Our Last Night of Camp

Never have we seen so many tears. It was for sure the summer of all summers. Read on to hear what some of our campers and staff had to say as we enjoyed our final banquet, camper awards, five year backpack ceremony along with a wonderful “slide show”, and the camp singing three days in counting after honouring three life long staff for their 15th summers. The flag came down as we heard from our eight campers speak about their summer, and honoured our Jordanna Lokash winners.

Our 15 year honorees had such touching thoughts after hearing warm felt words about them.

We love their sentiments such as:

“how does someone manage to enjoy something for this long. In reality people tend to hold onto a typical job for roughly four years before moving on,   so what can motivate someone to be part of something for 15 years? …Perhaps it’s the ability to enjoy doing anything with little judgement what so ever…maybe it’s the people that are so invested in sharing their experiences and outlooks on life that create this rich environment of happiness and acceptance. At camp you are never too cool, tool nerdy, too quiet, or too different to be yourself”

“Dear seven year old Jordy I am so proud of you for making the decision to camp to camp this summer. Manitou will help you grow as a person, it will develop your sense of humour and your personality, it will expand your social skills, and allow you to meet people who you will call your friends for the rest of your life.   It will show you emotions you never knew existed. It will shape who you are and mold you into a person you can be proud of… Be ready for a family of 500 people who at a moments notice are ready to jump in and make you laugh.”

“Firstly I would like to thank each and every camper. Whether I know you well or we have never spoken each one of you plays a role in making this place what it is to me.   To the Soph boys, your constant high energy and desire to have fun is hard to match and working with you has made the last two summers the best of my 15 years here.   This place has completely shaped who I am today and I can say that there is no way I’d be close the person I am without the time here.   This is the most special place in the world and my message to all of you is to stay here as long as you can.   Whatever your excuse is for not coming back I highly suggest you reconsider.   The greatest thing about camp is how diverse we are yet we all have one thing we all share which is our love for this place.   “

Freshkids: “ This year I was old enough that my mom said I could stay six but I convinced her to let me stay two months,   camp means to me being in a fun place with others and family, to grow camp spirit. Thank you to my counsellors and my friends for the best summer ever”.

“ Camp means to me having fun and meeting new friends, especially the girls in my cabin. I am really proud of me because my mom told me to smile and right away I will make a friend and that’s what happened. I just wanted to say thanks to all the campers, cits, and staff for an amazing summer”

Sophomores: “ Camp is like my second home…scratch that- it is my home…if I didn’t come to Manitou years ago I wouldn’t have made these awesome friends, great memories …I have learned so much over the years from waterskiing to cooking”.

“ Another reason that I love this amazing camp is because of the great activities here plus the great staff that run them. Also because of the warm, kind and loving people that are here, no matter how bad the situation they can always manage to cheer me up and make me feel at home. Camp also has great food and people who actually know how to cook it….”


Juniors: “ My favourite memories from this summer have come from camp’s more understated moments- whether it’s a joke told during an evening program or a theme of cabin clean up, it seems the fun at camp never stops. I feel camp is a place where I’ve grown and matured over the years.   I am glad to have had the experiences I had and to have made the friends I have made this summer.   To all the new campers and staff I hope your first summer was unforgettable and just know that every year is better than the last. “

“Camp is playing camouflage with my best friends, camp is living with 13 of my best friends for two months, camp is loving all of my counsellors, camp is getting really sweaty and messing around in the water, camp is being yourself no matter what “

Seniors: “ Camp cant be described by one memory or feeling. It’s the countless memories and feelings that camp has given me over time. Camp is waking up every morning with my best friends. Camp is feeling confident in myself and having the security to stand up in front of my entire unit trying to get a cookie from my forehead into my mouth., camp is working together and accomplishing things as a team….because no matter how different we may be we al share one thing in common and that is our love for camp.”

