HIP HIP HOORAY – our 2022 Carnival was one for the ages! Our campers came down to Main Field and had the chance to play and have fun on a whole variety of inflatables, including an obstacle course and a super slide! Additionally, there was a foam party, butter sculpture making, face painting and more. Our campers enjoyed a delicious outdoor dinner complete with carnival classics including snow-cones and cotton candy. The day was complete with an incredible outdoor concert put on by all of our Rock ’n Roll Music campers and staff.
Friday Night Fireside is our favourite evening of the week. Some of our older campers were discussing with the directors that everyone knows at fireside to embrace it, and truly as our poem says be their best self.
This past week, we took thirty of our oldest campers, the Leaders-in-Training (LITs), to Canadian National Institute for the Blind’s Lake Joseph Camp. The LITs went on this incredible day trip to learn how people with different abilities function and enjoy their summers at camp and also how to adapt many of the activities we do at Manitou for people with different needs.
Later in the week, our LITs welcomed campers from the CNIB Lake Joe camp to participate in activities around Manitou. Our LITs used their skills they had learned previously to work with kids who are visually impaired, and it was awesome to see friendships being formed. Their visiting campers got to try their hand at Adventure Park, wheel at Pottery, and they even went to our Archery range! We think our LITs are going to be awesome when they return as CITs next year, and we can’t wait to see their leadership skills in action next summer. Please watch the short video below for our CNIB and fireside recap.
Of course, fireside has the wonderful candle ceremony and campers spoke about our theme, “Grow through what you go through”. Our junior campers had much to say and here are some favourite quotes from the night:
“An example is at the beginning things started off rough in our cabin and then we all though it wouldn’t be better but we started to grow together and now look back on how our cabin has come together and we have become better people”
“When I first came to Canada all the way from Spain I was so but people welcomed me into the awesome community that Manitou is. At Home in Spain Manitou Is a very special thing and is so important to my family.”
“Our theme of the summer is to learn from past experiences. An example of this is I signed up for wakeboard and at first was really nervous but with the help of the staff I was able to get up, and I learned to trust others to help me and grow through what I go through.”
I guess we all could learn from our campers this summer!
On Monday, Manitou was sent to outer space! We had a fun-filled day beginning with a space themed breakfast – a UFO even landed in the dining hall! 👽 Many of our activities got involved and led space day events. Creative Arts had a mock-rocket crash event where campers had to find and assemble pieces of a “crashed” rocket. Martial Arts had a “space invaders” event and Baseball led Jedi training just to name a few! Check out our full video recap below! 🌌
Friday Night Fireside is our most special time of the week and once again, this week was no exception. Every Junior, Senior and CIT participated in the “Tour of Humanity” bus through the Simon Wiesenthal Center and this wonderful presentation opened up their eyes to ensuring we always take a stand and never turn away in the face of injustice and racism.
We hope you enjoy the video below showcasing this incredible #ManitouCares program!
Last year around this time we wrote a blog titled “patience, perseverance and time.”
If you have time to read last year’s blog, we encourage you to do so, as it sets a good benchmark of the feel of camp compared to last year at this time. Although some collective anxiety remains from the last 2 ½ years, the prevailing chatter here is that everyone is so happy to be at camp without restrictions and that it actually feels “normal” again.
So yes…what a difference a year can make! The campers and staff have a much healthier foundation this year in terms of their emotional and social well-being and in turn, it truly feels much more like 2019 again rather than 2021.
We are not Psychologists or Social Workers, but the social and emotional lag of many of our campers is apparent. Children and teens have lost chunks of time in their social development. Junior campers (Grades 6/7) are often reacting and responding to challenges of ordinary life more like a 2nd year Sophomore (Grade 5). Although this takes some getting used to, we still look at this as a positive in the sense that campers are responding and emoting more so than last summer. They are engaged, energized and embracing the whole camp experience similar to years past and this is remarkable to see.
The biggest difference in our success this summer so far has been our staff. Motivating many our staff last summer to work hard, to engage, to keep up with normal routines and even relate to each other – was challenging to say the least. This year we feel like our staff are right back to 2019: caring, empathetic, and motivated as ever! Like the rest of society, many of our camp community still deal with anxiety but we now expect this and have become experts in giving our staff the support they need.
The best news of all is that our biggest challenge this summer has not been the campers or the staff. Our biggest challenge has been trying to respond to more messages than we’ve ever had about your children. We have received all kinds of messages, even some asking us to check on campers when their letters are fantastic! Together we are both overreacting to a letter, a moment of homesickness or a small complaint from your child.
After letter writing day this week, we received requests from over 45 parents asking us to check on their child as soon as possible with valid concerns. Your concern is also our concern, so when you reach out, please know that we do not take these concerns lightly. A director will often check on your child and speak to the unit head and counsellors. Please remember that also your concerns are very valid, parental requests must be weighted with us being out-and-about in camp. What makes camp a special place is that all our staff have the time and energy to be proactive, in person at camp, connecting with your children.
With all ten camp directors checking on our campers, we have great news: Out of the 42 “Please check on my child- they wrote a bad/sad/homesick” letters, 36 of the kids are doing amazingly. Even the handful of campers that we knew were struggling, have been demonstrating such growth and will look back proudly at their experience here at camp. We believe that camp is more necessary for children’s development than it has ever been before. Sometimes, growth and change come with hardship. What we often forget though, is that even with our most homesick campers there are so many wonderful moments of growth, laughter and fun.
Another very important aspect of camp is that children can often become homesick when they write letters. Almost every child who we met who was happy, told us that letter writing can make them miss home. Some said that they want to tell you what’s wrong because it just makes them feel better. Almost half of the homesick campers that wrote said that they were having the summer of their lives, and said camp was a perfect 10/10! Many did not even remember that they wrote a negative letter! Funnily enough, one camper said that if they write something negative, they know their parents will coddle them more when they are home, and give them something special when they return home. (yes that is true!)
