WE LOVE CABIN ACTIVITY NIGHTS!!!!

Lots of people know about the incredible 34 activities at Manitou, but it’s the cabin activities that can truly make these kids’ summers complete. Cabin activities that happen three times a week at Manitou are not necessarily about a having a specific activity as a cabin, but rather about having kids participate in creative, off the wall, silly programs that truly create a sense of play in the old fashioned, traditional way. Survivor, boot camp, capture the flag, an incredible toilet paper fashion show, the craziest paint twister game ever, a clever photo scavenger hunt, baking with Shelley, a Spanish lyric challenge where our Spanish guitar teachers taught Spanish songs to kids hollering them out across main field, and a pontoon boat ride lead by tour guide Mark Diamond are just examples of some of these fun and classic Manitou programs. Seeing cabins out on a beautiful night having fun is one more reason to love Sundays and Thursdays at Manitou.

It’s Sunday night, must be Homeburgers!

Celebrate me home!

It sure does feel a lot like home today as we welcomed back campers arriving from the beautiful Killarney and Algonquin Provincial Park from 4 and 5-day canoe trips and we also welcomed home over 65 Fresh and Soph campers who spent the day competing for the Moose on the intercamp sports day at Camp Tamakwa. A huge success all around, and one of the few days this session we have the entire camp ‘home’ together!

Seems like the weather gods are finally on our side as the skies have turned blue and we are even able to enjoy Chef William’s world famous Homeburgers out on the lawn for tonight’s outdoor ‘tailgate dinner’.

Last nights ‘Manitou’s got talent’ talent show featured over 20 acts from singing to dancing, comedy and even some incredible whistling routines! The crowd loved it and the performers (some for the very first time on stage) were made to feel pretty special with numerous standing ovations!

Good news, Mark and Jeff just announced an ‘early to bed’ for all campers and staff tonight so we can catch up on some sleep for what will be a very busy week ahead!

More exciting news to follow! As always,

M. Moose (2nd)

THE POWER OF ONE

Our Manitou theme for the summer is the ‘POWER OF ONE’ and how one person can make a difference in the lives of others no matter what age they are, background or where they are from. Last night we had our Freshkids’ present after our candle ceremony honouring one child from each unit for representing positive values. Over twenty campers presented on the power of one, making wonderful comments such as:

“Lots of great things started with the power of one. ‘The power of one is getting people to do something you believe in even though people tell you not to do it. A small change can make a big change in life.’

“On December 1, 1955 one woman refused to give up her seat on the bus, protesting the unfair treatment of African American people. Rosa parks went on to be one of the founders of the American Civil Rights movement…”

“Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 26 years because he tried to help people in South Africa be treated without prejudice. He refused to back down in his fight to do what was right….”

“The power of one is a lesson telling us that it takes one person to come up with an idea that can inspire others and help make that vision happen. So we think that the power of one is the power of one person to inspire others to do better, to stand up for what they believe in, challenge what is currently done and reach heights never reached before. We hope you can inspire someone to do better this summer.”

We then welcomed Ryan Hreljac founder of ‘Ryan’s Well’ deliver a touching and powerful talk on how at the age of seven, he raised $70 dollars to provide clean water for a well in Africa. He discussed how he was just a typical kid in school who didn’t participate but couldn’t understand how someone couldn’t have clean water. After a year, he had raised $2000 and even appeared on the Oprah Winfrey show, being praised by Oprah for all his wonderful community service. Three years later he had raised $750,000 in total. He now runs the Ryan’s Well Foundation (www.ryanswell.ca) at age 26, raising over one million dollars each year. After he spoke, the kids swarmed Ryan as if he were a celebrity because they were so excited to meet someone that could make such a positive difference in the lives of others at such a young age.

Afterwards, he spoke to the Senior’s and CIT’S about his relationship with a boy Jimmy, who he visited in Uganda at age 10. They became best friends. A few years later Jimmy’s family was killed by rebels.
Ryan and his family decided to bring Jimmy to Canada and he received refugee status immediately. We discussed how Canada is such a special country and in the wonderful position to save people like Jimmy and how important it is to help people around the world and bring them to Canada. Ryan explained how Jimmy became Ryan’s brother, and now Jimmy is happily married and Ryan was his best man at his wedding..

