YAHOO! I can’t believe it, but it’s officially the start of Second Session of summer 2021!
But before I get to the start of our exciting new session, let me recap our last couple of days! On Tuesday all of our First Session campers had to sadly pack-out and get ready to go home. But even though it was a sad day for some, we had an exciting and happy evening. We had our traditional banquet, where our Dining Hall and Dining Tents are decked out in decorations, and the camp even served steak! We then went to our awards ceremony where each activity gives out a couple of awards to campers they feel have improved or made an impact at their activity. I saw so many smiling campers holding onto their awards and I hope that everyone is so proud of all they have accomplished First Session! Then of course we followed up the Awards with our end of month slideshow, where we could see beautiful pictures of all of our campers and staff having a blast! And then we ended the night with all of us singing our camp song, “Deep in the Heart of the North” together. It was a great ending to a fantastic session, and though I was sad to see some of our campers go, I know they’ll be back next session for some more summer fun!
Just yesterday, we had all of our Second Session campers arrive with big smiles on their faces ready to have some fun! They were all greeted by their Counsellors and Unit Heads, and I can tell they’re already all having a great time. They got to tour the camp and hear from our Activity Heads about the things they can put on their schedule, and this morning I see them all running around to activities and to do their swim tests. It’s so exciting to see familiar faces and to also meet some new friends…I know they’ll all fit in to our big Manitou family!
Well, I’ll have more news to tell you soon, but right now I’m off to see our Head of Sail Arielle so she can teach me how to properly sail a boat!
Manny the Moose
WOWZA! We’re almost at the end of First Session and I just can’t believe it! We’ve all been having a blast up here, so I guess time really does fly!
Sunday night we had our Dance Show and then our final Theatre show of the session. The Dance Show was incredible, with campers from every age group doing all sorts of styles! We saw performances from their Air Bands, modern dance, and just some fun routines to all of our favourite summer tunes. I wish I was up there dancing with them, but I’m glad we left it to the experts.
After the Dance Show, the Seniors and CITs performed The Drowsy Chaperone, a comedy poking fun at old musicals. It was hilarious, and I was so impressed by the talent from our older campers…they’re all triple threats with their singing, acting, and dancing skills! I know all of you readers will be watching it after the summer when the video goes up, and I’m positive you’ll be just as impressed!
And then after the show, we were told it was the start of Manitou Games! For my new readers or those who don’t know, Manitou Games is our end of First Session colour war, where four teams based around a theme compete to win. This year, as we found out, the theme is Villains! Each team of Villains is trying to prove they can be just as helpful as the Heroes, and whatever team wins will save the camp! This year the teams are Witches and Wizards, Supervillains, Mad Scientists, and Pirates!
Yesterday, they all competed in sports, arts, and skill-based competitions, plus they all cheered their hearts out for their team. The day started with a sports rotation, where teams competed in basketball, volleyball, soccer, and ultimate frisbee. After an intense morning of sports, we all went to Spirit Lunch! Each team had spent the morning decorating the section where they eat and now they could show off what it looked like. I’m always impressed with the way our Dining Hall and Tents are transformed into different places and this year was no different! After eating, we had a four-way cheer off, and I can tell you each team was loud and spirited, and everyone wanted their team to win! After a packed morning, it was off to a busy afternoon. All four teams competed in Backdraft, which is a competition where each team builds a fire, and you want to be the last fire standing. Other teams will try to reach you and put your fire out, and you also want to put other teams fires out. It was very intense but very fun and exciting to watch! After Backdraft had finished, we were off to the annual Four Way Tug of War. We had a Junior, Senior, CIT competition, and then a Staff competition. Both matches were in gridlocks for awhile, but eventually Supervillains and Pirates were able to pull through.
The last part of the day ends with some of the most exciting parts: the presentations of each team’s song, dance, and plaque. Each team designed a beautiful plaque fitting their team that will hang in the Dining Hall for years to come. Then we got to see each team’s amazing group of dancers do a routine in the theme of their team. The creativity was outstanding and I can’t believe they were only made and rehearsed in a day! Finally, each team presented their song…another incredible feat of imagination and also made in a day. You could tell how passionate everyone was about their team with the way they all sang their hearts out.
