A Spooky Manitou Halloween!

It’s another sunshine-y day at Manitou today! I woke up to another beautiful day and to a lot of smiling faces. Our L.I.T.s (Leaders in Training—second year seniors) left this morning to go on their annual rafting trip, and I could tell they were all super excited for the adventures they were about to have! I can’t wait until they get back and we can hear all of their stories…I bet they’re making memories right now!

Speaking of memories, our Manitou campers and staff had a lot of memorable moments last night during our annual Halloween. I know it may seem funny to have Halloween during the summer, but here at camp we go all out and make it one of the best nights of the summer! Everyone dressed up and got to Trick or Treat for candy from all of the staff, go on a hayride, eat at the corn roast, play some fun games, and of course, go into the spooky Haunted House! There were so many fun and creative costumes, and some tasty candy, too. Then we ended the night with a big camp-wide dance and people were really showing off their best moves! It was one of our best Halloweens ever, and I know people will be talking about it for the rest of the summer.

Today at camp, we have our regular activities running, and some of our campers have been hard at work training for various athletic events we have coming up! This session, we have two Intercamps, where we will be competing against different camps in a variety of sports. Our Under 12 and Under 16 teams have been doing try-outs and practices all week long, and I think we’re putting together one of our best Manitou Intercamp teams yet! We also have some young runners training for the 15th Annual Muskoka Rocks Race, which is a special summer race where over 600 participants run to raise money for Camp Oochigeas, an overnight camp for children with cancer. Every year, we send some of our amazing Manitou runners to do the run, and it’s so awesome that they get to do something they enjoy, while also helping a good cause.

And then, of course, like every Tuesday night at Manitou, we will be having our Cabin Activity Rotation, which is where cabins go to activities they may not normally try and bond together. I love seeing our outgoing campers try all sorts of new things, with big smiles on their faces!

Well, off to go Wakeboarding with my friend Avery, our Head of Ski and Wakeboarding! Until next time…

Yours Moosily,

Manny the Moose

A Very Special Fireside

It was another beautiful night yesterday, and before heading down to our weekly Friday Night Fireside spot overlooking the majestic Lake Manitouwabing, we had the entire camp meet us at Dave’s Place, a new sunset firepit that was built to honour the legacy of David Sheffe. Below you can read what Mark and Jeff said in honour of David, and it was, of course, a very emotional time for all of us, but a very special thing to do.

We then continued down to Fireside, and our 8 core values that were written 20 years ago by Manitou campers were explained to our new Second Session campers. After that, we once again honoured one male and one female camper from each unit with a candle, for demonstrating all of those Manitou values, and going above and beyond. We then heard eight campers who were all at Manitou for their second summer speak to new campers about their experience of when they were new up here at camp. They blew me away with their wise words, and it was so special of them to say that every staff and camper is here for each other.

Because you readers didn’t get to hear all of the speeches, here are some quotations I’ve put here just for you:

“At first I was afraid of coming because I didn’t speak English, and sometimes I cried, and then one day I said ‘I feel better’ and camp made me feel at home. It’s my family now. So to the first time campers I want to tell you that these are going to be the best days of your life …and you will learn a lot of English too!”

– Daniel age 9

I would love to tell you what our Freshkid camper said, but Jennifer spoke with no notes and somehow was able to articulate how much she loved camp last year and not to worry about anything!

Isabelle, our Sophomore camper then spoke so beautifully and said, “Camp will become your family … not like brothers and sisters and parents, but I mean family as a bunch of different people of all over the world  who become such good friends.” I agree Isabelle!

Noah, who is also just 9 years old, talked about his supportive and caring counsellors.  He also told us he’s a picky eater, but he loves the food here…so go Chef William!

Ally, from our Junior Unit, talked about how Manitou “feels like home, because everyone is kind and tries to make new campers feel comfortable.” Plus she can’t wait for World Games…and I feel the same!

Moumoud talked about how his brother and him had never been to camp before and how nervous they were, but how they ended up having the best time. He told us, “We fished, played volleyball, learned how to shoot an arrow, took yoga classes, did woodworking, and had campfires. We even learned how to handle horses, how to treat them, how to groom them, and of course how to ride them.” I think everything he did is super cool!

