On Friday night we kicked off Community Week 2022, one of the most fulfilling and exciting weeks at Manitou. We began the week by welcoming Emmanuel Jal who started his life as a child soldier in the war-torn region of Southern Sudan. Through music and motivational storytelling, he shared messages of hope and perseverance and inspired us to find the good in everything. Emmanuel is now an artist, actor, and political activist who speaks to groups around the world and, thanks to the efforts of the incredible people at the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center, we were incredibly fortunate to have him come to speak at Manitou.
On Monday night, we held our annual Walk of Hope. Campers and staff walked a path around camp, completing meaningful, thought-provoking activities along the way. Some of these activities include the ‘Fear Fire’ (you write down your fear and burn it in a campfire) and the ‘Wishing Well’ (campers write wishes for the world on stones and throw them in a fountain). Many campers performed poems, speeches, and songs for everyone to listen to as they completed the walk.
Prior to starting the walk, however, campers met in the theatre where they watched a video about why we walk which explained the history of famous marches and walks and what their significance has been in the world. We were also fortunate to welcome Hannah Alper, youth activist, author, public speaker, and environmentalist. Coordinated by our friends at the Simon Wiesenthal Center, Hannah spoke to our campers about the power of one. Inspiring them to make a difference using whatever tools and gifts you may have; big or small. Hannah taught us how every action makes an impact and answered many questions about how our campers can start to make a difference around the world.
In camp, we have been seeing the impacts of our speaker’s words and so many campers have been busy raising money for community week! All of the proceeds that campers and staff raise will be donated to the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center. At Archery, campers are raising $5 for every bullseye they hit. Gameshow is hosting a charity casino. Swim is running “swim around the world” with each lap raising money, and woodworking is making appreciation signs for hardworking staff around camp. Campers from Freshkids to CIT’s are hosting handstand competitions for charity, charity trivia contests, bracelet making to give to people to brighten their day and so much more. The ideas and initiatives that have been coming from our campers have just been incredible! So far we have raised over $8,000 and we’re not done yet!
It’s been so wonderful to see kids get together with their cabins and unite for a good cause. They are so proud of themselves when they get up in front of the camp and announce what their cabin will be doing to raise money for the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center and it’s amazing to watch them understand the importance of giving back. Our hope is that this is just the beginning and that this week can help spark a passion for philanthropy that remains throughout their lives.
So far, it’s been a great week and it’s not over yet! Stay tuned for even more community week info to come.
Camp was a little bit spookier as we kicked off Manitou Halloween. Activities made decorations and campers and staff worked on their costumes in preparation for the big night. We had our epic Halloween dance, where we all danced together in our costumes. Our LITs put together an incredible haunted house and after the rain clouds cleared, everyone had the chance to trick-or-treat throughout camp.
We recently had our first Friday Night Fireside of 2nd session and as per Manitou tradition, campers that came to camp last summer for the first time spoke to our new campers about their experience. They offered anecdotes to provide guidance and words of wisdom. It is one thing when a Head Staff member or counsellor gets up in front of the camp to give these messages, but it is another thing for kids to hear from their peers. Receiving the message that its normal to miss home and that it worked out so well for these returning campers is a message that truly helps our entire Manitou family come together in support of our new campers.
Here are some wonderful quotes from our camper speakers.
“I am sure everyone can remember their first day of camp. I was nerve racking , exciting and you did not know what to expect, well these were the feelings that I experienced the first day as well but when I arrived I was greeted by my counsellors who immediately made me feel at home” – Senior camper
“Manitou helped me build my confidence. One of the best things about Manitou is that it lets me be myself and I am the weirdest person I know. What I am trying to say is you don’t have to hide yourself, If you feel homesick don’t be afraid to tell your counsellor” – Freshkid camper
“I was scared to come to Manitou for the first time because I didn’t know anyone and I would miss my family but once I go there I received a very warm welcome and I immediately felt at home. Everyone is so nice and the staff are so helpful and comforting” – Freshkid camper
“I moved from Australia in the middle of covid and with online school I didn’t know very many people in Canada. I turned up at camp last year and booked two weeks and stayed for six. The friendship you make here are like no other and you get to know people on a level that is hard to reach anywhere else than camp. If you feel homesick talk to someone because everyone has felt that at some point” – Sophomore camper
“There were times when I was homesick and I missed my family and I missed having my own bedroom and bathroom but I would not have changed a thing about coming here because of all the amazing people that were like the sisters I never had. I was worried I would be judged for homesickness but know one judged me for anything I did….and I met some amazing people who opened my eyes to the cultures that the world has to offer ….Camp made me feel like I could rule the world, master the stars and tame the ocean and thank you Camp Manitou for showing me how happy I can be just being me.” – Sophomore camper
“When I first arrived at camp I was not sure how I felt about this place however after I went home I was so excited to come back next year , it could be nerve wracking for some people to go away from home for two plus weeks but you will most likely feel at home after the first week or so” – Junior camper
“Last summer I was nervous but excited to come but now as a result of last summer I have some of my best friends coming with e, last summer I was supposed to stay for two weeks but stayed the entire month , World games was awesome.” – Junior camper
“Last year was my first time at Manitou. I was nervous because I didn’t know many people here but everyone was so nice and made me feel welcome, Last summer I was able to make lasting friendships and camp has become my second home” – Senior camper