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HIRSC Chicken Skin Stories

Continuing in the spirit of Halloween, which is fast approaching, the HIRSC Team will be sharing their personal chicken skin stories and experiences they had on Hawaii Island. Many of these stories were never told publicly until now. We will share one story every week until Halloween.

This week's story takes us to Camp Honokaia (Boy Scout Camp).

Published by: HIRSC - Administration Team


This week's story is about the experience and encounters our HIRSC Administrator had in Camp Honokaia (or known by the public as the Boy Scout Camp).

Camp Honokaia Long House (PC BSA - Aloha Council)

This event took place back in the summer of 2005, I want to say it was about late June or July when I was attending the annual summer camp at Camp Honokaia. For those not familiar with Camp Honokaia, this Boy Scout Camp, located above the Waipio-Kukuihaele area, is nestled in the heart of the Honokaia Watershed Forest (planted with mainly large eucalyptus trees) planned years ago prior to the Boy Scouts took over the property. Camp Honokaia is the home to a longhouse, activities field, staff cabin, rifle and archery range, and a total of 9 campsites scattered through the western portion of the camp.

On that night, which was our very first night at camp for the week and that night, in particular, it was a full moon, I remember going to sleep in my tent and just relaxing while listening to the sound of the wind between the trees. It was roughly around Midnight or little after, I remember hearing the sound of a conch shell being blown and the sound of pahu drums beating in the distance. I woke up quietly, poked my head out of my tent, and looked around the campsite and around my friend's tents. I heard my friends woke up and also looked outside and saw nothing near or around us. After finding nothing, we went back into our tents and back to sleep.

About half an hour later, I heard the sound of a conch shell being blown accompanied by loud chanting and shouting in Hawaiian and the sound of many pahu drums beating fast this time. At the same time, the wind began to pick up in speed, got really cold, and clouds began to slowly blow across the moon as the activity began to come closer towards our camp. We all woke up and began looking around our campsite from our tents. Upon further investigation, we notice a large number of torch lights shining in distance about a 1/4 mile makai (oceanside) from our campsite. We all quietly got out of our tents and walked slowly to the ledge, hid in a patch of ginger overlooking the area we saw the torches shining in the distance. We all stayed quiet and shortly thereafter, saw the following events unfold right in front of us.

We saw a large number of Hawaiian Warriors, all wearing helmets with many of them with tribal tattoos on their chest, face, and arm, and all carrying either a leiomamo (shark-toothed club), koa wood paddle, or spears in hand and all the warriors were processing along a trail below our campsite (roughly 1/8 mile below our campsite) heading towards Waipio Valley. At first, a couple of my friends thought of it as a joke or a prank the camp staff was playing on us, however, as the warriors processed on the trail, immediately noticed they walked right through the trees and none of the ginger or ti leaf plants in front of them had bent down or been broken while they were walking in the area. The scary detail I immediately noticed was they were not touching the ground and alerted my friends that these were night marchers. After alerting them that these were night marchers, we slowly and quietly crept our way back to our tents and tried to go back to sleep.

Unfortunately, while creeping our way back to our tents, one of my friends was not paying attention and accidentally tripped over a tree root and knocked over the firewood pile, which made a loud crash. After the firewood had fallen over, we heard the shouting turn and saw the torches walking up mauka (mountainside) towards our campsite. We all quietly shuffled back into our tents and took refuge in our sleeping bags preparing for the impending for the worst was yet to come for us. The torches got close to our campsite and immediately search around the area for any further activity. All I saw was a shadow of a person holding a torch shining over the firewood pile and also over the trailhead of our campsite. The search was short-lived and left our campsite heading back down to makai. Breathing a sigh of relief, we all quietly went back sleep for the night.

As the sun rose over our campsite, we all woke up and just in chairs for a while around the fire pit and still scared sh****** and still trying to comprehend what we just witnessed. Although we were still in shock, we were able to cook and eat breakfast and head down to the longhouse for the morning opening ceremony.

After the opening ceremony, I went to our cultural advisor (also kupuna) at camp that morning and asked if there were any old ahupua'a trails between Honoka'a and Waipio that passed through the camp and any historical battles that took place nearby.

Our cultural advisor later told me that there was a mauka-makai trail that literally past below our campsite and coincidentally, that night years ago when a famous battle happened in Waipio Valley and warriors we saw were marching to begin the battle in the valley. He also told us the sound of pahu drums and conch shell is an immediate red flag or warning to get out of the area or stay put in your tents. Told us to never again go out of our tents look to see what is happening and just stay put in our tents and just go to sleep.

After hearing this, all the pieces of the puzzle in mind finally able to come together and comprehend what we all witnessed. After that, I continued on with my day a feeling of peace finally.

As night fell on the first full day of camp, eating dinner around the campfire, and before we all went to sleep, we all did a pule (prayer or blessing) before entering our tents and calling it a night. After saying a pule, we all were able to sleep like a rock and never heard any activity through the rest of camp that year.

To this day, I still get chicken skin just going back to that campsite and recounting the experience we had.

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