Ruby in Seniors wrote a beautiful poem about how she knew nobody last year, and how she now has a whole cabin of friends. She said that, “Camp is staying up late with friends, praying that camp never ends. Camp is the best place, and I am sure by now you will see a smile on your face.”

Finally, our wonderful camper Ferran, all the way from Spain, wrote a beautiful piece, where he said, “I was nervous flying on my own to a different country, but Manitou treated me so well that those feelings disappeared and my cabin accepted me with open arms. Manitou has also been good for me, as I could only come to camp if my grades were good, so it was a good motivation all year! The best way to enjoy Manitou is to try all of the activities, and meeting new people…don’t close your mind and make sure you go meet people. Then you will return with amazing relationships and unbelievable experiences.”

We closed out our inspiring Fireside with the Sophomore Unit singing “Lean On Me,” and saying some brief, wonderful words about out theme for the summer “Caring is Community.” And we finished off with our directors Mark Diamond and Jeff Wilson telling us about our First Session charity, Save A Child’s Heart, which provides life-saving surgery to people around the world.

We then read our poem and sang our Manitou song to end off a perfect Fireside. We can’t wait until next Friday night when we have a gust speaker from Eva’s Place—an organization that provides shelter for homeless youth. We can’t wait until our campers learn about how they can make a difference in this world. And we will be kicking off my favourite part of every summer—Community Week! That’s where we dedicate an entire week to giving back and doing Random Acts of Kindness. Stay tuned for all of that!

If you would like to read what Mark and Jeff said for their dedication to Dave’s Place, just click HERE!

Now I’m off to Crafts to go make bracelets with the Head of Crafts, Jordy! Until next time…

Yours Moosily,

Manny the Moose

Activities Galore!

The past couple days at Manitou have been action-packed with activities, and I’m so excited to share all of our camp happenings with you! Our campers have been going to the activities they chose for themselves, and it’s so fun to see everyone trying new things, or even excelling at programs they’ve done before. Plus, last night we had activities running for our cabin groups, and they got to try things they normally wouldn’t take. There were athletic cabins painting at Creative Arts, more artistic cabins play a friendly game up at Hockey, and some groups trying Archery for the first time ever! And we even had a Manitou favourite, Baking with Shelley, running for cabin groups that wanted to bake some delicious treats with our very own Shelley Diamond. And boy oh boy, was it ever tasty! Plus, our Freshkid Unit had their own game of Paint Tag, where campers and staff could play together, and it looked like a blast!

Today is a regular activity day, as well, and it’s been awesome to see some new smiling faces running around camp and having an amazing time! Plus, this morning, our L.I.T.s once again welcomed campers from the CNIB Lake Joseph Centre, and showed them a day in the life of a Manitou camper. Our visitors got to try the Climbing Wall, the Adventure Park, and Archery, and it was extremely inspiring seeing all of our CNIB friends excel at activities they’ve never tried before, and to see our L.I.T.s cheering them on every step of the way.

Off to dinner for some Friday Night chicken! Until next time…

Yours Moosily,

Manny the Moose

A Second Session Snapshot!

Second Session has officially started! Yesterday we had some rainy weather, but you couldn’t even tell with all the bright, smiling faces hopping off the bus! We had campers new and old arrive to their home away from home, and I can’t wait to see them all at their activities and participating in camp. After a quick introduction, and a tasty dinner, our cabins were off touring the camp and hearing from all of our Activity Heads about our over-35 activities…so many choices! Our new campers then went and made their schedules, and I know they’re just going to love being at camp.

Today is another busy day up here at Manitou, with our cabins spending some quality time together, and having the chance to bond! Our new campers will be doing their swim and health checks of course, and then they’ll get to spend the day with their cabinmates taking a group photo, and going around to various activities they may never have tried on their own. I have seen Senior Boy cabins at Eco Adventure, Sophomore Girls at Fitness, and even Freshkids at Woodworking! And who knows….maybe someone will find out their true passion on this wacky cabin rotation day! But there’s one thing I know for sure…EVERYONE is going to have a blast!

There are so many exciting things coming up this month like Midnight Madness, Halloween, World Games and more! I can’t wait! But right now I’m off to Rock ‘n’ Roll to play some tunes and meet some new campers! Until next time…

Yours Moosily,

Manny the Moose

Heading to the Finish Line!