After our final presentations, it was time to reveal the winner. We all gathered around a large fire, and were told that the flag getting burned was the winner. It was a tense few minutes while it was debated which flag would go in, but eventually the Supervillains flag went in the fire and they were declared the winners of Manitou Games 2021.
It was a thrilling day of competition, spirit, and sportsmanship, and I know that everyone had fun, whether they won or lost.
Tonight we have our First Session Banquet and then our Awards, but I’ll be sure to tell you all about that tomorrow!
Manny the Moose
YIPPEE! It’s been an awesome couple of days up at camp! We’ve had beautiful sunny weather, great food, and, of course, lots of fun!
On Thursday we had our first ever Freshfest for our Freshkid unit. They all went down to our swim docks to play in the water, get some yummy treats, and listen to some great music! Plus there was an awesome foam machine that sent bubbles everywhere and our campers and counsellors loved it! I sure hope they continue doing Freshfest for years to come, because this moose had a blast!
That evening, the whole camp then watched the first half of our annual 10-year blanket ceremony. Whenever campers or staff reach ten years at Manitou, they receive a beautiful fleece blanket complete with their name and the Manitou logo stitched on. Our directors Mark and Jeff then make speeches about each recipient, and we get to hear fun stories from years past. It’s a really great tradition, and I know I still sleep with my 10-year blanket every night. I can’t wait until next session when we get to see the rest of our blanket recipients be honoured.
It’s hard to believe that our Friday could be just as exciting as Thursday, but boy was it ever! After a full day of activities, we went down to Friday Night Fireside where this week we listened to the Sophomore unit talk about our theme “Together We Can Go Far.” They all spoke so beautifully and even sang together too! It’s always so great to sit by the fire, look out at the lake, and listen to our incredible campers speak.
And after Friday Night Fireside, we were in for another treat: another theatre show! This time our Junior Unit campers were putting on the Disney classic Hercules. It was our first ever outdoor Manitou theatre show, and the cast and crew did an incredible show! It was amazing to see the outside of the theatre decorated like Ancient Greece, and to watch our very talented campers sing and act their hearts out. I can’t believe the talent we have at this camp, and I know all of you readers will be blown away when you watch the video of this amazing show!
Well that’s all from me for now, but I know there’s more exciting stuff coming up to end off this fantastic First Session. I’m going to go learn how to paddle a kayak with Ines, our head of Canoe/Kayak. And while I’m doing that, you can all read the latest edition of the camp newspaper, the Mosquito…hot off the presses…HERE!
Manny the Moose
WOW! It’s been a busy few days here at camp, and I can’t wait to tell you about all the fun stuff that’s been going on!
On Sunday morning, we all awoke to find the Dining Hall had been transformed into Smurf Village! The Freshkids and Sophomores got to enjoy a Smurf themed breakfast put on by our LITs (our second year Seniors), and I think they did a fantastic job of decorating the Dining Hall to make it feel like we were transported to another place.
After an exciting breakfast, the day got even more thrilling because it was Pirate Day at Sail and Swim. Down at Swim, campers were searching in the water for buried treasure, specifically a special golden rock. And over at Sail, our young sailors were learning how to properly tip a sailboat by “pirating” and “capsizing” each other. It was a lot of fun to watch all our young pirates that day, and to see everyone get so enthusiastic about their activities.
And just yesterday we had even more excitement happening at our activities. Four of our visual arts activities (Woodworking, Pottery, Crafts, and Creative Arts), held a day called Trash Panda Day. All the campers and staff at those activities dressed as trash pandas (more commonly known as raccoons) and went around camp picking up any garbage they saw and making this beautiful place as clean as it could be. I for one loved that they were doing something so great for the environment, and I think everyone had fun while they were doing it too!
And after a big day of activities and being trash pandas, we had some very exciting Evening Programs in our Units as well. Our Junior unit started an epic multi-night program called Art Heist, where the campers had to figure out who had stolen a valuable piece of art. The mystery hasn’t been solved yet, and I am so excited to find out who did it! And then over at the Freshkids, they had a classic Manitou program called Stock Ticker, where different Activity Heads run fictional companies, and the campers come and buy or sell stocks from the companies, based on how the company is doing. It was lots of fun seeing everyone running around with their Moosebucks and getting invested in different companies, and I can’t wait to find out which cabin did the best at the Manitou Stock Exchange.
