How We Keep Cool At Manitou!

Although Manitou 2018 has just started, there is one thing we know about the summer already…it has been hot hot hot!!! While we don’t have much A/C like you readers may in the city, up here we have other ways of beating the heat including the beautiful winds that cross the lake, go up Main Field and keep us all refreshed. Here are the top ten ways we keep cool at Manitou.

1 ) Hats: Hats are the first stage in our trifecta of keeping safe while it’s hot and sunny outside. Not only do they keep your face protected from the sun, but they look cool, too! I love seeing everyone’s different hats, and I like when people get to see all my stylish caps, as well! We even have one cabin wearing all the same bucket hats- sent up by a camper parent – and the kids love it!

2 ) Water: In the middle of our “keeping safe trifecta,” we have water. We all forget to drink water sometimes—even me! —so it’s important we keep reminding each other to bring our water bottles around camp and keep drinking throughout the day. Even Dr Perlon has been reminding campers to drink water all day long. We also have Gatorade stations set up for all campers to fill up their water bottles on hot days, in addition to our many water fountains serving up our Manitou Springs delicious water…best water this side of Fiji!

3 ) Sunscreen: Completing our trio of safety is sunscreen. Here at camp we always lather up in sunscreen in the morning, and since there are sunscreen bottles all around camp, including at the office and at every activity, everyone is able to keep reapplying throughout the day. Every morning we all chant “Hats! Water! Sunscreen!” It’s so catchy, I bet you’ll be saying it, too!

4 ) The Shade: When it’s a sunny day, that sunshine covers pretty much the whole camp. But, there are some nice spots of shade under trees and at activities that are great to sit in on a hot day. I’ve been known to be found in a nice bit of shade reading my book and sitting with friends. Wait until you see our new shade spots built all around camp!

5 ) Taking Breaks: We’re always busy, busy, busy here at camp, but it’s important to stop and take a break once in awhile. In this heat, I have seen lots of activities take breaks together, relax for ten minutes, or jump into the “Car Wash” or a sprinkler and go back into action!

6 ) Snack Attack: Some of you may be wondering how snack could ever help beat the heat, but here at Manitou our Snack Attack is always something cold and refreshing. Whether it’s juice boxes, Freezies, or popsicles, Snack Attack is always a great way to keep cool.

7 ) Jumping in the Lake: One of the reasons we always have lifeguards on call at camp is because we know Manitou campers and staff love cooling off in the lake. It’s a great way to beat that heat quickly, and it’s refreshing! Our beautiful Lake Manitou-Wabing is always at a perfect temperature for swimming, and even I’ve been known hang out with friends while taking a dip. We have a quick and easy system for cabin groups to take a quick dip!

8 ) Making Fans: Our Manitou campers are always thinking quick and creatively, and the past few days have been no exception. I have seen all sorts of handmade fans around, all crafted from paper and in different ways. They’re easy to make, and they’re a simple way to be comfortable in the cabin, the dining hall, and all around camp!

9 ) Find That Breezy Spot: Just like finding the shade at camp, there are some secret breezy spots in camp that can cool anyone off. Yesterday, I spent a couple of minutes with some friends just standing in the breezing and letting it wash over us. If you can find that breeze, you’ll feel refreshed and ready for the rest of the day. Here’s a tip: look at the trees around you and see if any leaves are blowing…it’s likely whatever is making them move will be that perfect breeze you’ve been looking for. It’s so breezy on Main Field as you approach the lake and it’s the perfect place to hang out on a hot day.

10 ) Manitou’s Legendary “Car Wash”: Just like Snack Attack, we have some funny terminology at camp. The Car Wash isn’t actually for vehicles at all…it’s for our campers and staff! If it’s a hot day but you don’t feel like jumping in the lake, the Car Wash is the next best thing. Looking like an outdoor hut with sprinklers on the roof, the Car Wash can get rid of that heat with a quick run or stroll through it, plus it can make anyone smile!

