The “Japan Alps Summer Camp” and “Water Wizards Camp” are two great programs for children looking for fun and adventure, provided each summer by Evergreen Outdoor Center (EOC) in Hakuba.
The Japan Alps Summer Camp takes campers on a week-long adventure at the EOC camp at Lake Aokiko. Activities include canoeing, swimming, playing on rafts, and viewing fireflies by voyageur canoe on this beautiful lake that is a jewel of Japan. From day three, campers venture further afield as they mountain-bike through a local forest trail, go canyoning in a naturally carved river canyon, and participate in nature games to learn more about the environment and the balance that the forest brings to our lives. Day four is spent hiking to an overnight tent location.
Evenings around the campfire and stargazing are always a big hit with the campers, as is the final day’s activity of walking high among the trees on the “Ex Adventure” high ropes course before a farewell barbecue at Roots Cafe and travelling back to Shinjuku aboard the Super Azusa Express.
The Water Wizards camp (which always starts on the Monday following the Japan Alps Camp) explores the cycle of water, with exciting and educational activities revolving around this theme over a five-day period. There is canoeing and kayaking on Lake Aokiko on day one; mountain-biking through spectacular forests and along the Himekawa River on day two; rafting even further down the Himekawa and swimming in the river current on day three; and a bus trip all the way to the Sea of Japan on day four, to swim in the waves at the mouth of the river that campers followed all the way from its natural spring origin, 55 kilometres due south, back at Hakuba.
Everyone then traveled back to the mountains by bus, just like evaporating water, to float like clouds on day five when they paraglide back to Earth to start another full cycle of water.
The campers that stay with Evergreen for a full 12 days join both these two great camps, along with a weekend in Togakushi, a village steeped in mystery and legend. They camp for two nights and explore the Togakushi forest by mountain bike, and hike to the Okusha Shrine — a place that is sacred in Japanese folklore and Shinto scriptures. The Shinto priests planted some of the trees in this forest 1,000 years ago.
The Togakushi camp provides possibly one of the most memorable meals of the entire summer, as campers roast hot dogs over the fire to enjoy with fresh summer corn and veggie sticks. The icing on the cake, however, is the banana boats cooked in the coals of the fire, served along with hot chocolate.
The weekend camp and visit to Togakushi would not be complete without two very important elements — soba noodles and ninja! Irrespective of the fact that kids just love ninja (!), these two items are a special part of the history of this small mountain village. So a visit to the Togakushi Ninja Village and a soba lunch are musts before returning to Hakuba for an evening of making pizzas and watching a movie at Roots Café, after which new campers will be joining for the Water Wizards program.
This summer, the Evergreen team felt that they had some of the best campers (and weather!), with lots of familiar faces from past camps. The campers got plenty of fresh air, clean mountain water, and a healthy dose of nature, as well as lots of adventures in the great outdoors. And EOC hopes to see everyone again next year, along with many more new friends and younger siblings.
For more information about Evergreen Outdoor Center’s camps for children, families, or corporate team-building exercises, please telephone 0261-72-5150 or check out http://www.evergreen-hakuba.com.