💌 2022 Alumni Mooseprints

Dear Alumni,
We are excited to share with you a brand new edition of our Alumni Mooseprints with contributions from Landon Wexler, Sarah Spitz, Gabi Kaplan & Jamie Gorlick, and Christine McNicol. We always love to hear your Manitou memories and stories so please don’t hesitate to reach out and share!
As a Manitou alumni, there is always a longing to spend the weekend up at camp again. We’ve been fortunate enough to host Camp Yoga at Manitou since 2015. It isn’t very often that alumni can come up to camp, and certainly less often that adults can attend without any kids. Camp Yoga has done an incredible job over the years of creating a weekend where you can choose your own adventure. Don’t let the word “Yoga” fool you – they offer fitness, arts and crafts, bring in an incredible live band (including alumni of Manitou) AND have an amazing black light DJ party on the Saturday night too. You’ll get to go to the high ropes course, archery range and canoe on beautiful Lake Manitou-wabing as well. Needless to say, it’s certainly a great chance to take a weekend for yourself and we’d LOVE to invite you for a weekend at Manitou on behalf of Camp Yoga. Early-bird tickets are available now, so please join us and we’ll hope to see you there on Sept 9-11!



It goes without saying that Manitou is a special place. The opportunity to disconnect and share in an authentic experience with others is beyond valuable in today’s world. I decided to take that one step further when I joined the canoe tripping program. Over the years, my passion for the outdoors grew and is something I will have for the rest of my life. I consider myself lucky to have taken many good friends out into the wilderness to share in the beauty of Ontario’s amazing provincial parks. The experiences and lessons learned go so much further than how to carry a canoe above your head – like how to handle the unexpected. What do you do when a camper decides to throw their used toilet paper into the fire, and a gust of wind blows flaming poo all over the campsite? Keep calm and make sure it doesn’t hit you in the face. That’s one I apply to my everyday life and business. Sometimes life throws flaming crap at you – but it’s important to keep a steady head, assess the situation, and make informed decisions on how to proceed. Lessons like these and so many others were learned at camp, most of the time along with tears of laughter.
I always felt that despite Manitou being a first class facility, it was the people that made it. Many of whom I’m still friends with to this day. Now instead of celebrating days off, it’s weddings and life milestones. To my friends and mentors that I met along the way – I can’t thank you enough. 
I am forever grateful for my time at Manitou, talk about it frequently, and visit as often as I can. A special shout out Mark and Jeff for an excellent run – without them, who knows if it would all have come together the way it did. To Chris Mckibbin (my first ever counsellor) and the rest of the new ownership group, I wish you guys the best of luck in carrying the ever special torch that is the Manitou experience, and know you will do an unbelievable job! 


When I first came to camp Manitou as a shy 9-year-old in the summer of 2001, I didn’t think much of it. I stayed for a few weeks and went back to training as a gymnast for the next few years. I came back to camp in 2006, a still very shy 14-year-old, after my gymnastics career ended. I thought I’d stay for a few weeks again and do something else the next year. Instead, I met current Manitou director Alec Amato a few days into the summer, became best friends, stayed at camp for 10 years, became a counsellor and then eventually a unit head. It completely changed my life. 
Camp to me is so much more than a place where I had fun as a kid. It is where I grew up and became the person I am today. Camp taught me to laugh without inhibitions, to embrace what is unique about each of us and to value the strong friendships that formed there over the years (everyone with me, “these friendships!”).
Camp helped me find my voice. Not just literally in the sense of screaming cheers during World Games or singing at the top of my lungs in the dining hall. I learned how to stand up for myself. Eventually, I learned how to use that confidence to stand up for other people. Being able to apply that as a counsellor and eventually as a unit head was one of the most rewarding experiences I could have imagined. I became someone others look to for help resolving their conflicts. I became someone who could advocate for them. 
Now, I’m a lawyer (and a commercial litigator, at that) and all I do is advocate and resolve conflicts. The conflicts have escalated in scale, but the core is the same. Being a lawyer is—in all honesty—not that different from being a freshkid counsellor/unit head. 
Whether I’m mediating a fight between two freshkids about who moved someone’s shoes or representing a client in a contentious shareholder dispute, I draw on the skills I learned at camp to remind me to listen, to communicate and to help others do the same.


