It’s hard to believe the summer has flown by so fast, and that Manitou 2018 has wrapped up. After World Games finished—congrats to Team Scotland!—we all packed up and got ready to head home. But before we all got on the busses, we had two amazing banquets to send off an amazing summer.
First we had our Staff Banquet, and the final night for staff is as emotional as it is for the campers. After a wonderful staff slideshow, we had five staff speak to the entire group about their camp experience. There were new staff, returning staff, counsellors, and head staff, and the range of stories and lessons were valuable for everyone to hear! Here are some of the beautiful thoughts from that staff banquet from our unique and special staff members!
From a second year staff member:
“Each year at Manitou is special and memorable due to the friendships and memories we make. However, this year is different. Not only did I make memories with my friends, I also made memories with my campers that I know none of us will forget. Prior to meeting my campers, I honestly didn’t realize how much I would come to love them, laugh with them, and how much fun we would have as a cabin. I remember talking to my two best counsellors during pre-camp– Adam Dennis and Gorlick – and I asked them, ‘How are you so great, how did you make every moment so fun?’ They responded with a simple answer, ‘You have to be a smart idiot.’ This means you joke around, but you still show your charismatic tendencies in the right way.
I started the summer with a cabin that was not together, and I wanted these boys to realize that that to make this the best summer ever, they would have to have each other’s backs, and not bring each other down. I kept tossing up a common theme of being united as a cabin, and I got the campers to throw their hand in the middle so I could say a pregame speech and a cheer on 3. I remember after an Evening Program there was a ton of garbage to be picked up but no other cabin was around to clean up and I said, “Alright we are a cabin and here is the plan, we are going to break from this huddle in 20 seconds and pick up all the garbage, and then play basketball.” Picking up garbage, especially of other kids, was the last thing they wanted to do but they did it. It’s moments like these I will remember because in that huddle I looked around the circle and I saw a smile on everyone’s face. I never knew people would be so happy picking up garbage and they were laughing and loving it because it was about doing it together.
The ups the downs have shaped who we are today and gave us the tools on how to be better in the future. I remember in pre-camp being told to give the campers the best summer ever but I was never told it would be so easy if you yourself were also able to have the best summer ever.
Coming back to camp was the best decision I have ever made. Every day, night and moment at Manitou is so special. I know this may sound a bit cheesy, but not coming back last summer truly opened up my eyes and made me grateful to come to a place and be who I am.”
Our final speaker at our Staff Banquet was Sandy Foster, who just a few nights earlier had announced his camp retirement after the final play. After 19 summers at Manitou—ten as a director, and nine as Head of Theatre—it made the final Theatre show and last couple of days bittersweet. But have no fear! Mark down November 4th and come out to see Sandy’s final play in Toronto. The Seniors and C.I.T.s will be reprising Les Miserables, and it’s a great way to thank Sandy for his wonderful contributions to Manitou for almost two decades. Here is a small snippet of what Mark and Jeff said about Sandy after the final play:
“As you know, Sandy puts on amazing plays, but more importantly when you are in a play in the Theatre, the entire group becomes so close and they love putting on the play.It becomes a mini Manitou family like no other, and Sandy is so incredible at creating that positive atmosphere. The support of each other is paramount to every production.
Sandy works so hard but he cares so much. Who else would come to you and say I want to put on our theatre show in town for the parents. To spend that much work to prepare for that in the Fall is simply beyond what any person would do. This has allowed our parents to understand the magic of camp by bringing them the plays to Toronto while allowing us to raise money for our charity of the year.
Sandy has taught his children to be true to themselves and follow their passion, and both Julie and Lanny are just such wonderful people and refreshingly are each true personalities in their own right, adding so much to make the world a better place and being people you want to hang out with, work with and befriend. Seeing the Foster family together here, with Lanny coming up last minute and Dale here on this special night, is a fitting way to say thank you to you all, for allowing Sandy to be here each summer and to give so much to all of us each and every summer.”
Mark and Jeff then spoke, as they always do, at the closing of our Staff Banquet. It’s a great tradition to end off the summer, for the staff to hear from our two fearless leaders, and they always give some final words of wisdom. Here are some of the things they left us with this summer.
“Once again, the gigantic power of human connection in a world that sometimes forgets that real honest relationships have the power to change the world played itself out these past eight weeks here at camp.