Best of all was how captivated, respectful and inspired all our campers and staff were during this wonderful Fireside chat. Proving once again Manitou is more than just incredible activities, wonderful staff and our magical setting, it indeed is a place to grow!

Click HERE to watch a video clip of Ryan’s Fireside chat

Being a Camp Counsellor

Last night we had our weekly staff meeting and Jeff and Mark spoke about how the entire staff pushed through one of the greatest weeks ever despite the challenges of the weather. More staff than ever have clearly demonstrated they are here for the kids and are so supportive of each other.
Below is a writing from one of our counsellors during rest hour yesterday and was read to the entire staff last night, it really does say it all!

Can’t wait for Friday night Fireside tonight and our special guest speaker Ryan Hreljac from ‘Ryan’s Well that has arrived to speak to the camp, a true champion of ‘the power of one’
Our Fireside theme for this summer!
Enjoy,

Manny M

Being a camp counsellor

Being a camp counsellor is the hardest job there is
It’s never getting a break
It’s having screaming kids cling to your legs
It’s ruining all your favourite clothes
It’s putting your heart out but knowing you get more love in return
It’s never being awarded peace and quiet after a long day
It’s having to master the balance of mother, teacher, and friend
It’s questioning your desire to ever have children of your own but realizing its your goal
It’s putting your dignity on the line with every dress up day and themed activity

Being a camp counsellor is the hardest yet most rewarding job there is
It’s never being more than five steps away from your best friends
It’s having a smile on your face at all hours of the day
It’s ruining your white tennis shoes in the biggest mudslide you’ve ever seen
It’s putting your life on the line because you love your campers more than anything
It’s never having a boring or uneventful day for a whole summer
It’s having a feeling of pride when your campers accomplish a new goal
It’s putting the fate and happiness of children into your hands, knowing they love you no matter what

It’s being payed minimal wages
To play, laugh, smile, explore
Let your hair down, disconnect from the world, step on the grass and mud, allow the sun to shine on your bare skin
To go makeup free and designer label free, to feel the cold rush of lake water and the warm hug of greasy comfort food
It’s feeling like a kid again no matter your age
It’s the hardest job there is,
But I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.

Happy 4th of July!

After basking in a sea of red and white for our exciting Canada 150 celebrations, the enthusiasm at camp couldn’t be higher! Chef William treated us royally on July 1st with Red and White Waffles followed by some world class poutine at lunch – a real Canadian hit! Today we celebrated our US campers and staff with a Happy Independence Day and added some blue to the colorful display of patriotism here at Manitou.
Maybe the silver lining in the soggy lead-up to camp is that we sure do appreciate it when the sun is shining and the skies are blue. There’s plenty to do around here when it rains but nothing beats the energy of a real summer day. The amazing blueberry smoothies whipped up by our kitchen crew provided just the right pick-me-up midday and our new Mastercraft ski boat was working overtime as camp positively exploded with excitement!
Our CITs rolled back into camp today with plenty of stories after an inspiring four-day canoe trip in Killarney. Campers have settled in beautifully and are loving our new fitness studio and we’ve even enjoyed the occasional sunset cruise on our new pontoon boat. There’s no better way to appreciate all that surrounds us here than to witness it at its most peaceful time of day. So much to be thankful for as the sun goes down on day 6 here at Manitou!
I’ve got to go now, it’s cabin activity night, where so many campers will have a chance to try something new and even for the first time! Can’t wait to see the excitement on their faces! After the activities we have lots of camp fires going and my guess is we can sample more than a few s’mores!
Keep you posted,
Manny

The First Days of Camp Kick Off with an Inspiring Fireside

Camp has started off as smooth as ever!  The sun was even shining for much of Friday although today is pretty darn wet and stormy. But we got through it with a fun music lunch that went into rest hour!

But speaking of Friday, Friday Night Fireside continued to be an inspiring event for the entire camp.

At Fireside, we talked about the 10 magical expectations for how we treat each other. We spoke about and reminded our campers that the lands we occupy were once the lands of indigenous peoples. We therefore must remember to have respect and thank the original community that inhabited these lands.

