From the 22nd July to the 3rd August this year we held the kids summer camp in the Dojo. Well, our base was the dojo but we did various activities each day.
I've decided to do a bit of an overview because it was a huge event in the year- with the time it took to prepare it and actually execute it and it's something i don't want to forget.
Each Day we had a set routine we tried to follow.
The kids came to the dojo from 9am to 5pm (6pm Pick up was OK, it just meant the kids had a bit more free time)
We would start the morning with drop off and some free time, then at 9.30 we would have the first karate class of the day (I figured it was best to do it before they were tired).
Karate finished at around 11 and we would spend the hour or so before lunch starting on the days activities.
We all ate lunch together, some kids ordered bento that we organised and some bought their own.
After lunch most days we went straight into karate session two and practiced for another hour. Once we finished practicing and everyone was changed, we continued the activities for the day.
Some days we went for walks to the park, some days we just went walking and some days the kids just wanted to play together in the dojo or do arts and crafts.
The last hour of each day was free time- free time to play together, practice karate, earn 'level up cards' or sleep!
Most days they all just played epic games of uno and cards.
Day 1- 22nd July 2019: Design your own T-Shirt Day.
We began the day with karate practice where we focused on deciding individual goals for the week. Some kids wanted to finish learning a specific kata, some wanted to pair together and do some yakusoku kumite or san-bon kumite, some were focusing on mastering the kihon and warm up sets while some were choosing to focus on the theory and learn the dojo kun in both languages or understand and explain the meaning of the scrolls that we have in the dojo- again in both English and Japanese. Once our goals were decided we practiced until around 11am when the kids got changed, had a drink and a snack and got to work on their T-Shirt designs.
First we designed them on paper and once they had their blueprint to copy they were allowed to use the fabric markers and make their own karate T-shirt.
As long as they arent washed for 24 hours they will become permanent.
Once they were done working on their T-Shirt's we had lunch and did another hour of karate- after that the kids decided that they would like to go to the park.
The kids got a good run around and then when we came back to the dojo, those that hadn't finished their shirts, used the rest of the time for that while the other kids had free time and decided to play one enormous game of Uno.
So, that was it- Day one of 2019 Summer camp- complete.
Day 2- 23rd July 2019: Karate Themed Cooking Day.
This was probably the most stressful day of the entire 10 for me. The kids ranked it as in the top three days for them- funny how that happened.
So we started the day with going straight over to the Dojo Bar and making the cookie dough so that it could chill in the fridge while we did the first karate session of the day.
The kids got into groups of about four with two small kids and two older kids in each group- this worked really well because the older ones followed the instructions and helped the younger ones.
So, we made the dough, put it in the fridge to chill and went back to the dojo to do karate.
After Karate session number one it was lunchtime- after lunch we went back to the bar where the kids got to roll out the dough and put it on the trays to cook. The kids dough was not all uniform- of course. I let them follow the instructions themselves and hopefully they learnt that one too many egg does matter!
I baked the cookies while the kids 'cleaned' up a bit and then they decorated some.
After this, James took the kids back to the dojo while i kept two of the older ones with me to help clean up the bar properly.
By the time all of it was finished and they had completed karate session number 2 of the day it was time for free time or home time so the kids didn't go to the park or walking today.
they didn't seem to mind because i gave them puzzles that they could do and lego to play with.
Day 3- 24th July 2019: Balloon Art Day
This day was really successful and was worth spending the money on bringing Rie the balloon artist in to work with the kids. Of course, we practiced karate in the morning and then from 11-1 pm Rie did all sorts of fun balloon work with the kids.
First they learnt about balloons, then they played group games with the balloons and then step by step she took them through making their own karate man from balloons. The kids all had a great time and it used a lot of their energy. Rie was really great at working with all the kids- and even speaking English to our two Canadian boys.
After balloon art was finished the kids had lunch and today we did go on a walk up to shintoshin park where the boys had a great time catching all sorts of bugs.