One thing that always resonates for me more than ever is the long time campers that I have met as adults on staff who all share a bond and loyalty to their childhood camp friends. And I think this comes out of spending so much time together in a place where they had to figure things out, sometimes things that were hard like homesickness or learning a skill or figuring out relationship building. Adversity creates bonds that are irreplaceable, and being away from the typical supports allows for growth in a way that few things can. We have felt the community and support this summer like I have never felt it before. It’s simply been inspiring.
When all is said and done what the kids will remember most of all and what is truly the magic of Manitou is the people who they meet, the friends they make, the young men and women who touch their lives and hearts, as important role models and leaders that they admire and emulate as they grow up. The lessons they learn are as much about how to be good people as how to climb, sail or play guitar. It’s about how to help a homesick friend, how to serve your community, how to work as a team, about how to be tolerant of others and stand up for what is right.”
“If you would have told me in late May I would be standing here once again at the end of the summer saying it has been another best summer ever, I honestly would not have believed it. Don’t get me wrong, I knew it would be great, but we entered this summer in uncharted territory -both emotionally and logistically.
As I have said all summer we lost a saint, and the truth is we knew we could never replace Dave. But we have learned that if you take a group of 200 of the finest staff and ask them to step up, you can ensure that our Manitou family will remain strong forever. You did just that. It was as if each one of you did your extra ten per cent and worked together so well, allowing us to fill a hole that literally was overflowing with your goodness all summer long.
Camp is the best job in the world not only because we change kids for the better and make them so happy , but maybe more importantly it shows us that in the right environment people are truly good and that love, empathy, compassion and kindness really do flourish in a healthy community.
Chris came up to me many times this summer saying, “This is just the kindest staff. There are no bad apples.” If I had to think of the theme of this summer, it was just that: the staff’s positive energy and kindness. Not just the majority of you, but the entire staff, all summer long.
It was your positivity that allowed us to honor Dave this summer and ensure ever single camper had the best summer possible. This summer has been once again so successful because you all understood what you had to do. There was no complaining about anything this summer, and your attitude was beyond expectation. Your positivity allowed the campers to flourish and be so positive themselves.
You are an example for everyone in this world because you have shown that, as corny as it sounds, love, community, compassion, and gratitude truly does allow you to get through the tough times and still in the end be so grateful for what we have.
A defining moment was when one of our amazing C.I.T.s got up and spoke at Fireside. His words were poetic and they remind us all that Manitou is a place where we realize that our lives are enriched not only by our wonderful typical friends but by people that are truly special. And it’s those friends and relationships that we would not normally befriend that defines a healthy camp experience. This camper reminds us like so many campers and staff here that you can love people even if they are out of the box or out of your box, and you can often learn the most from those people, allowing us to lead more fulfilling lives.
So, every year we light a candle to honour each and every one of you for your dedication. As you light your candle, think of everyone here and how each and every one of you contributed in your own way this summer. Think about what you learned, the friendships you made, and the smiles on the campers faces that you created. And it goes without saying we are lighting our candles for Dave and we are all saying, “Hey buddy, guess what: we did it. We didn’t know if we could. We hope you are as proud of us as we were of you these past 20 years. As we need to know that you are overlooking us and giving us a thumbs up saying, ‘Yup you are all gonna be ok without me.’”
All of our Staff then lit our candles, and it was a perfect ending to a great summer. But it’s not just our Staff that have the chance to speak at the end of our summer! After hearing from some staff at the staff banquet, we then get to see Mark and Jeff present some honours, and then hear from campers that speak on the last night of camp, just before the flag is lowered. First, we presented 15 year gifts and made wonderful speeches about our head of maintenance Glen Crossman, our doctor and his wife Jeremy and Shelley Friedman, and finally honoured Avery Gales, our longtime camper and current Head of Wakeboard/Waterski. Then directors Jen and Chris surprised Mark and Jeff with a 20 year tribute to the camp and to them. We ended with a Manitou original, “Three Days and Counting,” and there was not a dry eye in the house, as everyone sang together. It’s so nice to know our campers get what really counts and the true meaning of camp.
Now, here are our incredible Camp Is speeches from some amazing campers:
“Hi my name is Rolando from Mexico, and camp to me is all about friendship, tolerance and above all fun. The first day I got here last year I thought this was going to be a normal camp but it was very different from the rest…welcome to the best camp in the world where you make so many friends.”
