Going to Summer Camp!

This summer, June 12-18, 2011, I’m going for the first time to the Aiki Summer Retreat at Menlo College, in Atherton, California (in the Bay Area). The sensei are Robert Nadeau, Frank Doran, Hiroshi Ikeda Shihan, and Mary Heiny Sensei, plus other instructors in the evenings.

It’s the kind of thing where you stay in the dorms, eat in the dining hall, swim in the pool, and eat, breathe, and sleep Aikido for a whole week. I’ll be driving there and back (about 10 hours each way). Part seminar, part summer camp, part road trip. Woohoo! 

I know a bunch of folks who have gone before, both fellow students from Aikido of San Diego, and people I’ve met at seminars (and am looking forward to seeing again!). Dave Goldberg Sensei has gone many times, and says he’s never had a bad day there (besides, it’s a cheap vacation). Cathé, a dojo mate, went last year and has given me a whole array of great tips for having a great time.

Being the planning, list-making sort, I’ve been planning and making lists. If you’re going, too, you might find them helpful. Check back from time to time, as I will be adding to these, I’m sure. Here’s what I’ve got so far:



  • Get car registered and smogged. [Done. Sticker arrived in time! Now I don’t need to worry about getting pulled over to out-of-date tags.] 
  • New tires, or have tires rotated [Checked. No work needed.]
  • Alignment [Checked. No work needed.]
  • Oil change & check fluids [Done.]
  • Replace broken hubcap (car looks kinda ghetto at the moment)  [Done. New ones look great!]
  • Wash / vacuum [Washed, at least.]
  • New battery and wiper blades, too. [Done.]

Other Chores

  • Shop for food & supplies
  • Do laundry. Write name in all my gi / belt.
  • Arrange donkey care [Done. Thanks, Michael!]. Others may not need to do this. ;-)
  • Arrange to visit with friends on the way up and back. 
  • Print a list of critical phone numbers, in case of phone failure.
  • Set up iPad and iPhone with tunes, playlists, photos, and videos.


Everyday Stuff

  • Wallet
  • Checkbook
  • Purse
  • Notebook
  • Pens

Road Trip Stuff

  • Maps
  • Roadside emergency kit (triangles, tools…)
  • Basic tool kit
  • Duct tape (just in case)
  • Multi-purpose tool (just because)


Note that I don’t eat meat (except for fish), or gluten (wheat, barley, rye). I don’t like onions or garlic, and am mildly allergic to cinnamon and walnuts. So I’m hard to get along with. When I go to events where food is included, I bring my own, too. If there’s something there I can eat (salad, fruit, cheese), great. If not, I won’t starve. I have been told there is a microwave in the dining hall, and a Trader Joe’s across the street from the college, so picking simple things up and cooking them there should be easy, too. 

  • Nuts (almonds & Brazil nuts)
  • Bananas (buy ahead so they’ll be ripe!)
  • Promax gluten-free protein bars
  • Pre-cooked Pad Thai (w/rice noodles – gluten free)
  • Shelf-stable tofu
  • Instant coffee (little individual paper tubes are handy)
  • Tea bags (to put in water bottle)
  • Liberty Bottle Works water bottle
  • Big insulated mug
  • Thermos
  • Spoon, fork, and knife (big enough for cutting up fruit)


  • Little, rolling cooler said to hold ice for 2 days at 90 degrees (not a wimpy picnic / 6-pack cooler)
  • Ice packs (for icing joints, etc.)


  • Toiletries kit – remember that this is a dorm, with bathrooms down the hall.
  • Shampoo & conditioner
  • Blow dryer & straightening iron
  • Brush & comb
  • Fingernail / Toenail clippers
  • Callous remover
  • Soap (little bottles of shower gel – no wet bars to deal with)
  • Toothbrush, toothpaste, floss
  • Lotion, sunscreen, hand repair cream (Burt’s Bees – highly recommended)
  • Sunscreen
  • Road trip emergency medicines: Tylenol, Tums, Immodium
  • Vision stuff: Contacts, glasses (regular and reading) eye drops, soaking solution, contact case, spare set of lenses, sunglasses
  • Breathing stuff: Saline nose spray, Sudafed
  • Ladies, if you need lady stuff, add that to your list, too!

