The Boise Institute kicked off the 2013 fall semester by organizing a luau and a concert with Mormon artist Shaun Canon. As a native Hawaiian, I had high expectations for the luau and I’m happy to report that the Institute activity was a fun evening that represented the island traditions.
I picked up my photographer, Marc, and lent him one of my Hawaiian shirts. We arrived at Ann Morrison park and it was already packed full of excited single adults. There were about 400 people and I was pleased to see many dressed appropriately for a luau, including President Phillips and President Vail from the Stake Presidency.
Feasting and Friendship at the Luau
True to form, the dinner was a roasted pig that was carved up for the feast. The dinner tables around the park shelter were completely packed with happy and excited single adults. One of the greatest strengths about the Institute program is that it provides opportunities to catch up with old friends and meet new ones.
During dinner, I had the chance to meet up with two of my friends, Donovan and Nik. My buddy Nik had just finished his vendor business at the Western Idaho Fair, “Bacon on a Stick,” and was still in the process of readjusting to a normal schedule after working an insane 150+ hour week at the fair.
It was also great to see Donovan. Because he’s had family in town for the last month, I hadn’t been able to meet up with him for a while. Donovan has been a good friend to me over the last few years and I was glad we got to hang out.
I also had the pleasure of meeting a new friend during dinner, Kachina, who has just moved to Boise to take on a new job. I learned that before coming to Boise, she was studying anthropology at the University of Utah. She needed to take a break from school to save money before transferring to another university, so when a job opened up in Boise, she was quick to take advantage of the opportunity.
Brother Thompson Has Sweet Skills
After dinner, Boise Institute faculty member Brother Thompson entertained the crowd with his epic juggling skills. If you’ve ever watched the movie Napoleon Dynamite, I’m sure you remember the scene where Napoleon talks to his friend Pedro about the importance of having useful skills. I don’t know if Brother Thompson has nunchuck skills, bow hunting skills, or computer hacking skills, but when it comes to juggling, Brother Thompson has some flipping sweet skills. Check out the embedded video below:
After his performance, Brother Thompson was kind enough to teach juggling to a few Institute students who were amazed by his performance. Thankfully, Brother Thompson started them off with balls, rather than with sharp knives or flaming torches.
Volleyball, Slacking Off, and Dance Off
There were several games of volleyball going on and we also had a slackline set up. Slacklining is similar to tightrope walking, only the line’s tension allows it to bounce like a trampoline. This allows different stunts to be performed. At my request, Trent, one of the members in my ward, jumped on the slack line and demonstrated a few cool tricks.
Laura, one of the students that helps run the Boise Institute, was the MC for the event and organized a limbo contest and a hula dance off! The initial pool of dancers was narrowed down to the top four people. Laura then had the crowd choose the final winner.
Rusty, a former member of the Boise Institute leadership team, won the dance off. Acen, last year’s President of the Boise Institute, and Earl, one of the members in my ward, celebrated by putting Rusty on their shoulders as the crowd went wild! After the luau ended around 8 pm, we left the park to meet up at Boise State’s amphitheater on campus for the Shaun Canon concert.
A Round of Bad Jokes
I was extremely grateful for Marc coming with me and taking pictures during the event. Marc recently took on another part-time job and he had been awake since 4:30 am that morning, without having time to rest before coming to the Institute activity. I could tell that Marc was getting tired, so to keep him awake, I tried to make him laugh while we were waiting for Shaun to finish setting up for the concert. I asked Marc if he had heard any good jokes lately, and when he couldn’t think of any, I resorted to a few tried and true bar jokes.
I started off by saying, “A horse walks into the bar, and the bartender says, why the long face?”
Marc chuckled politely, but as it turned out, he had heard that joke before. So I told him another bar joke: “A termite walks into a bar, and says, is the bar tender here?” Marc hadn’t heard that before and got a good laugh from that one.
Donovan followed that up saying, “A man walks into a bar, and says, ouch!” Immediately afterwards, Donovan seemed chagrined and said, “I guess that was a bad joke.”
I dryly responded, “Well Donovan, I think that for these jokes, we need to set the bar higher.” Thankfully, Laura from the Boise Institute got up to make opening announcements before we could go for another round of bar jokes. (Yeah, we’re hilarious.)
Laura started off by choosing names for a random drawing of prizes sponsored by the Boise Institute. There were some great prizes given away, including restaurant gift certificates and movie tickets. Following the drawing, Laura tossed out candy to the crowd of excited single adults before turning the time over to Shaun Canon.
Concert with Shaun Canon: I knew he was treble when he walked in
If you’re not familiar with Shaun Canon, he was a top contestant on American Idol, Season 7. Since American Idol, Shaun has stayed active pursuing his dreams. A few of Shaun’s achievements include receiving a Platinum AVA award, opening for major acts such as Brian McKnight and Janelle Monae, and winning a UK Music Contest called “Slice the Pie.”
Shaun Canon spoke briefly about his music career and how he wanted to use his talents to make a difference in the world. That’s why he started the ambitious “Live for Music,” tour which raises money for high school music programs around the country. At each fundraising event, Shaun donates 50% of what they make back to the school, and to date, Shaun has raised more than $100,000 for high school music programs.
Shaun Canon proved to be quite talented and I felt his music was a refreshing change from the typical genre of bubblegum love songs. I enjoyed Shaun’s music and thought his songs had more depth than the catchy, but often hollow tunes often played over and over again on the radio. I particularly enjoyed his songs, “A More Meaningful Life” and “You’re All My Reasons,” a duet that he performed with local artist Christy Davis.
Shaun dedicated the last song, “When I Take Your Hand,” to his wife, Molly Canon. He said that they were just married in the Manti temple two months ago and the audience cheered when he made the announcement. I was happy for him, but I had to fight the urge to make an ill-advised joke about marrying a “Molly Mormon.” After the performance, we ended the activity with a closing prayer. If you’d like to hear Shaun Canon’s music, check out his Reverbnation profile.
Mahalo to the Boise Institute!
As always, the Boise Institute did a great job organizing and executing the kick-off activity. If you’re new in town or just need someone to go with to Institute activities, feel free to contact me and I’ll gladly meet up with you. For more pictures of the luau and concert, check out the gallery below. Thanks again to my buddy Marc for contributing his pictures!
Aloha Oi’ to my dear readers until next time.