First Week Recap!

The weather is warming up and activities are in full swing here at Manitou! The end of our first full week of camp is approaching and so much has happened already.

All week, our Freshkids and Sophomore thespians have been hard at work preparing to put on the musical ‘Annie’ for the whole camp. You can hear them practicing every day during 5th period and we can’t wait to see the show! Talent show auditions were held on Wednesday and many campers are now busy perfecting their acts for later this week. Overall, it’s been a very busy, fun-filled week here at camp!

On Tuesday, our CIT’s returned from an epic 4-day long canoe trip. They portaged, paddled, and had a great time out on trip. When they got back, they received their activity placements and began their activity training. They also received their cabin placements and are now busy training as counsellors and bonding with their campers. So far we’ve been incredibly impressed with the energy and enthusiasm that the CIT’s have shown and we can’t wait to watch them grow into fantastic counsellors this summer.

We had our classic Thursday sleep-in day. The brunch buffet was at its all-time best with delicious muffins, croissants, fruit, eggs, grilled cheese, smoothies, cereals, oatmeal and so much more! For the younger kids who didn’t sleep in as late, the day was made even more exciting by Danny the Magician who came to do some tricks and make balloon animals all morning. Many campers chose to change their schedules today meaning that next week will bring a whole new level of excitement with new activities and friends made.

Many campers have experienced unit and cabin campfires – there’s nothing better than ending the day with sing-a-long and making s’mores. Also Toothalah the Tooth Fairy (featured above) made their second rounds to cabins to give tuck to the campers who had lost a tooth at camp.

Well, that’s all for now— looking forward to more great weather and excitement in week 2 of Manitou 2022!

Bring on Manitou ’22!

Summer 2022 has begun, and it feels like Manitou has come back to life once again! After months of planning for, and dreaming about, this summer, our campers and staff are back together in their favourite place. Nothing makes us happier than hearing the sounds of campers and staff laughing and chatting filling up the camp. It’s good to be home!

Here’s a little recap of what we’ve done so far:

The buses rolled in a little later than usual (the long weekend traffic was nuts), but the energy of the camper’s arrivals was just as exciting as usual. We made up the extra hour by postponing our incredible activity fair until the morning, so the kids had time to unpack and make their beds. We started with a delicious dinner prepared by Chef Will and then went to our ceremonial raising of the flag. The whole camp gathered around the flagpole as we officially kicked off Manitou 2022.

On Friday, everyone spent the day in cabin groups, doing swim assessments, trying many different activities and for those who are new, getting to know camp. We then headed to the Activity Fair; an interactive experience lead by the Activity Head and Specialists where campers get to know and understand what each activity is all about. After experiencing the Activity Fair, campers ranked their favourite activities they wanted to try for the first week.

After a beautiful first day, the whole camp gathered together for our first Friday Night Fireside ceremony. We honoured 2 staff who had been exceptional during our pre-camp training and explained to everyone what the purpose of ‘Fireside’ is. We also introduced this year’s theme: “GROW THROUGH WHAT YOU GO THROUGH”. It was amazing to have everyone back together, singing the camp song and embracing their friends – it was like no time had passed! Campers returning for their second summer spoke about what camp means to them and why they decided to come back to Manitou. We hope you enjoy hearing their words in our video of Fireside, as it was a very emotional and special night for us.

After a long wait throughout the year, camp is off to a wonderful start! It feels like we are back to 2019 where we can focus every second of the day on the campers rather than the more complicated summer we faced logistically last year due to COVID. We almost forgot what it’s like to run a normal camp with so many happy kids and a staff that are incredibly motivated and energized to give our campers the best summer ever! It’s clear that the staff and your children are emotionally ready for camp. At the same time, we realize that although many of the campers are doing so much better than last year, the adjustment to camp will still take a bit longer than normal.

On another pandemic related note, we thought it was important to give you an update on our Waterski/Wakeboarding program. Usually when one of our boats breaks down, we get the boat fixed in a day or two and always get a rental boat if necessary. Unfortunately, due to supply chain issues there are no rental boats available immediately this year and parts are in short supply. As a result, our ski program is running at 2/3’s capacity right now. To make up for this, our ski staff have volunteered to work overtime, taking kids skiing at 7 am and at rest hours. We hope that by the end of the week we will have all three boats up and running again as we know this is a lot to ask of our ski staff team. We are so proud of them for wanting to do whatever they can to manage this situation.  As we say to our campers and staff; life is 10% about what happens to you and 90% about how you react to it. We are proud of our campers being patient while our staff step up to the challenge to solve the problem.

