💌 May 8th is Provincial Camp Letter Writing Day!

Dear Manitou Community,

Tomorrow, Saturday, May 8th, the Ontario Camps Association (OCA) is calling on every camp community to take part in the Provincial Camp Letter Writing Day. As we continue to plan and hope for another summer at Manitou, we need your support in reaching out to Doug Ford to safely reopen overnight camps. Every letter will make a difference in showing our Premier the profound impact that a camp experience has.

We’re asking you to add your voice to this specific cause and share your story. Help our Provincial Government understand what camp means to the people who love it the most and why we need to continue to work towards operating safely for Summer 2021.

We know how many of you have already written letters to your MPP asking for overnight camps to be reopened, which we are incredibly grateful for. To help amplify the collective voice of the Ontario camp community, we ask that you please resend your letter to the contacts listed below.

We need all friends of camp – campers, parents, staff, alumni and more – to write to Doug Ford, the Ontario Premier, on Saturday, May 8th telling him why camps need to open this summer. Thoughtful and heart-felt letters will help make this campaign successful, and support camps in Ontario!


Write to Premier Ford and send it on May 8: premier@ontario.ca

Please CC the following people:



“Dear Premier Ford,

I’ve struggled a lot over the past year. Here’s how…

In fact, kids are struggling all around me.

It’s so important that you find a way to let me be with some friends this summer!

The best way I can think of is my camp. Here’s why…” 


“Dear Premier Ford,

My child(ren) has/have struggled a lot over the past year. Here’s how…

In fact, children and youth are struggling all around me.”


  • The mental health impact on camper-aged children in your family
  • The critical loss that children and youth have experienced is social time with friends a.k.a. “social malnutrition”
  • Camps have been planning all year so that the summer can be delivered carefully and responsibly.
  • CLICK HERE for more inspiration on what to write

When we write these letters, please know that while we are certainly doing this on behalf of our own campers, we should also be aware that there are children who are less fortunate who rely on camp as their only way to leave the city. It is estimated that 1 million kids from every possible background, are eligible to experience camp this summer and we are working on this initiative on behalf of them as well.

We really hope that you will take a few minutes on Saturday to participate in this important initiative. While camp should only operate if health conditions permit, let Premier Ford and his colleagues know that you trust and are confident that we will deliver this experience carefully and responsibly.

Mark and Jeff

🏒 The Manitou Hockey Playoff Pool is Back!

Dear Manitou Community,

After much demand, the Manitou Hockey Playoff Pool is back! With more time spent at home right now in our Manitou sweats cheering on the Leafs, we have become even more invested in this year’s NHL season!

We are excited to announce that we have joined forces with The Playoff Hockey Challenge & Auction for Wishes to bring the biggest prizes to this year’s pool: a $5,000 Grand Prize to the winning team and over $9,000 in prize money available!

So get ready to join in on the action! Get your household on board, pick your dream team together and submit a family entry, complete with the team name of your choice. The cabin with the most entries will get an additional prize of a movie night this summer – now that is something worth playing for!


The best reason to get involved is that you are also supporting a great cause. This year net proceeds from The Playoff Hockey Challenge will benefit Make-A-Wish Canada. As you may have learned during our Virtual Fireside Series last summer, this incredible organization has a mission to create life changing wishes for children with critical illnesses. Even through the challenges of COVID-19, Make-A-Wish Canada has remained committed to their vision of granting the wish of every eligible child – a wish has a positive and lasting impact on the children and their families, beyond the experience of the actual wish.


Register your Team: CLICK HERE

Cost: $100/team

Deadline: May 20, 2021

We hope our entire Manitou community will get involved this year’s exciting playoff pool challenge. You don’t need to be a hockey expert to join, as either way you helping to grant wishes for children in need. We thank you in advance for your support.

Jeff and Mark

💌 #PLANFORCAMP: How to Get Involved

Dear Family and Friends,

Thank you to everyone who joined us for the OCA’s Plan For Camp Virtual Campfire. Hearing about the resilience of the Ontario camp community was truly inspiring. We were grateful that so many of us joined together as a Manitou community to show our support even if only virtually. The virtual campfire has now been viewed over 20,000 times and we hope to continue with this incredible momentum.

If you were unable to join us for the YouTube livestream, we have included a link at the end of this email – we encourage you all to watch and learn more about the #planforcamp movement for Summer 2021. This incredible production is approximately 90 minutes long. If you are not able to watch in full, CLICK HERE to listen to the CEO of SickKids Hospital Dr. Ronald Cohn discuss the importance of camp and the outdoors for children’s mental health.


