The Journey of Aloha

This story will have a new chapter added each week. The idea is to broaden the Funatics experience beyond simply skiing and snowboarding skills, and to help kids see the bigger picture of the mountain lifestyle.

The Journey of Aloha- Kula and Pasi
“This Rocks,” Kula yelled to Pasi!! “I’m so happy that I was woken up and have been
learning to ski this winter.”
“You have really done well” Pasi said in reply to his friends exuberance, “and I’m glad
that you woke up too and that we decided to try this. It always was a bit frightening to me before and I never imagined that a moose could snowboard, but with your encouragement this has been the best winter ever.”
“Yeah,” Kula agreed, “whoever thought that a bear and a moose could be shredding up
the mountain on skis and boards.And to think I didn’t even know what this sport was or that my bed was made of skis before this winter!”
Kula and Pasi have been friends since they were little and have lived in the mountains of
North Idaho for all of their lives. Specifically they have grown up in Colburn Basin on the
backside of Schweitzer mountain outside of a town called Sandpoint. To recap, this winter Kula was awakened from his usual hibernation by strange noises on the roof of his den and came out and discovered people skiing and snowboarding down the hill. But that is a story we will get to at another time.

In short what brought us to this point in time was Kulas dear friend Pasi’s explanation of skiing and the two friends exploration and adventures in deciding to try it for
themselves. Eventually with the help of the coaches at Schweitzer Mountain Resort the two learned how to navigate the mountain learning skills and techniques to progress to where they have become converts to this great sport.

Today they woke up to a sun filled sky and 6 inches of fresh powder and have been yipping and yaying all day long. It was an epic day and as they returned home they watched the sun set and began to reflect on what they have experienced.
“Wow Pasi, I didn’t think there could ever be anything better than sleeping in the winter
but this is so cool, can it get better than this?” Kula asked his friend.
Pasi was a mentor to Kula as he was two years older and had always watched out for
his younger bear friend from the time that Kula lost his father at age three in a hunting accident.
Kula’s father Kimo was a very freindly bear. He had been relocated to North Idaho by Fish and Wildlife officials. Kimo was a zoo bear. He was found as a young cub after his mother had been killed and was sold to a zoo in Honolulu, Hawai’i. Kimo loved Hawai’i, the fish, the cool ocean breezes and putting on a show for the tourists all suited him. He was as laid back as any local kama’aina in the islands and life was great except for one thing. The heat. While Kimo had a nice pool in his enclosure in the zoo and even showed an ability to stand on a surf board to show off, the constant heat caused him to develop rashes and sores that would not heal. Having that fur coat was just too much. So rather than have him suffer for the rest of his life, zoo officials decided that since he was such an intelligent bear that maybe they could reintroduce him into the wild. So that is how he came to be in North Idaho where he continued to be the most laid back and friendly animal in the forest.

Everyone loved Kimo and north idaho locals knew that he was a harmless bear who lived for huckleberry season in the summer and swimming in the lakes. However, this familiarity with people became a weakness when hunters from back East came across Kimo and he was shot for a trophy.
Pasi realized that Kula could use some guidance and took on a mentor’s role from that
moment. Since then the two were inseparable friends, except in the winter when Kula would hibernate and Pasi would spend the season with other non-hibernating animals in the forest. It was still fun but not the same without his dear friend.
So this winter when Kulka woke up it was such a joy to be able to be with his friend all
day every day and to do t skiing and snowboarding was even better.
Because of those earlier lonely winters Pasi also had had time to think and ponder. As a
result he had developed a reputation in the forest as being very wise. So when Kula asked the question, could it get better than this, Pasi knew that it could and it was time to share some of his knowledge.
“Kula, what is it that you see as so wonderful in today?” Pasi asked.
“Don’t you think this was totally awesome?” Kula asked, a bit perplexed.
“Oh yes of course I do,” Pasi replied, “but it’s not just about having a great time skiing.”
“What do you mean?” Kula asked. “Powder, sunshine, shredding, how could it be any
“I agree that today was amazing but if it can’t get better why don’t we just stop now?
Everything after this will be somehow worse?” Pasi responded.
“That seems kind of like a bummer, “ Kula surmised. “So can it get better?”
“Of course!” The wise moose said in a torrent of laughter. “We make it better.”
“How?” Kula asked.
“By making ourselves better. Better skiers and snowboarders. Better friends. You see,
we haven’t arrived at our best yet, we are on a journey and when we embrace the journey it gets better and better. “ Pasi explained.
“How do we embrace the journey?” Kula asked, a bit confused. “Are you talking about
your philosophic stuff again?”
Pasi chuckled and gently said to his friend, “Yes, I guess I am, but it helps us to
understand that there is more to life that just what we do, it also matters how we do it.”
“How we do it?” Kula puzzled.
Pasi tried to explain. “Yes, your father was one of the most loved animals in the forest.
Why? Because he embraced the journey, he understood his place in this incredible mountain environment and sought to make this forest the most loving and friendly place on earth. He brought something with him from Hawai’i, aloha.”
“You mean he said hello all the time?” Kula asked, trying to decipher Pasi’s explanation.
“Many people think that aloha is just a greeting, but it is much more than that, it’s a way
of life. Your father explained to me that it actually has many meanings including hello and
goodbye, but its essence means to live with compassionate love. He lived aloha, he saw life as a journey to live passionately and with compassion for others and this land. He would want the same for you.”
“So how do you do that?” Kula asked.
“Kula you already have the passion, and it shows in how you live life to the fullest. I
would have never tried to snowboard if not for you pushing me, but I love it now. But, I love it partly because I get to do it with you.” Pasi explained. “And yes this is an incredible day! But we are going to have many more on our journey as we learn to ride better and learn lessons about life through our being together and enjoying this amazing place we live. This has been and will continue to be a winter of discovery. Of how to get better skiing and boarding and about how to live more fully, with aloha. But the first step is to embrace the journey.”