Our theme for 2022 is “Grow through what you go through”, but just as easily it could also be “What a difference a year makes.” We hope you enjoy the video clip as we kick off summer 2022

🤝 Partnering with Parents: The Summer of Fun!

Dear Manitou Parents,

Our mantra at Manitou has always been that the easy part of camp is giving kids good old-fashioned fun, but camp is a lot more than that. For this summer though, we may say otherwise. This summer we have decided that more than ever, we want to wholeheartedly embrace the foundation of what camp is meant to be – FUN.

Each year we write you a quick note about our thoughts for the summer. Past articles spoke about the power of camp in terms of building resilience. Almost 12 years ago we wrote that we were seeing an increase in anxiety levels because of helicopter parenting, combined with social media stresses. Unfortunately, as it stands now due to COVID, anxiety levels are double of what they were just two years ago.

So, the theme of this short piece is much more basic and fundamental. It’s about “fun”. There is a book called “The Power of Fun” and we are proud to take from this book most of the messaging below.

Why concentrate this summer just on fun, and not the importance of inculcating core values and teaching kids to appreciate life, every day and to appreciate each single human being? Why not talk about the importance of giving back to others and truly making a difference in this world? Not to worry, we are still doing all these things, and below is an introduction of our speakers and theme for our Manitou Cares Programming for this summer. But after two years of COVID, we truly feel what these kids need is to be kids again. Not modern-day kids harnessed to their technology, but kids outdoors playing, being creative, being spontaneous, and laughing until their guts hurt.

Kids love camp. They will always say they love camp because its “fun”. But let’s take a closer look to what that truly means. True fun is restorative, it creates resilience, empathy, and community. It reduces competition and resentment. It allows people to connect by escaping from self-judgment while at the same time being fully present in the moment. In the past, we have talked about not over-programming kids and leaving time for purposeless play. Programming kids to build their resume at age 12 in our humble view is not always the best approach to creating healthy kids. Sometimes we fall into this trap because we want them to succeed.

The pandemic forced most of us to rely even more heavily on screens and to try to re-create virtually what was no longer available in person. Most aspects of our lives went online as technology became essential to our everyday functioning. Now we feel it’s time to go back to basics. Last summer at camp it was the perfect time to start the “reset” and we know it was not easy for many of our population to adapt to camp, at first.

It’s been proven scientifically that all these technology buzzes, from video games to social media exposure create a dopamine hit. You become addicted to your technology and to satisfy that addiction you must increase your technology use. What happens is that formally enjoyable “fun” activities with friends feel less stimulating and are too much effort to create that natural high. Even binge watching a fabulous TV show is enjoyable but it’s not fun in the true sense of the word. True fun is when you laugh and connect with another human being in person over some shared experience.

What is even more concerning is that recent scientific studies have shown that when we are constantly using technology, the dopamine created as a result causes a heightened state of anxiety. This is because the cortisol levels remain high in the body over a long period of time. In fact, recent studies have shown that this anxiety we all are experiencing is a physical chemical reaction to our technology use.

True fun heals us. According to the founder of the National Institute of Play (yes can you believe there is such a thing -only a camp director would know about that!) “The times we feel most alive are those moments …. of play”

It’s intuitive and proven with study after study, that what makes a good life, are healthy “relationships”. In turn it’s healthy relationships where true fun occurs. That natural connection with people known as “collective effervescence” is all about when fun spreads throughout a group and how that is so healthy for your mind and body. That is exactly what camp is and gives to our campers as well as our staff each summer!

When we look out at camp from the camp house porch and see the kids from afar, we see more people laughing and smiling than any time and place in our lives. People who laugh more often have been found to have lower risks of serious disease, from heart conditions to cancer. Whether you truly believe this or not, we all can agree it feels so good to laugh. Children laugh far easier than adults because their brains have not been rewired over years of exposure to technology the way ours have.

Let’s all think about having fun this summer, true fun. Summer is a great time to get away from binge watching TV shows and checking our phones all day. Let’s use the summer to rejuvenate and do something spontaneous, something a little off the wall. Maybe it is a trip you’ve always wanted to take or something that will get you out into nature. Perhaps a fun bike ride, a game of tennis with a friend you’ve been putting off or a simple hike in a nearby park? Let’s all just get off the couch, away from our phones, and try to experience what your kids will experience this summer which is fun in the truest and simplest form.

CLICK HERE to read about our ManitouCares speakers coming up to camp the summer.

💌 Letters from your Unit Heads!

