Each Friday Night, our Manitou family gathers at Fireside for a peaceful and precious evening together. For years, parents have been asking us what Friday Night Fireside is like, so we thought we’d share a little video clip to give you all the Fireside experience! Because this video was from our first Fireside of the summer, we did not have camper candles, an honour given to a camper in each unit in recognition of their contributions to camp and values they stand for. Instead, we had our “Camp Is” speech ceremony, where we have campers speak about their past summers and what they want to say to new Manitou campers. On future Friday nights we will have amazing guest speakers who embody our theme of the summer “Don’t Stand By,” who will come and speak to the camp to inspire the campers and staff alike. Stay tuned for more Fireside updates during the summer, but for now here is a little glimpse of the magic of Fireside for you all…
First Fireside 2019
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.
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
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!
All year long, we look forward to the summer heat. But once it gets here, we realize how draining it can be! That’s why at camp we always put special emphasis on the old refrain of “hats, sunscreen and plenty of water.”
Yesterday’s temps got up pretty high, but we saw hats galore, and our staff were extra vigilant about keeping the kids SPF-covered and hydrated. What’s more, we made it all worthwhile by turning the afternoon into a giant outdoor carnival!
For one summer day each season, Manitou’s main field is awash with colour and sound as bouncing inflatable castles, slides and obstacles courses take over the green. Kids can joust, groove to music, munch on carnival snacks like popcorn and candy floss…. and most importantly, cool off with sno-cones and shaded rest areas.
After an afternoon of carnival games and an outdoor dinner, everyone was ushered into the hangar for a massive dance party. We didn’t think we’d ever top last week’s float parade, but Spirit’s DJs stayed true to their name, keeping kids hyped until their respective units’ last songs were played and they ambled off to bed.
And while we may not have a carnival for every hot day at camp, a cooling dip in Lake Manitouwabing is never more than a few steps away.
Warm, warm wishes,
Manny Moose & the entire Manitou Family
Some important thoughts from Flagpole:
With only a few hours until the first campers arrive, we can’t wait to raise the flag and welcome over 400 members to our Manitou family for another unforgettable summer.
There are so many summer camps out there to consider, and we know how tough it can be to figure out which one “fits.” You want a place that has a certain magic; a place where your child can mature and have their interests and passions enriched, and do it all while having fun. You want a place that feels like family… and you chose Manitou.
At Manitou, we aim to do more than entertain. We aim to engage. We give kids the tools and support to learn more about themselves, their potential and how they can influence the world around them. And as a result, Manitou kids stand out from other camp kids. Their summers aren’t just fun — they’re fulfilling.
No one knows this better than our counsellors, many of whom have spent years growing up here themselves as campers. Our counsellors are the ultimate cheerleaders. It is astounding to have watched them grow up before our very eyes, from wide-eyed kids into independent, respectful and compassionate young leaders. They now know exactly how to give their campers the kind of memorable experiences that kept them coming back year after year.
It’s also why, after 18 years, we still have the same energy, drive and thirst to make this the best summer ever. We might be even more excited than your kids!
This year, instead of weekly newsletters, we’re going to try something new and do shorter blog posts throughout the week, so check our home page blog regularly for that. For now, we’re just finishing pre-camp with our staff and wanted to leave you with some thoughts.
This year’s preparatory sessions at pre-camp focused on the word “Listen.” Who would have thought such a simple word could inspire so many hours of discussion and guidance? Interesting, too, that the word “Silent” uses the same letters (we learned that with guest speaker Joey Rich in summer 2015).
All week long, we’ve talked about what children really want from the adults: someone to listen to them, to make them feel special and valued. We learned that you listen with “not your ears, but your eyes, heart, and gut.” And speaking of heart, our staff in pre-camp this summer has demonstrated a whole lot of it. They’ve blown us away with their dedication and insights.
This year, we even saw our first year staff contributing to the sessions. When younger staff take the lead, it sends a powerful message to our old timers and sets a positive tone for the summer. As many of you know, we cover over 40 sessions with our staff in pre-camp, from first aid training and waterfront safety to bullying and homesickness. We go over emergency procedures and proper staff supervision; we teach risk management and team-building; we share the importance of outreach, value-based programming and canoe tripping, and so much more. With such a wide range of topics covered it can be daunting to junior staff, but already many of them have come forward with exciting ideas for the summer.
We always say to our staff that if you have an idea at Manitou, we’ll make it happen. In the first few days of pre-camp alone, a few staff have put together a first-month program that ties in wonderfully with our Manitou Cares program: a decathlon-style event to benefit the Amani home, the charity we’re helping this year.
Guest speaker and relationship-building expert Dr. Karyn Gordon came up to inspire us with a session on friendship. She identified the three key factors of friendship — to be kind, inclusive and assertive, or “KIA”— and used a great skit to tie these values back to camp.
Our junior staff stepped up especially in this session to play three typical categories of campers (in disguise of pop celebrities): the child who has low self-esteem, the child who is bossy and brings others down, and the child who has self-respect, a positive outlook and always offers others a second chance. You had to see it in action; she received a rousing ovation at the end of her session.
Every summer, we strive to develop campers’ self-esteem and teach them how to speak up when they feel someone is not being kind. We want these kids to leave camp with not only a sense of family, but also a sense of individuality.
Staff training does not stop during pre-camp. All of our head staff will be mentoring the counsellors all summer long with ongoing training sessions. The incredible Joey Rich will be coming up to camp after the first ten days to do a workshop session with the staff and CITS. We have some wonderful speakers slated to appear for all staff and campers throughout the summer: Talli Osborne, born with no arms and legs, has confronted a childhood of horrific bullying but has overcome all odds to lead a fulfilling life. Spencer West, from the non-profit organization Me to We, will talk about his climb up Mount Kilimanjaro (with no legs). We are also proud to announce a special speaker coming up to camp from the aboriginal community, who will be meeting with our LITs and CITs to discuss history, the racism that has existed (including the residential schools), and how the very land we live on here was once occupied by the First Nations community. Among the other meaningful messages these speakers will give your kids, they all embrace our Friday Night Fireside theme, “Redefine Possible.” We hope your kids will realize that their potential is unlimited.
In closing, thank you for allowing us the privilege of guiding your children through a magical summer camp experience as part of our family. Our greatest reward is seeing them off as they depart Manitou for life back at home, brimming with newfound confidence, friends, happiness and memories to last a lifetime.
Mark, Jeff, Dave, Jen and Elijah