Our journey with Manitou officially started back in 2001 and 2003, when we rolled up to camp as little Fresh Kids. During our early camper years, we made our own Manitou memories and occasionally crossed paths (Art Hill and Ski Docks were way too far apart).
Fast forward 10 years, when we were both on staff, Jamie finally built up the courage to speak to Gabi. Fast forward another 10 years and Jamie built up even more courage to propose.
After sharing the news with our Manitou family, Mark eagerly asked us “So, when are we having the camp wedding?”. Of course, it was only fitting that the place where we met, shared so many great memories, grew up individually and together, and created lifelong friendships (our now bridesmaids and groomsmen), be the place we get married.
Our 16-year-old selves are pinching each other at the fact that we’ll be walking down the aisle at the very same spot we made memories that will quite literally last a lifetime. To our past, present and future Manitou family, we can’t wait to reach this milestone with all of you, and are so thankful that deep in the heart of the north there’s a place where we can continue to make those memories. Three months and counting until we are married at fireside! 


Manitou, oh Manitou.
I met Mark, Jeff and Markus at the camp office in late spring of 1999. Kathryn Winnik brought me and her sister Daria in for a spontaneous last minute interview. Apparently, we were a fit for the summer and Markus offered us a job on the spot. I was 19 years old and headed to camp for the first time…. ever. Being from the Caribbean, summer camp was not part of our culture or my family traditions. I had no idea what I was in for.
I wasn’t the only one embarking on a camping journey as Camp Manitou as we know it was also only in its first year! It was a strange concept for me to grasp that I was going to make very little money, get even less sleep, work from sunup to starlight for the ‘soul’ purpose of creating fun and memorable experiences for kids and staff.
It was incredible.
New traditions to be created, fun programs to try out. Mark and Jeff were open to all the ideas staff brought forward. It was an incredible inaugural summer which changed my life completely.
It was a strange and foreign sensation for me when my Condo girls, or my Eco Kids would shout across main field, “love you Christine” or hug me and tell me they loved me. I felt the words bounce off me. How can these campers love me? They barely know me! They were so freely throwing around the words, I wondered if they really knew how important and special love is. Turns out they had a lot to teach me about love. They were so happy, joyous and full of excitement about each day. It took me a while to understand that I was a part of those feelings and experiences.
After a failed attempt at making a raft out of foraged fallen wood from boys camp, one kid in particular was disappointed about the dismal outcome. I remember suggesting we run and jump off the dock with our clothes on. Her eyes lit up and off we went, down main dock and into the water. Walking back up to girls camp, soaking wet, was the first time I understood the power of camp and the small ways and opportunities to let love in. When she said ‘bye, love you!’ I yelled it back. And I have been saying it back ever since.
In the 11 years I worked at Manitou, there were a lot of life sacrifices that had to be made in order to prioritize the magic of Camp. Getting to be a part of the Sr. unit, Jr. Unit, Eco, Ropes, World Games, Manitou games, the CIT unit and to be close to Mark, Jeff, Mama D, Dave, Jen and Chris, was all based on feelings of belonging, growing and love. Love for the people, the magic of camp, and the opportunities to make magic happen.
I would have stayed if I could.
A day at camp, feels like a week. A week feels like a month and when you’re there for the whole summer if doesn’t feel nearly long enough. There is so much more fun to be had, memories to make and love to share.
My kids now go to Manitou. Camp is and will be a part of our family traditions.

Thank you again for all your ongoing support. We wish you a happy, healthy, and successful rest of 2022 and beyond. Please stay in touch through our social media – the countdown to Manitou 2022 has officially begun!

Mark, Jeff, Chris, Jen, Alec & Melissa

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