Thursday, July 31, 2008

Aikido camp report

Sophie attended the full sleep-away Aikido camp. She was eager from the first mention of the program early last spring. Noah attended as a day camper for one day, at my encouragement. Both kids enjoyed themselves immensely. And I've been so impressed with their experience ... I have to rave. Yet another stunning little secret resource in our valley. I can't believe the whole world isn't trying to move here. We have the best little multi-age intergenerational string orchestra, a dynamite student violin ensemble, a crystal clear lake with wilderness shores, mountains and glaciers all around, artistic vibrancy, community self-reliance, open-mindedness ... I'll stop now.

Back to Aikido camp. The facility is a 1600 sq.ft. strawbale dojo with living quarters of similar dimensions above. Off-grid with solar electric. The family that owns the facility lives there most of the year, but they've built the living quarters to serve as a retreat centre too, so there are bunk bedrooms that will sleep 24 and a huge open kitchen / great room with Japanese-style seating.

At camp the kids had an Aikido class to start each morning and wrap up each day's activities. Meals were vegetarian and 100% organic. The garden and the bush provided opportunities for foraging for fresh food. There was loads of creative play in the forest. The kids created and performed a play, entirely of their own volition. They journaled, drew and sketched each day. They took photos of their activities and put them together as a slide show. They cared for the dojo and the living facilities. They had mentors come to teach them about water sample testing and riparian restoration, to introduce them to aquatic insects, nematodes and micro-organisms. An art teacher took them outdoors to sketch, paint and draw. From a local naturalist they learned to identify wildflowers and herbs, and their nutritional and medicinal uses. They hiked up Mt. Gimli. They went kayaking. And they enjoyed each other's company, creativity and energy.

And all of it was carried off within an atmosphere of trust and respect for the children. Did I mention that the dojo parents are homeschooling? Though we'd never discussed our educational philosophies, after seeing them in action over the months I wasn't surprised to discover that their 8-year-old daughter is unschooled.

I have strawbale envy, though. A bad case. A music studio is taking shape in my mind.


  1. your blog entriess make me want to move there. it sounds like such an amazing place but alas i think my husband and i would probably not do well with your winters (we are used to california non winters() plus i once looked into immigrating to canada and i think the lack of college degrees would make it hard for us although my husbands job title is now chief computer scientists for a weather company that really ought to count for something even if he has no diploma. i guess we will have to find out own little town in the unites states and hope it is as amazing as yours :)
    i really want to take aikido now to!

  2. Ooh, you had me at strawbale! (tho the aikido class sounds like it was a success, too)

    The facility you describe sounds amazing and like something I've had visions of. Is there much strawbale there? Does it seem to hold up in the wetness/snow?

    My kids just tore down their sandbox/fort and I keep eyeing the space that's left. It would be an ideal location for a little home office - strawbale, of course!

  3. Been lurking here so long, but had to comment today (and hopefully on a regular basis). I have a 20 month old DS who's obsessed with Yo Yo Ma, orchestras and "playing" his tiny violin. We plan to home (possibly un) school, but will need lots of help in the music department. We're currently in Colorado, but our home is Seattle. Funny you should mention people wanting to move to your area...while we plan to return to the Pacific Northwest within a year, if Canadian immigration would take us, we'd prefer to move across the border. Would LOVE to be neighbors :-)

  4. That sounds like an awesome camp. Wish my kids could have been there!

  5. Believe me, your posts make me want to live there. But, like another one of your readers, I'm not sure I could handle the winters.


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