Camp is beautiful. The forests that surround us are breathtaking.   The view of the hot yellow sun as it sets over the panoramic blue lake is a sight we only get to see here.   And if you look up its nights like tonight where the stars are glimmering in the dark sky, that truly shows the beauty of Manitou…Here at Manitou we are taught to give back to our local community and the rest of the world.   Manitou Cares. Manitou Cares because it wants to. Manitou cares because it builds character and helps us become good global citizens. Camp is all the staff putting in hundreds of hours keeping us safe, planning events and making sure we have an amazing summer. They put in so much energy each day to see a smile on all our faces. Camp is lessons learned, lasting memories and lifelong friends.

CIT: Camp to me is being able to represent the place you call home. It is laughing with friends as you airball your next shot. Tt is waking up every morning knowing that in the end the play you perform will be amazing.   It’s the chills when you sing “deep in the heart of the north” every Friday. Its choreographing something hilarious with your cabin mates. Camp is our emotional home.  Thank you to everyone who has made the past five summer of my life the best ones yet.

The Walk of Hope

A special evening of learning and hope to make a positive difference in our world:

Last night before our poignant Walk of Hope, we shared with our campers and staff the many values that we hold so important here at Manitou. We ask that you set aside 15 minutes of your day to watch the video below as a way of connecting with our message and experiencing the same magic that your kids did yesterday evening.

As we embarked on our annual tradition of the Walk of Hope, each of our units discussed the many charitable endeavors that Manitou is supporting this summer but more importantly, discussions were held around the theme of the video below.  All campers were asked to contribute their ideas on what might be pursued when they get back home to positively impact their world. The senior unit spent several hours discussing incredibly well thought out concepts for new charitable initiatives that were then presented to us all for consideration.  We are proud to say that the ManitouCamp Foundation is providing a $500 donation for what we feel is the most inspiring cabin idea to support!

As day three of Community Week came to a close, we had kids in every activity doing events to support Autism Speaks Canada, as well as cabins and campers coming up with dozens of fun events. But last night soared to new heights as we lit up main field in blue to support our charity of choice. Everyone walked around the hundreds of candle lit bags, each one decorated by every camper with the themes of hope, change, and the power of one.  Campers stopped first at the bonfire where they would symbolically burn their fears, signifying a letting go of all that holds them back. After that, they joined in the footprint canvas, leaving their painted feet as a remembrance of our special evening. An uplifting photo booth where campers took photos holding inspirational slogans marked the end of the Walk while in the background, our campers and staff sang and entertained us all night long with wonderful music. It was one of those remarkable Manitou nights to remember and one which had a profound impact on everyone who was present. While the attached video can’t replace the magic we all experienced together, it does capture the wonderful Manitou spirit that shone throughout! Enjoy…

One of the most inspiring evenings in Manitou history


We had a wonderful, inspiring evening last night as we welcomed the Lake family, representing the charity AUTISM SPEAKS, our charity for second month. Fireside started with our usual candle ceremony honouring campers in each unit for representing the Manitou values. We also had a wonderful Sophomore do our “Camp Is” speech as she was on a canoe trip the week before. We are including her speech below as an example of the wonderful words of wisdom that come from our campers.

We then kicked off Community Week by talking about the many events that will be held all week long to raise money for Autism Speaks. The activities, cabins and individuals will be coming up with ideas to help raise money for this charity and then our foundation will write the cheque to Autism Speaks. Even a Freshkid cabin, independent of their counsellors, approached us with an idea that was simply brilliant and well thought out. Look out for more information about our Community Week events soon! On Monday night community week reaches its pinnacle with our Walk of Hope, where campers will learn more about the POWER OF ONE and how one person can make a difference in the lives of others. Campers will partake in a discussion with their unit about the Power of One before walking around a candle-lit field to the sound of campers’ musical performances.

