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Hawaiian Odyssey: Scouts travel to the Aloha State for the adventure of a lifetime

Do you have enough excitement in your life? When was the last time you hiked through a tropical rain forest? How about cliff jumping off a waterfall? Have you been mountain biking down a 10,000-foot volcano recently? How about swimming in a place called "Sharks Cove" or snorkeling in the crater of an extinct volcano? When was the last time you grabbed a surfboard and paddled into the ocean to catch a wave? When was the last time you and 12 of your best friends traveled 4,500 miles to experience the adventure of a lifetime? If you haven't done any of these things lately, then maybe you should consider becoming a Boy Scout. Thirteen members of Boy Scout Troop 33 recently returned from tropical adventures in Hawaii, touring the islands of Oahu and Maui. They spent 11 action-packed days in a sun-drenched paradise, with new experiences at every turn. They began their Hawaiian odyssey in Oahu by paying their respects at Pearl Harbor at the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial, where thousands perished in the surprise attack 63 years ago that launched the United States into World War II. Scouts also visited another battlefield at Nu'uanu State Park where King Kamehameha united the Hawaiian Kingdom with a great victory. Many of the opposing warriors jumped to their deaths from the Pali Cliffs rather than surrender. None of the Scouts did any jumping, but they did get a history lesson and an awesome view of Oahu's eastern shore. Later they enjoyed sunset on Waikiki beach and witnessed a full moon rising over Diamond Head. Swimming, body surfing, and snorkeling was found along the golden sands of Kailua Beach. Scouts climbed Diamond Head, an extinct volcano, for a bird's eye view of Honolulu. They snorkeled in Hanauma Bay, the crater of another extinct volcano now joined to the sea, where they swam among schools of tropical fish. They jumped off a rock cliff into the waters of Sharks Cove on Oahu's famed north shore. They enjoyed delicious Hawaiian Shaved Ice at Motsomoto's in Hale'iwa. At Barber's Point Beach they challenged the crashing surf with long boards, body boards and youthful enthusiasm. Along a mountainside in Oahu, they enjoyed an adventurous hike through bamboo and rainforest to a high waterfall called Manoa Falls. The Scouts met other Scouts as Troop 189 of Honolulu hosted them for three nights at their community center, while Troop 664 of Mililani Town hosted them for an authentic Hawaiian Luau featuring exotic dishes like Kilui Pork, Massaged Salmon, Poi and other native foods. They also stayed at two Scout camps, Camp Pupukea on Oahu where the camp ranger took them hiking to discover native fruits and plants, and Camp Mahulia on Maui, perched on a mountainside overlooking the ocean. They left Hawaii with many new friends. Travel between islands was onboard two Cessna single-engine aircrafts. They got a spectacular view of the islands of Molakai and Lanai during their thrilling flights en-route to Maui. On Maui, they stared into the crater of Mount Haleakala and mounted their bicycles amid 40-mph winds. Speeding down a dormant volcano on mountain bikes, 38 miles of twisting roads beckoning, they looked out upon a span of billowing clouds outstretched beneath them to the horizon. It was the closest thing to flying without leaving the ground. They snorkeled and explored tidal pools filled with sea-life at Baldwin, Poopika and Wailea beaches. Traveling along the famed Hana Highway with its tight turns and one-lane bridges, they stopped to sample what can only be described as paradise. Hiking through tropical rainforest, wading through a flooded cave, they found hidden waterfalls where they could jump from rocky cliffs into deep cool pools below. At one pool there was a great banyan tree with a canopy of branches spreading out high above the water. With a thick rope suspended from one massive branch, Scouts could swing across the water "Tarzan"-style. Everywhere around them were giant flowering plants and lush vegetation. It was a place too perfect to describe. Their final evening in Hawaii took place in Oahu, where they stayed at a high-rise hotel in Waikiki. They enjoyed a farewell dinner in a large restaurant fashioned after a Polynesian village, where they also celebrated a Scout's birthday. The last evening was spent shopping for souvenirs at the International Market and Duke's Lane, with a final walk along Waikiki beach under a watchful moon. The Scouts of Troop 33 chose Hawaii as one of their 2004 adventures. They worked hard at fund-raisers all year to forge their dream into a reality. The mountains and tropical forests, the rocky cliffs and ancient volcanoes, the sweeping landscape of sand beaches and ocean are now replaced with the familiar scenes of DeKalb and Illinois cornfields and soybeans. Each boy still retains his suntan and the memory of the adventures that created it, and every time they close their eyes and feel the warmth of sunshine upon their face, they can go back, remembering their days in paradise - a time when there was excitement in their lives every waking moment. Troop 33 is sponsored by First Lutheran Church in DeKalb.

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