Second Session is in Full Swing!

We are sailing into second session–We can’t believe almost 250 new second session camper arrived (an all-time record)!  But the nicest part is how well they are adapting to camp.  This is in large part is due to the camp culture where long-time campers welcome the new kids and where the first month campers understand how important their role is in making the second session campers feel supported.

And speaking of feeling supported, we had the pleasure of hearing six campers who were new last summer along with two wonderful CITS speak about their experiences and remind the campers who just arrived that they don’t need to worry because this place will become their summer home before they know it.  As of today we are removing the word ‘homesick’ from the Manitou vocabulary and replacing it with ‘HOME THINK!’

These are some small sounds bites of what the campers had to say at Fireside last night:

“First the great staff here told me it was normal to be homesick and suggested I make a big project in woodworking.  This really kept my mind off of being homesick and after a few days I noticed I wasn’t homesick any more.  It was just that I was thinking about home so I called it “home think” …. I went to camp with only three friends and came home with six …So, homesickness is normal and we should rename it HOME THINK. The friends you will make at camp will help you through the bad and bring you the good. And finally, have FUN!”

“Last year my parents made me go to camp and I didn’t want to, but I went anyways.  I came to camp really shy …my friends helped me speak up and say something.  I left camp so much more confident than when I first came.  Now when people ask me questions I give full answers instead of just a yes or no. Not speaking to people and being shy was my biggest challenge before I came to camp.  So in the end coming to camp will change you for the better and you will always want to come back”

“It’s the people that make camp special for me. I have to admit there were times when I was homesick (or I guess Home Think now) last year but there was always someone to help and through those times is when I connected with so many people.  I recommend all the new campers this summer to just enjoy all your activities, memories and simple moments at camp like cabin time with your friends, or eating tuck and I promise this summer is going to fly by ….”

And finally from our CITS:

“From a young age we are taught the importance of helping others. Something we have learned from Manitou is the value of giving back to the community and the value of charity …Manitou represents this idea and is why our camp is unique.

And speaking of giving back, tonight at this same Friday night Fireside we had two amazing guest speakers; Max Daviau and David Levine two former campers (and staff), who took it upon themselves at age 23 to start their own charity – “Lay up Youth Basketball”.   Max who first started the charity four years ago, along with David explained to the campers that they started this charity from nothing, but what originally seemed like just a job became so fulfilling and fun because basketball was their passion and they loved seeing the impact the charity had on those in need. Kids were inspired as they learned how to start a charity from scratch, and also received the most important message that giving back is actually selfish because it just makes you feel so happy!

Check out Lay-up Basketball to learn more about the services they provide at Congrats to you all and thanks for sharing your story with our Manitou Family

Greetings from the Manitou Kitchen!

Feeding over 400 hungry campers and our staff is no small task! Not only do we strive to make food that kids get excited about, we are equally focused on providing healthy choices and engaging in responsible food practices. It is our duty as camp directors to acknowledge that agriculture and food production has a huge impact on our environment and at Manitou, we’re proud to lead the charge in changing the way we operate to minimize our carbon footprint.

We feel so fortunate to welcome back Chef William Rodrigue as our head/executive chef for his seventh year at Manitou. Chef William has a few words to say about his commitment to offering delicious and inspiring meals all summer long:

“Here in the Manitou kitchen, we’re lucky to be able to serve tasty and nutritious food to hundreds of campers and staff every-day. Meals are designed to be comforting and nutritious but we’ve got a lot of palates to satisfy! More vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options have been added to our menu and we’re constantly aiming to be innovate in our offerings, including our world famous lunch time salad bar with over 40 different options that change daily! A huge shout out goes to Vanessa, who is simply the best special meals chef anywhere, and the over 20 hardworking staff that run the Manitou Kitchen all summer long.

We are also excited to strengthen our relationships with our local independent farmers, butchers and fresh markets. Manitou is a camp leader in its commitment to sustainability and connection with the local food movement and we’re proud to be part of such a forward-thinking and responsible family. We can’t wait to cook for you on Visitor’s Day!”

See you soon!
Mark and Jeff

PS—don’t worry, our legendary Tuck Shop is also open for those special camp treats every other day!!