I’m sure there will be more excitement I can tell you about soon, but for now I’m off to Soccer, where the Activity Head Neil is going to show me how to properly kick a ball!
Manny the Moose
Well, after two full weeks of camp we are delighted, even ecstatic, to officially declare that Summer 2021 feels like a normal summer again! It wasn’t easy getting there, and for some kids it will still be a process to get to where they were two summers ago, but it’s now clear that the positivity of the staff and campers has propelled us towards our regular BEST SUMMER EVER! As they say, it takes a village and our little village is back to being as strong as ever.
The Freshkids, who usually require 1-3 days to adapt, took twice as long to feel comfortable but when they did they absolutely soared beyond what we could have imagined. In a year when we expected our unit of 115 Freshkids to decrease to 40 kids after the two week mark, we were shocked to find out that 81 out of 115 freshkids chose to stay for a month! For some of these kids, Covid has been 10% of their lifetime experience, yet it just took them just about 12 days to embrace outdoor play, healthy socialization, new relationships, and an appreciation for nature away from technology. For those Freshkids that have returned home, we will be curious to know if your child seems a little different, maybe a bit rewired back to where they were 16 months ago?
For the rest of the camp, it is clear our staff have truly stepped up and worked with the kids who were having challenges and that their work is paying off. Today we checked in on a boy who had been homesick all summer and a girl who had been feeling really sad for a while, both Juniors, and both reported feeling truly happy to be at camp and excited for the upcoming weeks for the first time. In fact, one of them forgot they had even been unhappy despite crying for days just last week! When we say “give it time” this is what we mean. The two week mark is really a turnaround point for so many kids.
It also helps that we’re moving back to a self-selected schedule. Manitou has a very unique approach to scheduling and many of the kids that were struggling do better with individual choice for activities. Cabin programming was fine for a week to be exposed to activities they may not have ever considered doing, but at this point we they feel a need to get back to the type of daily schedule that they look forward to here at Manitou, one that provides freedom, variety, and boosts their independence and self-esteem. Of course, we continue to encourage all the campers to challenge themselves and try new things even when they begin to pick their own activities. In fact, some Senior girls came to us last week saying they loved the first week of cabin activities because they never knew they would like “yoga, music and hockey” and now they are picking those activities this week!
Communities take on personalities and influence their members. If a cabin has two homesick campers then the other eight kids have a far better chance of being homesick. Now that the kids that were struggling are starting to turn it around and the kids that were doing well are now begging to stay all summer, that positivity spreads and that negative funk, anxiety and worry gets translated into deeper friendship, new experiences, and positive relationships with staff.
The weather: lets not discount that in the first 12 days of camp it poured rain for four entire days, all day!! It also rained for another three days as well. Having more sun in recent days allows us to do more activities and since most activities are outside this year the rain does affect us more than ever. Although when it does rain, mud sliding is on ☺ !
The covid protocols: We are now into a camp wide bubble and we as of today are allowed to function in wider cohorts and even as one camp! We can now be outside with no masks and inside with masks (if close to another cabin group ). Theatre plays can now be performed inside with masks (this was just declared today by public health). The play last night made everyone feel like we were back in our special home and even the seniors cheered on the Freshkids as they performed brilliantly in Willy Wonka.
Finally, to be honest, the Director Team has much more time to address any typical issues around camp. Now that camp is finally moving along as normal, the Unit Heads, Directors and other leaders have the ability to work with those campers that need and deserve that extra attention.
Don’t get us wrong, we are not naïve and know that this summer will be one of continual challenges for all of us, but they will continue to become less common as the weeks progress. We are ready and willing to work as hard every day for your children. At our staff meeting last night the energy was the best we have seen in years. Everyone is just so happy to be here and that in and of itself is one type of infection that will spread to your kids all summer along. With everyone finally settling in, many staff and campers alike have come to us to say, more or less, that they did not realize that the light at the end of the tunnel would actually shine so quickly or be so bright.
