First Virtual Fireside

In these times, being able to come together as a community is more important than ever. We hope you can join us this Friday Night at 7:00 PM EST, for our 1st Virtual Fireside for a special evening. At Fireside, we take time out of our week to slow down and think about what we are grateful for. In addition to our Fireside, we have planned other exciting ways to connect with each other and contribute to the world around us. We feel lucky to be part of a strong camp community and are looking forward to staying connected with you through these events and initiatives.


Fireside will be hosted on ZOOM, we will send an email early Friday with the MEETING ID. Get excited as we announce our official Fireside theme for 2020! Join The Manitou Team, this year’s summer series speaker Abdi Iftin, last year’s speaker Anthony McLean, and our whole community to share in our Fireside traditions. To end off the evening, we are excited to premiere our Virtual Fireside Song – thank you to our many contributors!


Want to connect with camp from your own home? Starting Saturday, March 28, every day at 4:00 PM EST (Toronto), join us on Camp Manitou’s Instagram LIVE stream with a camp celebrity for a fun activity for you, your friends and your family. CLICK HERE for additional instructions.


It’s time to join the #MANITOUHANDWASHCHALLENGE 🤲🧼 Follow along with Head Counsellor Chris McKibbin and then post your own recording – washing and singing the song using the hashtag! Let’s stay safe and healthy with the fun spirit of Manitou! CLICK HERE for the lyrics if needed. We will repost all challenges we receive!



Supporting Evangel Hall Mission, one of the shelters we work with closely during the year that has had to close their doors temporarily. They have asked for the following help:

·Create Messages of Hope or Draw Pictures

·Mail $10-$20 Grocery Store Gift Cards

These can be mailed to Evangel Hall Mission (ATTN: Cards of Hope, 552 Adelaide St. West, Toronto, ON M5V 3W8) 


Ve’ahavta has listed ways you can help through financial need or physical donations, click HERE for more information. 


A COVID-19 Crisis Support Fund has been set up to assist youth as young as 18 who have “aged out” of care. Donate HERE to help with basic necessities such as food, safe housing, and access to critical mental health supports and other virtual programs they desperately need. 


If you are able to leave your home, drop off letters to grocery store and pharmacy attendants who have been kind enough to work out of their homes.


There is an opportunity to volunteer for health professions students to assist with childcare for health care workers. Here is a link to share:


Checking with your neighbours around your home for anyone who may be living alone and putting a note in their mailbox such as the one that Co-Owner Jeff’s Wilson mother received this week.


Please email us at with any ideas or thoughts on how we can support the world around us! We welcome all suggestions you have. Thank you for taking part!

-Mark, Jeff & the Director Team

Partnering with Parents: How to talk to your children about today’s challenges

March 13, 2020

Dear Manitou parents and friends:

By now we hope you’ve had a chance to read our initial e-mail update that was sent out Monday. We continue to be privy to the most current information as the Ontario Camp Association COVID-19 task force includes Manitou’s co-owner Mark Diamond.   

We thought we would take a few moments and share with you some thoughts as we are all going into Spring Break when most likely you will be spending more time than usual with your children.  The medical experts have made it clear that major disruptions to our lives will occur over the next six weeks. We are in a new paradigm in terms of how we function and respond as human beings over the next few months.

We’ve just seen the current disruption in professional sports, and the recently announced school closures. There will be an enormous brief economic disruption. People will need to work from home. Health care will be absolutely overwhelmed. Unofficial or official quarantines will most likely occur.

The best thing you can do right now is be a role model for your children. It’s important to share with them some straight talk about COVID-19, letting them know it’s concerning without scaring them. Right now, the health risk from coronavirus is very low for you and your children. You should help them understand this.

Most experts feel children have little risk, even though they may be carriers.  If your children ask you about COVID-19, be honest but don’t give out  more information than they are actually looking for.   Use this as an opportunity to teach proper hygiene.  Each summer we teach the kids at flagpole how to wash their hands properly; review this with them and emphasize that this is not just for now, but good practice for always.

Our greatest wish is that you use this as an opportunity to teach them a life lesson about not being fearful or reactionary. Let them learn not only health hygiene, but also compassion. Let’s all try our best together as one community to humanize this situation.   Be calm and patient, yet assertive. Teach them about how and why we make personal choices and sacrifices, such as postponing a vacation; this in turn helps others by reducing the chances of spreading illness to the frail and elderly.  

