Yesterday was another jam-packed day up here at Manitou. Although the temperature went up and down, not a drop of rain was felt, and the skies were clear by lunchtime! With all of our staff here, we had more swim checks, a salsa dancing extravaganza for our head staff, and for the first time in Manitou history we welcomed CANVAS, a consent training organization, to educate every single staff member in camp on good modelling. Though we like to have fun, fun, fun all day long, it’s important we stay safe and informed, too!
After a busy day, we were all able to mellow out at our breathtaking Friday Night Fireside spot. Even though it was Sunday night, we had a very special edition of Fireside for our staff to be welcomed into our Manitou family. For those of you who don’t know, Fireside is a place where our entire camp can gather one night a week to look out onto the lake, relax, take a breath, and just listen to each other. Sometimes I go down there just to appreciate this incredible place we call home.
To start off the night, we had our Head of Tripping Rachel Klein give a land acknowledgement, where we learned about the original people who lived on this land, and how we can continue to love and take care of it. Next, we had veteran Manitou staff member Denise “Mama D” George tell us all about how Friday Night Fireside began—a history I didn’t even know about! She told us all about the value-based system at Manitou, and how exciting it is to hear campers tell us their stories every single week. I always learn something new from my friends at Fireside, and I hope everyone can take something out of it.
The night had just begun though, and we had a lot more to discuss and reflect on. Our annual ‘bead’ ceremony was next; a staff tradition that started back in 1999, Mark and Jeff’s first year at Manitou. Every staff member received a necklace with different coloured beads on it, indicating how many years they have worked at the camp, and reflecting other honours received at the camp, as well. Although most of our necklaces look different, we can all be connected as one big Manitou staff family by each having beads. It’s a very special tradition we have here at camp, and it’s great seeing how full some of these bead necklaces are!
The night ended on a more bittersweet note, as we had a memorial for our dear friend David “Luigi” Sheffe, who passed away from a heart attack just before our 2018 camp season was set to begin. Dave, as most know, was the Assistant Director for Camp Manitou, and had been with Mark and Jeff at the camp since they started here 20 summers ago. He was their right-hand man, a mentor to many staff and campers over the years, a husband, father, and he was everyone’s buddy. Though many tears were shed for David at the memorial, together with his wife Heather we celebrated his life as best as we could. Some of his and his family’s close friends spoke about Dave, where they shared funny stories, personal anecdotes, and values David had that we can continue to spread at camp and throughout our lives. Some people threw sticks into the fire to remember Luigi, and the night ended with our staff around the fire, holding each other, and silently remembering our friend. His memory and legacy will live on in camp through his beautiful family, physical tributes being built to honour him, and his spirit.
All in all, it was a busy day as usual at camp, and we were all there for each other as a big Manitou family.
Now I’m off to my First Aid Training! Until next time…
Manny the Moose