Backpacking FAQ
What are the trip details?

This is a three day two night backpacking trip on the Appalachian Trail, carrying all you gear with you, sleeping in primitive
campsites along the trail.  We have dawn and sunset aikido weapons practice on the summits of mountains.

Leave Richmond by caravan on Friday morning around 5a, arriving at the trailhead and getting started on the trail no later than
10a.  Hiking all day both Friday and Saturday.  Return to Richmond by 5p on Sunday.


This experience is so much more than "just a camp"--- warriors embark on MISSIONS.  That's what this is: a mission.

Our mission is to face the challenge of the wilderness, to push through our fears and uncertainties, and discover uncharted
territories filled with courage and resourcefulness within-- training and challenging our bodies and minds for not just survival, but
how to thrive.  For example: dawn weapons practice on a mountaintop, pushing ourselves to physical exhaustion in the heat and
then weapons defense barefoot in a mountain stream.  Laughing and telling stories on the edge of a cliff watching the sun set.  

I'm not in very good shape-- will I be able to do it?

We've had 12 year olds and 67 year olds.  If you are in average shape you'll be fine.  Your comfort and feeling of success will
depend on your preparation, however.  Be prepared for the physical challenge, and be able to carry food, supplies, weapons, and
water. 11-12 year olds will be evaluated individually for maturity and physical capability (ability to carry roughly 30-40lbs in a hiking
backpack for 8 hours up and down mountains).

Do I need hiking or martial arts experience?

No prior experience necessary.  This trip is designed for everyone over the age of 11, teens and parents, adult students, family,
and friends.  Inexperienced hikers will be mentored on what they need to bring and how to prepare.  Aikido weapons (wooden
sword and wooden staff, wooden knife) will be provided if needed.

What is the size of the group?

Minimum 12 participants, max 16.  The group is kept small to insure supervision of teens.

How is food handled?

We carry our meals-- freeze dried individual meals, which each hiker chooses during our trip meeting two weeks prior.  We divide
carrying the stoves and fuel evenly.  Each hiker should evaluate the cost-benefit of carrying the additional weight of personal

What is the daily schedule?

Dawn and sunset practices, taking advantage of amazing summits.  Community breakfast and dinner gatherings.  Lunch on the
trail.  Caravan leaves the dojo at 5a on Friday, returns to the dojo at 4:30p Sunday.

What can I expect to learn?

Each day may incorporate:

Martial Arts (Aikido):
•  Applied self defense, practical skills in real life situations, weapons defense (knife, machete, sword, staff)
•  Danger assessment and approach training, psychological readiness and preparation
•  Situational awareess

Nature/Wilderness Survival Skills:
•  Identifying, recognizing, addressing hazards (ticks, snakes, spiders, poison ivy)
•  Nature awareness and observation skills (engaging the 5 senses)
•  Wilderness survival (water, shelter, primitive fire making, cordage and basketry)
•  Plant and tree identification (usages: utilitarian, edible, medicinal)
•  Animal and bird identification (bird language)
•  Animal and human tracking
•  Stalking, movement, natural camouflage (practicing stealth in the woods, ie “ninja skills”)

What is the essential gear I will need to bring?


-backpack, shelter (tent/tarp/hammock, etc)
-sleeping bag/sleeping pad
-Sturdy hiking boots, hiking socks
-2 water bottles (water filter preferred)
-utensils (plate and bowl not needed)
-rain gear
-personal first aid

Can I communicate with my family on the trail?

Yes, most cell phones have at least partial signal intermittently throughout the weekend.  Brian will have his phone with backup
battery in case of emergency.  We suggest that everyone bring a backup battery for their phone in case of emergency.