We’re always busy bees at Manitou! Even today, the last day of First Session, we’re still running activities so our campers can have one more chance to do what they love! It’s the final ski, tennis match, hockey game, and I’ve even seen campers putting their finishing touches on bracelets, tables, or teapots that they made! There is a definitely a great energy around camp, and our Manitou campers are excited as usual.

Yesterday we had an incredible Tribal Games, where campers could show off their spirit, sportsmanship, athleticism, and artistic abilities. Our four teams–the Grand Canyon, the Great Barrier Reef, Mount Everest, and the Northern Lights–fought extremely hard all day, and up until the last minute, I had no idea who was going to win! But in the end, Team Great Barrier Reef, led by captains Zach Friedman and Chenaye Neale, took the victory, and were the winners of Tribal Games 2018! Everyone had an incredible day, and it was great to see our Manitou family so involved and committed to their teams.

Tonight, after our first session campers pack-out, we will celebrate with our annual First Session Banquet. This year the theme is Fairytales, and I’m excited to see how our L.I.T.s (Leaders in Training–second year seniors) decorate the Dining Hall, and take us into their Fairytale land! It’s always a nice treat to have a fancy meal at the end of the session, and I hope everyone had a great time! But once the Banquet is done, the night still continues!

We will have our first session awards, where each activity will give out two awards to campers who have accelerated, improved, or just been all around great people at their activities. It’s always a nice honour to receive an activity award, and I love cheering for all of my friends who win them! We will finish up the night as we always do, by watching our First Session Slideshow, and getting to relive some of the memories we have from this month. I will be sad to see some of my friends going home, but I will count down the days until I get to see them again next year!

Off I go to get one good sail in before the session is done! Until next time…

Yours Moosily,

Manny the Moose

Visitors Day and Tribal Games 2018

The end of first session is near, and even though it makes me sad, we still have so many fun things going on at camp! On Friday night, we saw another fantastic edition of the Dance Show, where our dance campers showed off their modern dance, hip-hop, and tap skills. They were incredible, and I was once again extremely impressed by our talented campers…they need to teach this moose how to dance!

After the Dance Show, the Junior Unit performed The Lion King, and it was a rendition that blew everyone away! We laughed, we cried, we gasped, and I saw more than one person tapping their feet and humming along to the songs. The theatre campers and staff always astound me, and this time was no exception, as we saw breathtaking costumes and sets, and were lucky enough to hear these incredible voices singing classics like “Circle of Life.”

On Saturday, as many of you readers know, was our annual Visitors Day! Our lovely Manitou family trekked from all over to camp, and it was great to have the entire community together for one day in the place we call home. Parents had the chance to see their kids participate in all sorts of activities, plus Chef William cooked us up his amazing Visitors Day buffet, where there’s something for everybody! Mark and Jeff ended the day with a speech to all of our Manitou families, which you can read HERE! But the day wasn’t over when all of our visitors left, in fact it had just begun!

Saturday night, we had another theatre show, where we saw the Seniors and C.I.T.s perform in Wicked, and once again it was spectacular! The campers took us through what happened BEFORE the story we all know and love, and it was thrilling. And of course, as always, the campers sounded fantastic and they can sing better than I ever will! Once Wicked had finished, there was excitement in the air, because our campers knew that night was the beginning of Tribal Games 2018!

Everyone went back to their cabins to find out what colour team they were on, and then went down to the Hangar to see the official opening of the program! The secret theme was told to us, and we found out that it was Natural Wonders of the World. The four teams that would be competing this year were revealed to be Mount Everest, the Grand Canyon, the Northern Lights, and the Great Barrier Reef, and our wonderful captains are some of our top staff members who were honoured with the captainship because they always go above and beyond! You can even see their spirit flowing out of the photos above! It’s going to be another exciting Tribal Games and I can’t wait to see who takes the title!

Gotta go see all those amazing Dining Hall decorations now! Until next time…

Yours Moosily,

Manny the Moose

We’re Wrapping Up!