When we came back to the dojo we did our second karate session of the day but this was my mistake- after all the other activities of the day, the kids were too tired to be able to do karate well.
Besides this, day three was very successful.
Day 4- 25th July 2019: Equipment Making Day.
Today we had three kids from China come to join the morning of summer camp and also Souichiro did his grading this morning because he is unable to attend the grading at the end of week 2 because of a family trip.
So the karate class consisted of Souichiro leading all the basics and Kihon dousa, group kata and individual kata and then San-Bon Kumite. Once this was complete James took the kids for another 45 minutes of focus on Naihanchi stances and kata.
All the kids got changed and had a snack and then it was onto making the Equipment.
We had three projects for the kids to be working on:
3- Ball and Reflex challenging caps
For the caps, they had to attatch the elastic to the caps and then attatch the ball to the elastic. Sounds simple but there was a lot of flying balls!
For the bo, they were given a square piece of wood at the approximate length of a bo and their job is to carve the bo the shape that they want it.
The chi-ishi is the most labour intensive of them all because they have to cut and sand the handles down put screws or nails in the end to hold the concrete, then mix the concrete and put it into the containers and wait for it to dry. once dry they then need to paint their chi-ishi to stop the concrete chipping away.
in between karate and creating all the things we went to the park and played with all the toys and we got ice lollies today too- because it was especially warm and we had a lot of time outside.
Day 5- 26th July 2019: Arakaki Dojo Training Day.
Today was probably my favourite day of the whole summer camp. it was really really nice for me to bring my teachers together with my students and let my students be inspired from who i am learning from and let my teachers see what i have been doing for the past 18 months.
We loaded all the kids into mini-buses we rented and drove them over to the Ozato dojo.
The kids were practicing singing the karate-do sanka on the way (The Karate Song created by Nagamine Shoshin Sensei)- I've told them that if they learn it they can have a level up card which has got many of them very motivated.
Once we arrived at the dojo the kids did the class with Toshimune Sensei. They all behaved really well and i love Toshimune's attitude to remember that they are just kids and first and foremost to make sure that they are enjoying what they are doing.
They went through all the same warm up and kihon as we practice in Asato Dojo.
They did over 200 punches, which was definately a challenge for some of the smaller ones!
And they practiced and got given tips on how to improve their kata with their grading coming up next week. Then Toshimune took us to Ozato Castle park where the kids had their lunch- thing is, it decided to start pouring down with rain and so the kids couldn't play outside and we had to bring them back to the dojo where they read books, did painting and some free practice time or quiet play on the mats while we took the buses back.
Day 6- 29th July 2019: Karate Treasure Hunt.
This ended up ranking as number 1 on the kids favourite day list. I'm not really sure why because they didn't seem to be having the best time on the way round the treasure hunt course, but maybe they were on the inside- or the prizes at the end made up for all the walking.
The day started at around 5 am for me where i took my bike and went around to all the treasure hunt locations and planted each clue.
The kids had a 3km circle to complete with 9 clues.
Each clue had a puzzle they had to complete to get the picture of the next location.
for example- the first clue we give them in Asato dojo which sends them to Sougenji dori park. the clues they find there send them to Matsumora Kosaku sensei's roadside memorial.
From there they get a clue to the 'panda park' nearby (thats not it's actual name but i can't remember it) then we go to Makishi park, the giant shisa in the pottery village, the big yellow Harri boat in Saion Square and then finish where the treasure is- in the Dojo Bar.
I split the group into two groups of 10 and we went opposite ways around the loop. I took one group and James took the other.
We then had lunch in the Bar and used the air conditioners to cool the kids (and James) down a bit.
The kids couldn't move onto the next place until the entire puzzle was completed.
They really liked playing in the cool water spray at the big Shisa in the Pottery district.
After the treasure hunt we did one long karate session and did a complete run through of the weekend grading and demonstration.
After that we had lots of tired kids so we played card games, read books and drew pictures until going home time.