“Hi it’s Juliet I have had an amazing time at camp, right when I got off the bus it felt like home and since I came here I forgot about my parents and had an amazing time.“
“Hi I’m Stella and this is my fifth year at Manitou. Camp to me is about 1.Fun, 2. Memories, 3. Community. I know I can rely on all my friends in the Manitou family and that leads into 4. Kindness. Everyone I meet at Manitou is soooo kind, and that is what makes Manitou. And finally, 5. Friendship. I can’t explain how important my friends are to me. These five values are at camp. I hope you had the best summer ever.”
“My name is Asher, and the reason I keep coming back to camp is because of all the amazing people. Camp is about having the most amazing cabin mates and counsellors each year, and still having paint on your body from spirit lunch when you get home. I can’t wait to continue growing up here.”
“My name is Sean and I am a first year Junior, and everything I have done since I got off the bus was amazing. From my counsellors to my cabin mates to learning the drums. Coming from another camp last year there is one thing that really sticks out about Manitou, and that is you get to choose your own activities and that allows you to meet people that are older and younger than you from around the world. One memory was when I was in the Health Center and they let me use the radio to call some kids and it got a big thank you from the Unit Heads. It’s comments like these that make Manitou the positive place it is. Even when I had to leave camp for a week I was welcomed back with open arms like I didn’t miss a beat and it’s that friendliness about Manitou that makes this my summer home.”
“My name is Lily, and camp to me is the fantastic memories, the many fun activities, and every year I get to meet new people who make such a positive impact on my summer. I love the positive energy from each staff member and camper, and the spirit of camp and how everyone gets involved and excited about everything. My favorite part was learning to do new things like sterning a canoe, dropping a ski, and much more. I love camp because it helps me try new things, work as a team, and be more sportsmanlike, and be a better person and lets me experience the best summers of my life.”
“My name is Wes and camp for me is joining a cabin of people I don’t know and feeling like I have known them for years. Camp is moving the Tetherdome and not getting into trouble, having the best counselors I could ask for, realizing how fast two months can go by, forming memories and friendships that will last a lifetime. It’s realizing what I was missing all these years.”
“Dear Diary: it’s July 15 2018 and we went on a pontoon boat ride to the outpost and got ice cream, sang songs the entire way at the top of our lungs, and danced our hearts out and had the biggest smiles on our faces out of pure joy. Dear Diary: it’s August 16, 2018 and I am making a speech about what camp is to me. I am wiping the tears out of my eyes after singing ‘Three Days and Counting,’ and I am trying to get my voice back after three days of non-stop cheering. Camp is singing songs during music lunch, camp is staying up laughing with your cabin, camp is inside jokes only four friends would understand. Camp is making the most out of every second, minute, and hour. And camp is family and camp is my home and camp is our home.”
“My name is Carter and I came for the first time last summer from California and now have had the privilege of being a C.I.T. Getting off the bus to a tunnel of staff, I knew Manitou was special and this summer made me realize camp is about staying up late with your cabin, playing roller hockey late at night, chilling and talking to friends for hours. Camp is the four day canoe trip, the bonding trip between all the C.I.T.s, planning Midnight Madness, painting murals ‘til 2am and rehearsing the break to perfection. C.I.T. summer is having the added responsibility of being on placement and having a cabin which has taught me how to be a great counsellor. Camp is dislocating your should during hockey intercamp. But what makes Manitou so special is the people. We are all brothers and sisters here, and I cannot express the love I have for everyone. This has been the best experience of my life. Camp is a community of the closest people in my life that live together for two months but cherish each other for rest of their lives. Thank you camp Manitou.”
As you can see, it’s been another incredible, inspiring, emotional, and fun summer here at Manitou. A huge thank you to all of the campers and staff for making it another Best Summer Ever, and I know I’m not the only one counting down the days until Summer 2019!
Until next time…
Manny the Moose
It’s another gorgeous Manitou day, and I have a feeling it’s going to be a fantastic final day of World Games 2018! Yesterday’s events made the competition even tighter, and I think it’s going to come down to one final push for both teams!