Even though first session is coming to a close, and today is the last activity day, there are still so many exciting things happening around camp! Even today, on this gorgeous sun-filled Friday, we are celebrating Pajama Day! Everyone is wearing their best set of PJs or onesies around camp, and making their nighttime wear stylish for all to see. It’s a blast seeing everyone at their activities in their pajamas…what fun!

Today was amazing as always, but there was so much happening the past few days, I just have to give you a recap! This week we celebrated New Years Eve–in the middle of July! I know that may seem strange to some of you, but since they were the winners of last year’s Tribal Games, we thought it would be great to have a big New Years Eve celebration during the summer. All day long I saw people in party hats, with sashes, and counting down to the new year–2018.5–everywhere they went, as many times as they could! At lunch, the ball dropped to signify the new year, and everyone cheered!

But summer New Years Eve hasn’t been the only fantastically fun thing going on at Manitou this week. Just yesterday we saw the Manitou Film Festival, which is always a treat! Our talented Video staff and campers always put on an incredible festival of the films they have been working on, and this year was no exception. There were comedies, dramas, music videos, documentaries, and even stop motion! I was blown away by the talent and creativity, and can’t wait to see what the second session festival has in store!

Just after the Manitou Film Festival ended, we had to say goodbye to our friends from Adventure Valley Day Camp. They had the chance to experience the Manitou camper lifestyle, and I sure hope they enjoyed their time here at camp! I know every time I saw them, they had huge smiles on their faces and were always ready to participate in their activities! I hope I get to see some of them as Manitou campers again next summer!

After all the films, cabin activities, and beach visits were done for the day, we settled down at our Fireside spot for a very special Blanket ceremony. Every year, we honour our campers and staff who have hit the ten year milestone at Manitou with a beautiful blanket and a speech about them. All of our campers and staff gathered by the water to hear about fourteen of our wonderful blanket recipients, and hear stories about them throughout the years at camp. There were smiles, tears of joy, and I am sure some lifelong memories were made. Next session, we will hear about the rest of our 2018 blanket class, and I am sure it will be just as lovely as this ceremony.

I can’t believe we did all of that in a week, and there is so much more to come in the next few days! Tonight I am excited to see our Junior Unit show us their talents in The Lion King, and I can feel the anticipation for what is always a thrilling Dance Show! Tomorrow we will be watching the Seniors and C.I.T.s perform in Wicked, and I have a feeling I’ll be seeing some of you readers throughout the day, as well! And on Sunday, we will be competing in our annual Tribal Games…but more on all of this later.

I’m going to go over to our Fitness Studio, and see how many push-ups this moose can do! Until next time…

Yours Moosily,

Manny the Moose

A Canoe Trip to Remember

I woke up today and couldn’t believe that first session had flown by so quickly! We’ve had so many beautiful days filled with fun, that I hadn’t even noticed the days going by! I thought that since today was one of the last activity days of this month, I would go and explore what’s going on around camp.

At Crafts, everyone was making Tie-Dye shirts AND slime! It was messy up there for sure, but everyone was having a great time, and those colourful shirts are going to look amazing! After that, I went on down to Canoe and Kayak and found that they were having the annual Canoetar event. That’s when the Guitar and Canoe programs have a special day where they team up and play some tunes while paddling! Our fantastic campers were able to show off all of their talents at once, and it was great to relax on the beach and listen to some awesome music.

Then I went over to the Trip Shack, and a camper told me an inspiring story all about his canoe trip. My friend told me that he was pretty nervous to go on a canoe trip, and didn’t really think he would enjoy it, but his parents told him he must go. So after talking to some of our wonderful Trippers and staff, he decided he would take the plunge and go. And boy was it the right decision! He ended up helping out the Trippers, hiking, swimming in waterfalls, catching fish, canoeing in the sunset, AND finding a beautiful cave to explore along the Mattawa River! He not only got over his fear of going on trip and outdoor exploring, but he told me he wants to go again next summer! A big kudos to the parents who pushed him in the right direction, and it just shows that you don’t know if you’ll like something until you try!

I hope I get to go on a canoe trip this summer, but it will have to wait, because now I’m off to sit with spin some tunes with my good friend Robbie, the Head of Radio! Until next time…

Yours Moosily,

Manny the Moose

All Sorts of Adventures at Manitou!