We also welcomed MP Mike Lake, his daughter, Jenae, and his son, Jaiden to camp. Mike came to speak about Jaiden, a wonderful young man with Autism. Together, the three of them gave an impactful speech on what it is like to have Autism and how Jaiden, despite being unable to communicate with words, is able to communicate messages of love, life and the power of one so effortlessly.  You could hear a pin drop in the theatre, as the campers were so inspired and touched by the Lake family’s talk. Mike along with Jaiden and Janae then spoke to the CITs and seniors separately for a more detailed talk about autism and developmental changes.

Jaiden, his father, and sister are spending the weekend with us and its truly an honour to see such a loving family teach us all what truly matters in our lives. At lunch on Friday, Jaiden ran up to the Microphone when he heard his name and gave high fives to over 100 campers and staff. The spontaneity of his actions set the tone for the weekend. After this wonderful evening, campers made the special paper bags with beautiful designs that will light up the field and then went back to the cabin for a special bead ceremony. Ask your kids about the questions they were asked to further educate and remind your children of the wonderful lives and privileges they have and to emphasize the values that we all hold dear to us.

If you feel inclined to support Autism Speaks, please click on the links below.




This is my second summer at Manitou. When I first arrived last summer, I had the normal jitters than any camper would have. Of course, I really missed my cat…By the way, his name is furball. But right away I started to make new friends.

The activities were great: waterskiing, cooking pottery, and of course, the famous “World Games.”

Here is a poem that I wrote about why Manitou is great.

M is for the many, many friends that you will make

A is the action and swimming in the lake

N is for the nature by day and by night

I is for the ice-cream parties…what a delight

T is for the tetherball , a game that we play

O is for optimism to start every day

U is for YOU, with all of your grace, because it is you that makes Manitou OUR special place!

To finish off, my advice is to try to keep an open mind and you will be sure to make new friends too!  And before you know it you will be going home with a whole bunch of great memories that will stay with you long after the summer ends, which remind me of the expression:

“You can take the kid out of Manitou , but you can’t take Manitou out of the kid.”

We Love Special Activity Days at Manitou

As you know, at Manitou kids can really develop their skills because they pick their own activities and change them weekly!  But we also love to have fun, special days at activities throughout the summer. After all, camp is about new and exciting events that require creativity and imagination. Just today for example, Fitness held a triathlon that kids could sign up for, involving running, swimming, and canoeing.  On top of that, OCS hosted a flag football tournament, and at Soccer we had the Champion’s League Tournament. Hockey also had a special event – our annual Dany Markov Roller Hockey Tournament. Basketball joined in yesterday with a special 3-on-3 tournament and Volleyball did an incredible fun filled event as well. It was hilarious watching the “Masters of Mini Golf Tournament” today, as over 50 campers participated in a test of patience and endurance while we listened to play-by-play commentary. Golf even presented the winner, Ben Svonkin, with the traditional green jacket. Still, our most unique activity today was ‘Swimitch’ – a combination of quidditch and swim where for two days, kids enjoyed their favourite Harry Potter sport while cooling off in the water. Watching 30 kids in the water, laughing and enjoying the lake and beautiful weather with their staff was a site to behold.  Of course, the morning started off with our now weekly “Polar Bear Dip” where over 40 campers jumped in the lake, washed up, and had hot chocolate to start their day before breakfast. We ended the day with over 20 budding astronomers star gazing and learning about the galaxy through the lens of a new high powered telescope!

Wow, that was an action-packed Wednesday!  Can’t wait to prepare for our annual Community Week that kicks off tomorrow!

Oh, and before I forget, make sure you check out the newest edition of Manitou’s Newspaper, The Mosquito!

Manny J Moose

A Day in the Manitou Life – July 31st

Let’s make a deal, intercamp tryouts, Halloween, canoe trips, an inline hockey tourney, a triathlon, quidditch by the lake, MHL hockey action, camp wide dance….That’s how we ended the month of July yesterday. All that and so much more!!  It was an epic day topped off with Chef William’s annual Steak-Frites dinner complete with homemade pumpkin pie for dessert!  The trick or treaters were in full swing and enjoyed hay rides, the always crazy Haunted House and our newest tradition, ‘Trunk or Treat’, where campers got to choose their prizes from the trunks of staff cars!  So much fun was had by all as we finished with our camp wide dance set against the backdrop of a magnificent Manitou sky. The temperature as just right and the campers’ spirits even warmer.  Hard to believe it’s already August, but we have so much more to get excited about in the coming weeks.

