Anyone lucky enough to have attended summer camp at some point in their lives is also aware of the worst part about it: that eventually, it has to end. The day you get back in the city is easily the saddest day of the year. You can probably recall one of those awful first nights home after camp, all tear-stained diary entries and late night phone calls, as it dawned on you that you’d have to wait an entire year before you could experience the magic of summer camp again. Right? It’s practically a rite of passage.
But for one lucky Manitou kid, his first day back from camp will never be the same.
Max is just your average summer camp kid who, like every other camper, starts missing camp as soon as he gets off the bus. But unlike every other camper, Max arrives at his house to the surprise of a lifetime.
Listen, we won’t say too much, because we don’t want to spoil it for you. Just watch what happens in the video above, and tell us you’re not dying to go back to camp just so you could experience this for yourself.
If it seems like it’s been a long time since you last heard from us, that’s because IT HAS!
Over the past week, we put out our final 2016 edition of the Manitou Mosquito. Community Week wrapped up with a series of wonderful activities: rock, theatre and guitar sang at the local seniors’ home, campers filled out paper stars to “award” to staff and their fellow campers in the dining hall, and the campers coloured in whiteboard “Possibility” signs that we stitched together into the inspiring video above. When all was said and done, the campers’ fundraising initiatives helped to raise a final total of $8,130 for the Amani Home.
But aside from a final Fireside this past week, there wasn’t much time to sit down. Because as soon as Community Week ended, World Games began!
Manny Moose & the entire Manitou Family
HERE is a link to a presentation from Spencer West, but first, read on…
Every Friday night Manitou gathers together at Fireside, a special and tranquil place in camp. Fireside is the place where we reflect on all of the aspects that make our camp community so incredibly special. The tone is set each Friday night for the week, allowing all of us as one united community to feel gratitude for our summer experience together.
Every week we honor campers who have stood out within camp as the ultimate positive role models as they uphold the Manitou values and standards. These campers are a combination of ones who have grown up here as well as first time campers. We celebrate these campers for their kindness, courage and empathy.
This week, following our candle ceremony, the Senior units talked about our summer theme ‘redefining possible’. One courageous camper discussed his personal challenge with the medical condition Tourette’s. He said, “I managed to overcome thanks to the support for me, redefining possible wasn’t something I achieved, it was thanks to everyone that I knew.”
Another camper spoke about Fear being something that you choose. There is the F-E-A-R, which is ‘Forget Everything And Run’ or F-E-A-R which is ‘Face Everything And Rise’. He used F-E-A-R to discuss our fundraising efforts this summer and the support that we would be providing by raising money for the ‘Amani Home’ in Tazania.
Next we spoke about a child who has been helped by the ‘Amani Home’. Holding up the picture of this 8-year old girl really made it clear for all of Manitou how this charity saved her, and others like her, from a life on the streets. Manitou campers clearly understand how they can make a difference in the world by helping out others less fortunate than themselves.
Spencer West joined our Fireside and spoke to us about ‘Redefining Possible.’ This was something we have been trying to get Spencer to do for years. Spencer started speaking eight years ago for ‘Me to We’ / ‘Free the Children’ but he has never spoken to a camp before. Spencer has no legs and was told that he would never be able to take care of himself or lead a life with purpose. He climbed Mt Kilimanjaro and raised over $500,000 defying the odds and redefining possible. His story was truly inspirational. He did say that climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro was something he would never do again, yet something that changed his life forever. But what was most interesting was hearing that it was his support system that has allowed him to live such a fulfilling life; this echoed what our camper said earlier.
The Senior unit wrapped up Fireside with a beautiful song about making a difference in the world. In keeping with Fireside tradition, we read our special Manitou Poem and then ended with our wonderful Camp Song.
You can sense the positive energy around camp as we wrap up Community Week and enter our last week of our 2016 summer. Everyone seems to be taking advantage of every moment left at camp this summer. It is also apparent that Spencer West’s words, our goal of raising $10,000 for the Amani home, and campers redefining their possible has giving the strength to our Manitou community to make their summer end on a positive note. Having perspective, and taking stalk of how fortunate we are, allows our community to simply be better human beings.
HERE is a link to a presentation from Spencer West
- a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common.
- a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals
On the surface, community comes easy to Manitou. We all live in the same place for two months out of the year, certainly, and we share those defining camp experiences that allow us to have a “feeling of fellowship” with other Manitou-ers year round.
But when we talk about “community” during Community Week, we’re referring to something much bigger. We use that word to encompass everyone from neighbours back in our respective home cities, to the local community in Parry Sound and surrounding townships, to less fortunate kids all over the world who don’t have the same privilege that we do. And despite their geographical distance, these folks are a part of our community. The characteristic we share is one of hope for the future — a better future, where every individual is loved, cared for, and free.
Welcoming that entire community into the Manitou family is a tall order for a single summer, but we make huge strides towards our goal year after year. So, how do we do it?
By cultivating empathy
Recognizing how similar we are is a matter of first embracing our differences. We talk a lot about difference at Manitou, and the importance of empathy when confronting someone or something you don’t understand. Awareness breeds empathy, empathy breeds understanding, and understanding is at the heart of community.