Day 7- 30th July 2019: Kobudo Training Day.
Today we gave the kids an opportunity to practice Bo and Sai alongside our regular karate classes.
this was optional so the smaller kids that weren't interested worked on T-Shirts if they hadn't made one yet (There were a few kids that didn't attend week one) or drew pictures and watched the kobudo.
We did one hour of karate, one hour of kobudo then had lunch and went for a walk.
when we came back there was one more hour of karate and one more hour of kobudo followed by free time.
Maybe today was a little practice intensive for the kids, or maybe they are just getting tired after so many days of intense activities. Maybe it was really good for them to spend so much time training and work through it, even though it wasn't so fun or so easy.
Day 8- 31st July 2019: Karate History Day.
Today we of course practiced karate first thing- all the kids are making good improvements on their goals to reach by the end of summer camp so the intense training is working.
after that,the kids had snacks and got changed and then we read some karate stories and watched historical videos and let the kids ask all the questions they wanted.
After that, they got into groups and then had to create their own karate timeline or recreate a historical story in manga. it was really cool to see each of them try to first figure out how to work as a team, while letting each of their imaginative ideas flow.
They made some really interesting comic strips and really picked up on the historical elements of karate whilst still adding imagination and fun to it. Maybe one day they can all write a book together.
Day 9- 1 st August 2019: Ninja Activity Day.
Today was again quite a stressful day for me.
I maybe assumed the kids more capable than they were when deciding that we would make origami shuriken and have a throwing competition.
The throwing competition was not the problem, it was making origami shuriken- maybe 3 of 20 could do it and so the other 17 were getting frustrated and needing help and me with only my two hands can only make so many, so fast.
Rambo sensei popped in to say happy birthday to me and he helped a little which was really nice.
The kids did their best and began helping each other as they started to understand or figure it out.
The throwing competition was ok but i think you need to use heavier card to give them some weight when using them to throw a distance. The ones we made were too light and so didn't really go very far.
After the shuriken competition we did lunch, and free time practicing karate (to see which kids took the initiative to practice and who just decided to play instead). Then we took the kids to the park where we let them have a water balloon and gun fight. They had fun, i think.
Thank you for the most wonderful birthday pictures and gifts, from all my little ones.
Day 10- 2nd August 2019: Beach Training Day.
Today we were supposed to take the kids and have a beach day but again the weather really was very very bad.
Instead we decided to take them to visit the Karate Kaikan where they was a big event of Goju Ryu Karateka practicing. this was really good to show the kids because it started discussions of differences in styles of karate and they got to meet all kinds of people from lots of different countries.
We took them over to the museum where they watched the history of karate video which was really beneficial for them to see and then we all had lunch.
The smile and friendship that these two boys have created is incredible. I'm very proud of how much progress these two have made.
Of course each day there was karate practice too, many of the classes there wasn't a chance to take pictures because i was usually teaching. I like to keep the kids karate time, the kids karate time.
I did manage to grab a couple of pictures from when James taught.
A lot of the days we went to a park- the kids were choosing most of the ones they wanted to go to.
Or we just went for a walk around Naha, letting different kids lead each day.
it was really good to watch the kids' friendships blossom throughout the two weeks.
The boys spent most of the time catching bugs, and offering them to me.
I've already had questions about next years camp, and at the time i wasn't so sure i wanted to do it again.
However, seeing how happy it did make the kids, and that although things- quite a lot of things didn't go to plan the kids didn't seem to mind.
They liked the simpler things the best- being able to play uno together or painting and catching bugs in the park.
I'll keep this in mind for next year.
Grading Day - 3rd August 2019.
Today was the day where all the kids' practice from the past few months and especially the last couple of weeks is evaluated.
All of the kids did a good job. everyone, but one passed. But he will be given another chance and the failure was more due to attitude than ability.
To have gone from zero, to a group of 20 capable kids i'm happy.
I think they are too.