We’re keeping cool up at Camp with these ten tips, and we’re having a blast as always! I hope everyone is beating that heat wherever you are, too. Off to play tennis with my pal Jose, our amazing Head of Tennis. Until next time…

Yours Moosily,

Manny the Moose

A Fireside Welcome

Two nights ago we had Manitou’s first Friday Night Fireside of 2018, and there’s only one word to describe it: magical.

After the campers enjoyed free swim in the warmest lake we’ve had in years, and everyone finished off their traditional Friday night meal of chicken, veggies and potatoes, the sun was setting and we all headed down to our Fireside spot; a secluded, quiet area with a gorgeous view overlooking Lake Manitou-Wabing. Each Friday night when we all arrive at Fireside, we give a land acknowledgement to remind our campers that the places we enjoy—including Camp Manitou– were once occupied by our precious Indigenous populations.  To start our first Fireside with our campers we felt it was important to invite a member of the Wasauksing First Nations Reserve, Jodi Baker Contin, to speak to our Manitou community. Through her wonderful words, singing, and drumming, campers could more fully understand the vibrant and wonderful culture of our Indigenous friends while acknowledging the land we are all so blessed to enjoy.

Following that was our candle ceremony, a tradition we do every week at Fireside, where a candle is given out to a female and male camper from each unit (including staff), who exemplify the positive values of our Manitou community. Since our campers have been here for just a day, only a staff candle was given out this week, and we were told that it has been renamed the “David Sheffe Candle”, in honour of our dear friend Luigi. Though the staff had a full memorial during pre-camp, the campers were able to hear a bit about Dave as well when the Unit Heads each described a word or phrase that defined Dave’s endless and selfless love and support of everyone. It was also a touching moment to hear David’s nephew speak at Fireside and thank everyone for their support of their family these past couple of months.

As we do on every first official Fireside of the summer, we had our “Camp Is” campers speak and tell us why their first year at Manitou was so special, and give out messages of support especially to our first time campers. I thought they did an amazing job and hope that their words help some of our new campers along the way this summer! I wish you could all hear their speeches, but here are some fantastic quotes to give you a taste:

“Where else do you get to come to breakfast in your pajamas and eat pancakes with thirteen of your closest friends. Camp is a place where you can be yourself, meet kids from different places in the world, and share interests with those you’d least expect to.”

 “Last year I missed home a bit so I talked to my counsellor about it and he told me that there is no reason to be scared or miss home because you have two homes and camp is one of them…Camp is so important to me because I can be off screens and with this wonderful world that we are blessed to live in.”

 “Last year was my first year at Manitou and I was 7 years old.  I realized that camp is so important to me because I learned how to do things, make new friends, and grow up without my parents being there all the time…If you ever need advice here at camp come and talk to me- everyone at camp is so friendly and we’re like one big family.”

 “I love camp because you get to spend time away from your parents which means you don’t have to listen to them which is awesome… if you are ever feeling homesick, your counsellors and friends are here to make you feel better and soon Manitou will be your home away from home.”

 “The staff at Manitou are some of the most welcoming people I have ever met…While I was waiting to board the bus many girls came and started introducing themselves and then I basically knew my whole cabin. But the true friendships developed in the cabin over the summer.”

 “I had been to prior camps before Manitou but my experience was well -meh… but I came to Manitou last year and I was nervous and scared. That all changed as soon as I got on the bus.  I was greeted by at least five people with high fives and how you doings.  I found my spot in the camp and had the best summer of my life”

 “Manitou offers the chance to give back to the community and I love that. From inspiring speakers to the programs that allow us to contribute to the final donation for a charity.  Manitou teaches us the importance of thinking of others even while we are having fun at camp.”

As you can see from those tidbits, we have some bright young campers, who are sure to mature into amazing Manitou staff one day. Camp is my home, too, and I love sharing it with all of these great campers on a special evening like Friday Night Fireside, and all summer long.

With all of our ‘Camp Is’ speeches finished, our beautiful Fireside poem was read and our camp song was sung in unison by all, displaying our theme of the summer:  “caring is community.”