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One camp day is like a month in the city when you think of how much happens up here in camp life!
Today the kids woke up to beautiful sunshine and were summoned to poleflag to start off their day instead of flagpole to finish … it was backwards day at Manitou!
With yummy pasta and garlic breads for breakfast and omelettes for dinner, it sure was an interesting (and slightly confusing!) day. Everyone was dressed backwards, from their hats to their shirts and shorts. People were entering the dining hall and walking backwards everywhere. Every activity had a backwards theme: backhands at tennis, backstroke at swim and everything was reversed for the day, whether entering the kitchen through the ‘out’ door instead of the ‘in’ door or sitting in reverse order at flagpole. Even music lunch played songs backwards and the kids had to guess what they were!

During this crazy fun day we had many of the LIT’s (grade nine campers) visit the CNIB camp, help with programming and support their wonderful group of children. At Soccer, our famous World Cup tournament was the highlight all day long with over 100 kids participating and many cheering on with the finals played just
before dinner. To top it off, we had Maurice Switzer, a citizen of the Mississaugas of Alderville First Nation, lead our CITs in a spirited discussion
about the land that we are on, explaining that it was never owned by our aboriginal community but belonged to everyone. He spoke of the respect that the aboriginal community has for the environment and expressed the wish that we all learn from these strong values to make us stronger than ever at 150 years.

As all this was going on, the same 34 activities were going on strong all day, with a special slip n slide on main field set up by the art areas for the
afternoon, as it was finally our first scorcher of the summer. We were loving the heat!

And while no day is totally normal here at camp, we promise that breakfast will really be breakfast tomorrow!

Two Weeks at Camp Have Flown By!

It feels like we blinked and two weeks have flown by! What our Manitou kids have accomplished in this time is extraordinary. Campers have participated in over 15 activities, 10 evening programs and six special bunk activities with everyone jumping in with both feet and soaking it all up. New and lasting friendships have been formed, all while developing confidence and understanding the special and unique qualities in both themselves and others.

Camp at this point starts to go from an incredibly fun and spirited place to a true community as we all embrace and enjoy special markers of our summer together. It might be singing Herman the Worm at Flagpole or having Zack lead the entire camp in “Pizza Man”, over 40 campers waking up at the crack of dawn to start the day with a good ol ‘polar bear swim’ down at the dock with the swim staff, or celebrating the camper talent show when the kids get the opportunity to show off what they do best. Just last night, we applauded the Fresh kids and Sophomores as they performed in ‘Aladdin.’

As we celebrated Aladdin last night, we were reminded that it isn’t only about the exhilarating and entertaining performance. It’s really about working hard, working together and reaching an awesome end result. Our legendary theatre director Sandy Foster told us the story of how one camper, who had lots of lines in the play last year, had just two in this summer’s show. Instead of complaining, our Manitou camper offered one of her lines to another camper who had none. It is messages just like these that make the positive values of Manitou so special.

As we say “so long” to our Freshkid 2-week campers, we look forward to a jam-packed week ahead! Stay tuned for more wonderful Manitou moments!
As always,
Manny Moose


Lots of people know about the incredible 34 activities at Manitou, but it’s the cabin activities that can truly make these kids’ summers complete. Cabin activities that happen three times a week at Manitou are not necessarily about a having a specific activity as a cabin, but rather about having kids participate in creative, off the wall, silly programs that truly create a sense of play in the old fashioned, traditional way. Survivor, boot camp, capture the flag, an incredible toilet paper fashion show, the craziest paint twister game ever, a clever photo scavenger hunt, baking with Shelley, a Spanish lyric challenge where our Spanish guitar teachers taught Spanish songs to kids hollering them out across main field, and a pontoon boat ride lead by tour guide Mark Diamond are just examples of some of these fun and classic Manitou programs. Seeing cabins out on a beautiful night having fun is one more reason to love Sundays and Thursdays at Manitou.

It’s Sunday night, must be Homeburgers!

Celebrate me home!

It sure does feel a lot like home today as we welcomed back campers arriving from the beautiful Killarney and Algonquin Provincial Park from 4 and 5-day canoe trips and we also welcomed home over 65 Fresh and Soph campers who spent the day competing for the Moose on the intercamp sports day at Camp Tamakwa. A huge success all around, and one of the few days this session we have the entire camp ‘home’ together!

Seems like the weather gods are finally on our side as the skies have turned blue and we are even able to enjoy Chef William’s world famous Homeburgers out on the lawn for tonight’s outdoor ‘tailgate dinner’.

Last nights ‘Manitou’s got talent’ talent show featured over 20 acts from singing to dancing, comedy and even some incredible whistling routines! The crowd loved it and the performers (some for the very first time on stage) were made to feel pretty special with numerous standing ovations!

Good news, Mark and Jeff just announced an ‘early to bed’ for all campers and staff tonight so we can catch up on some sleep for what will be a very busy week ahead!