Week 2-Living Aloha

“So Pasi,” Kula asked, “you talked about everything being about a journey to love? I don’t get it, are we going someplace where everyone’s going to get all touchy -feely and mushy? That doesn’t sound like fun! I mean I love your mom for example but every time we go see her, she has to give me kisses, and well, no offense but she slobbers and it gets all over me. I’m sorry dude but count me out if that’s where this journey thing goes!”

Pasi fell over laughing and almost slid down the hillside on the edge of the Great Divide that they were standing on which he and Kula were about to ski down. “Kula you crack me up,” Pasi said. I can just see you now standing there so disgusted while my mom in her excitement drools as she kisses you to welcome you. That always make me laugh. It just rolls down my cheek when she does it but it always slides right down the front of you.”

“Yeah, just hilarious” Kula said, a bit annoyed.

“I’m sorry,” Pasi replied slowly regaining his composure as he got back up on his snowboard. You see whereas Kula being a bear can stand and balance on his hind feet and can handle poles for skiing with his front paws, it is much different for a moose. So while Kula took up riding on skiis, Pasi found that snowboarding was much more suited for a moose. So the two friends made quite a pair.

Pasi now upright again tried to explain once again. “Kula this isn’t a journey like we are going on a trip, it’s a metaphor for life.”

Kula scratched his head, “a meta what?”

“A metaphor, it’s like using a common example to show a bigger idea?” Pasi tried to explain, “so you know when we went to Whitewater last year for that ski trip with racoon and badger? That was a journey with a destination and although skiing at Whitewater was fun, we had just as much fun on the way there and back. That was the journey. It’s the same with life, we can get caught up in trying to get to a destination or reach a goal but if all we focus on is the goal we miss the journey that it takes to get us there. Let me tell you a story to help explain it.”

A young and earnest student approached one of his teachers one day. “If I work really hard, how long will it take me to become truly wise?

The teacher replied, “Ten years.”

That seemed much too long to the student, so he asked again, “But if I work really, really hard applying myself every day, how long then?”

To this the teacher replied, “Well if you work that hard, maybe twenty years.”

Confused yet still hopeful the student asked a third time, “But if I eliminate every possible distraction and dedicate myself wholeheartedly without rest, how long then?

The reply came back, “Thirty years.”

Disappointed and frustrated the student said, “I don’t understand. Each time I said I would work harder you added more time. Why?”

The teacher smiled and said, “When we are only focused on the goal, we often neglect the path. Our awareness, effort and dedication must be on both. You cannot skip the path to get to the goal. We don’t get the chickens by smashing the eggs. They need to be hatched.”

“I think I get the journey thingy, but what about the mushy, lovey dovey stuff?” Kula asked with disgust in his voice.

“Ah, you are referring to the the journey of Aloha, which means with compassionate love?” Pasi replied.

“Yeah the passionaty, lovey thingy!” Kula exclaimed.

“Compassionate Love.” Pasi explained, “Kula everything in life hinges on love and not just love for yourself, which is important, but love for others and love for things outside of ourselves. In skiing and riding, we find love for the sport, love for the mountains, and love for others. We truly care about these things and we want to see them thrive and improve, that’s compassionate love.”

“So, you aren’t talking about snogging and getting all mushy?” Kula asked.

“Well you may feel some emotion. Like the joy of making great carved turns or being touched by the beauty of the sunset, or the warmth of a friend’s words encouraging us, but no not confined to snogging or mushiness.”

“Well that’s great, I was getting a little worried there,” Kula said, his mood noticeably brighter now.

“Kula, compassionate love is an action and an attitude,” Pasi surmised.  “It’s the way we walk on our journey of life. Aloha is a way to live where we interact with people, things and experiences on our journey with love no matter how hard that journey may be.”

Pasi sat down again and drew in the snow an ‘A.’ “Lets break down Aloha so you can see what I mean. A stands for amo a word referring to carry a burden, when we love with compassion we carry one another’s burdens. L stands for lele.`oi which means very great or excessive. Our love needs to be very great and exceed all expectations. O stands for ono which means delicious or tasty. When we love it should be delicious for the other person and satisfy their needs. H stands for hui a term that is used to denote people coming together in community, to unite for a common purpose. When we love compassionately we will build a strong community. And A stands for ano which refers to a sense of reverence or awe for those things that we love. When we love with compassionate love it brings peacefulness and even sacredness to what we love.”

Kula looked at the word Aloha which Pasi had drawn in the snow and began to understand how aloha, or love, was the foundation for this journey. He studied his friend who he loved to hang out with. He gazed around at the beauty surrounding him here in the Selkirk mountains of North Idaho and he knew that this journey was one he loved to be a part of. 

Kula got that big warm grin on his face and said to Pasi, “what do you say we spread some aloha right now down Whiplash here?”

And with that the two friends screamed chee-haw at the top of their lungs and were off riding through the snow with a deeper understanding that they were on a journey to love and respect themselves, their friends and community, the land that they were so connected to, and this sport that had given them so much fun as they played in the winter.

Questions for Discussion:

  • What do you think of when you think of love? Is it mushy and stuff or is it more an attitude of life?
  • Do you agree or disagree that compassionate love is the foundation for our journey?
  • How can we love our friends better? How about our sport, how can we show love for that? And the mountain environment, how do we demonstrate love for it?
  • What did you learn about Aloha today? How can you apply that learning?
  • Tell a friend two things you are going to do today and this week to live aloha

Week 3, Teachable Spirit

A Bear and Moose Discover Skiing

“I am a berry bear!” chuckled Kula bear to nobody in particular after a day of devouring his favorite snacks- huckleberries. And those huckleberries on the slopes of Schweitzer mountain were abundant due to the warm summer days and cool nights, fed by the incredible amounts of winter snow which fell in this area of the Rocky Mountains.  And the purple juice dripped from bears grin as he headed for his new-found den.

The snow, which fed the plumpness of the berries as it melted, was once again approaching as the days grew shorter and Kula bear began to sense the gnawing lure of sleep. How he loved to sleep for months with a full tummy of berries. And this fall he had discovered his new bedroom. It was more spacious with incredible views of the lake below. He was excited to try it out.  He had even found new boards from which he had built furniture including a new bed! Kula was a fun-loving bear who got along with all the animals of the forest. He was not particularly large but had a golden coat of fur that shimmered in the sunshine. His mother and father who had been moved to this area of the Rockies from the Honolulu Zoo had named him Kula because of that gold color in his fur and for his heart of gold. For Kula means golden in Hawaiian. And nothing could describe Kula better.

