Boy Scout Makahiki tradition reinvented as ‘Onizuka Day of Exploration’

The 106 year Hawaii Boy Scout tradition called Makahiki has been reinvented and is now named after one of Hawaii’s most famous Eagle Scouts, astronaut Ellison Onizuka.

More than 7,300 people attended the Aloha Council’s Onizuka Day of Exploration at the Blaisdell that was sponsored by the Queen’s Health Systems.

In addition to the traditional Makahiki events, it also had a host of STEM activities with booths and hands-on workshops focused on science, technology, engineering and math.

Onizuka’s family and his scout leader were on hand at the event.

“He joined the scouts when he was in the 9th grade and he got his Eagle by the time he graduated,” Onizuka’s sister Shirley Matsuoka said. “He was a determined person, you know, so he just worked hard for whatever he wanted.”

“Our family is just honored that Aloha Council would put something on and name it after Ellison to perpetuate his legacy of getting younger kids involved in science technology and exploring and getting to that next level,” Onizuka’s nephew and family spokesperson Deron Matsuoka said.

“It just touches my heart that they recognize Ellison. I myself made a commitment to the mother that as long as I can I’m gonna carry on his legacy,” 91-year-old Norman Sakata said. Sakata was Onizuka’s scout leader.

Sakata shared a letter in the exhibit from Onizuka. It was filled with thank yous and talked of being an adult, having to make decisions, and how being an Eagle Scout helped him.

Sakata was with Onizuka’s family at the launch of Space Shuttle Challenger, and saw it explode minutes after take off.

He quotes Onizuka as saying, “I dare you to dream and make that dream come true with sweat and commitment. And the world will become a better place because you tried.”

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