The lake is a perfect temperature and so many kids are excited about tomorrow morning’s ‘polar bear’ swim at 6:30am. What a great way to start the day!

Second Session is in Full Swing!

We are sailing into second session–We can’t believe almost 250 new second session camper arrived (an all-time record)!  But the nicest part is how well they are adapting to camp.  This is in large part is due to the camp culture where long-time campers welcome the new kids and where the first month campers understand how important their role is in making the second session campers feel supported.

And speaking of feeling supported, we had the pleasure of hearing six campers who were new last summer along with two wonderful CITS speak about their experiences and remind the campers who just arrived that they don’t need to worry because this place will become their summer home before they know it.  As of today we are removing the word ‘homesick’ from the Manitou vocabulary and replacing it with ‘HOME THINK!’

These are some small sounds bites of what the campers had to say at Fireside last night:

“First the great staff here told me it was normal to be homesick and suggested I make a big project in woodworking.  This really kept my mind off of being homesick and after a few days I noticed I wasn’t homesick any more.  It was just that I was thinking about home so I called it “home think” …. I went to camp with only three friends and came home with six …So, homesickness is normal and we should rename it HOME THINK. The friends you will make at camp will help you through the bad and bring you the good. And finally, have FUN!”

“Last year my parents made me go to camp and I didn’t want to, but I went anyways.  I came to camp really shy …my friends helped me speak up and say something.  I left camp so much more confident than when I first came.  Now when people ask me questions I give full answers instead of just a yes or no. Not speaking to people and being shy was my biggest challenge before I came to camp.  So in the end coming to camp will change you for the better and you will always want to come back”

“It’s the people that make camp special for me. I have to admit there were times when I was homesick (or I guess Home Think now) last year but there was always someone to help and through those times is when I connected with so many people.  I recommend all the new campers this summer to just enjoy all your activities, memories and simple moments at camp like cabin time with your friends, or eating tuck and I promise this summer is going to fly by ….”

And finally from our CITS:

“From a young age we are taught the importance of helping others. Something we have learned from Manitou is the value of giving back to the community and the value of charity …Manitou represents this idea and is why our camp is unique.

And speaking of giving back, tonight at this same Friday night Fireside we had two amazing guest speakers; Max Daviau and David Levine two former campers (and staff), who took it upon themselves at age 23 to start their own charity – “Lay up Youth Basketball”.   Max who first started the charity four years ago, along with David explained to the campers that they started this charity from nothing, but what originally seemed like just a job became so fulfilling and fun because basketball was their passion and they loved seeing the impact the charity had on those in need. Kids were inspired as they learned how to start a charity from scratch, and also received the most important message that giving back is actually selfish because it just makes you feel so happy!

Check out Lay-up Basketball to learn more about the services they provide at www.lybs.ca. Congrats to you all and thanks for sharing your story with our Manitou Family

Greetings from the Manitou Kitchen!

Feeding over 400 hungry campers and our staff is no small task! Not only do we strive to make food that kids get excited about, we are equally focused on providing healthy choices and engaging in responsible food practices. It is our duty as camp directors to acknowledge that agriculture and food production has a huge impact on our environment and at Manitou, we’re proud to lead the charge in changing the way we operate to minimize our carbon footprint.

