First Day Fun!

Wowza! Our countdown clock has struck zero and everyone has arrived at camp for the Summer of 2018! The busses rolled in and all our excited campers ran through a tunnel of welcoming arms—a Manitou classic! After everyone got settled in their cabins, we all gathered for our traditional first night meal—tasty chicken burgers. And after dinner, we were off to the races!

Our campers went to the activity fair to hear about our over 35 activities, including the fun new Zumba program, and decide what they want to sign up for in this first week of activities. Following that, everyone chose their schedules and sent postcards home to all of you! Don’t worry…you’ll get them soon and hear all about the fun we’re having here at camp.

Our golden summer night ended on a lovely note, as we raised our Manitou and Canadian flag to signify the official start of camp. It was raised this year, as is tradition, by our campers celebrating birthdays, our most recent Jordana Lokash Award winners, and as a special tribute this year, Dave Sheffe’s girls, Ella and Marlowe alongside his niece and nephew Dylan and Zoe Brown. It was then an early to bed—or an ETB as we call them here—so that everyone could get plenty of sleep after a long day, and so our cabins could all bond and have a great night together!

Camp is definitely in full swing now, and I can hear laughing and cheering everywhere I go. It’s great seeing so many old faces return to Manitou, but I love meeting new friends, as well. I have to go now…even a moose has to do swim and lice checks! Until next time…

Yours Moosily,

Manny the Moose

Counting Down the Minutes!

It was another amazing day here yesterday at Manitou! The sun was shining, the birds were singing…even our new adopted bunny rabbit was feeling fine!  Now that all of the activities are being set up for our campers, I can count down the minutes until everyone arrives. Everything looks great, and I know the campers will think so, too! I just can’t wait until they get here!

We started off the day with the arrival of all the camper duffel bags, and it took a tremendous effort by the entire staff to get them into the cabins and ready for the kids to unpack their stuff! It didn’t matter if you’re big or small, strong or not, everyone was able to help each other and make moving bags a great time! I’ve never seen so many bags move so quickly, and it just shows how tight knit this staff group is, and how our family always wants to lend a hand.

After all that hard work, we deserved a great lunch—and we got it with Chef William’s famous fish and chips! But a great meal wasn’t all that happened at lunch, as we had our MHL themed meal, where everyone sat with the Manitou Staff Hockey League teams they were drafted onto. It was the perfect way to meet our captains, teammates, and feel like we were all part of a winning squad! I can’t wait until the games start and we all get to cheer for our favourite teams.

All in all, it’s fantastic to see the camp so perfect, the lake looking beautiful, and the smiles on everyone’s faces. Even as I write this, counselors are making signs to welcome their campers and people are laughing and singing.

It’s time for me to make my cabin sign too! And by the way, if you’re reading this, please share it with all your Manitou friends and family cause I have a lot more to say all summer long!

Until next time…

Yours Moosily,

Manny the Moose

Birthdays, Counsellors, and Bags…Oh My!

I just finished off another delicious breakfast – Manitou McMuffins – from our amazing Chef William, and wanted to tell you all about our day yesterday up here at Manitou! The counselors were hard at work, starting off the day with waterfront and First Aid training. Our friend Eric “Shendy” Shendelman, of Shendy’s Swim School, always gives us the best tips and lifesaving techniques in his First Aid sessions, and our wonderful swim staff put our staff through the greatest training around, always keeping safety a priority!

After our safety-based sessions, we went to a couple of fun and exciting talks with two Manitou veterans—Mike Levinsky and Sandy Foster. Although Mike doesn’t go to Camp Manitou anymore, he came up and did a special session all about being “the best of the best”, helping our staff members with confidence and tips for their cabins and campers. Plus, he had us all dancing—and I love to put on my dancing shoes! Sandy Foster, our Head of Theatre and a long-time Manitou staff member, told us classic camp programming stories from his over 30 years of camp experience, and he made us laugh, cry, and feel inspired.

As if the day couldn’t get more fun, we walked into dinner to find we were having a birthday themed meal. That meant everyone sat together at a table according to the month they were born, which was a great way to make new friends, and have a blast with people you may not get to sit with during the summer. Our wonderful programming duo Justin Shears and Sarah-Rose Wentling took the dinner one step further, too, and had us playing party games and smashing piñatas. There was even a giant birthday cake there, as we continue to celebrate Mark and Jeff’s 20th year at the camp.

After dinner, the counselors were bursting with excitement as they finally found out who they would be paired with, and which campers and cabin they would be taking care of. It was great to see everyone with big smiles moving into their new cabins, and I know the campers will be so happy, too!

Later on, the Manitou Hockey League captains drafted their teams for this summer, hoping to make a squad that would take the championship this year. The MHL is a blast for staff and is also a great opportunity for campers to be involved in camp spirit and cheer for their favourite staff members.

While I was in the draft watching to see who went to what team, I received some amazing photos from baggage duty. I know camp is coming up soon when baggage duty day arrives! Most of you probably met our wonderful staff and CITs as you dropped off duffels to the truck, and you can see from their photos how much fun they were having!