Dear Manitou Families,

We are eagerly counting down the days until we officially kick off Summer 2022. Our entire Unit Head team can’t wait to welcome our campers both new and old for what is guaranteed to be the BEST SUMMER EVER! To help introduce themselves, each of our Unit Heads has written a letter to the campers in their unit. We encourage all of our campers to read their letter below, which is sure to get everyone excited for the summer.


Hey Campers – click below to meet your Unit Head(s) for Summer 2022!

FRESHKIDS (all campers completing grade 1 – 3): Laurie Baker & Jenna Ward

SOPHOMORES (grade 4 – 5): Chrissy Meyn & Zak Lovell

JUNIORS (grade 6 – 7): Jonelle Grossman & Daniel Diamond

SENIORS (grade 8 – 9): Arly Abramson & Zach Friedman

CITS (grade 10): Halle Purther

*The grades listed follow the Ontario school schedule of grade 1 born 2015 to grade 10 born 2006. If you are unsure of which unit your child is in, please email us (

As you can see, we have the most incredible Unit Head team for the upcoming summer and we know they can’t wait to meet you!


Want to get to know the rest of our Summer 2022 Staff roster? Well now you can! Our 2022 staff profiles are now live on our camp website. We’re excited to announce an 85% staff return rate from 2021. From Canada, USA, Australia, Spain, India, Mexico, New Zealand, Singapore and the UK – our staff join us from all around the world and our global community is a part of what makes camp so great. We want to officially welcome to all our wonderful staff of 2022!

🚀1ST SESSION CAMPERS & STAFF: July 11th is Space Day!👽


Dear First Session Campers and Staff,

You are OFFICIALLY invited to go boldly where no camper has gone before. Mark your calendars because July 11th, 2022 at Manitou is…SPACE DAY! Get ready for a day filled with exciting programs and MANY special surprises.


Please make sure to pack some metallic or space-themed clothing as we prepare for an out-of-this-world day at camp!

We cannot wait to see you all there as we take one small step for camp, and one large step for Manitou-Kind!

Mark, Jeff, Chris, Jen, Alec & Melissa

👕 Manitou Clothing Order/Authorization


Dear Manitou Parents and Campers:

This year’s incredible Manitou swag is currently on it’s way to the Manitou Tuck shop and is our coolest and coziest collection yet!

There are 3 ways to purchase Manitou Clothing this summer (forms must be completed for each child separately):

1. Add a deposit to your child’s camp store account to allow them to purchase clothing while at camp. To do this, go to the PARENT PORTAL (click Summer 2022 View Details) and add to camp store balance.

2. PRE-ORDER camp clothing online and it will be labelled and distributed to your camper when they arrive at camp. Deadline to order is Friday, June 17th.

3. OUR MANITOU CLOTHING STORE will be open on Visitors Day (July 23rd) to purchase a LIMITED supply of clothing.

*Please note that official Manitou clothing is not required for anyone, it just happens to be a really great way to show off your love of camp!


💌 2022 Alumni Mooseprints

Dear Alumni,
We are excited to share with you a brand new edition of our Alumni Mooseprints with contributions from Landon Wexler, Sarah Spitz, Gabi Kaplan & Jamie Gorlick, and Christine McNicol. We always love to hear your Manitou memories and stories so please don’t hesitate to reach out and share!
As a Manitou alumni, there is always a longing to spend the weekend up at camp again. We’ve been fortunate enough to host Camp Yoga at Manitou since 2015. It isn’t very often that alumni can come up to camp, and certainly less often that adults can attend without any kids. Camp Yoga has done an incredible job over the years of creating a weekend where you can choose your own adventure. Don’t let the word “Yoga” fool you – they offer fitness, arts and crafts, bring in an incredible live band (including alumni of Manitou) AND have an amazing black light DJ party on the Saturday night too. You’ll get to go to the high ropes course, archery range and canoe on beautiful Lake Manitou-wabing as well. Needless to say, it’s certainly a great chance to take a weekend for yourself and we’d LOVE to invite you for a weekend at Manitou on behalf of Camp Yoga. Early-bird tickets are available now, so please join us and we’ll hope to see you there on Sept 9-11!