To that end, for the past week at camp, both staff and campers have led some incredible initiatives. In order to raise awareness about the limited potable water resources in third-world villages, one sophomore girl had the campers carry buckets of water on their heads from the camp gates to the waterfront.
Last night we had our annual Walk of Hope, a time for togetherness and reflection about how fortunate we are, and about the power we have to make change. Manitou alum Nate Daviau came up and serenaded the staff with a late-night concert as they walked.
By raising money
Money isn’t the answer to life’s troubles, but it goes a long way in helping those who don’t have it. The Manitou Cares Foundation selected the Amani Home in Tanzania to receive all funds raised this year, and second session campers have already helped us raise over $4,500 for Amani during Community Week. At swim, Laps of Love had campers swimming laps for charity. At volleyball, every “ace” serve was worth $1.
We love watching the numbers tick up as these creative fundraising initiatives come to fruition. We always tell our staff that if they can dream it, we can make it happen, and now the kids are taking the lead in a wonderful way. One freshkid led the camp in a cleanup project, where each piece of garbage retrieved from around camp was worth $1. A camper wanted to show everyone how much fun it was to get thrown in the lake, so he started a $1/throw bet with a counselor.
By instilling positive values
There are so many values learned by raising money through karmic actions such as the ones we’re accomplishing during Community Week. Not only do the kids learn about how even their smallest actions can have a big impact, but they also learn to care about the right things. Picking up garbage, for example, is about having accountability for the beautiful Manitou landscape we get to call home every year. Swimming laps is hard work, and teaches us that we have to step outside our front doors in order to see how we can make a difference in the world.
The values instilled through Community Week are starting show themselves everywhere in camp. Today, for example, is Art in the Park. It’s always been a great opportunity for the craftiest kids to get outside and make art in the sun (well, the shade). This year, it’s been infused with a little extra Community Week love. So there’s Art in the Dark, where kids can experience drawing while blindfolded; there’s a scrap wood sculpture garden, where campers are repurposing the scraps at woodworking to add to a giant wood sculpture; there’s gratitude bracelet-making, where everyone makes a bracelet for someone else. These convey messages of empathy, ecology and gratitude.
We can’t wait to watch the rest of Community Week unfold!
Recognize anybody in this photo? Don’t worry, most folks wouldn’t. That’s because this photograph was taken in 1959, the year Camp Manitou was founded. A parent sent it in, pointing out that the woman on the bottom left is the grandmother of the Sarick-Whiteside siblings (currently a staff and CIT camper)!
While fashions may have changed and the building pictured here may be long gone, the spirit of this photo is alive and well at camp in 2016. Frankly, it got us thinking about all the other dusty photographs there must be out there dating back as far as Manitou’s founding! Ever since we started learning about the camp’s aboriginal heritage last month, we’ve been finding new ways to appreciate our summer home away from home.
We also recognize that the passing down of stories is what makes families send generations after generations of their own to camp, and we’d love to be a part of sharing camp history.
So, do you have an old photo of yourself, your friends or your family at Manitou? How about a camp story or memory to share from a time before Mark and Jeff? Let us know about it in the comments section or send it in to camp[at]manitoucamp.com!
Manny Moose & The Entire Manitou Family
All summer long, you’ve heard us (and your kids!) talk about all the great things you get to do at camp: evening activities and exciting new programs abound, not to mention all those impromptu float parades and carnivals.
We sure are lucky to enjoy all that camp has to offer. And at Manitou, it’s especially important to us to pay that gratitude forward. Giving back is at the heart of the Manitou way, and we happen to have lots of fun here doing it. That’s why once a week each season, we host “Community Week,” a 7-day program full of gratitude, empowerment, leadership initiatives and good deeds in the surrounding community.
Community Week kicked off last night starting with Friday Night Fireside guest speaker Spencer West, an inspiring activist from Me to We who redefined possible after having lost his legs at the age of five.
In 2012, Spencer climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro using only his hands and his wheelchair. Like any of our other special guests this season and our wonderful “Camp Is” camper speakers, West embodies the idea of unlimited potential. We’re thrilled to have had him share his story with the camp.
Later this week we’ll have campers from our Theatre program singing at the Lakeland Home, the senior leaders’ trip to the CNIB, Art in the Park, our annual Walk of Hope and much, much more.
We’ll fill you in as each Community Week project comes to fruition. In the meantime, check out the latest edition of the Mosquito for wacky news, camp surveys, silly ads and games for all ages!
Manny Moose & The Manitou Family
Every day, a memory is made at Manitou. No doubt you’ll be hearing plenty about our campwide programs when your kids get home at the end of the month. World Games and Tribal Games are huge spirit events that emblazon themselves in the minds of campers and staff alike, and make up the hallmark of a Manitou summer. This year we’ve even added a few new big-ticket programs, such as the Manitou Olympics.
What you might not hear about, however, are the spectacular evening programs that our creatively minded unit heads run almost every night of camp! On many evenings, after flagpole, the camp splits up into its respective units — Freshkid, Sophomore, Junior and Senior — and participates in a wild, high-energy and occasionally messy activity for about an hour.
Often eclipsed by our larger programs at the end of each session, stories of these evening programs may not make it home. So lucky for you, we’re here to let you know about what your kids get up to after dinner lets out! Continue reading “Derbies and painting and fairs, oh my: a look at this summer’s evening programs”