Our wonderful speakers at Fireside for CAMP IS, truly inspired us all. Here are some quotes from our speakers, all campers that came to Manitou for the first time last summer except for one; starting with freshkids and moving up to our oldest campers:

 

“One of my favourite activities was the Candy Olympics.  I love camp because of all the new friends you make and I love camp because of all the new activities you get to try.  One of my favourite cabin activities was when we were spies and had many different missions”.

 

“At first I was worried about coming to this new place and not knowing anyone and I was worried about being homesick . It didn’t take long to get to know the awesome guys in F3 and soon I started to feel comfortable and then the fun began…I never would have imagined I would make such great friends….the counsellors I had were awesome…if you are homesick I recommend you share your true feelings with your counsellors as they are really good at helping you out and making you feel better.”

 

“When I first got to camp last year I was very nervous, I missed home and I was worried about a lot of things, but these feelings soon went way…everyone in my cabin was so nice and welcoming… Although I was scared, camp became one of the greatest parts of my life….I can’t tell you how lucky I am feel to have the privilege to spend my summer in such an incredible place with so many incredible people as I know that there are many kids who cannot and will never be able to experience what we do here. Remember that all we really need and what is important is each other!!  Our memories and friendships will last a lifetime.”

 

“I have been waiting to come back here since the day I left. I am so excited to see all my friends from last year. Camp to me is meeting new people from different parts of the world…spending days and nights with friends, laughing a lot and being outdoors.”

 

“I chose to come back to camp because I made so many amazing friends and had so much fun at the activities.  I instantly had sooooo many friends and they are all very nice.  Last year I tried two new activities which became my favourites.  I am really excited for this year and I am sure you are too.”

 

“Hola, Amigos. I was really nervous for the first days out of home, alone, in a different country.  I have great news for you.  At Manitou you only need to say hi to someone and they will become your friend.  In the city you have to deal with so much stress, everybody telling you how to dress and what to do at school, but here, Manitou disconnects you from the outside world.  For example, normally you spend a lot of time looking at screens or thinking I can get more followers on Instagram, Facebook, etc., but at Manitou, you don’t have to worry about school, homework, or technology. The food here is incredible…I hope this will be your happiest summer ever!”

 

“A year and a half ago I decided to try sleepover camp for the first time.  I was nervous about spending a whole month away from my family and spending it with mostly girls I had never met before.  Many kids have come to camp for years and years and I was worried I wouldn’t fit in with them, so deciding to go to camp was a big decision to make, but I am so glad I did. But when I got off the bus I was overwhelmed with the amount of spirit and enthusiasm of all the campers while greeting their counsellors.  I went home with a million unforgettable memories with old and new friends. I can now look back and say that last summer was the best summer of my life, thanks to Manitou. For me, I learned not to judge anything before experiencing it for myself.”

 

And from an old timer – “my first summer I flew without my parents for the first time and traveled for almost nine hours to an unknown place. I was scared and nervous to say the least.

However, upon my first arrival it felt like home.  I was greeted by a tunnel of smiling faces …when I recall these incredible seven years it is the people I was with that made those years so special…Over the next seven years I would go on to make unbelievable memories as well as friendships. I only hope that any camper struggling with being in a new environment or being away from home can find a home at Manitou because Camp Manitou is truly like a second home.

 

How fortunate are we that our campers often say it best!

Staff Training is Preparing Us for the Best Summer Ever!

Everyone knows that all summer long we say it’s the “Best summer ever.” Well, this year we clearly have one of the most dedicated, kindest group of staff you will ever find.  The old-timers keep coming up to us remarking on how the new staff are just such good people and fit in so well.  The new staff are saying how easy it is to integrate with the old.  To be honest, this is often the case, but this year it’s at a whole new level and we are so excited!

Once again, discussions in pre-camp have covered everything from how to create a culture of respect to sessions on bullying, inclusion, homesickness, first-aid training, health and wellness, risk management, rules, policies, emergency procedures, supervision, leadership, programming, activity scheduling, team building, staff role modeling, how to instill gratitude in children, safe play, what makes an exceptional counsellor, discipline versus punishment, the value of canoe tripping, typical behavior and expectations of campers, as well as about fifteen other topics.