Children vent in their letters. Think about your kids coming home from school; they may have had a great day, but if there’s an issue you are the first to hear about it. Writing out your emotions is healthy and often by the time the letter is written, they already feel better. During the pandemic, most parents spent a great deal more time with their children than they had previously. Parents are not used to this separation and can sometimes react emotionally to challenges their children face. We understand that and expect that. It’s hard to remember the base line that was considered the norm pre-pandemic. You have had so much control of their lives and we understand that it’s hard for you to just let go. We support you in how you must be feeling.
Thank you so much for sending your kids to Manitou. We always say that if you were here seeing the happy faces, the laughter, the giggles, and the smiles of all the children, many of you would never feel the need to contact us. Camp is not perfect much like life is not perfect. This is okay. In fact, that’s why you are sending your children to camp in the first place. By sending your children to camp, you are giving them the opportunity to work things out and build valuable resilience. Your lack of intervention is ironically one of the greatest gifts of your child’s camp experience.
The weather is warming up and activities are in full swing here at Manitou! The end of our first full week of camp is approaching and so much has happened already.
All week, our Freshkids and Sophomore thespians have been hard at work preparing to put on the musical ‘Annie’ for the whole camp. You can hear them practicing every day during 5th period and we can’t wait to see the show! Talent show auditions were held on Wednesday and many campers are now busy perfecting their acts for later this week. Overall, it’s been a very busy, fun-filled week here at camp!
On Tuesday, our CIT’s returned from an epic 4-day long canoe trip. They portaged, paddled, and had a great time out on trip. When they got back, they received their activity placements and began their activity training. They also received their cabin placements and are now busy training as counsellors and bonding with their campers. So far we’ve been incredibly impressed with the energy and enthusiasm that the CIT’s have shown and we can’t wait to watch them grow into fantastic counsellors this summer.
We had our classic Thursday sleep-in day. The brunch buffet was at its all-time best with delicious muffins, croissants, fruit, eggs, grilled cheese, smoothies, cereals, oatmeal and so much more! For the younger kids who didn’t sleep in as late, the day was made even more exciting by Danny the Magician who came to do some tricks and make balloon animals all morning. Many campers chose to change their schedules today meaning that next week will bring a whole new level of excitement with new activities and friends made.
Many campers have experienced unit and cabin campfires – there’s nothing better than ending the day with sing-a-long and making s’mores. Also Toothalah the Tooth Fairy (featured above) made their second rounds to cabins to give tuck to the campers who had lost a tooth at camp.
Well, that’s all for now— looking forward to more great weather and excitement in week 2 of Manitou 2022!
Summer 2022 has begun, and it feels like Manitou has come back to life once again! After months of planning for, and dreaming about, this summer, our campers and staff are back together in their favourite place. Nothing makes us happier than hearing the sounds of campers and staff laughing and chatting filling up the camp. It’s good to be home!
Here’s a little recap of what we’ve done so far:
The buses rolled in a little later than usual (the long weekend traffic was nuts), but the energy of the camper’s arrivals was just as exciting as usual. We made up the extra hour by postponing our incredible activity fair until the morning, so the kids had time to unpack and make their beds. We started with a delicious dinner prepared by Chef Will and then went to our ceremonial raising of the flag. The whole camp gathered around the flagpole as we officially kicked off Manitou 2022.
On Friday, everyone spent the day in cabin groups, doing swim assessments, trying many different activities and for those who are new, getting to know camp. We then headed to the Activity Fair; an interactive experience lead by the Activity Head and Specialists where campers get to know and understand what each activity is all about. After experiencing the Activity Fair, campers ranked their favourite activities they wanted to try for the first week.
After a beautiful first day, the whole camp gathered together for our first Friday Night Fireside ceremony. We honoured 2 staff who had been exceptional during our pre-camp training and explained to everyone what the purpose of ‘Fireside’ is. We also introduced this year’s theme: “GROW THROUGH WHAT YOU GO THROUGH”. It was amazing to have everyone back together, singing the camp song and embracing their friends – it was like no time had passed! Campers returning for their second summer spoke about what camp means to them and why they decided to come back to Manitou. We hope you enjoy hearing their words in our video of Fireside, as it was a very emotional and special night for us.
After a long wait throughout the year, camp is off to a wonderful start! It feels like we are back to 2019 where we can focus every second of the day on the campers rather than the more complicated summer we faced logistically last year due to COVID. We almost forgot what it’s like to run a normal camp with so many happy kids and a staff that are incredibly motivated and energized to give our campers the best summer ever! It’s clear that the staff and your children are emotionally ready for camp. At the same time, we realize that although many of the campers are doing so much better than last year, the adjustment to camp will still take a bit longer than normal.
On another pandemic related note, we thought it was important to give you an update on our Waterski/Wakeboarding program. Usually when one of our boats breaks down, we get the boat fixed in a day or two and always get a rental boat if necessary. Unfortunately, due to supply chain issues there are no rental boats available immediately this year and parts are in short supply. As a result, our ski program is running at 2/3’s capacity right now. To make up for this, our ski staff have volunteered to work overtime, taking kids skiing at 7 am and at rest hours. We hope that by the end of the week we will have all three boats up and running again as we know this is a lot to ask of our ski staff team. We are so proud of them for wanting to do whatever they can to manage this situation. As we say to our campers and staff; life is 10% about what happens to you and 90% about how you react to it. We are proud of our campers being patient while our staff step up to the challenge to solve the problem.
Our theme for 2022 is “Grow through what you go through”, but just as easily it could also be “What a difference a year makes.” We hope you enjoy the video clip as we kick off summer 2022