This summer of 2021, July 15th - 18th held one of the most exhilarating events in BigRock Aikikai's teen program: the Overnight Camp! More than 30 students participated in this four day, action packed Aikido-extravaganza for ages 10 and up. This also may have been one of the most exciting camps yet, considering how long the pandemic has forced us to lockdown and stay away from the dojo. Our final return was incredibly exciting to say the least, so to have our first event back be the greatest camp of all time made for even more thrill and fun!
The kids were all bursting with wild excitement from day one. After an intense, but awesome day of shopping, organizing, and preparing for camp, Sensei and four of his senior students, Cassie, Natalie, Lauryn, and Josie, were all stocked up and ready to get the party started. Thursday evening was filled with hard Aikido classes, lots of laughter, and bubbling energy. It was great to see everyone having so much fun while sweating and working hard.
Each day was filled with things to look forward to. Though tired after having only a few hours of sleep the night before, most of the kids were riled up once they slipped into their dogis. Friday was once again packed with Aikido classes, taking a few breaks for meals, then back onto the mats again! One of BigRock Aikikai's students, Logan Quirk, even passed his brown belt test!
Another exciting part of Friday was the many fantastic rounds of Cat's Elimination we played after supper, which is an extreme version of Hide and Seek. This game went from 9:00 to midnight, and everyone, even the teenagers, had to admit it was highly enjoyable. Basically, all of the lights were turned off, and blue mats were positioned in random -but strategic patterns across the dojo's tatami to create intricate hiding spots. One selected student or teacher would go searching for other participants with a flashlight until everyone is found. The last student still in the game gets to be the next seeker!
Everyone had around a good five hours of sleep the next night, after being so weary from Cat's Elimination. The students may have been tired, but it was impossible to be completely zombified with the great Saturday activity approaching! After breakfast, lunch, a couple Aikido classes, and the exciting game of Snow Leopard (which is an intense version of tag through a dark maze), all participants filed into a school bus and ventured off to the Millican Ogden Outdoor Pool!
At precisely 6:00 in the evening, our group of campers arrived at the green space right across from the pool. We started the fun by playing a wild game of Capture the Flag, moved onto a few rounds of Wax Museum, then ended with a great finale: Squirrel Tag! This game was one of the many hits of Saturday night, where everyone tied an Aikido belt around their waists and stuck a belt strip through the back, giving everyone a 'tail'. We all raced to steal tails from others while trying to collect as many belts - or as we squirrels like to call them: 'nuts' - from the centre as possible.
Once our two hours in the green space came to an end, we were all ecstatic to cool off in the outdoor pool. We spent two more hours diving, swimming, splashing, and having great fun in the frigid water. And though our time was up too soon, all participants raced back onto the bus, excited for pizza back at the dojo!
Sunday was our last day of camp, ending at noon. The whole group was exhausted, but managed to push through the last few hours. It ended with an incredible purple and brown belt test, which was exceptionally impressive, considering how tired all participants felt. Kenadie Mastre was awarded her purple belt on our last Aikido class of camp, and Selah Ongoma passed her brown belt test!
Overall, the Teen Overnight Summer Camp of 2021 was an amazing hit! Everyone attending enjoyed the thrilling adventure and can't wait to be back next year!
-Cassie Chan, Junior black belt, Seishidosha candidate