DPS Boating Safety who were present on the water to help out and ensure the safety of everyone in the water;
• Larry Sharry and crew members Larry Williams, Johnston Smith, Eazikel Smith, and Hernit Ikea, for providing motorized escort for the crossing and carrying the camping gear; and
• the many people who stopped by to spend time with our 500 Sails family, sometimes even going for a short sail, including DLNR Director Guillermo Borja, Tinian Municipal Council Chairwoman/Secretary Juanita Mendiola, and Deborah Fleming who blessed our journey home with a song on the beach.
Lastly, we could not have made our own contribution to Camp Maga’låhi without 500 Sails staff and volunteers who gave of their time and camped out on the beach to keep the costs down.
500 Sails came to Tinian to tell the youth the story of their island’s role in bringing the Chamorro canoes back from the past.
It was thanks to the drawing of a Chamorro canoe made on Tinian in 1742 by the expedition draftsman of the English ship Centurion that the design of the Chamorro Flying Proa was preserved.
It is that drawing that allows us to make accurate canoes today.
Two of the Centurion’s anchors are still in the water off Tachonga beach where 4-H Camp Maga’lahi youth were swimming and sailing.
We also taught them about the importance of canoes — how they shaped our island society and how many of our traditions have their origins in the practices of building, sailing, and voyaging in canoes. We call these collective practices “canoe culture.”
A major tenet of canoe culture is working together for the common good.
What better example of this than what happened last week, when the community pitched in to make sure that 4-H Camp Maga’låhi youth were not disappointed but had two beautiful days of swimming and canoes!
Well done, Tinian. We’ll be back next year.
For more information on programs, email email@example.com, follow 500 Sails at https://www.facebook.com/500SailsDolphinClubSaipan, or call 500 Sails executive director Pete Perez at 783-0890.