For the past 16 years, David Schofield has been living in Hawaii as the the point person for NOAA Fisheries Service, serving as a marine mammal conservation expert.
During those 16 years, he provided training and helped rescue stranded marine mammals throughout the Pacific region.
Before that, he worked for 16 years at the National Aquarium in Baltimore.
So why would Schofield leave the island paradise and move to the Lewes area?
First off, he said, he wanted to branch out with something new and secondly, he wanted to help spread the Gospel. Those two goals came together with the formation of a spiritual-based outrigger canoe ministry.
“I'm taking the idea of a canoe ministry to bring people together to the Gospel through the canoe and foster that on the East Coast,” he said.
He moved to Lewes, where his mother Patricia Schofield lives, in November 2021 and began to form the nonprofit New Hope Canoe Club Ministry – Team Atlantic.
While in Hawaii, Schofield became an avid Hawaiian outrigger canoe paddler. The Atlantic team's sister club is the New Hope Outrigger Canoe Ministry in Oahu, which was founded in 2000.
He plans to offer daily and weekly workouts, compete in East Coast races and provide children's programming at Camp Arrowhead this summer. He said workouts and training are available for people of all skill levels, including those who have never paddled before.
Although his the club is faith-based, Schofield said everyone is welcome to get involved. “There will always be time for ministry for those who want it,” he added.
Since moving to Lewes, Schofield said he has been greeted with open arms. He said Matt Carter, owner of Quest Fitness and Kayak, has allowed him to store his canoes, and St. Peter's Episcopal Church has offered him a place to have meetings.
Schofield said he hopes others will embrace Aloha as a way of life through the canoe ministry.
He said the essence of the word is its components: Akahai – kindness; Lokahi – unity; Olu'olu - to be agreeable; Ha'aha'a – humility; and Ahonui – patience.
He said paddling a canoe is a great way to get that experience. “It's great fellowship and fosters teamwork,” he said.
“I've had a great career and life outdoors experiencing creation,” he said. “I want other people to see what I see in nature.”
Paddling on the canal
On April 16, Schofield and some friends and members of the Philadelphia Outrigger Canoe Club introduced outrigger canoes to Lewes with a launching at Canalfront Park. Many curious onlookers, including lots of children, stopped by to look at the pair of outriggers, which resemble a Dragon Boat more than a two-person canoe.
An older-style canoe required more than an hour of preparation time to lash the outrigger to the canoe. The outrigger on a newer canoe was attached in a matter of minutes.
When the canoes were ready to be launched, Schofield gathered the paddlers in a circle for a time of reflection and blessing.
Learn how to paddle
Two paddling information and orientation meetings have been planned at St. Peter's Parish Hall in Lewes from 3 to 4:30 p.m., Saturday, May 7, and from 6:30 to 8 p.m., Tuesday, May 10. For more information on the club, send an email to HOEPAA4JC@newhopeatlantic.org.