Yesterday, we had an incredibly close Marathon where every camper and staff ran or walked for their team, and then we went into a charged Spirit Lunch, where campers had painted themselves fully in their team colour, and were cheering at the top of their lungs. We had a World Games favourite after lunch, Staff Hockey, and then following the afternoon Activity Blocks, we went over to Scotland for their team dinner. They kindly invited us into a castle (with a full functioning drawbridge!) where we could participate in the highland games, shoot arrows at a knight, and even witness the Loch Ness Monster! Both team dinners were incredible this year, and I am in awe of the creativity of our Manitou family! We ended off last night with our annual World Games Cabaret, where each team performed an original song, a dance, painted a mural in four minutes live, showed us a video, and played past World Games trivia. It was a jam-packed night filled with lots of talent, and we got to learn about each culture a little more, too! But enough about yesterday…here’s what we have going on today!
This morning will be the Manitou Medley, a relay where every single camper and staff from both teams participate and try to get a big win for their team. Each relay event is a wacky take on a game or sport, and I love running around camp with the kids and seeing how much fun they’re having. It always ends in a very tight finish, with plenty of cheering from both sides, and I can’t wait to see who takes the win! After all the cheering of the relay, and from yesterday’s Spirit Lunch, we all head into Monk Lunch, a meal where everyone has to be completely silent. If a team is caught talking they may risk the points, so I bet everyone will be at their quietest!
After Monk lunch, the teams will compete in Activity Blocks run by their Unit Heads, so that they get one last bonding time as a group together–even if they are on different teams! And then finally, we will see the Closing Ceremonies from each team, where the story lines we have been following will conclude, and we will get to hear a World Games favourite: the closing songs. I anticipate a very tight finish, so keep your eyes on Manitou’s social media to find our the winner later tonight!
Off to follow the relay now! Until next time…
Manny the Moose
It’s a beautiful sunny day here at Manitou…perfect weather for Day 2 of World Games 2018! But before we move onto our events for today, I’ll give you a quick recap of yesterday!
We had cheering all day long, and I loved seeing all of our campers and staff getting into the spirit and culture of their countries. Morocco’s opening ceremony wowed us with their lighting effects and their rhyming script, and Scotland’s opening had us laughing and trying to solve a mystery. In the afternoon, there was an extremely close Track and Field event, which Team Scotland ended up winning in the end, and then we went into the markets and deserts of Morocco for their team dinner. We feasted on traditional Moroccan dishes, bought pottery from their markets, and even got to see some camels! The day ended with the Fashion Show and Dance Off, a thrilling night filled with spirit and fun, which Morocco ended up winning! The race is very tight right now as we head into Day 2!
This morning will be our World Games Marathon, where all of the campers and staff from each team go on a run (or Fun Walk!) and gain points for their teams! And as if the morning wasn’t exciting enough, we then head into one of my favourite lunches of the summer: Spirit Lunch! Both teams show off their best cheers, their spirit, and their wildest ideas! Sometimes campers paint themselves in their team colours to show their commitment to their team! It’s a very exciting lunch, and I can’t wait to see what these teams have planned!
After lunch, there are some more activity blocks, where campers will compete in various activities to take the points for their team, and then we will head into our second team dinner, hosted by Team Scotland. I’m sure they have a lot of surprises up their sleeve, and I’m excited to see what will be in store! To end the day, we have Cabaret, an evening of performances where each team will show us their prepared dances, original songs, paintings, videos, and past World Games trivia skills! It’s a great way for teams to get pumped up, and I love seeing the creativity and imagination of both teams.
It’s a very close World Games right now, and there’s still lots of events left before we find out the winner!
I’m off to watch the Staff Hockey now! Until next time…
Manny the Moose
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…we have some amazing and talented campers! Last night we were treated to the Senior/C.I.T. theatre show, which was Les Miserables, and I was blown away. All of the campers were amazing singers and actors, and they put on an absolutely incredible show for the rest of the camp. Plus, the show will be performed in Toronto this fall for all of you! Ticket information will be available in September and you don’t want to miss this amazing event! When the show was over, everyone knew what was going to be happening later that night, so all of our campers raced back to their cabins…
Yes, it’s finally here! The time of camp everyone has been waiting for: World Games! Last night we started the 2018 World Games–also the 30th anniversary–and you could feel the excitement and energy in the air! Everyone came down wearing their colour and with a red or blue glowstick in their hand, eagerly awaiting to find out what country they would be representing this year. We first saw the red team Captains and their Top Ten (their hardworking crew of helpers) perform a traditional dance filled with genies, lamps, and gold, and it was revealed to us that the team was Morocco, led by our Head of Dance Halle Purther and Head of Video Jordan Murley! We then went on over to the blue side, where a drawbridge on a castle opened, two knights stepped out, and the Top Ten did a traditional highland dance while wearing kilts. The knights took off their armour, and we found our captains of Scotland, Head of Canoe/Kayak Jess Whattam and longtime Manitou camper and counsellor Ben Simon! I have never seen the campers and staff so excited for their captains and countries, and I can tell already that it’s going to be a great World Games!