If you are stocking up on groceries as a result of a self-quarantine, take the opportunity to talk to your kids about the challenges faced by people in need who may have nobody to assist them, and turn it into a teachable moment by donating non-perishables to a local food bank.  Maybe the money you save on travel, for example, can be donated to a cause to help a senior’s home.   

We all need distraction now. When we fixate on dangers, anxiety grows, and when we turn our attention elsewhere, it shrinks. That said, it might be hard for some teenagers not to obsess about COVID-19 given that the topic pervades headlines and social media. Try asking your teenager to consider scaling back on how often they check their phones for information updates (“social media distancing”), and to ask them to trust that we’ll share any significant news should it arrive.  Similarly, we might encourage finding distractions, such as doing their homework or watching a favorite show, while shielding themselves from digital intrusions.

A new TV show or book could be the best recipe now for your children!  Take advantage of any family time you have at home as a result of these times.   Good old- fashioned board games, learning a new game as a family, going for a walk, or having a good old fashioned pajama party are your best recipes to normalcy.

Finally, we are sure you are all wondering whether summer camping will be impacted by COVID-19. We know that most kids are already counting down the days until camp, and can’t wait for summer’s arrival!  Rest assured that our number one priority is the health and safety of your kids.  A close second is giving our campers the summer of a lifetime. Know that we are working tirelessly to achieve both of these goals for summer 2020! 

We will continually update you on the situation as it unfolds with respect to camp and wish you a healthy Spring Break.


Mark, Jeff, Jen, Alec and Melissa


March 9, 2020

Dear Manitou families:

We are writing today to update you on the effect that COVID-19 may have on your child(ren) and the entire Manitou community. We wish to be proactive in terms of communication, even though camp is still 110 days away. 

As you are aware, this is a fast-changing, fluid situation that we are actively monitoring.

We are working tirelessly with our network of advisors and experts every step of the way. Let us start off by emphasizing that we are fortunate to have guidance from the directors of two of Toronto’s leading hospitals. We receive daily information and updates from every relevant government organization, and we sit on the board of the OCA task force, formulating policy for all Ontario Camp Association camps. This allows us to be informed by numerous agencies, such as Public Health Ontario, the WHO, and Health Canada and CDC. Of course, we also have our wonderful medical team of doctors and nurses, as well as the American Camp Association and other infectious disease agencies guiding us.

One thing is clear: the position we are in today will change daily. In April of 2003, with SARS at its peak, we were prepared; fortunately, by June the threat had dissipated. 

Three months is a long time in the infectious disease world, and we learned then that anything can happen over this timeframe. The good news is that every passing day brings new knowledge, placing us in an excellent position to ensure camp is safe by the time we raise the flag on Summer 2020.

As it is mere speculation at this point, our policies and procedures relating to Manitou’s operational changes will not be determined until closer to the start of camp. At the same time, we will be ready to implement numerous procedures well in advance, even if those operations are deemed unnecessary. All camps such as Manitou have infectious disease protocols already in place that will be revised and updated with the facts at hand, and will include appropriate policies  with respect to campers and staff coming to camp from abroad, along with screening before and within the camp environment.

It goes without saying that Manitou puts the safety of its community above anything else. Please remember that infectious diseases are nothing new for Camp professionals; between H1N1 (swine flu), SARS, and West Nile, we have learned so much. It is our role as camp owners and directors to obtain the very best advice on these health-related matters and we take it very seriously. 

Finally, the good news to date is that this virus so far has not posed any significant risk to healthy children and young adults. Right now, the people with the greatest risk are the elderly with underlying health conditions. In fact, it appears many children (unless they have a prior medical condition) may be carriers and do not even develop symptoms.

We remain as excited as always for the start of our best summer ever! We’ll keep our Manitou family posted on all developments, and please don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions and concerns.

Mark & Jeff

Partnering with Parents: Instagram & Social Media Safety

Dear Manitou Parents,

Manitou has always taken great pride in partnering with our parents and the entire Manitou community. We hold many Manitou Cares events at camp and in the city, bringing in guest speakers to discuss pressing issues surrounding our youth.  A few years ago, a renowned physician from the US joined us to talk about the concerns and risks of social media and how to place appropriate controls on your children at a young age.