Training Things

If you are a dan-ranked sort of person, remember your yudansha book and hakama, too. I don’t have to worry about that yet!

  • Gi (several)
  • Underpants
  • Sports bras
  • Sweat-wiping cloths
  • Flip-flops
  • Water bottle
  • Hair bands (and headbands?)

Weapons Bag

  • Weapons bag
  • Jo
  • Bokken
  • Tanto
  • Weapons Repair Kit (oil, sandpaper, rag)

Play Clothes

I am told it can be pretty warm there, but the weather stats I’ve seen don’t look all that bad. I’m figuring on summer weather, with maybe a cool evening or two thrown in. 

  • Yoga pants
  • Jeans
  • Shorts
  • Skirts
  • Belts
  • T-shirts
  • Tank tops / undershirts
  • Light jacket
  • Swimsuit
  • Underpants
  • Bras
  • Socks
  • Hat
  • Shoes (bring orthotics or die!)
  • Flip-flops

Dress Clothes

Guys, you might want to skip the dress. Heck, I might even skip the dress. I just want to plan one outfit that would be appropriate if there’s a trip to an off-site sit-down restaurant or something.

  • Dress
  • Shoes that go with dress
  • Necklace
  • Purse

Things for Aiki Follies?

This is a mystery to me so far. Props? Guitar? Clown shoes? We shall see…

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Dorm Living

I am told the dorms are austere, with concrete floors. (One online review says “small, dirty, cramped,… poorly maintained”). I think basic bed linens are provided, but I may bring my own anyway. Some people bring area rugs. (Some even bring flowers in vases!) I’m figuring a run and/or mat for stretching. A small fan can be really nice. Been there, done that: U of W dorms for the Oshkosh EAA Airshow. Damn… We thought we were going to melt. People who’d been there before packed big box fans on the plane! Others tried to buy locally, but all the stores ran out.

  • Area rug
  • Little brush and dust pan, for the dorm room floor
  • Yoga mat
  • Fan
  • Drying rack (or plastic hangers, or travel clothesline)
  • Reading lamp
  • Pillows (two buckwheat hull-filled ones I can’t live without!)
  • Zafu
  • Towel / Washcloths / Rags
  • Beach towel (for the pool)
  • Blanket
  • Sheets
  • Sleeping bag (for sleeping on friends’ floors, maybe)
  • Folding mattress (ditto, and in case bed is too mushy or hard, and for visiting friends on the way)
  • Magnifying mirror for putting in contacts
  • Bug repellent (skeeters?)
  • Plenty of change for doing laundry
  • Laundry detergent (unscented)

Photography (or maybe just use iPhone?)

  • Camera
  • 3 Batteries
  • 2 Chargers
  • Several SD Cards
  • Case


Reportedly, the dorms have WiFi. It’s slow, but it should do the trick. I’m on AT&T… No idea what coverage is like there.

  • iPhone
  • iPad
  • Old iPhone as backup, and for recording ideas, blog posts, and other random ideas on the trip up and back.
  • Phone earbuds (with mic)
  • 2 chargers
  • Charging/speaker dock

Physical Therapy / First Aid

  • Yoga mat
  • Foam roller
  • Stick (or Tiger Tail)
  • BioFreeze
  • Arnica
  • White sports tape
  • Vet Rap
  • Band-Aids
  • Lamb’s wool
  • Moleskin
  • ACE bandages
  • Ice / hot water bag
  • Back brace (for holding ice/heat packs on lower back)
  • Knee brace (for holding ice/heat pack on knee or elbow)

That’s is so far. Expect this to change (grow) between now and then. I’ll probably post some amendments afterward, too – things I didn’t need after all, or wish I’d brought. If you have any suggestions, especially if you’ve gone before, I’d love to hear them. See you there? I hope!

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