The first day is already a packed one, and I will give you a little taste of what they have to come! To start off the day, our two teams will be working the whole morning on their Opening Ceremonies, a way to introduce to the judges and other team what their culture is and different parts of their country. I have seen some incredible Opening Ceremonies in the past, and I can’t wait to see the creativity of our teams, and learn more about these great countries.
After that, our entire camp participates in a Track and Field event, where every Unit gets the chance to compete in events like Long Jump, Relay Race, Sprint, and even Shot put! It’s a great way to see our athletes in action and to cheer on the teams! And after our Track and Field event, our teams will go to their first Activity Block, a period of time where campers get to sign up for different activities, compete against the team, and have a blast, as well! There are things like Canoe Races, Painting Challenges, and even Trivia!
We’ll then be off to one of the most highly anticipated events of World Games: the team dinners. Tonight we’ll be heading to Morocco, and though it’s a secret what they have in store, it’s bound to be breathtaking. But I’ll update you all on that tomorrow! And finally, to end off the day, we have our Fashion Show and Dance Off. Our Fashion Show is where campers have been making outfits throughout the day based on their teams, made out of their team t-shirts, and they strut down the catwalk to impress the judges. We end on a high note with our Dance Off, where our Captains, Top Ten, and Campers Captains lead their teams in wacky and crazy dances. Whoever the judges think got their team the most involved and dancing the hardest will win!
It’s a fun ending to a great day, and I can’t wait for it all to start! Plus, there will be cheering throughout the day during meals, and I’m very excited to hear the creative chants the teams have come up with this year.
Time to go and watch the Opening Ceremonies now! Until next time…
Manny the Moose
We woke up to a bit of rain on this Manitou morning…but it didn’t dampen our spirits! Our campers and staff were still running around, laughing, and playing, and the sun is starting to come out from behind the clouds to make it another beautiful day! It is officially our last activity day of the summer, and we want to make it the best one yet!
But before I go into all of the excitement of today, I have to catch all you readers up on last night. We had our final Friday Night Fireside of the summer, and it was another inspiring evening. After the Unit and Dave Sheffe Memorial Staff Candles were given out to honour someone who has gone above and beyond this week, we heard from our C.I.T.s who spoke beautifully about our theme of the summer “Caring Is Community,” and their own lives at camp and beyond.
Alex Rossi, someone who has seldom spoken publicly volunteered to speak on the theme because for him Manitou’s community and kindness changed his life. Here are some quotes from his wonderful speech: “My hand shot up immediately to speak, but for those of you that know me you know that I am not that eloquent when it comes to my words. But this year’s theme is so dear to my heart and has been for such a long time. What makes you guys keep coming back each year…if it was just the activities or good food and special programs, my super homesick and scared out of my wits Freshkid self would have grabbed my Spongebob bed sheets and said goodbye forever. The reason i came back was because of this community that always has been maintained every year. It’s the amazing staff that allow you to make you feel like you are an awesome person that kept me coming back in my Fresh and Sophomore years and after that the 54 people in this unit sitting over there that consistently make me a part of their family.” It was an emotional moment when the entire C.I.T. unit then gave Alex a standing ovation for his incredible and heartwarming speech.
We ended Fireside as we always do, with our poem and song, and then we were off to our next destination, because the night was just beginning! Everyone in camp then went to the theatre for a double-bill performance of the Dance Show and the Junior Theatre Show. The Dance Show was, once again, a thrilling and excitement performance, and I was extremely impressed by our group of talented dancers. Our second show was titled The Manitou Show: Here We Go Again, and once again creativity was on display! The Junior campers showed off their acting and singing chops, and the group of C.I.T.s who wrote the show should be so proud of the fantastic play that they made.
