Another wildly exciting 2021 day camp at BigRock Aikikai! The week of August 16-20 was filled with laughter, smiles, hard work, and immense fun. Students - ages 10 and up - were eager to participate in yet another thrilling camp, jam-packed with Aikido, Aikido, and more Aikido! Eight and a half hours at the dojo each day! What could be more fun?
To start things off, all participants were split up into five groups, and worked together throughout the week to earn points for their team. Five of our senior ITP at the camp - Natalie, Cassie, Lauryn, Sally, and Josie - became a leader for each team, then helped pick team names and cheers!
We also did a variety of physical activity challenges every morning to get everyone hyped up. Though extremely difficult, the students enjoyed persevering through the many push up, chin up, and core workout fitness exercises we completed during camp. One of the favourites was being challenged to wear a harness-like article, made up of old dogi belts, and pull the weight of another participant all the way across the dojo, while doing one of our trickiest animals: Push Up Chameleon! Some of our senior students did this, but pulled a giant, heavy punching bag in addition to the weight of another participant!
These hardcore drills became more and more exhausting as the week flew by. But nonetheless, our daycampers pushed through! Thursday’s drills were the hardest of them all, a fitness workout we call ‘Old School’. Basically, everyone was paired up with another student and had to do 20 Aikido rolls over their partner, who stays crouched down in a rock position, 30 leapfrog jumps over their partner, who stands with their knees soft, back bent and head tucked, 40 small jumps over their partner, who drops down into rock position once again, and 50 over-unders, where the student must leap over their partner, who is in low plank, then crawl under them as their partner moves into triangle position. Everyone was exhausted by the end of it, especially the brown belts, all of whom were pushed to do double the amount of Old School exercises than the rest of the class! To finish off this challenging drill session, all students had to pull a belt chain to the other end of the mat twice, which had the weight of one of their fellow camp participants holding onto it!
All of these fitness classes may seem intense and somewhat terrifying, but even so, our students smiled in the face of challenges right until the end. We had many long Aikido classes, packed with detailed technique teachings and testing reviews. Numerous participants either practised enough throughout the week to start pretesting, came very close to testing, or were tested for their next belt! We had two yellow belt tests midweek, two red belt tests on Thursday, and a green belt and blue belt test on Friday!
We also honed our awareness and harmonious behaviour skills throughout the week, led by each of our five senior instructors. Monday’s lesson was all about our first line of defense: being aware! We played 3 different games to practise harnessing our awareness skills: Zip Zap Zop, Twenty-One, and Big Fish, Little Fish. All of these games helped the students exercise using awareness in many different ways, and were very enjoyable to participate in!
Tuesday’s lesson was on harmonious behaviour, where we focused on having harmony as our desired outcome during a conflict. This session, dubbed ‘Ai Kamae’, was extremely fun, because every team got to come up with a skit encompassing a good, harmonious way to get out of a conflict and a bad, aggressive way to get out of a conflict. Each group brainstormed different conflicts you could get into at your home, school, dojo, and community, then chose one to demonstrate as a skit!
On Wednesday, the students developed Assertive Communication skills. Our same group of five senior instructors had recently attended a teen program called Budo Accelerator, where they learned how to exercise and use Assertive Communication in their day-to-day lives if an uncomfortable situation arises, so they were able to teach all the daycampers what they learned. The students had fun asking each other uncomfortable questions, then using the Assertive Communication tactics to reply.
Every day of the camp ended with a long, fun game to reward the students for working so hard. The ITP had lots of games up their sleeves, and both them and Sensei were sure to make time at the end to play them. Battleship, Rockhopper, Patrick’s Game, Catrick’s Game, and Cat’s Elimination were some of our grand finalies, not to mention how many vigorous rounds of dodgeball were played after every class!
Friday, however, was probably one of the best days of camp. After doing one last class and finishing it off with two tests, we played one giant game of Snow Leopard, where Sensei and his ITP raced around and tried to tag the students through a large maze of mats in the dark! Screams, laughs, and enthused hollers echoed through the dojo, proving how incredibly fun this game was.
The participants may have been disappointed when the game ended, but the fun wasn’t over quite yet! We had a great feast of pizza for lunch and then watched a Pirates of the Caribbean movie with treats to end the day. It was a blast!
Everyone had a fantastic time and an awesome Aikido experience during this August 2021 event. It was certainly another one of BigRock Aikikai's successful 10 and up day camps!