Finally, winter came and Kula bear had his annual slumberfest luau where he invited his best friend Pasi the Moose and all the rest of the forest animals. They had a campfire, sang songs, made smores and talked about the adventures they had had in the summer and fall. Kula even did his traditional hula dance, grass skirt and all, that his parents had taught him.  Pasi and cuddles the porcupine agreed it was the highlight of the year and was quite a sight to see with all that fur and bear body swaying and jiggling with the music played by Slick the Racoon on the ukulele. Finally, the party wound down as the cool night air grew colder and Kula said goodnight to his friends and snuggled into his lovely new den for the long winter months. After a warm cup of hot chocolate, dark chocolate of course as that was Kula’s favorite, he crawled into his new cozy home. A deep warm sleep fell over Kula.

“Yahoo!” “Shred it Dude!” “RIGHTEOUS!” “That was EPIC!”  

Kula bear was rudely awakened to these strange words outside of his den one day. He heard sounds on the top of his roof which was a rock that covered his den.  “What in the world was going on out there?” He wondered aloud, still in that place between sleepiness and alertness. What could be going on out there? Who would be out in the cold and snow? And what could they be doing on his roof?

Slowly, cautiously Kula bear peeked his head out the front of his den and what he saw shocked him. Was he dreaming? He pinched himself, -“ouch,” no, not dreaming. There were strange creatures outside moving down the hill through the snow- and could it be? Were they- Aliens? They wore what looked like space helmets and they didn’t move like humans, they weren’t walking. They were gliding through the snow. And their clothing looked like some strange space suits as well with wild colors and patterns. And now Kula bear was frightened! He slid back into his den and tried to process what he had just witnessed.  As a result, Kula Bear couldn’t get back to sleep even as tired as he was.

All day he sat in his den and heard more strange noises, yells, whoops and saw more of the creatures, they were everywhere and they seemed to like gliding right off the top of his roof and landing in his front garden, not that he hurt any of bears plants because they were buried under heavy snow but still he didn’t think it was proper to jump into someone’s garden. He was both worried and a bit upset at this.

Finally, when the sun went down the activity outside stopped and bear built up the courage to investigate the outside of his den more fully. As he wandered out he looked around and saw some strange tracks like snakes slithering. Was that what the bottom of these creatures looked like, slimy snakes?  The idea scared Bear but what scared him even more was what he saw when he looked into the sky. There in the distance on the other side of the mountain was a strange glow. Bright night light he was used to.  On summer nights when the moon was full or when the stars shone brightly he and his friends would sometimes watch as shooting stars lit up the night sky. But when that happened the light came from the sky and lit up everything everywhere.

This light was different. It was glowing from the ground up toward the sky! Could this be the alien’s spaceship? Had it landed and was lighting up the whole area? He had heard stories of such things before around campfires, but he thought they were silly tales.  However, here he was, seeing such a thing and it made him very fearful. Did these strangers mean him harm? Oh, if only he had answers- who could he ask for help? “I know who I can ask” thought Kula, “my good friend Pasi.”  Now Pasi was not a fellow bear but rather a moose and he and Kula had been friends since they both were young and had grown up together on this mountain. “He will know more than I do as he does not sleep through the winters; besides he is very large and it would feel good to see him and be near a friend” Kula surmised.

So, Bear headed out to find Pasi at his house. As he approached Pasi’s house he saw the comforting light in the woods glowing through his friend’s windows, “oh good,” thought Bear “Pasi is still awake!”


“Hello?! Hello Pasi are you there?” Kula called from outside the door of the house?  He heard rumbling from inside the house and suddenly the door opened and there was his good friend Pasi, but looking so much hairier than Bear remembered.

“Kula bear? What are you doing up this time of year?” Pasi asked.

“Well, I was awakened by some scary noises and . . . “Kula hesitated because what he was about to tell his friend will either scare him as well or sound crazy, “ . . . ummm, I think I saw . . . aliens.” 

“Aliens!! Are you sure you are not having nightmares Kula?”

“Uh? I don’t think so” said Kula,” but I don’t know because I have never had a nightmare…. But I saw these creatures gliding down the mountain outside my den today and then I think I saw the glow from their alien spaceship on the other side of the mountain tonight, so I thought I would come see you and ask if you had ever seen aliens since you are awake all winter. “

“Hmm,” pondered Pasi, “I don’t think I have ever seen aliens, are they  still outside of your den?”

“No,” replied Kula, they all left around sunset, do you think they are preparing to leave on their spaceship?”

“Well I don’t know anything about alien spaceships, but It’s late now and I think we should investigate tomorrow in the daylight.  Pasi told his friend, “If they all left you should be ok tonight. I will come by in the morning and we can find out what this is all about. “

Kula thought this sounded like a good idea and so he and Pasi agreed that the moose would come by his den in the morning and so Kula made the trek back home. But with so much excitement Kula could not fall asleep all night wondering about the strange creatures and scary light!

In the morning, as the sun rose, just as he promised, Pasi the moose showed up at Kula’s den and they sat and waited to see if the aliens would arrive again.  They waited for a few hours and heard and saw nothing unusual so they decided to have some breakfast. Kula had made some lovely donuts.  As they were eating- it happened . . . the noises came on the roof and the whoops and shouts began all over again! “Yee Haw!” “Righteous dude!” Pasi dropped his donut he was so alarmed and both ran to the front of the den and looked out the window.

There they were gliding down the hill outside the window.  The aliens!

“Kula?”  Pasi asked, “are those the aliens you saw?”

“Yes!” Kula replied anxiously barely able to get the words out of his mouth. Partly out of fear but also because he had a huge bite of donut in his mouth.

Pasi looked intently and then went outside of the den. Just then another group of four creatures came off the top of the roof of Kula’s den and landed downhill and disappeared into the woods. Pasi, startled at first, watched them as they moved and then fell on the ground . . .  laughing!