It goes without saying that Manitou is a special place. The opportunity to disconnect and share in an authentic experience with others is beyond valuable in today’s world. I decided to take that one step further when I joined the canoe tripping program. Over the years, my passion for the outdoors grew and is something I will have for the rest of my life. I consider myself lucky to have taken many good friends out into the wilderness to share in the beauty of Ontario’s amazing provincial parks. The experiences and lessons learned go so much further than how to carry a canoe above your head – like how to handle the unexpected. What do you do when a camper decides to throw their used toilet paper into the fire, and a gust of wind blows flaming poo all over the campsite? Keep calm and make sure it doesn’t hit you in the face. That’s one I apply to my everyday life and business. Sometimes life throws flaming crap at you – but it’s important to keep a steady head, assess the situation, and make informed decisions on how to proceed. Lessons like these and so many others were learned at camp, most of the time along with tears of laughter.
I always felt that despite Manitou being a first class facility, it was the people that made it. Many of whom I’m still friends with to this day. Now instead of celebrating days off, it’s weddings and life milestones. To my friends and mentors that I met along the way – I can’t thank you enough. 
I am forever grateful for my time at Manitou, talk about it frequently, and visit as often as I can. A special shout out Mark and Jeff for an excellent run – without them, who knows if it would all have come together the way it did. To Chris Mckibbin (my first ever counsellor) and the rest of the new ownership group, I wish you guys the best of luck in carrying the ever special torch that is the Manitou experience, and know you will do an unbelievable job! 


When I first came to camp Manitou as a shy 9-year-old in the summer of 2001, I didn’t think much of it. I stayed for a few weeks and went back to training as a gymnast for the next few years. I came back to camp in 2006, a still very shy 14-year-old, after my gymnastics career ended. I thought I’d stay for a few weeks again and do something else the next year. Instead, I met current Manitou director Alec Amato a few days into the summer, became best friends, stayed at camp for 10 years, became a counsellor and then eventually a unit head. It completely changed my life. 
Camp to me is so much more than a place where I had fun as a kid. It is where I grew up and became the person I am today. Camp taught me to laugh without inhibitions, to embrace what is unique about each of us and to value the strong friendships that formed there over the years (everyone with me, “these friendships!”).
Camp helped me find my voice. Not just literally in the sense of screaming cheers during World Games or singing at the top of my lungs in the dining hall. I learned how to stand up for myself. Eventually, I learned how to use that confidence to stand up for other people. Being able to apply that as a counsellor and eventually as a unit head was one of the most rewarding experiences I could have imagined. I became someone others look to for help resolving their conflicts. I became someone who could advocate for them. 
Now, I’m a lawyer (and a commercial litigator, at that) and all I do is advocate and resolve conflicts. The conflicts have escalated in scale, but the core is the same. Being a lawyer is—in all honesty—not that different from being a freshkid counsellor/unit head. 
Whether I’m mediating a fight between two freshkids about who moved someone’s shoes or representing a client in a contentious shareholder dispute, I draw on the skills I learned at camp to remind me to listen, to communicate and to help others do the same.


Our journey with Manitou officially started back in 2001 and 2003, when we rolled up to camp as little Fresh Kids. During our early camper years, we made our own Manitou memories and occasionally crossed paths (Art Hill and Ski Docks were way too far apart).
Fast forward 10 years, when we were both on staff, Jamie finally built up the courage to speak to Gabi. Fast forward another 10 years and Jamie built up even more courage to propose.
After sharing the news with our Manitou family, Mark eagerly asked us “So, when are we having the camp wedding?”. Of course, it was only fitting that the place where we met, shared so many great memories, grew up individually and together, and created lifelong friendships (our now bridesmaids and groomsmen), be the place we get married.
Our 16-year-old selves are pinching each other at the fact that we’ll be walking down the aisle at the very same spot we made memories that will quite literally last a lifetime. To our past, present and future Manitou family, we can’t wait to reach this milestone with all of you, and are so thankful that deep in the heart of the north there’s a place where we can continue to make those memories. Three months and counting until we are married at fireside! 