We have so much to be grateful for with the support we have received from so many families, staff and alumni. We hope this is the last time we need to reach out to ensure camps open this summer!

We need your help. We need your leadership. We need your advocacy and commitment. And we need you to speak in your own loud voice! There are 2 ways in which you can show your support:


Premier Ford, his Cabinet Members, and provincial public health leaders must understand that now, more than ever before, kids need camp. When our Government has the opportunity to hear why camps need to open this summer for our children and youth it is only more impactful. CLICK HERE for instructions and for MPP contact information.


Connect with your community on Social Media by using the hashtag #planforcamp and tagging our Provincial leaders. CLICK HERE for more information and images to share.


Even the younger members of our community can find ways to get involved. CLICK HERE for ways to show your support.

We remain hard at work to bring Summer 2021 to fruition. We can’t wait to be back together on the sunny shores of Lake Manitou-Wabing!

Mark, Jeff, Jen, Alec and Melissa



🏕️ JOIN US: The OCA’S #planforcamp Virtual Campfire!

Dear Manitou Families, Staff, and Friends,

We need you! Join us, the Manitou community, and more than 10,000 other camp families for a special 1 hour presentation hosted by the Ontario Camps Association. This is an opportunity to celebrate Manitou and more importantly it’s to let our greater community understand the importance and significance of what a summer camp experience does for the future of children and youth in our province. While we wish we were all together at Queen’s Park to rally for camps to open, by having you at this virtual event, you will be advocating for camps.

You have been so supportive of Manitou over this past year by writing letters, sending us words of encouragement, and participating in our Firesides and online Manitou Cares programming. Many of you have asked how you can continue to help us bring Summer 2021 to reality. We now have a new way for you to help Camp Manitou and all Ontario summer camps through this inspiring event!


Date: Monday, April 12, 2021

Time: 7:30 PM – 8:30 PM

Where: Virtually – join us on YouTube Premiere at bit.ly/planforcamp


RSVP at Facebook Event Page and please invite friends as well.

Post your support on social media, CLICK HERE for an image to share.

The Ontario Government really wants overnight camp to happen this summer. Recently a letter from Dr. David Williams was publicly sent to Ontario camps stating that Public Health realizes it takes time to open camps and is in support of reopening. We now need to take action to make our voices heard.

You will hear from Camp Directors, campers, and experts including SickKids CEO Dr. Ronald Cohn who will discuss both the OCA guidance and field guide process, along with the social, emotional, physical and mental health rationale for the OCA to open and serve our youth this year.

Meanwhile we are hard at work planning for another incredible Manitou summer. We look forward to gathering virtually on April 12th with your household and thousands of camp supporters!

-Mark, Jeff, Jen, Alec and Melissa

Update and FAQ’s: Summer 2021

Dear Manitou Families,

We wanted to provide an update regarding our plan for camp this summer amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. It’s difficult to pick the right time to give you an update. Just like the pandemic itself, the protocols, knowledge gained, and public health guidelines will be changing right up to the summer.

The bottom line is, we can hardly wait to get to camp this summer. Your kids need camp and we need camp too. We’re doing everything we can to make it happen.

While we are not yet able to fine-tune many parts of our plan as we await official direction from the government, we want to provide you with an update regarding our anticipated framework and some of the protocols we are considering.  It’s tough to decide how much information to share at this time given that many factors are subject to change in next four months, however, in keeping with our Manitou philosophy, we would rather give you more information than necessary so you can get a sense of our safety policies and procedures as they come to fruition.

It’s likely going to be a rollercoaster until July 1st. Our best guess, like yours, is that things will continue to improve, may get worse and then get better again. We are preparing accordingly and are assuming the strictest of protocols, knowing these can always be changed.

As camp draws near, we will be communicating in greater detail our countless safety protocols and modifications being made for this summer making camp a haven for the Manitou family. Many of them are outlined in the FAQ link below.

We have extended the full payment deadline to June 1st, instead of May 1st, and invoices will be sent out in April. As we have said before, if you wish to cancel, you may do so up to June 1st for a full refund. Also, all camper medical forms and other important forms will be sent out a bit later this year in early April and will be due May 1st.

In terms of other financial considerations, we have always had an all-in fee with no extra charges, but the additional costs in preparing and keeping camp safe for this summer is exorbitant without even factoring in the testing costs for our campers and staff. We will be bearing all of those costs which would include for example PPE, physical modifications to the site, tents, and additional staffing. We may need to share the cost of testing with parents and we expect the fee could be as low as $200 and as high as $400 per camper and we will advise you closer to camp.