Now off to lunch…a Canada Day celebration! Until next time…

Yours Moosily,

Manny the Moose

First Day Fun!

Wowza! Our countdown clock has struck zero and everyone has arrived at camp for the Summer of 2018! The busses rolled in and all our excited campers ran through a tunnel of welcoming arms—a Manitou classic! After everyone got settled in their cabins, we all gathered for our traditional first night meal—tasty chicken burgers. And after dinner, we were off to the races!

Our campers went to the activity fair to hear about our over 35 activities, including the fun new Zumba program, and decide what they want to sign up for in this first week of activities. Following that, everyone chose their schedules and sent postcards home to all of you! Don’t worry…you’ll get them soon and hear all about the fun we’re having here at camp.

Our golden summer night ended on a lovely note, as we raised our Manitou and Canadian flag to signify the official start of camp. It was raised this year, as is tradition, by our campers celebrating birthdays, our most recent Jordana Lokash Award winners, and as a special tribute this year, Dave Sheffe’s girls, Ella and Marlowe alongside his niece and nephew Dylan and Zoe Brown. It was then an early to bed—or an ETB as we call them here—so that everyone could get plenty of sleep after a long day, and so our cabins could all bond and have a great night together!

Camp is definitely in full swing now, and I can hear laughing and cheering everywhere I go. It’s great seeing so many old faces return to Manitou, but I love meeting new friends, as well. I have to go now…even a moose has to do swim and lice checks! Until next time…

Yours Moosily,

Manny the Moose

Counting Down the Minutes!

It was another amazing day here yesterday at Manitou! The sun was shining, the birds were singing…even our new adopted bunny rabbit was feeling fine!  Now that all of the activities are being set up for our campers, I can count down the minutes until everyone arrives. Everything looks great, and I know the campers will think so, too! I just can’t wait until they get here!

We started off the day with the arrival of all the camper duffel bags, and it took a tremendous effort by the entire staff to get them into the cabins and ready for the kids to unpack their stuff! It didn’t matter if you’re big or small, strong or not, everyone was able to help each other and make moving bags a great time! I’ve never seen so many bags move so quickly, and it just shows how tight knit this staff group is, and how our family always wants to lend a hand.

After all that hard work, we deserved a great lunch—and we got it with Chef William’s famous fish and chips! But a great meal wasn’t all that happened at lunch, as we had our MHL themed meal, where everyone sat with the Manitou Staff Hockey League teams they were drafted onto. It was the perfect way to meet our captains, teammates, and feel like we were all part of a winning squad! I can’t wait until the games start and we all get to cheer for our favourite teams.

All in all, it’s fantastic to see the camp so perfect, the lake looking beautiful, and the smiles on everyone’s faces. Even as I write this, counselors are making signs to welcome their campers and people are laughing and singing.

It’s time for me to make my cabin sign too! And by the way, if you’re reading this, please share it with all your Manitou friends and family cause I have a lot more to say all summer long!

Until next time…

Yours Moosily,

Manny the Moose

Birthdays, Counsellors, and Bags…Oh My!

I just finished off another delicious breakfast – Manitou McMuffins – from our amazing Chef William, and wanted to tell you all about our day yesterday up here at Manitou! The counselors were hard at work, starting off the day with waterfront and First Aid training. Our friend Eric “Shendy” Shendelman, of Shendy’s Swim School, always gives us the best tips and lifesaving techniques in his First Aid sessions, and our wonderful swim staff put our staff through the greatest training around, always keeping safety a priority!

After our safety-based sessions, we went to a couple of fun and exciting talks with two Manitou veterans—Mike Levinsky and Sandy Foster. Although Mike doesn’t go to Camp Manitou anymore, he came up and did a special session all about being “the best of the best”, helping our staff members with confidence and tips for their cabins and campers. Plus, he had us all dancing—and I love to put on my dancing shoes! Sandy Foster, our Head of Theatre and a long-time Manitou staff member, told us classic camp programming stories from his over 30 years of camp experience, and he made us laugh, cry, and feel inspired.