After an amazing evening of speeches and theatre, everyone was off to bed, and I know they were excited for the day we have today. Not only is it our final activity day, but we have so much more going on! Today the remainder of our Blanket recipients will be honoured with their 10 Year Blankets, and I can’t wait to hear all the speeches about them and their life growing up at Manitou. Later this evening, we have our final show of the summer Les Miserables which is bound to be an amazing show based on the rehearsals I’ve heard coming from the theatre! And finally, this evening, we have the most anticipated part of camp: the start of World Games! Our campers will find out what country they will be representing, and who their fearless leaders will be. I can’t wait for the next three days of cheering, spirit, and sportsmanship, but more on that later! Tune in the next couple of days to find out what our secret countries are, and keep up to date with all of the exciting events that are in store for our campers and staff.
I’m off to Woodworking now to finish off the chair I’ve been making! Until next time…
Manny the Moose
It’s a gorgeous sunny day here at camp, and it’s an exciting one, too! We’re heading towards the finish line of camp, but there’s still so much happening! We never stop here at Manitou…not until the very last second.
Yesterday, our friends from Crestwood Day Camp left us, but I get the feeling we’ll be seeing some of them around Manitou next year. They had an awesome time trying our activities, and having the experience of sleeping in a cabin with friends…I just know they had a blast! Just after my new friends had left, I went and watched the M.I.F.F. (the Manitou International Film Festival), which our Video staff and campers have been working on all session. I was extremely impressed by the work put into all of the films, and by the creativity and imagination of our Manitou family! We laughed, we cried, we smiled, and I can’t wait until it goes up on the web in the Fall for all of you to see!
As is Thursday tradition, we had two of our Units head to Beach Day–our Juniors and Seniors this week–and the remainder of our in-camp cabins did counsellor-planned Cabin Activities. I walked around camp and saw one cabin running a car wash, another cabin dressing up as pigs, and one more cabin having a mini World Games in anticipation for the days to come. The counsellors and campers of every cabin were laughing and smiling non-stop, and I was so happy that our final Cabin Activities of the summer were memorable ones!
Speaking of memories, we have had many of our Canoe Trips come back, and tell us all stories and adventures they made while exploring the Ontario wilderness! Our 8-day trip gets back today, and I know they will have enough memories to last a lifetime, and new best friends, too!
And as if there weren’t enough amazing things going on, we have had some incredible Evening Programs running in the last few days, too! The Seniors and Sophomores teamed up to run Prom, which had epic staff promposals leading up to the big event. And the Juniors ran a great E.P. based off the TV show ‘The Bachelor.’ What will our Unit Heads think of next?
We have a lot of exciting things in the next few days like Theatre shows, Dance shows, and World Games, and I will keep all of you lovely readers up to date with everything! But for now, I must go finish my pottery projects! Until next time…
Manny the Moose
It’s a nice and breezy day here at Manitou, and perfect weather for one of our last activity days! It’s hard to believe that Second Session has flown by so quickly, and that the summer is coming to an end. But we don’t let the dates bother us here at camp…we keep having fun and making memories until the very last second!
Campers are at their activities finishing up art projects, competing in sports tournaments, and still building on their skill set at their favourite programs! Our Manitou campers are outgoing and always willing to try new things, and it’s awesome to see how much some kids have improved at their activities and to see what they’ve made. And since it’s still Community Week up at camp, some of our activities and units are going on special trips today to do what they can to give back. Our Sophomores are spending a part of today going into town and giving cards to local businesses just to thank them and let them know that they’re appreciated. And we have campers from some of our performance-based activities–Rock Music, Guitar, Drama, and Dance–going into a Parry Sound senior’s home to perform their various talents for the residents. Both of these trips show how selfless our campers are, and how they love to give back to the community in any way they can. And for those of you who want a glimpse of what our amazing Walk of Hope looked like, our fantastic Video staff have captured it all for you in the video posted below!
It’s also very fitting that during our Community Week, we had our first Theatre show of Second Session which was Peace, with songs from Hair. The show had classic songs from the Broadway musical Hair like “Aquarius” and “I Got Life,” and perfect for Community Week, the theme of the show was all about finding peace, love, and protesting against war and violence. Our incredible Freshkids and Sophomores put on a great and meaningful show, and I can’t wait until the next show!