Unfortunately, we have had to cancel Visitors Day this year. For our full session parents, we will determine the best way for you to hear from your child. We assure you we will continue our excellent Manitou communication all summer. Also, as we are doing our best to maintain a bubble environment, we will not be holding any of our shorter trial sessions for younger campers, Intercamp games with other camps or beach days on Thursdays.

If you would like to read answers to some of our most Frequently Asked Questions, please click on this LINK. It will include answers to the following questions:

  • What is your feeling about the ability to run safely this summer as opposed to last summer?
  • How will you minimize the possibility of COVID-19 entering camp?
  • How will campers get tested and what will this cost?
  • Will the staff be vaccinated?
  • What about testing during camp?
  • Will my kids go up on the bus to camp?
  • Are you trying to create some kind of “camp bubble”?
  • How can you bubble the staff?
  • ·Is there any part of the camp program that will change at camp?
  • How are you addressing meals and other snack times?
  • What changes are you making to your Health Center?
  • The mental health benefits of being back at camp are huge, but how are you going to handle any mental health issues that arise?
  • What about PPE and will our kids be wearing masks?
  • Will you contact us if our child has COVID-19 symptoms and is getting tested? Also, what happens if they test positive?
  • What if a camper must go home?
  • My child is registered for second session. I’ve heard that some camps have decided to cancel this session; what about Manitou?
  • What about those potentially coming to camp from outside Canada?

We want to reassure you that we are doing everything we can to make camp a safe and wonderful place this summer. We want to reemphasize that these considered protocols are still very much a work in progress and will continue to change as we prepare for the summer. If you do have any additional questions, please do not hesitate to reach out at any time. We remain hard at work preparing to give your child(ren) an incredible summer that will allow for more interpersonal connections, positive mental state and a place for important personal growth. We know the benefits of camp are more important now than ever before.

Being outside with friends, having counsellors to mentor and guide your child, going to 33 activities, playing in rain puddles, talking in the cabin at night, having crazy evening programs such as paint your counsellor, enjoying our famous Thursday morning brunch and making unique friendships that will last a lifetime will still be the essence of Manitou 2021.

Manitou is a family, and in tough times families support each other and create silver linings to deal with adversity. We know we have one incredible family to help make that happen!

– Mark, Jeff, Jen, Alec and Melissa

👋 2021 Director Video Message!

Dear Manitou Families,

We hope you and your family are doing well under the circumstances. We are reaching out to let you know that we are thinking of all of you! We have been very busy planning for the upcoming summer and wanted to send a video message to you from our full Director Team. We know that our community is eager for a more in-depth update about our plans and protocols for Summer 2021 and we want to assure you that a detailed communication will be shared in the coming weeks. In the meantime, grab a bag of popcorn and enjoy this short video from all of us! We cannot wait until we are able to be reunited as a community at camp once again.

Mark, Jeff and the entire Director Team


Dear Manitou Families,

The residents at Baycrest need our support! Their daily lives have changed with more isolated time and restrictions on visitors. A group of our 1st year staff are involved in a yearlong initiative where they have committed to an ongoing relationship with a Baycrest resident. Their connections have grown over the past months and we are so proud that they have dedicated their time to helping seniors in isolation. Now you also have the opportunity to make a difference in the life of a Baycrest long term care resident living at the Apotex, Jewish Home for the Aged. We are asking our families to write 2 Manitou postcards, one for Passover and one for Easter, that will be handed out to residents who celebrate these respective holidays. This meaningful gesture will help to keep the residents feeling engaged and connected. Please feel free to get creative by making it personal with a note, drawing, or including a quote using the template below. By writing a few kind words and signing your first name at the bottom, you will brighten the day of a senior. Below is a link to the 2 postcard templates:


Please email back the completed postcards to Jen at jen@manitoucamp.com by March 5th. We greatly appreciate the involvement of our Manitou Family in this project and know this will help each senior who receives your card. 

Thank you, 

Jeff, Mark, Jen, Alec and Melissa



Dear Manitou Families and Friends:

It’s hard to put into words how grateful we are to you, our Manitou community, who has supported us every step of the way through this most challenging year.  We said it so many times last spring, but we will never forget your kindness, selflessness and compassion. Your responses were made even more remarkable considering that you faced, and continue to face, the insurmountable challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

So at this time may we just use the New Year to say how grateful we are that we have our “Manitou Family” around the world to keep us strong, positive, and to give us the resilience we need to get through these winter months ahead.

Until we raise the flag on Manitou 2021. 

With gratitude,

Mark, Jeff, Jen, Alec and Melissa

🎁 GIVE BACK: The Manitou Cares Shoebox Project is here!