“Pasi, what is it? Why are you laughing?” Kula asked, wondering if the aliens had put a special laughing spell on his friend when they passed.

But Pasi was laughing too hard to hear Kula’s question and was joyously rolling on the ground now covered with fresh snow that had fallen during the night.  Finally, Pasi stopped laughing, wiped the tears from his eyes, caught his breath and looked up at his friends worried face and said, “Kula everything is fine! Those are not aliens? “

“How do you know,” Pasi asked? “Are you sure? You said you didn’t know much about aliens or spaceships last night!”

“I am positive Kula, they are skiers and snowboarders!” The jovial moose replied.

“Huh?” asked Kula, “what are those? “

“They are humans, you silly bear,” Pasi explained.

            “Humans?” But humans have skin and hair on top of their heads!” Kula argued!

“Yes, they do . . . and in the summer, you can see it because it is warm out but during the winter, in the snow, they wear clothes to stay warm and helmets and hats on their heads.” Pasi explained.

“But what about how they move?” Kula asked. “They don’t walk like humans, they glide through the snow!”

“They are riding on skis and snowboards.” Pasi explained.

“What are those?” Kula asked

“You don’t know? You sleep and sit on them in your den,” said Pasi giggling.

“What are you talking about Pasi? I’m so confused.” Kula quizzed.

“The boards that you have made your furniture from are called skis and snowboards,” Pasi explained, “and they are used by humans to play in the snow.”

“Play?” Kula asked, “how do they use them to play?”

“They strap them to their feet and ride and ski down the mountain,” Pasi answered.

Kula thought about this for some time and finally looked at his friend the moose with that look he had when he suddenly had a brilliant idea. Pasi knew this look and became concerned, “Kula, what are you thinking?”

“Well, I was just thinking that we love to play too! Do you think we could ski or snowboard?” Kula asked with a big grin.

The Learning Process and Having a Teachable Spirit

                From the moment of what Pasi called “Kula’s great bad idea” the two friends set to work to figure out how to ski and board. It looked so easy watching people go by the den they just glided effortlessly. “How hard could it be?” Kula asked.

            As they quickly learned, harder than expected. First, they found some skis and boards from Kula’s pile that he had “rescued” during the summer after the snow had melted. Whereas Kula could easily stand on his rear legs and use poles and skis it became apparent that Pasi could not and so he chose to keep all four legs on the ground and use a snowboard. After they had found boots that would fit they strapped into the boards and decided to give it a try. The commotion attracted attention and soon many of their animal friends were watching, trying to see what kind of harebrained scheme these two were up to now. There had been the rope swing incident two years ago, the attempt to hang glide the year before and last summer the epic attempt to go down the falls in a kayak. But this winter adventure could give everyone a few laughs.

            With more courage than sense the two pointed their boards down the hill and were off on what looked like a successful attempt. After all they were standing up. But at about the same time- everyone realized, both riders and spectators, that no one knew how to stop these contraptions. And seconds later there was a huge billowing of snow, and fur and boards were seen in a rotational vortex coming to a crashing halt! Legs, arms, skis, poles and a snowboard were tangled into some type of animal pretzel and the friends ran to untangle the bear and moose. Finally, everyone was up and had dusted off the white coating of snow. “That was really good” Nuts the squirrel said excitedly. “Do it again!” 

            Kula and Pasi should have known better than to take advice from someone named Nuts but they were excited and thought they could get it, so the two once again pointed their boards down the hill and started sliding. Slowly at first and feeling comfortable but then the skis and board seemed to have a mind of their own and they started going faster and faster and the only way they could think to stop was to use a tree and BAM! Both Pasi and Kula ended up in the trees, knocking Nut’s family out of one tree so there was even more fur flying. As he pair regained their senses and checked to make sure nothing was broken, bolt the rabbit came up and said “I don’t think this is such a good idea.”

            Pasi looked at the rabbit who always seemed at ease moving in the snow and asked, “do you know how this is done Bolt?”

            Bolt looked mournfully at his friends and said, “no I’m sorry I don’t, I wish I did it looks like fun.”

            Cuddles the porcupine then piped up and offered his advice, “just keep doing what you are doing, you will get it eventually. If at first you don’t succeed try, try again.”

            “Cuddles, we appreciate the vote of support but I must say if I hit more trees like that I won’t be able to walk much longer,” Pasi said!

            Just then Squinty the hawk flew up as she had been watching the whole affair from high above the trees. “It looks like you two could use lessons on those things.”

            “I believe that is an understatement” Kula grumbled, “can you help us, you know how to glide in the air.”

            “Ah, well the air and snow are very different, so I can’t help you, but I know who can.” Squinty offered.

            “You do?” Kula asked expectantly, “tell us, tell us!”

            “On the other side of the hill is a snowsports school, they teach everyone, young and old.” Squinty explained.

            “Wait, you mean where the alien spaceship is?” Kula asked, now not so excited.

            “Alien spaceship?” Squinty asked. “Did you hit your head bear? There is no alien spaceship.”

            “But the glowing lights at night that I saw? What was that then?” Kula asked fearfully

            “Ahh you must mean the night skiing lights,” Squinty surmised. “They ski at night sometimes and so it creates a glow that can be seen a long way away, you must have seen those Kula.”

            “That makes sense Kula because we know that the things you thought were aliens were actually humans skiing.” Pasi explained.  “So, they wouldn’t have a spaceship if there are no aliens.”

            “If you say so, Kula said sheepishly, “but if you’re wrong… we’re all done for.”

            “Well I say we try it,” said Pasi. “Anyone else up for it?” Several paws went up including Kula’s. “Then it’s settled we will go over in the morning and get lessons.” Everybody agreed this was a wise idea and planned to meet in the morning.”

            That afternoon Pasi and Kula helped make skis and boards that would fit their friends so that all could join. And in the morning the animal troop headed out in search of new adventures. They headed over the ridge and saw the village, it looked so different than in the summer. The large metal chair decorations which are all over the mountain were moving. None of the friends knew that they moved, they just thought they were some strange human form of art. But now they saw that the chairs carried people up the mountain. “Well that looks much easier than hiking” commented Sly the sloth. “I think I will like that.”