It’s such a nice day today, I just have to go and play some baseball with all my friends! Until next time…

Yours Moosily,

Manny the Moose

A Beautiful Night at Fireside

Yesterday was another jam-packed day up here at Manitou. Although the temperature went up and down, not a drop of rain was felt, and the skies were clear by lunchtime! With all of our staff here, we had more swim checks, a salsa dancing extravaganza for our head staff, and for the first time in Manitou history we welcomed CANVAS, a consent training organization, to educate every single staff member in camp on good modelling. Though we like to have fun, fun, fun all day long, it’s important we stay safe and informed, too!

After a busy day, we were all able to mellow out at our breathtaking Friday Night Fireside spot. Even though it was Sunday night, we had a very special edition of Fireside for our staff to be welcomed into our Manitou family. For those of you who don’t know, Fireside is a place where our entire camp can gather one night a week to look out onto the lake, relax, take a breath, and just listen to each other. Sometimes I go down there just to appreciate this incredible place we call home.

To start off the night, we had our Head of Tripping Rachel Klein give a land acknowledgement, where we learned about the original people who lived on this land, and how we can continue to love and take care of it. Next, we had veteran Manitou staff member Denise “Mama D” George tell us all about how Friday Night Fireside began—a history I didn’t even know about! She told us all about the value-based system at Manitou, and how exciting it is to hear campers tell us their stories every single week. I always learn something new from my friends at Fireside, and I hope everyone can take something out of it.

The night had just begun though, and we had a lot more to discuss and reflect on. Our annual ‘bead’ ceremony was next; a staff tradition that started back in 1999, Mark and Jeff’s first year at Manitou. Every staff member received a necklace with different coloured beads on it, indicating how many years they have worked at the camp, and reflecting other honours received at the camp, as well. Although most of our necklaces look different, we can all be connected as one big Manitou staff family by each having beads. It’s a very special tradition we have here at camp, and it’s great seeing how full some of these bead necklaces are!

The night ended on a more bittersweet note, as we had a memorial for our dear friend David “Luigi” Sheffe, who passed away from a heart attack just before our 2018 camp season was set to begin. Dave, as most know, was the Assistant Director for Camp Manitou, and had been with Mark and Jeff at the camp since they started here 20 summers ago. He was their right-hand man, a mentor to many staff and campers over the years, a husband, father, and he was everyone’s buddy. Though many tears were shed for David at the memorial, together with his wife Heather we celebrated his life as best as we could. Some of his and his family’s close friends spoke about Dave, where they shared funny stories, personal anecdotes, and values David had that we can continue to spread at camp and throughout our lives. Some people threw sticks into the fire to remember Luigi, and the night ended with our staff around the fire, holding each other, and silently remembering our friend. His memory and legacy will live on in camp through his beautiful family, physical tributes being built to honour him, and his spirit.

All in all, it was a busy day as usual at camp, and we were all there for each other as a big Manitou family.

Now I’m off to my First Aid Training! Until next time…

Yours Moosily,

Manny the Moose

Making Connections!

After a busy Saturday, I can’t wait to update you all on everything that’s been happening up here at camp! All of our staff arrived safe and sound, and were greeted by our snazzy new tech signs posted all around the camp that remind us Manitou 2018 is all about finding the connection WITHOUT all of that technology! The best connections are the ones we make with each other, and these signs are just helpful reminders of that. That’s one of our amazing CIT co-ordinators Josh Robins posing with one of the beautiful posters, and look at how happy he is without any cellphone in sight!

After our staff were off the bus and put into their units, it was off to the races! We sat by the fire with our fearless leaders Mark and Jeff as they recounted their story of Manitou and how it’s their 20th year at the camp. And then all of a sudden, a birthday party began! Some of our enthusiastic veteran staff members all dressed up as different themed birthday parties and led the rest of our staff around camp in some silly games. If you looked one way, there was Luau playing musical chairs against Superhero parties, and if you looked the other way, Team Quincanera was battling Hoedown in a relay race. Plus, we got to decorate some birthday cakes, play pin the tail on the donkey, and even make up a new and improved happy birthday song—because this isn’t just a normal birthday!

And after all of that wackiness was done, our staff gathered around the campfire for some S’mores—a classic Manitou tradition. It was a time to relax, laugh, and meet new friends. I can’t think of a more camp-y way to end the day than around the campfire with some buddies.

Looks like it’s time to do my swim check now…until next time!

Yours Moosily,

Manny the Moose

Welcome to Summer 2018!

It’s hard to believe a year has passed and we’re already back at Manitou for summer 2018. Though we don’t have our hundreds of campers up here yet, our staff have been arriving and making our summer home just perfect. The sun has been shining non-stop and the lake is at perfect swimming temperature!

Wednesday saw the Unit Heads arrive along with all 9 directors, and on Thursday we had our head staff come up—those are our activity heads, and even some specialists—and it’s the best group I’ve ever seen. From the moment they stepped off the bus, I could tell there was an amazing energy with this group. We’ve played wacky games like Huckle Buckle where Mark and Jeff led the wacky charge, we played a wild round of Name Bingo which had us laughing up a storm, and at lunch a spontaneous cheer happened—Manitou favourite, the Tooty-Ta! The vibe of the staff has been fantastic, and in just a few hours we’ll have our Manitou counselors arriving to complete our Manitou Staff Family. I can hardly wait! I can hear the lunch bell now…so until next time!

Yours Moosily,

Manny the Moose