I just woke up to another fantastic day here at Manitou! The sun is shining, the lake looks cool and calm, and there’s a great breeze rolling over Main Field. It’s the perfect day for all of the many adventures we have going on today at camp!

We of course have all of our regular activities running still, but we also have some new friends coming into Manitou, and some of campers venturing out! Today, our Manitou Dance Team is off to Camp Wahanowin to compete in a Dance Intercamp, and I am cheering them on from afar! Every summer, different camps send dance teams to compete against each other in a super special Intercamp, and the Manitou team always does a fantastic job! I can’t wait to hear about all the incredible dances we did, and also all the awesome performances from our friends at other camps. Go team!

Some more of our campers are going out of Manitou today as they paddle into the wilderness for our annual Girl Power canoe trip. Each summer here at Manitou, our amazing canoe tripping team finds a group of girls who want to go exploring  together in the beautiful landscape of Northern Ontario, learning how to paddle, cook in the outdoors, and even start a fire– amazing life skills that they may never learn at camp or home. This year, our campers are off to Algonquin Park, and even though I’ll miss them, I know those seven lucky girls are going to have the time of their life, and make memories they’ll never forget!

Though we have some campers heading out of camp today, we also have some new kids coming to join us at Manitou! It’s that time of summer again where we welcome our friends from Adventure Valley Day Camp to experience the overnight summer camp life at Manitou! The campers from Adventure Valley stay at Manitou for three whole days, and they get to do all of the things our campers get to do. They will make their own schedules just like Manitou campers, they’ll go to Evening Programs with some of our units, and they’ll even get to have Chef William’s famous meals! It’s a great transition for kids to see what overnight camp is like, and I know by the end they’ll all love living in a cabin with all of their friends! I can’t wait to meet all the Adventure Valley campers later today–I’m going to give them a big moose hug!

But for now, off to Soccer to watch our World Cup tournament! Until next time…

Yours Moosily,

Manny the Moose

Rookie Day at Manitou!

Another day has come and gone, and yesterday was one of my favourite days of the summer so far! We woke up to another beautiful, sunny day which was perfect weather for Rookie Day 2018! For those of you who don’t know what Rookie Day is, it’s a day during camp where we welcome kids ages 5-9 up to see Manitou and experience camp for a day. They get to try different activities like Horseback Riding, Woodworking, Video, Adventure Park and more, plus they’re lucky enough to try some of Chef William’s amazing Manitou meals! Our L.I.T.s (Leaders In Training–second year seniors) guide our little Rookies around, and I know everyone was having the best day ever! They ended the day in the greatest way possible by taking home a Manitou towel, a picture to remember the day, and of course some Tuck–a Manitou favourite. It was another successful day, and I hope to see some of our Rookies as Manitou campers next summer!

Today is another exciting day at camp, with our second Intercamp of the summer, and this time we’re off to Camp Tamakwa! Once again, we’ll be competing in hockey, basketball, softball, archery, climbing, and swimming, and I know our Manitou athletes will make us proud. It doesn’t matter who wins in the end, as long as everyone has fun, and Intercamp is always a blast! Our Manitou Intercamp team is one of the most sportsmanlike and spirited groups around, and I can’t wait to hear all of the stories they tell when they return to camp.

I’ve been telling all you incredible readers about our days here at Manitou, that I haven’t told you anything about our evenings! After dinner, almost every night, we have Evening Programs–or E.P.s for short. Evening Programs are fun games, activities, or events that our amazing Unit Head team plan for their units, and they’re always creative and fun! Recently, our Freshkid Unit had a Pizza Delivery program that had Freshkid cabins attempting to deliver “pizza” to fussy Activity Head customers. It was great to see all of our Freshkids bonding as a cabin and figuring out strategies to complete their tasks. And just last night when I went over to Main Field, I saw our Sophomore Unit participating in a medical themed E.P. where cabins did activities at various stations, while also raising money for Save A Child’s Heart! It was inspiring to see our campers not only having fun, but showing that raising money and helping a good cause can be something enjoyable for everybody!

It’s time for me to get ready for the day! I’m going to get my glove and go play catch with my good pal Aaron Oelbaum, our Head of Baseball! Until next time…

Yours Moosily,

Manny the Moose