Golly gee! I am in such a great mood today, because on Thursday Manitou theatre came back with the first production of the summer. We saw the Freshkids and Sophomores perform Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and it was incredible! From Willy to Charlie to the big cast of Oompa Loompas, our campers were great actors, singers, and dancers, and most importantly they all seemed to be having a fantastic time! Plus some of the sets were worked on by campers, and I love seeing the creativity of Manitou campers come through in so many different ways. I wish all of you readers could have seen it live last night and given the cast and crew a big round of applause like we did!
It’s another exciting and sunny day at camp, but it’s also a bittersweet one because our two-week campers went home the other day. We’re all sad to see them leave camp, but before we know it, they’ll be back next summer and I bet they’ll stay even longer!
It’s hard to believe we’ve already hit the two week mark of camp, but time flies when you’re having fun! And not only are we having a blast, but camp is as healthy as ever and we’re able to reduce mask use. Which means we can see all the smiling faces of our happy campers.
Well, I’m off to Eco where activity head Michael “Macca” McHugh is going to show me how to fish properly! In the meantime, you can read the latest edition of our camp newspaper The Mosquito HERE!
Manny the Moose
YAHOO! It’s been an exciting few days at camp, and I can’t wait to tell you about all the fun we’re having!
Our cabins have been rotating to different activities all around camp and have been working on some amazing projects. I’ve seen chia pets made at Greenhouse, bowls being glazed at Pottery, and French Toast being cooked up at Culinary Arts. Plus, I’ve seen cabins work hard to improve their sports skills, and I think by the end of the summer they’ll be pros!
But yesterday we stopped our activities for a bit and had a special afternoon because it was Manitou’s annual Carnival! This year we had the most booths and games I’ve ever seen, and I think it was the most fun Carnival we’ve ever had! There were the Carnival classics like Sno-Cones, Cotton Candy, and the Dunk Tank, and then we had new additions like a Pie Eating Contest, Butter Sculpting, and Fortune Telling done by our incredible Assistant Director Alec Amato. It was such a blast and I loved seeing everyone running around smiling and trying every booth the Carnival had to offer.
And today we have a classic Manitou Thursday lined up. For our readers who don’t know, Thursdays are a bit different at Manitou. We all get a little more time to relax in the morning with a long sleep-in, and for those who are early risers, there’s an amazing buffet spread put out by Chef Will and our incredible Kitchen staff. I always start my Thursdays off with eggs, hashbrowns, and a chocolate croissant! Plus for those campers awake on Thursday mornings, we have some different activities every week, and this week there will be a dance party and a paper airplane making class. This afternoon, counsellors will plan and run Cabin Activities for their campers, which are fun special programs that a cabin does together! I can’t wait to see what our creative counsellors have all planned for today!
Plus later today we will have our first Theatre show of the summer! The Freshkids and Sophomores will be performing Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory and I know it’s going to be great with all the hard work they’ve put into it. I’ll be sure to tell all of you about it tomorrow!
Gotta go clean my cabin…I’m hoping to win cabin cleanup this week so I can get an ice cream sundae party!
Manny the Moose
YIPPEE! It’s been a great first week at camp and I can barely contain my excitement! There is so much to catch up on!
The campers and staff are always laughing and smiling, and the sun has been shining down on Lake Manitou-Wabing. Even on our rainiest day, everyone sang and danced and went mudsliding. Camp is all about having fun even on imperfect days!
Throughout the days, our cabins are rotating through different activities. A cabin could have Swimming and Sailing in the morning, and then go off to Pottery and Woodworking in the afternoon to flex their creative muscles. I’ve seen cabins go from Hockey to Yoga to Culinary Arts…what a day that must be!
And I haven’t even mentioned one of the best parts of camp: the food! Chef Will and his awesome team have been cooking up some of the best camp food ever. This week alone, we have had brisket for dinner, tacos for lunch, and French toast for breakfast! We’ve also had the yummiest desserts like chocolate cake and lemon squares, and of course Manitou’s famous Salad Bar has been out every lunch!
After a full day of delicious meals and awesome activities, our cabins participate in Evening Programs: fun activities run by our amazing Unit Heads for their whole age group. So far we’ve had camp classics such as Cribs and Egg Drop, and also new and exciting programs like Late Night Talk Shows and human Scrabble! And even our Activity Heads got in on the fun and ran Evening Programs for the units where we saw Sheep Herding with the Freshkids, the Westmanitou Dog Show with the Sophomores, a Counsellor Hunt with the Juniors, and an epic obstacle course for the Senior unit. They all looked like a blast and I loved walking around and seeing everyone having fun together!