And just to make everything even better here at camp, we have Crestwood Day Camp visiting us for a few days to check out Manitou! There are kids big and small trying out overnight camp for the first time, and judging by their smiling faces it looks like they love it already! They get to try a whole range of activities, Evening Programs, meals, and more, and I hope we see some of our Crestwood friends around here next summer!
I’m off to Creative Arts to make some cards for staff I appreciate in camp! Until next time…
Manny the Moose
Last night was one of our most special nights of Community Week and of the summer: the Walk of Hope. Our annual Walk of Hope is a quiet, peaceful night, where campers and staff walk around Main Field following a candlelit path, and they can have time to reflect. Before our Units took to the field to walk, though, we had an incredible guest speaker named Leah Denbok. She inspired the campers one Unit at the time, showing her photographs of homeless people and telling their stories. Leah’s mother was homeless at age 3, and taken in by Mother Theresa in Calcutta, so she decided that she would dedicate herself to photographing homeless people and having their stories shared. She has traveled all across North America to photograph and brings dignity and recognition to her subjects. One of the most amazing parts is that Leah is just 18 years old, but she has raised lots of money from her beautiful book called Nowhere to Call Home: Photographs and Stories of the Homeless, and she is still taking photos and spreading awareness of homelessness in North America. If you want to learn more about Leah Denbok, or see some of her amazing photos, check out: http://www.leahdenbok.com/ !
After hearing from Leah, we watched a wonderful piece that our Video staff made, incorporating our theme of the summer ‘Caring is Community.’ It’s a fantastic video and you can watch below! Then our campers watched an amazing video about how different types of walks all over the world have changed the course of history. Our incredible Head of Tripping Rach Klein made this inspiring video and it’s posted below for all of you readers to watch!
Our amazing campers were very respectful of our speakers and videos, and I was so impressed by how well they could understand that everyone deserves and opportunity, and how special the evening of the Walk of Hope is. It was then time for our Units to walk around the field, and their path was lit by candles put inside beautiful bags that were decorated by our campers and staff. They had messages of hope, love, and respect on them, and I loved taking the time to look at each bag and see what our campers had written. As our campers were walking, we also had some talented artists painting windows in our Sunroom, where they could write messages of love, and we also had our musician campers playing inspirational and spiritual music. We even had some of our staff members playing at the end, and it was a wonderful way to end the night.
Plus, our Senior Unit did something very special, where they spent the evening as a cabin preparing ideas of how they as a group could help the community. After narrowing down some incredible ideas, the top four cabins proposed what they had come up with to Mark and Jeff, and the best concept would receive support and time from our Manitou Cares team during the year to make their idea come to life! Last year’s idea resulted in over 200 cookies being made for the homeless youth at Eva’s! I’m looking forward to seeing what our creative campers come up with this year!
We still have lots of Community Week programs running in the next few days, and we’re extremely close to hitting our goal! Off to Swim to see my good friend Dallas! Until next time…
Manny the Moose
We woke up to another beautiful, sunny day today, which is perfect for the full day of fun we have here at camp! After all my years at Manitou, I have never seen such a jam-packed day, and I am so excited to tell you all about it! But first, last night we had two very exciting events that I need to tell you all about. We had our Second Session Talent Show, where our campers impressed us all showing us their incredible skills, such as singing and dancing, and our directors even did a group number together, which was an fantastic finale to a great show. Everyone then went off to bed…or so they thought! Our C.I.T.s had actually been secretly planning a program called Midnight Madness, where our campers and staff are treated to a themed night (not actually at midnight!) full of games, dancing, and food! Last night, our Counsellors In Training planned a Christmas themed event–or CITmas as they called it–and after putting on a great and hilarious skit, we went to the Dining Hall to play some holiday games, eat some gingerbread cookies, and take photos with Santa. It was an amazing evening, and I was so impressed by the work that the C.I.T.s put in, and how much fun they made it for the rest of the camp!
After an amazing night, everyone woke up refreshed and ready for a new day…and what a day it is today! Some of our Manitou runners woke up early to go and participate in the annual Muskoka Rocks Run. The proceeds of the run go to Camp Oochigeas–a camp for kids with cancer–and I know our runners will make us proud. It’s not about placing in 1st, it’s about doing something for an amazing cause! And speaking of amazing causes, we are continuing our Community Week activities today, with the Sophomores running a spa for our hardworking Directors, Unit Heads, and Kitchen Staff. It’s a small gesture, but it’s a very nice thing to do, and I am so proud of our campers for thinking of such generous things. So far, we have raised over $800, and we are still working towards our goal!