Each year we also emphasize a few areas and so we concentrated a little more on counsellor training with respect to raising your voice, getting frustrated, as well as challenges with today’s youth in respect to mental illness and of course anxiety.

Our session on role modelling, really hit home when we played examples of typical music that kids listen to today and the challenges we have with what is permitted in daily life.

Mike Levinsky was our guest speaker this year. He did an interactive session on positive reinforcement.  He showed in a humorous, but meaningful session that if you ask someone to do a simple task in a positive way, it takes two minutes to complete, but if you ask in a negative way it takes six or seven.  He also did a “tableau” role play workshop teaching staff not to label their campers and look for the best in all of them. The staff said it was one of the highlights of their staff training! Mike also had the entire staff dancing with fun routines illustrating how you can make any task fun for your kids, even cleaning up!

Tuesday at Manitou featured an incredible day of professional development. First-Aid training was spearheaded by Shendy’s own Eric Shendleman, who spent the day on First-Aid and CPR. Then the fun truly began with Sandy Foster, who once again did an incredible session about how not to just accept a good idea or program, but to challenge yourself to take it to the next level.

We could go on forever, but let us end off with some wonderful words from a long time staff member who spoke to our staff team and said this:

This summer will be my tenth year at Manitou. Over my first nine years I have been to camp for a total of 12 months, an entire year. This year of my life has been the most important and significant in developing as a person and becoming a leader at camp and back home…Being a staff member is very different than being a camper.  As a camper you basically only worry about triple tuck and getting basketball and ski on your schedule.  Things change when you become a staff member. You develop a leadership role at camp and are in charge of delivering the campers the summer of their lives.  Being a camper is fun but being a staff member is rewarding.  Seeing the growth and happiness of your campers is what makes your summer and theirs that much better.

For the first year staff it’s a hard and quick transition to make but as the closet people in age to the campers, it’s important to reason with the kids, build connections with them and develop trust through friendship. For the new staff members, camp is nothing you would expect.  Bring whatever leadership traits and positivity you have to camp.  Furthermore, there is a need for respect and trust in order to do a good job.  As well, your cos, fellow staff, Unit heads and head staff will help you transition and succeed on the job.   You will make the best friends in the cabin with your new cos and campers that will last forever.

To me, Camp gets better every year… And as staff members it’s important that we all give the kids the summer we had when we were campers and go home with no regrets on doing so.

How we could have the most positive beginning to camp after our eight days of pre camp training is actually remarkable considering we have had the worst weather since we started 19 years ago.  The good news is that this staff appear to be so resilient, as nothing gets in their way.

It may be a bit damp and cold but the staff training is warming us all up!

After three days of head staff training, the rest of our counsellor team arrived at camp on Saturday and we can already see that the staff of 2017 are going to be as incredible as ever.

One of our staff members from Mexico spoke today during our talk on “rules and what it means to be a professional.”

This is what he had to say:

“Last year was my first year on staff and I enjoyed it a lot.  I realized that being around kids, seeing how they enjoy camp and observing how they grow in so many aspects is a beautiful experience.  Camp makes this happen, and allows kids to be more independent and make them better kids in general.

I saw many campers, each different with diverse objectives, challenges and great moments.  This whole process is fascinating and satisfying.  For example, when one camper got up for the first time while waterskiing, it was so rewarding.

Camp is about respect and tolerance and letting each child develop his or herself without questioning from others.  This is a very rewarding job! You will enjoy it so much.”

Manitou is more than camp or a summer community. It is a big special family that transforms and improves people, from freshkids to staff at all levels and as part of this, true friendships are formed.

Jeff and Mark did their welcome at the Manitou Swim fire pit as staff arrived yesterday discussing their vison for camp and the five themes of the summer. That lead to a mini colour war set up for the staff so they could all get to know each other a little better while enjoying some fun games.

Today the staff joined Chris and Mark after their swim checks for an interactive session on how to be the best counsellor possible. This session used actual examples of typical camp scenarios with staff acting out the various roles. That was followed by Elijah’s very powerful session on bullying. The Unit Heads also met with the counsellors and the Activity Heads met their activity staff and of course we reviewed our emergency procedures too!  It’s been busy. Well gotta go to Sandy’s session on creative programming for cabin groups.

Until next time!

Manny