            The friends made their way into the village and signed up for lessons at the ski and ride center. They did get quite a few strange looks but they had put on hats and scarves to disguise themselves a bit and so in some ways they blended in with the colorful crowd. Besides it was a beautiful sunny day and people were more interested in hitting the slopes and looking at the view of Lake Pend O’ Reille than looking at the scraggly group of friends.

            They made their way to the snowsports meeting area where a friendly supervisor guided them to the area for first time skiers and boarders. The group was nervous but excited. Pasi, Sly and Bolt all went to take snowboarding lessons and got a coach named Grant who they thought was very cool. Kula, Cuddles and Nuts along with Slick the racoon went to the skiing side and were teamed up with Wild Bill.

            The two groups did some basic skill development in the dish area and then started on their way down the magic carpet hill. Grant and Wild Bill both were great coaches and soon the boarders were sliding comfortably down on their heel side and the skiers were learning how to stop with a pizza and make slow gradual turns. As the lesson progressed the boarders learned to link toe side and heel side turns and the skiers worked their turns down the hill to musical chairs.

            With Pasi as a leader the snowboarders took to the sport in no time and Grant continued to work on their technique so they felt comfortable. Part of this was that Pasi, Sly and Bolt were all very patient and wanted to make sure that they were learning correctly. None of them wanted to have an experience like Pasi and Kula had had the day before.

            However, while Kula and Slick were soaking up everything Wild Bill taught them Cuddles and Nuts were getting impatient and just wanted to go fast. They liked the adrenaline they got from going fast and didn’t care about being out of control. They thought they already had learned all that Wild Bill could teach them and they stopped paying attention. Thus, they didn’t stop where their coach asked them to and it created issues for the others in the group and hindered their learning as well. Wild Bill warned them that they were still at the beginner stage and had much to learn but they had visions of themselves that were unrealistic. They thought they were better than they were.

            In the afternoon, the group headed up the Basin express lift for the first time and Bill was leading the group over to a run that would challenge their abilities but was still within what they could do ability wise. On the way however cuddles and Nuts decided to ditch everyone and go into the Stomping Grounds terrain park. This was a huge mistake. They did not know about the SMART style approach to jumps in the park and just went down and off jumps without checking out landings and with no idea of how to do the tricks. Finally, about halfway down Cuddles went off a jump out of control and landed on top of Nuts and both went spilling down the mountain.  Wild Bill had backtracked and spotted the two and caught up to them just after the collision and was there to witness it. Kula and slick gently made their way behind Bill and saw the two all tangled up. It was hard to tell if Nuts had a concussion or not as he was a bit loopy all the time but they were both sore for sure and it took some effort to pull some of Cuddles quills out of Nuts’s backside. Bill took the group and sat them down and explained that there was a secret to success in skiing and in life that was called having a teachable spirit. He told them that Kula and Slick exhibited that by wanting to learn and perfect their craft. Trying to get better and following guidance from the coach. But Nuts and Cuddles had been impatient and thought they already knew everything and thus had not improved and almost had a disaster happen. Bill explained that “every day you should want to learn something new and want to glean new skills from others and listen to what others had to say.” He explained that if they did that they would be successful in skiing and in everything.

            Cuddles and Nuts saw how they had gone wrong and told Bill they had learned their lessons and Bill then took the crew and showed them how to safely jump and do tricks on smaller features so they could learn.

            At the end of the day both groups regathered and shared their stories of their successes and failures as they learned a new sport. Tired and yet elated they made their way back across the hill to their forest home with resolve to get better and be more teachable in all they did.

            As Pasi left Kula at his den the bear told his friend, “you know I thought I would maybe learn how to ski today, but I learned so much more. I learned about life and friendship and how to listen and learn. It was a great day, Thanks Pasi for helping me with this crazy idea!”

            “No worries Kula” Pasi smiled and said. With you nothing is too crazy because it bonds us as friends. Good night bear.”

            “Good night Pasi”


  • What is a teachable Spirit? What does it look like? Give examples
  • How did Cuddles and Nut’s decisions impact the whole group?
  • Is it easy to have a teachable spirit? Why or why not?
  • What are the keys to having a teachable spirit?

Week 4, Aloha aku or Aulike- Kindness in the Hui

            Kula Bear, and Pasi the moose were skiing with their friends one day and saw some kids going down the hill around what looked like sticks in the ground. They all seemed to be going in the same place around these sticks. Over and over they would go, each time following exactly the same path. Now to the animals this seemed like very strange behavior because they called themselves the hui pow pow, meaning they loved to find untracked snow and ski fresh powder. They saw themselves as kind of a club in that way, hence the term hui. And when you skied powder you didn’t want to follow someone else’s tracks you wanted to make your own.

            They discussed this a bit as they couldn’t figure out the point of this type of skiing. “Maybe,” Kula guessed, “it’s a human thing, after all we are animals and we have a wild independent streak and human’s sort of all stick together. After all, look at their village, they live right on top of each other- all in the same area.”

            “That is true,” Pasi concurred, “they even go to the bathroom in the same place over and over and all of them in the same place! Yuck!”

            Cuddles the porcupine added “yeah and it’s inside their house, can you imagine?”

            “I love you guys but no way would I let you go in my house,” exclaimed Nuts, the squirrel. “I don’t even let my kids go there and they are ohana, family! Yep I make them march right outside to do their business!”

            “Well even if you did let me go in your house I would never fit anyway” Kula answered, and the whole gang laughed hysterically at the idea of the bear trying to squeeze his bottom into the door of Nut’s house.

            “I’d pay to see that” giggled Slick, a raccoon, who had become a very good skier since the hui pow pow had started learning weeks ago.

            “Hold on now. So, you think because they act as a pack they ski like that?” The question came from Luna, a wolf who had joined the hui pow pow after the others had started skiing and boarding but had picked up snowboarding and shredded with the best of them already. They all agreed that Luna was a natural. Luna continued, “no one moves and lives more like a pack like me and my ohana and we don’t ride like that. There must be something else going on having to do with those sticks.”