As if the day couldn’t get more fun, we walked into dinner to find we were having a birthday themed meal. That meant everyone sat together at a table according to the month they were born, which was a great way to make new friends, and have a blast with people you may not get to sit with during the summer. Our wonderful programming duo Justin Shears and Sarah-Rose Wentling took the dinner one step further, too, and had us playing party games and smashing piñatas. There was even a giant birthday cake there, as we continue to celebrate Mark and Jeff’s 20th year at the camp.

After dinner, the counselors were bursting with excitement as they finally found out who they would be paired with, and which campers and cabin they would be taking care of. It was great to see everyone with big smiles moving into their new cabins, and I know the campers will be so happy, too!

Later on, the Manitou Hockey League captains drafted their teams for this summer, hoping to make a squad that would take the championship this year. The MHL is a blast for staff and is also a great opportunity for campers to be involved in camp spirit and cheer for their favourite staff members.

While I was in the draft watching to see who went to what team, I received some amazing photos from baggage duty. I know camp is coming up soon when baggage duty day arrives! Most of you probably met our wonderful staff and CITs as you dropped off duffels to the truck, and you can see from their photos how much fun they were having!

It’s such a nice day today, I just have to go and play some baseball with all my friends! Until next time…

Yours Moosily,

Manny the Moose

A Beautiful Night at Fireside

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…

Yours Moosily,

Manny the Moose

Making Connections!

After a busy Saturday, I can’t wait to update you all on everything that’s been happening up here at camp! All of our staff arrived safe and sound, and were greeted by our snazzy new tech signs posted all around the camp that remind us Manitou 2018 is all about finding the connection WITHOUT all of that technology! The best connections are the ones we make with each other, and these signs are just helpful reminders of that. That’s one of our amazing CIT co-ordinators Josh Robins posing with one of the beautiful posters, and look at how happy he is without any cellphone in sight!

After our staff were off the bus and put into their units, it was off to the races! We sat by the fire with our fearless leaders Mark and Jeff as they recounted their story of Manitou and how it’s their 20th year at the camp. And then all of a sudden, a birthday party began! Some of our enthusiastic veteran staff members all dressed up as different themed birthday parties and led the rest of our staff around camp in some silly games. If you looked one way, there was Luau playing musical chairs against Superhero parties, and if you looked the other way, Team Quincanera was battling Hoedown in a relay race. Plus, we got to decorate some birthday cakes, play pin the tail on the donkey, and even make up a new and improved happy birthday song—because this isn’t just a normal birthday!

And after all of that wackiness was done, our staff gathered around the campfire for some S’mores—a classic Manitou tradition. It was a time to relax, laugh, and meet new friends. I can’t think of a more camp-y way to end the day than around the campfire with some buddies.

Looks like it’s time to do my swim check now…until next time!

Yours Moosily,

Manny the Moose

Welcome to Summer 2018!

It’s hard to believe a year has passed and we’re already back at Manitou for summer 2018. Though we don’t have our hundreds of campers up here yet, our staff have been arriving and making our summer home just perfect. The sun has been shining non-stop and the lake is at perfect swimming temperature!

Wednesday saw the Unit Heads arrive along with all 9 directors, and on Thursday we had our head staff come up—those are our activity heads, and even some specialists—and it’s the best group I’ve ever seen. From the moment they stepped off the bus, I could tell there was an amazing energy with this group. We’ve played wacky games like Huckle Buckle where Mark and Jeff led the wacky charge, we played a wild round of Name Bingo which had us laughing up a storm, and at lunch a spontaneous cheer happened—Manitou favourite, the Tooty-Ta! The vibe of the staff has been fantastic, and in just a few hours we’ll have our Manitou counselors arriving to complete our Manitou Staff Family. I can hardly wait! I can hear the lunch bell now…so until next time!

Yours Moosily,

Manny the Moose