As the holiday season is now upon us, it can be hard to find programs to give back in a meaningful way. We are very excited to announce a new partnership project with Eva’s Initiatives for Homeless Youth for the holidays. Eva’s provides shelter, transitional housing and programs for youth experiencing homelessness. They work to empower young people towards brighter futures by building skills and providing support to reach their goals and dreams.

We are fortunate as a Manitou community to be able to give and receive gifts during the holidays. However, the homeless youth at Eva’s, will most likely not be receiving gifts or have the ability to opportunity to celebrate with friends and family even virtually. This year our Manitou Cares Shoebox project will be benefitting the 123 youth at Eva’s who now more than ever could use some holiday cheer!

The Manitou Cares Shoebox Project is about to begin! If you haven’t had the chance to join our Manitou Cares movement this year, now’s your chance! We hope all of our Manitou families and greater community will choose to give back this holiday season!


We have the necessities to live this holiday season, The Manitou Cares Shoebox Project is the perfect way to give back to youth how need it most. This year, we will collect and distribute gifts in the form of Shoeboxes to youth who have experienced homelessness or have been at risk of becoming homeless. Each thoughtfully created and decorated shoebox is filled with items valued at $50 that can enhance self-esteem and reduce feelings of isolation for youth in crisis. It helps provide youth with gifts they would appreciate, but not necessarily purchase during difficult times.



Decorate your shoebox with wrapping paper to make it festive. Make sure to wrap the lid and container parts separately so it can still be opened! You can also find pre-decorated holiday boxes at your nearest dollar store too!


The contents of the box should have a value of approximately $50. Items could include beauty/hygiene products, nut-free chocolates, flip flops, headphones, warm accessories, small notebook and pen and gift certificates from stores such as McDonalds, Tim Hortons, Dollarama, and Shoppers Drug Mart.


Youth who receive a gift from The Shoebox Project are touched by the effort that goes into decorating the Shoebox as well as the special cards, messages, and poems contained inside. Get creative and have fun!


Drop off your shoebox between December 14th – 17th between 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM

TORONTO – Toronto camp office 2478 Yonge Street (knock on door upon arrival)

VAUGHAN – 217 Southdown Avenue (leave on porch)

If you need to drop off outside of these times, please email Jen (jen@manitoucamp.com) to arrange.


As always, we encourage you to motivate your friends and family to get involved and give back. Post photos with your shoeboxes on social media using #ManitouCaresor e-mail them to us to share with our community!


Our goal is to collect as many shoeboxes as possible from our Manitou community, 123 shoeboxes would be enough to provide for each youth at Eva’s right now. We will collect the boxes at our Toronto office (2478 Yonge Street) to be distributed in time to the youth for the holidays. Please join us and give to those in need!



Join the Manitou Family on Sunday November 8th from 2:00 – 4:00 PM for an afternoon of volunteerism that will inspire you to roll up your sleeves and make a difference. Now more than ever, our actions are needed to propel positivity and change. It’s time to open our hearts and our homes (virtually of course!) to what is possible. 

You can participate in The Ve’ahavta Project virtually from home as an individual, family or based on your comfort levels, with a team of people in your social bubble. You will be able to engage live with facilitators, educators, and fellow volunteers. You’ll also have the unique opportunity to hear directly from their clients who have faced hardship. They will share their story of transforming their lives, including the role played by Ve’ahavta’s programs. Nothing helps to put your volunteer work into context quite like hearing from the people who have been directly helped through your efforts.

When signing up you will have the option to choose between 4 activities to participate in: Blanket Making, Cooking, Baking and Kit Packing. Our Manitou Director Team will be leading and facilitating the Blanket Making, we would love to have you join us, but please choose the activity you feel most connected to!

Thank you for your support of this important cause and we hope you’ll show that #ManitouCares!

-Mark, Jeff, Jen, Alec and Melissa



Weave in with warm blanket enthusiasts, Camp Manitou, as they demonstrate how to create easy, no-sew blankets that will be put to use by those sleeping outdoors this winter. Learn more about the issue of affordable housing in Toronto. Blanket materials will be available for pick up in advance.


Get chopping with Ruthie & Nathan Ladovsky from United Bakers as they guide us through a hearty, winter soup. Learn more about the issue of food insecurity in Toronto and what you can do to help.


Whisk up something special with expert baker and self-proclaimed “food geek”, Linda Waks. Learn more about the issue of mental health and how it affects our clients.


Get packing with Ve’ahavta’s support workers as they educate us on the importance of harm reduction kits for those in need. Kit materials will be available for pick up in advance.

Please note: this activity involves handling drug paraphernalia and therefore may not be suitable for young children without adult supervision.