            That’s a good point” Pasi noted, “let’s go ask someone. How about Doug?”

            “Great idea!” Kula said, “lets go!”

            So, off the hui went to find Doug. Doug was a coach in the Schweitzer Snowsports School who the gang had learned to trust. He had taught them during their second and third lessons and they often saw him skiing around with groups of kids whooping and hollering much like the hui did. He always said hi and seemed to have a spirit of aloha. Plus it seemed he was oblivious that they were animals. Either that or he didn’t care and didn’t judge, but that was hard to believe because so many humans seemed to be very judgmental and unaccepting to the hui because they looked so different. Maybe he was truly different. But then most of the Snowsports school staff were very accepting. The group had discussed this at length around a campfire after a day of skiing and Pasi had noted that maybe that was because  “well, let’s face it, some of them look a bit out of place as well, just sayin’!”

            They located Doug after a while. It wasn’t easy as he had a wig on with long black hair and a headband on today. “See I told you so,” noted Pasi and everyone nodded as they laughed because he looked pretty silly and didn’t seem to care.

            “Doug, why do some people ski around sticks over and over again,” Kula asked, getting right to the point.

            Doug looked at him a bit confused, not necessarily an unknown experience for the hui. After a few moments of looking like this he answered, “huh?”

            “The sticks Doug, they ski around them over and over again. Some are red some are blue.

And the people go on the same path around them all day.” Kula responded. “What gives?”

            For a minute, Doug had that lost look on his face as if his brain had ceased to work, but suddenly a big grin burst through the emptiness and he said, “you mean the racers?”

            “I don’t know. That’s why we’re asking you?” Pasi replied. “What’s a racer?”

            “Ski racing is a sport that many people do around the world. Those sticks are called gates and you go through a course of gates to get a time to see how fast you are. There are all kinds of races; Slalom, Giant slalom, Downhill, and Super G. There’s also boarder cross, skier cross and…” Doug stopped and looked at the animals who were looking at him as if he had begun speaking a foreign language.             Suddenly Doug had a brilliant idea and said “come on follow me,” and he headed over to the Basin Express chairlift with the friends all in tow.

            They made their way up the chair and over to the top of Midway where there was a tiny shack and a roped off area. As they looked down the hill they saw more sticks, or racing poles. Doug explained that this was the NASTAR course and it was a great place to start learning how to ski gates. He taught them how to start and how to go around the gates and said, “give it a shot.”

            One by one each of them went down through the gates. The first time through very cautiously as there were some ruts around the gates that were hard to negotiate. Doug gave them some tips and they all went up and did it again. And again. And each time they got a bit faster and they began to compare their times. The hui was having a blast! Who knew you could go down the same track over and over and have fun? A few times one of them would miss a gate or completely wipe out and yet they had a great time laughing and encouraging one another on.

            After one of their runs though, they were standing at the bottom of the course talking about their times and laughing when a group of kids came through the course. As they came down it was much different than the hui. The first kid down crossed the line and exclaimed, “Yes I rock!” as he looked at his time.

            As the second skier in the group came across his time was about a second slower than the first  skier and the faster skier yelled, “too slow, you’re terrible.” 

            The second skier didn’t laugh and he slowly made his way over toward his friend and they waited for the next member of the group. He came down and was over three seconds slower than the leaders and both boys laughed at him and told him how pathetic he was and that he was lucky to have them stay with him that day. He also slowly made his way to the group and stood behind the other two without saying a word. Doug shook his head in exasperation.            

Finally, the fourth member came down and had a great run finishing one tenth of a second faster than skier number one. He was so excited he was beaming but then number one said to him, “there must be something wrong with the timing because there is no way you could beat me the way you ski. You look like a grandma out there. Come on let’s go again, I’ll show you all how bad you are.” He skied off and the other boys followed behind.

Kula couldn’t believe what he just saw. These kids weren’t having fun. They were following around a bully who treated them very badly so he could feel better about himself. Kula motioned to the others to follow as he wanted to see what was going on. They went back down and rode up the chair behind the four boys and on the way up they could hear the first boy telling the others how badly they skied and how great he was. 

Doug, Kula and Pasi were listening and couldn’t believe the lack of aloha. Doug and the hui got off the chair and skied over to the top of the NASTAR shack and ended up getting there before two of the four boys as the slower boys were meandering down the hill and generally in no hurry to get to the course. As the hui arrived the mean boy was frustrated with his friends and told the animals, “I guess you can go because my stupid friends aren’t here and I have to wait for them and their lame skiing.”

Pasi glared at the kid but the boy didn’t notice as he was too busy yelling at his friends to “hurry up, you’re wasting my time!”

The hui took their runs down to the bottom but this time with less excitement. They were puzzled why winning was so important to this young lad that he would hurt his friends. And the animals were more interested in what was going to happen with these kids because they obviously were not enjoying their day skiing. 

Once again, the loud boy came down first, obviously pleased with himself as he got a faster time than before. He was more obnoxious than ever. The second boy started down the hill but caught a gate and skidded off the course about half way down. He got back up but was obviously in great pain when he got to the bottom. His friend glared and said “whats the matter with you, get a boo boo? You have to get tougher, you’ll never beat me.”

Doug saw that something was wrong and asked the boy if he was ok. The boy, with tears in his eyes, said, “I guess so.”

His friend heard him and saw the tears and told him to “stop crying you baby. I don’t hang out with thumb suckers.” To Doug he said,” He’s fine he’s just a wimp sometimes.”

Doug told the boy, “if you need help we are here and can call patrol for you.”

The boy looked and said “thanks, but its ok” as he wiped the tears from his face.

The hui had had enough though. As the next boy came down they cheered wildly and even though he was half a second behind the first boy, they all told him how great that was and how well he did. The first boy glared and said, “what’s so great my time was faster.”

“Yes but he improved his time by almost three seconds that run and that is so wonderful.” Pasi exclaimed.