And I almost forgot to mention what our CITs (Counsellors in Training) have been up to! In place of their usual canoe trip, the CITs completed an in-camp version of Survivor, where they have been split into teams and went through challenges that help them learn leadership, trust, and other skills that will help become great staff members. Their Survivor challenge ended with an epic relay and rope burn and the whole camp was there to cheer them on! Now they’re using some of those skills and lessons are placed on cabins and activities to get the feel of what it means to be a staff member.
And a few nights ago we had Friday Night Fireside: our weekly time to reflect and think about how lucky we are to be in such an amazing place. At this Fireside, our Freshkid campers spoke about our theme “Together We Can Go Far.” They talked about working together as cabinmates and friends, and how good it feels when we complete things together. Looking over the lake and hearing their words was inspiring, and I bet our campers and staff felt the same.
Plus a big highlight of the week was the Camper Talent Show! We had classical piano performances, singing, gymnastics, and we even had a camper hang upside down while completing a puzzle! The camp is bursting with talent and it was thrilling to see some of it showcased for everyone to see!
Well I’m off to Newspaper, where the Activity Head Carter is going to help me write an article! To see our first volume of The Mosquito (our camp newspaper), click HERE and enjoy!
Manny the Moose
After 16 months of our children being locked up, they are finally in their little piece of heaven.
But heaven can be a strange place when you have just been through hell.
Recent data now shows that 50-70% of children have anxiety disorders as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic. These numbers are, quite frankly, horrifying and reaffirm to us how important it was for us to be able to give these kids a summer of relative normalcy.
But just because we’ve opened our gates and welcomed the campers, doesn’t mean that the past year-and-a-half is gone and forgotten. For the kids that usually adjust to being at camp in a day, it may take three or four. For the kids that take three or four days to get into the groove, it may take a week or even ten days. This means that your child may be having a great time but may also be homesick the entire time they are here. They’ve been by your side 24 hours a day and it takes time to adjust. These kids need camp more than ever but sometimes even the things we need the most can be a bit challenging. What we are saying is please don’t be surprised if the summer they have looked forward to for so long is not 100% perfect. Perfect is never attainable. Making things better is always the goal and you know as well as we do that anything is better than what these kids have had to endure this past year.
A common question that we’ve been getting is, “Why isn’t my child over-the-moon happy to be at camp? Why are we getting sad letters when they’ve been so excited for the chance to be at camp?” There are many reasons why a child could feel this way. Firstly, this is their first entry back into real life and their brains are re-adjusting to living with constant social interaction. They are learning how to relate to many types of people and personalities rather than just those of their family or household. Perhaps most importantly, they are re-learning how to deal with conflict. You can avoid dealing with conflict if you don’t have any new relationships or growth which is what has occurred this past year, but that does not lead to happiness.
All of this is simply exhausting for anyone, let alone a child. However, the same reason that they may have a tough hour or day at camp is also why they are also laughing, playing and having so much fun for the first time in a long time; because they are engaging with real life peers while learning skills and gaining self-confidence with spontaneity, creativity, and the freedom to be outdoors.
Secondly, your children that have been here before may forget that camp was never perfect. They needed to look forward to camp to get them through the year and now they are faced with the reality of what their camp experience always was. Of course we all remember the amazing moments (of which there are still plenty) but we tend to let ourselves forget the times we may have struggled a bit or the times when things weren’t as flawless. They have put so much pressure on themselves for this summer to be nothing but perfect and have made themselves believe that it has to be fantastic on day one because they need it to be that way so badly. And of course, they are naturally more anxious than ever without their parent(s) by their side. It’s a real process for all of us to deal with these healthy challenges and it’s our job at camp to nurture that growth at every stage of their experience. Group living brings out the best in us; it develops the deepest friendships possible and gives us the skills so that the rest of our lives can be fulfilling, but it is also a huge change for these kids right now.