More exciting news to follow! As always,

M. Moose (2nd)


Our Manitou theme for the summer is the ‘POWER OF ONE’ and how one person can make a difference in the lives of others no matter what age they are, background or where they are from. Last night we had our Freshkids’ present after our candle ceremony honouring one child from each unit for representing positive values. Over twenty campers presented on the power of one, making wonderful comments such as:

“Lots of great things started with the power of one. ‘The power of one is getting people to do something you believe in even though people tell you not to do it. A small change can make a big change in life.’

“On December 1, 1955 one woman refused to give up her seat on the bus, protesting the unfair treatment of African American people. Rosa parks went on to be one of the founders of the American Civil Rights movement…”

“Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 26 years because he tried to help people in South Africa be treated without prejudice. He refused to back down in his fight to do what was right….”

“The power of one is a lesson telling us that it takes one person to come up with an idea that can inspire others and help make that vision happen. So we think that the power of one is the power of one person to inspire others to do better, to stand up for what they believe in, challenge what is currently done and reach heights never reached before. We hope you can inspire someone to do better this summer.”

We then welcomed Ryan Hreljac founder of ‘Ryan’s Well’ deliver a touching and powerful talk on how at the age of seven, he raised $70 dollars to provide clean water for a well in Africa. He discussed how he was just a typical kid in school who didn’t participate but couldn’t understand how someone couldn’t have clean water. After a year, he had raised $2000 and even appeared on the Oprah Winfrey show, being praised by Oprah for all his wonderful community service. Three years later he had raised $750,000 in total. He now runs the Ryan’s Well Foundation ( at age 26, raising over one million dollars each year. After he spoke, the kids swarmed Ryan as if he were a celebrity because they were so excited to meet someone that could make such a positive difference in the lives of others at such a young age.

Afterwards, he spoke to the Senior’s and CIT’S about his relationship with a boy Jimmy, who he visited in Uganda at age 10. They became best friends. A few years later Jimmy’s family was killed by rebels.
Ryan and his family decided to bring Jimmy to Canada and he received refugee status immediately. We discussed how Canada is such a special country and in the wonderful position to save people like Jimmy and how important it is to help people around the world and bring them to Canada. Ryan explained how Jimmy became Ryan’s brother, and now Jimmy is happily married and Ryan was his best man at his wedding..

Best of all was how captivated, respectful and inspired all our campers and staff were during this wonderful Fireside chat. Proving once again Manitou is more than just incredible activities, wonderful staff and our magical setting, it indeed is a place to grow!

Click HERE to watch a video clip of Ryan’s Fireside chat

Being a Camp Counsellor

Last night we had our weekly staff meeting and Jeff and Mark spoke about how the entire staff pushed through one of the greatest weeks ever despite the challenges of the weather. More staff than ever have clearly demonstrated they are here for the kids and are so supportive of each other.
Below is a writing from one of our counsellors during rest hour yesterday and was read to the entire staff last night, it really does say it all!

Can’t wait for Friday night Fireside tonight and our special guest speaker Ryan Hreljac from ‘Ryan’s Well that has arrived to speak to the camp, a true champion of ‘the power of one’
Our Fireside theme for this summer!

Manny M

Being a camp counsellor

Being a camp counsellor is the hardest job there is
It’s never getting a break
It’s having screaming kids cling to your legs
It’s ruining all your favourite clothes
It’s putting your heart out but knowing you get more love in return
It’s never being awarded peace and quiet after a long day
It’s having to master the balance of mother, teacher, and friend
It’s questioning your desire to ever have children of your own but realizing its your goal
It’s putting your dignity on the line with every dress up day and themed activity

Being a camp counsellor is the hardest yet most rewarding job there is
It’s never being more than five steps away from your best friends
It’s having a smile on your face at all hours of the day
It’s ruining your white tennis shoes in the biggest mudslide you’ve ever seen
It’s putting your life on the line because you love your campers more than anything
It’s never having a boring or uneventful day for a whole summer
It’s having a feeling of pride when your campers accomplish a new goal
It’s putting the fate and happiness of children into your hands, knowing they love you no matter what

It’s being payed minimal wages
To play, laugh, smile, explore
Let your hair down, disconnect from the world, step on the grass and mud, allow the sun to shine on your bare skin
To go makeup free and designer label free, to feel the cold rush of lake water and the warm hug of greasy comfort food
It’s feeling like a kid again no matter your age
It’s the hardest job there is,
But I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.