“TECH FREE ZONE- the best connection is right here.” This reminder, posted all over camp and on every cabin, was the theme of Summer 2018 at Manitou. Most of our campers will admit that they love being able to check out of the instant communication world and talk in real time. It lowers their stress levels and allows them to be engaged in the world around them. That’s one of the many things that makes camp so great!

Though social media has, undoubtedly, become a large part of our world, cyberbullying is a very real problem. Instagram in particular, one of the most popular platforms, has a significant flaw: users can set up accounts at any age without verification of identity. Imagine how easy it is to set up a fraudulent account using someone else’s name and photo and send out messages under this assumed identity? It is important to know that Instagram has no legal obligation to investigate fraudulent accounts to see who created them, leaving users without any recourse.  This form of identity theft or slander can also occur by hacking into another user’s account. In fact, we know of a few cases where someone else assumed a Manitou camper’s identity without permission. We urge you to continue educating your kids about digital awareness. Make sure they know to be aware of concerning content on their Instagram feed, understand that it may not be from the person they think it is, and know that its always important to question anything they see that doesn’t seem right. Please encourage them to come to you if they receive alarming or negative messaging, even if they are embarrassed to talk about it.

It is easy to forget that online actions have real world repercussions, especially for a child. When kids have multiple Instagram accounts, not only are they likely spending too much time on social media, they may also be representing different versions of themselves to a wide audience, unaware of the potential negative impact this could have.

Kindly take a few minutes to read the article below. It’s a rapidly changing world and while you may be aware of what your kids are doing on social media, it can be tough to keep up. We encourage you to keep the dialogue open about the risks surrounding social media and don’t be reluctant to let your child know that placing limits on their technology use is healthy.  After all, that time away from social media is one of the reasons why camp is so great, let’s remind them of this and work together to make social media a positive space for everyone.


We beat the heat yesterday with a water-filled carnival

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

Immunizations and Camp

We would like to share with you an excellent article on the new nasal flu vaccine to help assist you as the fall flu season approaches.  This is also an appropriate time to remind you of our camp policy on immunization especially in light of the fact that so many campers, staff and families travel so much and can be exposed in today’s world to so many viruses. We strongly support the use of vaccines for immunization as they prevent serious illnesses and save lives. As camp directors, our effort to ensure a safe and healthy environment at camp includes health promotion, of which immunization is a key component. It is our obligation to protect the health of your child and those from the broader community that may interact with our camp population. By doing so, we align ourselves with school boards, the provincial and federal Minister of Health and the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada.

We request that all campers (and staff) at camp have received the recommended immunization program and that every parent/guardian (and staff) “triple check” their records to confirm all immunizations are up to date.  Our goal is to help partner with you to keep your children and families as safe as possible, whether your children attend camp or not.  In lieu of that we are enclosing a helpful article on the new nasal spray flu vaccine so you will have a better idea which flu vaccine is the best option for your child. 

Click on the link to read more about which flu vaccine to give to your child:

We trust that (as always) our approach places your child’s health and safety as the number one priority all year long. 

Mark and Jeff

Anaphylaxis alert – Allerject Recall

Sanofi–aventis Canada Inc., in consultation with Health Canada, is recalling all lots of Allerject (0.15 mg/0.15mL and 0.3 mg/0.3 mL strength epinephrine auto-injectors) from the Canadian market. A similar recall is taking place in the United States, where it’s sold as Auvi-Q. I contacted Food Allergy Canada and they indicated that this recall is a voluntary recall from the company which shows how cautious they are being.  

This is the second recall of this product this year.  As someone that has a child with a peanut allergy – this concerns me greatly and for now on we will make sure our own child has at least one EpiPen until we see a full year of no recalls of this product.  You should consult with your doctor if you should still be using Allerject for the future.  This is a personal decision.

At camp we still use EpiPens because until we see a new product out with no issues for quite some time we feel its the safest approach.  No doubt they will improve this product as it is so convenient but for now we will be taking a cautious approach.


Mark Diamond

Camp Director