The boy beamed as he realized what he had done and had a big smile as he approached his friends. The first boy sneered at him and told him “I’m still faster,” making the third boy slowly loose his smile until he saw Kula and Doug giving him a big thumb and paws up sign.

            Shortly thereafter, the last boy came down the course and this time not only did the hui cheer but so did the second and third boys. They cheered loudly even though their friend stood glaring at them in disbelief. The fourth boy came down and once again his time was faster than the first boys, which made the first boy furious and he yelled, “you must have cheated.”

            The fourth boy looked at him as everyone else was cheering and asked, “why can’t you just be happy for me and everyone. Why do you always have to win? At our expense. Everything is a competition with you and I don’t like it.”

            The first boy replied, “you’re just a sore loser, that’s all.”

            Doug then came up and gently said, “no you are, his time was better both times and you had to be mean to your friend. Why?”

            “I don’t know what you are talking about old man,” the boy responded.

            “I do,” said Kula. “You don’t understand how to live with aloha!”

            “Are you kidding me,” the boy said, “we are in a snowy forest on a mountain not on some tropical beach in Hawai`i. Your aloha thing is misplaced.”

            “You are right we are on a mountain, a beautiful mountain, and I am here skiing and riding with my friends and yet we show aloha to one another. You see aloha is a way of life, it’s a way to care deeply for others and to show aulike or kindness to one another. Do you think your friends like skiing with you just to be put down for everything they do? Of course, they don’t, just like you wouldn’t like it either. My father used to remind me of the kula rule ‘do unto others as you would have them do unto you.’ Kindness is the starting point for showing deep compassionate love for others. In other words, it the start of aloha. I hope you can realize that, because if you do, not only will everyone around you feel aloha so will you.”

            The boy stood stunned looking at Kula, but some of this made sense to him, he knew that deep down he felt unhappy and so he quietly said, “I’ll try.”

            “Well we are going to make it easy for you,” Kula said. “You guys are going to join our hui for the day and we can all go ski and ride and have fun. But one rule- only celebrating and kindness is allowed.”

            The boys all said that that sounded like a great idea and after stopping in first aid to make sure the second boys knee was ok, which the first boy suggested, they skied all over the mountain and many cheers could be heard all around the resort.


  • Have you ever been with someone who was always negative or unkind? How did that make you feel?
  • How did the hui deal with the issue? Would you have done that? Most people would have skied off and ignored it. What difference did it make that they didn’t?
  • Do you live with aloha as Kula described it? How can you do it more?
  • Do you like it when people are kind to you? Why?

Week 5, Respect and the`aina

Kula, Pasi and the hui powpow had heard that Schweitzer was not the only place that people skied and that there were even other mountains in the Inland Northwest that had fun places to ski. So, they decided to make a road trip. Kula had been given, by his parents, an old Woody station wagon and had kept it running all these years, thanks to the mechanical abilities of Nuts the squirrel. Kula’s dad Kimo had used it in Hawai`I for surfing expeditions and now Kula would use it for skiing ones.  It was decided that they would take a ski trip. They loaded up the Woody with their gear and headed southwest for another local mountain and new adventures.

When they arrived at the mountain they were a bit surprised that the resort was not as resortish as they were used to.  There was no village here, just a rustic looking lodge and the ski lifts which were also very rustic looking. They were recommended to meet with a friend of a friend named Fred.  They went to the lodge to find him in his office and he heartily welcomed them. “Well I know this ain’t what you all are used to with your fancy lifts and buildings but we are more of a local mountain for local people. We aren’t a destination resort like Schweitzer, but we have some great terrain and fun runs and people are nice here as well.”

The gang believed Fred because he demonstrated friendliness and made them feel right at home. “Wait here and I’ll go get my skis and we can go explorin’” Fred told them and so they waited.

As they waited they finished some drinks and had empty plastic bottles to dispose of.  They asked someone working at the lodge where they could recycle the bottles and the person told them to “just put it in the garbage as they don’t recycle, it was too much of a bother. “

The animals couldn’t believe what they had heard. At home, everyone recycled and tried to understand the importance of caring for the `aina or land. This was indeed strange.  They uncomfortably tossed their bottles into the garbage feeling a wee bit guilty and shortly after that Fred arrived and they headed for the lifts. All the lifts were old two seat chairs like Sunnyside and Snow Ghost at home and they knew how to ride and get on the chairs, so that was no problem but what they saw next shocked them. As they were riding the people on the chair directly in front of Kula and Pasi had just finished drinking a drink and they tossed their aluminum cans out on the snow under the lift. They had never seen anyone do that. As they looked down at the cans they noticed trash everywhere on the ground. This seemed to be a standard practice as all the way up the chair there was litter strewn underneath. Candy wrappers, cans, bottles and pieces of garbage was everywhere. What were these people thinking they wondered? As they got off the chair they were all a bit dazed as they were so startled at the sight. So they asked Fred, “Is that normal?”

“What’s that?” Fred asked.

“The litter under the chair?” Kula responded for his friends.

“Was there litter? I didn’t notice, I guess you kind of get used to it here and don’t pay attention anymore.” Fred chuckled and replied. “I guess we should try to be more better at that.”

Pasi was incredulous. “Don’t you know that you are harming the `aina by doing that?” Where Kula’s pop came from they have a motto it is ‘Ua mau ke ea o ka `aina I ha pono.’ It means the life of the land is preserved in righteousness. You see Fred we animals live in harmony with the land, it is our home and we are intimately connected to it.”

Kula added, “we are part of the land and it is part of us so when we don’t take care of it it’s as if we don’t take care of ourselves. We try to leave nature in the same state we found it. It’s called Leave No Trace.  Sure, we eat the berries that grow but that part of that connectedness.”

“Some eat more than others and are maybe more connected,” Cuddles the porcupine piped in and the others laughed heartily.

“Hey I’m a growing bear,” Kula responded. “Besides they are so yummy.” Kula was a bit embarrassed but not so much that he would eat any less berries in the summer.

Fred looked at them and began to understand that maybe this was something he should care more about. “Tell you what, I am going to look into this and maybe try and make some changes around here. And to start with I will make sure that I am more aware and always throw my things in the trash.”