We feel so fortunate to welcome back Chef William Rodrigue as our head/executive chef for his seventh year at Manitou. Chef William has a few words to say about his commitment to offering delicious and inspiring meals all summer long:

“Here in the Manitou kitchen, we’re lucky to be able to serve tasty and nutritious food to hundreds of campers and staff every-day. Meals are designed to be comforting and nutritious but we’ve got a lot of palates to satisfy! More vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options have been added to our menu and we’re constantly aiming to be innovate in our offerings, including our world famous lunch time salad bar with over 40 different options that change daily! A huge shout out goes to Vanessa, who is simply the best special meals chef anywhere, and the over 20 hardworking staff that run the Manitou Kitchen all summer long.

We are also excited to strengthen our relationships with our local independent farmers, butchers and fresh markets. Manitou is a camp leader in its commitment to sustainability and connection with the local food movement and we’re proud to be part of such a forward-thinking and responsible family. We can’t wait to cook for you on Visitor’s Day!”

See you soon!
Mark and Jeff

PS—don’t worry, our legendary Tuck Shop is also open for those special camp treats every other day!!

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One camp day is like a month in the city when you think of how much happens up here in camp life!
Today the kids woke up to beautiful sunshine and were summoned to poleflag to start off their day instead of flagpole to finish … it was backwards day at Manitou!
With yummy pasta and garlic breads for breakfast and omelettes for dinner, it sure was an interesting (and slightly confusing!) day. Everyone was dressed backwards, from their hats to their shirts and shorts. People were entering the dining hall and walking backwards everywhere. Every activity had a backwards theme: backhands at tennis, backstroke at swim and everything was reversed for the day, whether entering the kitchen through the ‘out’ door instead of the ‘in’ door or sitting in reverse order at flagpole. Even music lunch played songs backwards and the kids had to guess what they were!

During this crazy fun day we had many of the LIT’s (grade nine campers) visit the CNIB camp, help with programming and support their wonderful group of children. At Soccer, our famous World Cup tournament was the highlight all day long with over 100 kids participating and many cheering on with the finals played just
before dinner. To top it off, we had Maurice Switzer, a citizen of the Mississaugas of Alderville First Nation, lead our CITs in a spirited discussion
about the land that we are on, explaining that it was never owned by our aboriginal community but belonged to everyone. He spoke of the respect that the aboriginal community has for the environment and expressed the wish that we all learn from these strong values to make us stronger than ever at 150 years.

As all this was going on, the same 34 activities were going on strong all day, with a special slip n slide on main field set up by the art areas for the
afternoon, as it was finally our first scorcher of the summer. We were loving the heat!

And while no day is totally normal here at camp, we promise that breakfast will really be breakfast tomorrow!

Two Weeks at Camp Have Flown By!

It feels like we blinked and two weeks have flown by! What our Manitou kids have accomplished in this time is extraordinary. Campers have participated in over 15 activities, 10 evening programs and six special bunk activities with everyone jumping in with both feet and soaking it all up. New and lasting friendships have been formed, all while developing confidence and understanding the special and unique qualities in both themselves and others.

Camp at this point starts to go from an incredibly fun and spirited place to a true community as we all embrace and enjoy special markers of our summer together. It might be singing Herman the Worm at Flagpole or having Zack lead the entire camp in “Pizza Man”, over 40 campers waking up at the crack of dawn to start the day with a good ol ‘polar bear swim’ down at the dock with the swim staff, or celebrating the camper talent show when the kids get the opportunity to show off what they do best. Just last night, we applauded the Fresh kids and Sophomores as they performed in ‘Aladdin.’

As we celebrated Aladdin last night, we were reminded that it isn’t only about the exhilarating and entertaining performance. It’s really about working hard, working together and reaching an awesome end result. Our legendary theatre director Sandy Foster told us the story of how one camper, who had lots of lines in the play last year, had just two in this summer’s show. Instead of complaining, our Manitou camper offered one of her lines to another camper who had none. It is messages just like these that make the positive values of Manitou so special.

As we say “so long” to our Freshkid 2-week campers, we look forward to a jam-packed week ahead! Stay tuned for more wonderful Manitou moments!
As always,
Manny Moose