Manitou, oh Manitou.
I met Mark, Jeff and Markus at the camp office in late spring of 1999. Kathryn Winnik brought me and her sister Daria in for a spontaneous last minute interview. Apparently, we were a fit for the summer and Markus offered us a job on the spot. I was 19 years old and headed to camp for the first time…. ever. Being from the Caribbean, summer camp was not part of our culture or my family traditions. I had no idea what I was in for.
I wasn’t the only one embarking on a camping journey as Camp Manitou as we know it was also only in its first year! It was a strange concept for me to grasp that I was going to make very little money, get even less sleep, work from sunup to starlight for the ‘soul’ purpose of creating fun and memorable experiences for kids and staff.
It was incredible.
New traditions to be created, fun programs to try out. Mark and Jeff were open to all the ideas staff brought forward. It was an incredible inaugural summer which changed my life completely.
It was a strange and foreign sensation for me when my Condo girls, or my Eco Kids would shout across main field, “love you Christine” or hug me and tell me they loved me. I felt the words bounce off me. How can these campers love me? They barely know me! They were so freely throwing around the words, I wondered if they really knew how important and special love is. Turns out they had a lot to teach me about love. They were so happy, joyous and full of excitement about each day. It took me a while to understand that I was a part of those feelings and experiences.
After a failed attempt at making a raft out of foraged fallen wood from boys camp, one kid in particular was disappointed about the dismal outcome. I remember suggesting we run and jump off the dock with our clothes on. Her eyes lit up and off we went, down main dock and into the water. Walking back up to girls camp, soaking wet, was the first time I understood the power of camp and the small ways and opportunities to let love in. When she said ‘bye, love you!’ I yelled it back. And I have been saying it back ever since.
In the 11 years I worked at Manitou, there were a lot of life sacrifices that had to be made in order to prioritize the magic of Camp. Getting to be a part of the Sr. unit, Jr. Unit, Eco, Ropes, World Games, Manitou games, the CIT unit and to be close to Mark, Jeff, Mama D, Dave, Jen and Chris, was all based on feelings of belonging, growing and love. Love for the people, the magic of camp, and the opportunities to make magic happen.
I would have stayed if I could.
A day at camp, feels like a week. A week feels like a month and when you’re there for the whole summer if doesn’t feel nearly long enough. There is so much more fun to be had, memories to make and love to share.
My kids now go to Manitou. Camp is and will be a part of our family traditions.

Thank you again for all your ongoing support. We wish you a happy, healthy, and successful rest of 2022 and beyond. Please stay in touch through our social media – the countdown to Manitou 2022 has officially begun!

Mark, Jeff, Chris, Jen, Alec & Melissa

Camp Yoga 2022 at Manitou!

Whether you are a long time Manitou alumni or a parent of our campers – there is always a longing to spend the weekend up at Manitou as an adult. We’ve been fortunate enough to host Camp Yoga at Manitou since 2015. It isn’t very often that the public can come up to camp, and certainly less often that adults can attend without any kids. Camp Yoga has done an incredible job over the years of creating a weekend where you can choose your own adventure. Don’t let the word “Yoga” fool you – they offer fitness, arts and crafts, bring in an incredible live band (including alumni of Manitou) AND have an amazing black light DJ party on the Saturday night too. You’ll get to  go to the high ropes course, archery range and canoe on beautiful Lake Manitou-wabing as well. Needless to say, it’s certainly a great chance to take a weekend for yourself and we’d LOVE to invite you for a weekend at Manitou on behalf of Camp Yoga. Early-bird tickets are available now, so please join us and we’ll hope to see you there on Sept 9-11!

🏒 The Manitou Hockey Playoff Pool is Back!

Dear Manitou Community,

Once again, 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 $3,000 Grand Prize to the winning team and over $6,000 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 1, 2022

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.

🇺🇦 Help us Support Ukraine

Dear Camp Manitou Community,

I’m sure that you, like us are deeply troubled by the war currently unfolding in Ukraine. It is time as part of our ManitouCares program that we encourage our community to get involved to help. After reviewing so many excellent organizations we have found a very special fundraising program through a charity called Hashomer Hatzair that provides food, generators, travel and access to safe housing for both people in Ukraine and for refugees in Poland. This global organization has recruited volunteers from around the world to mobilize efforts to assist those in need.

This charity is incredibly fitting for us as a summer camp because much of their work is focused on supporting youth. Hashomer Hatzair is running a kindergarten within a refugee centre on the border Ukraine in the Polish City of Przemyśl. Volunteers run educational activities for various age ranges where approximately 300-400 kids pass through the children’s centre daily. They also provide professionals who have been assisting individuals of all ages with mental health and translation needs. Click below to watch a video made about the refugee centre:
Hashomer Hatzair in Przemysl, Poland - Daycare in refugee center
If you have children in your household, depending on their age, you may want to watch the video together and discuss how we can make a difference.



You can show your support by sending messages of love and hope to Ukrainians. Feel free to add a written message to our google doc: Camp Manitou Messages for Ukraine, and we will make sure that Ukrainians receive the messages. While a short message may seem like a small contribution, the Ukrainians have told us that messages of solidarity inspire hope and serve as reminders that we stand with them.


We would love as a Manitou community to contribute $10,000 to this wonderful cause. If every household donates between $50 – $150 dollars we can easily surpass this goal. If you are able to contribute, please make a donation to the Manitoucamp Foundation Ukraine Support Fund and we will forward 100% of all donations to Hashomer Hatzair. Any amount will make a difference and we thank you in advance for supporting this important cause. Please share this link with your friends, family, and broader communities as well.