“And maybe make recycling possible so that we can reduce waste, reuse things, and recycle materials?” Kula asked .

“That is a great idea, we have always been last in the nation in environmental rankings of resorts, I’m going to change that!” Fred said.  “Here’s another great idea. Let’s go ski some fresh snow which is what you guys came here for! You’ve already taught me so let me show you some new places!”

With that Fred and the hui headed down the hill, screaming for joy at the top of their lungs. “Expressions such as “Cowabunga,” “Rad dude”, “rip it up hui,” “and I love the snow” could be heard all over the mountain that day!


  • How can we respect our environment and make it better?
  • Do you ever get so used to seeing something that you stop noticing it? What and why?
  • What other things should we respect in the mountain environment to make it better for everyone?

Pasi and Kula referred to the ideas of leave no trace here are those principles. What do you think of them? Do you think they are valuable? Why?

Leave No Trace Principles for Kids

  • Know Before You Go
  • Choose The Right Path
  • Trash Your Trash
  • Leave What You Find
  • Be Careful With Fire
  • Respect Wildlife
  • Be Kind To Other Visitors

Week 7, Excellence and Humility

 Word spread among the animals in the forest about the hui’s love for skiing and one of the most excited one to join the hui after the initial formation was Sassy the skunk. Sassy took to the sport like a natural and on her skis she could do amazing tricks. All of the animals agreed that she had natural abilities that surpassed all of theirs.

                Sassy wasn’t satisfied however just being good she wanted to be the best! As a result, there was rarely a day that Sassy wasn’t up waiting for the lifts to start and being the last one off the mountain.  She took numerous lessons from the snowsports school and learned from every instructor on the mountain. She was driven to excel. Sometimes she would ski with the rest of the hui but usually she felt they slowed her down and she wanted to go at her own fast pace and didn’t want to wait for anyone slower. So more and more she skied by herself and spent less and less time with her friends. Everyone on the mountain, humans and animals alike marveled at her abilities.

                When Sassy was praised for her skiing she took it to heart and believed everyone when they told her how amazing she was. This led to a big head as well.  At night over the campfires she would come for a brief time to let everyone know who said what about her that day. The Hui was excited for her at first but quickly grew tired of all of her bragging as the only thing she could talk about was herself.

                “She acts like no one else even skis” Nuts said one night after Sassy had come and told of her exploits and then went to bed so she could get up early.

                “Yeah it’s as if she thinks she is so good that her poop doesn’t stink,” commented Cuddles the porcupine.

                “Well, we all know that there is more that stinks than just that with her,” Simon the sloth joked and the whole gang busted out in uproarious laughter.

                “Speaking of smells, have you walked past her den lately?” Pasi asked.

                “Oh my! Yes I have,” Kula answered, “I have to hold my nose going by.”

                Pasi looked concerned and explained that he had stopped by the other day and glanced in while Sassy had gone skiing and noticed that her den was an absolute pit. Dirty dishes, laundry, and leftover food was everywhere.  “I have never seen Sassy’s place so filthy,” Pasi said. “She is usually so tidy. I think she doesn’t truly understand what true kupono, or excellence, is.”

                Kula agreed and said that she may not understand the necessary balance to achieve happiness in life. “Maybe we should talk with her” Kula said, “after all we are ohana, or family, here in the forest. We need to show her aloha in caring for her.”

                Everyone thought this was a great idea and decided to have an intervention the next night at the evening campfire. The next day after skiing the gang was sitting around the fire and as usual Sassy came in and began talking about how great she was at skiing and that it was too bad none of them could keep up with her because then they could really see what great skiing looked like. All the animals looked at each other and knew that this needed to happen now.

                Pasi cleared his throat and spoke first. “Sassy we have something to talk with you about.”

                “Do you want to know how I got so good Pasi?” Sassy asked clearly oblivious to the mood. “Dedication and the pursuit of excellence that’s how!”

                Kula saw the look in Pasi’s eyes of unbelief that Sassy could be so wrapped up in herself and that he was speechless. So Kula interjected and asked Sassy “What type of excellence is it that you are pursuing Sassy?”

                Sassy responded, “why to be better than everyone else of course Kula, and I am.”

                Kula realized that Sassy did not understand pono, or excellence, and that she had lost all ha`aha`a, or humility, in her pursuit.  “Sassy true pono is not just being better than others. It is found in the balance of life. It’s true you are an amazing skier, probably the best around, but you have neglected other parts of your life. No one can walk past your den without risking passing out from the smell, and that’s saying something about a skunks den. You don’t spend time with us much anymore and you have lost all sense of humility. Everything is about you and skiing. We all love to ski and we all want to get better, but life is about more than skiing. It is about ohana and aloha.”

                Sassy was very quiet as she sorted through what Kula had said. Pasi interjected, “Sassy the key to life is being the best you can be in every area of your life. In your responsibilities at home, in your friendships, in your studies, and in your pastimes. You want to give those things 100% of your attention and be the best at them you can be while you do them.  We don’t mean to detract from your love of skiing, but we love you and know that you need to restore balance into your life. We miss you here at the campfire and hanging out and even skiing with us. We want to hear about your great skiing but we want you to hear about ours as well and care. That Sassy is true excellence.”

                Sassy looked embarrassed and finally said, “I’m sorry everyone it’s just that this is the first thing I have been really good at and I got carried away. Will you forgive me for being so selfish and pig headed? No offense meant Barbie.”

                “None taken,” said Barbie who was a wild boar and the newest member of the hui. Everyone giggled at this and Kula asked Sassy if they could all come over in the morning to help her clean up her den.

                Sassy agreed that that was a good idea and that even she had noticed the bad smells. So the next day instead of getting up early to ski the gang helped Sassy straighten out her den and then they all skied together in the afternoon. Sassy restored balance and humility and everyone experienced the pono of living aloha.

  • Have you or someone you know gotten out of balance with an activity?
  • How important are friends in our lives who will challenge us and love us?
  • Do you have friends who will challenge and love you?
  • Can you become a friend like that to others?