While we still have our Community Week activities running, we have plenty of other programs happening as well! At Video, campers have signed up for the 6 1/2 Film Challenge, where they are given various items and lines of dialogue, and are set with the task of filming, editing, and screening a film all in 6 1/2 hours! Over at Eco Adventure, there is a treasure hunt going on, where campers are going on a pirate themed search for hidden treasure! At OCS (Other Camp Sports), our incredible staff are running a mesmerizing glow-in-the-dark dodgeball tournament all day, and I can’t wait to go over and see how it looks! All over Art Hill, there are a number of activities particitipating in our annual Art in the Park, where Radio, Newspaper, Crafts, Creative Arts, Guitar, Photography, and Rock Music all have outdoor stations, and turn the camp into a big art festival.
And if that wasn’t enough, it’s also International Day at camp today! We’re celebrating our international campers and staff by having multiple events throughout the day. At breakfast, our Australians hosted by serving us Vegemite on toast, and at lunch, our Mexican staff and campers will be hosting a special surprise for us! Plus, later in the day, there will be cricket games going on, and a very exciting International vs Canada basketball game…it’s bound to be a nail-biter! And then later this evening, we will end the day with an outdoor dinner and cabin activities, run by incredibly hardworking counsellors. What a day!
I’m off to get my face painted now at Art in the Park! Until next time…
Manny the Moose
Last night we had another beautiful twilight evening at Friday Night Fireside, and I think it was one of my favourite nights of the summer. After our weekly candles were given out to very special campers from each unit, Mark and Jeff talked about Community Week, an annual event we have here at Manitou. For those of you who are new to our Manitou family, Community Week is a week-long event where every cabin, every unit, and every activity does something for our chosen charity, or they give back to the local community. If you want to check out the amazing list of things that are activities are doing, just click HERE!
We then heard from our guest speakers who came from Eva’s, a charity that provides incredible support for homeless youth, including housing and vocation training. For more info on Eva’s, just click this link: https://www.evas.ca/ and you can see all of the wonderful things that they do! Our friends from Eva’s engaged our campers so much that we had endless questions from campers…so many that we couldn’t even answer them all!
What surprised and impressed me even more is that for a very long Fireside—1 hour and 20 minutes!—our campers were so respectful, and absorbed everything that was said. By hearing about kids ending up the street, I think a lot of our campers indirectly learned how much gratitude they should have for the support from their own families, and they were even asking how they can help people who may not be as lucky as them. Campers from last summer may have remember Eva’s, as some of them had worked hard providing personalized cookies for homeless youth and sending messaged of love and support to youth in distress. If you scroll to the bottom of the post, you can see an amazing video of our speakers!
It was a very successful Community Week kickoff, and we will be having so much amazing stuff during the next few days to help our charities and give back. Activities and cabins will be raising money for Eva’s with various fun events, and then Manitou will be able to donate based on how much money we raised! We also have some of our Rock Music, Guitar, Theatre, and Dance campers heading out to a local Parry Sound senior’s home to entertain the residents, and other campers will be going into town to hand out gift cards to local businesses. Plus, tomorrow we will have our Manitou athletes participating in the Muskoka Rocks Run for Camp Oochigeas, and these campers have been training for weeks for this very tough 8km run! And on Monday night, we will have our annual Walk of Hope, where we will have another guest speaker, performances, and much more…but I’ll tell you all about that later!
There are so many great things going on this week that it’s hard to explain just how impactful this is for all of our Manitou campers and staff. Just imagine the maintenance staff receiving thank you cards, the kitchen staff seeing beautiful posters thanking them for their hard work, and numerous Random Acts of Kindness that campers spread around to just say thank you or that they appreciate you. It fills my heart with happiness! Community week defines Camp Manitou, and all of the values that we stand for her. Our theme this summer is Caring is Community, and Community Week is our best example to live out our ultimate mission for our campers and staff, to respect and care for one another in the Manitou community, but also the greater community as a hole.
I’m heading off to Ropes now for Wacky Sock Day! Until next time…
Manny the Moose