So, we ask you to please be patient and allow your children to adjust or re-adjust to their happy place. For the majority of the campers that are right back to where they were two summers ago, it’s as though no time has passed. For some that are taking a bit longer to get there, as long as they are moving in a positive direction, we all have to remember that, ironically, they are the campers that need the summer camp experience most right now. Nothing else will bring them closer to where they were 16 months ago than facing challenges, gaining independence, playing freely, and interacting face-to-face with others.
Finally, please understand that we have twice as many first-time campers as ever as a whole year of kids missed a summer so we are busier than ever providing them with the support that they deserve. We also have first year staff that missed their CIT training, and we have second year staff that have not been first year staff as well. We are so proud of our staff and told them the other night at our staff meeting that they are the heroes of the summer, but we still know how important it is that we give them our time and support so that they can be the absolute best they can be. We can’t believe how hard they are working and how quickly they are learning on the job. Our Unit Head and Activity Head teams have never been better and our ten-person director team, along with our emotional support health care staff, have been a huge support to all of us.
So, feel free to tell us if you get a lousy letter in case we don’t know; but remember, having some challenges along the way does not mean that the camp experience is not a positive one; in fact, those challenges may be just what your child needs to get them back to a life of fun, friends and fulfillment.
The reason we have time to write this blog is that it’s clear to us that things are starting to look more like how we remember a Manitou summer looking, and we’re back to having a great vibe and lots of energy! Everyone is finally in full swing and we can tell the hard work of all 220 staff is truly making a positive difference in your children’s lives.
Last night we had our first Friday Night Fireside. Yes, we know it was Saturday but going with the theme of “pivoting” this summer we had to be a bit flexible with the dates. And besides, a Saturday night Friday Night Fireside is way better than no Fireside at all!
While we were not able to gather around the fire in our normal location due to Covid safety procedures, we were able to hold fireside on main field and keep most of the traditions alive—just in a new location. We’re hoping to be able to get back to our usual location in the coming weeks.
Despite the changes, we still had a beautiful and meaningful time at Fireside together as a camp. The evening began with an incredible and interactive land acknowledgement delivered by our canoe specialist, Zoe, who really got the kids thinking about the land we live on and what it means to pay respect to those who were here before us. We then proceeded to introduce to the camp this year’s summer theme; “Together We Can Go Far.”
Throughout the summer we will be focusing on the positive changes we can make in the world when we work together, support each other, and come together as a group. We talked about how difficult it has been for us all to go through this pandemic isolated and alone for the most part, and how lucky and privileged we are to be back together again in a safe and supportive environment. We will be encouraging all campers and staff to think about our theme and figure out how it applies to their own life and experiences. We can’t wait to see what they come up with!
Next, we invited up a few campers to make speeches about what camp means to them, with some amazing results!
Here are some excerpts from some of the speeches:
Jonah: “After the crazy year and a half of this Covid pandemic, we are all so lucky to be here together, and there is no better place for us to spend this summer than Camp Manitou!”
Jonathan: “When you are at camp, your cabin will be your home. The kids in your cabin will be your brothers and sisters, the counsellors will be your parents, and mark and jeff will be your grandparents who are there to watch out for you and listen when you need to talk.”
Romy: “If this is your first time at camp, no matter how old you are, you may be feeling a little bit homesick just like I did two years ago and that is totally OK. But, while you are here, your counsellors, your friends, Mark and Jeff, will be your family away from family, and Manitou will be your home away from home.”
Ezra: “I know it can be scary to try new things. My last summer here I wanted to try waterskiing, but I was afraid that I would get water up my nose and my bathing suit would fall down. However, I was encouraged to try it and I went for it. Now waterskiing is one of my favourite activities.”
Olivia: “Manitou has always been a home away from home and going a year without it was really hard. A year without Music Lunches, Firesides, and Mark’s DJ’ing was tough. That’s why this summer is going to be that much more special.”
Max: Two summers ago was my first summer at Camp Manitou. Within the first couple of days, I already felt at home! The Manitou community is so welcoming along with the fun activities and great counsellors, I have found myself waiting and hoping to come back to camp.”
It was so nice to have the Manitou family together again, singing the camp song with their arms around their cabinmates. It just felt right. We’re so happy to be back and to get to have many more amazing Friday Night Firesides this summer.