Anyone lucky enough to have attended summer camp at some point in their lives is also aware of the worst part about it: that eventually, it has to end. The day you get back in the city is easily the saddest day of the year. You can probably recall one of those awful first nights home after camp, all tear-stained diary entries and late night phone calls, as it dawned on you that you’d have to wait an entire year before you could experience the magic of summer camp again. Right? It’s practically a rite of passage.
But for one lucky Manitou kid, his first day back from camp will never be the same.
Max is just your average summer camp kid who, like every other camper, starts missing camp as soon as he gets off the bus. But unlike every other camper, Max arrives at his house to the surprise of a lifetime.
Listen, we won’t say too much, because we don’t want to spoil it for you. Just watch what happens in the video above, and tell us you’re not dying to go back to camp just so you could experience this for yourself.
If it seems like it’s been a long time since you last heard from us, that’s because IT HAS!
Over the past week, we put out our final 2016 edition of the Manitou Mosquito. Community Week wrapped up with a series of wonderful activities: rock, theatre and guitar sang at the local seniors’ home, campers filled out paper stars to “award” to staff and their fellow campers in the dining hall, and the campers coloured in whiteboard “Possibility” signs that we stitched together into the inspiring video above. When all was said and done, the campers’ fundraising initiatives helped to raise a final total of $8,130 for the Amani Home.
But aside from a final Fireside this past week, there wasn’t much time to sit down. Because as soon as Community Week ended, World Games began!
Manny Moose & the entire Manitou Family
- a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common.
- a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals
On the surface, community comes easy to Manitou. We all live in the same place for two months out of the year, certainly, and we share those defining camp experiences that allow us to have a “feeling of fellowship” with other Manitou-ers year round.
But when we talk about “community” during Community Week, we’re referring to something much bigger. We use that word to encompass everyone from neighbours back in our respective home cities, to the local community in Parry Sound and surrounding townships, to less fortunate kids all over the world who don’t have the same privilege that we do. And despite their geographical distance, these folks are a part of our community. The characteristic we share is one of hope for the future — a better future, where every individual is loved, cared for, and free.
Welcoming that entire community into the Manitou family is a tall order for a single summer, but we make huge strides towards our goal year after year. So, how do we do it?
By cultivating empathy
Recognizing how similar we are is a matter of first embracing our differences. We talk a lot about difference at Manitou, and the importance of empathy when confronting someone or something you don’t understand. Awareness breeds empathy, empathy breeds understanding, and understanding is at the heart of community.
To that end, for the past week at camp, both staff and campers have led some incredible initiatives. In order to raise awareness about the limited potable water resources in third-world villages, one sophomore girl had the campers carry buckets of water on their heads from the camp gates to the waterfront.
Last night we had our annual Walk of Hope, a time for togetherness and reflection about how fortunate we are, and about the power we have to make change. Manitou alum Nate Daviau came up and serenaded the staff with a late-night concert as they walked.
By raising money
Money isn’t the answer to life’s troubles, but it goes a long way in helping those who don’t have it. The Manitou Cares Foundation selected the Amani Home in Tanzania to receive all funds raised this year, and second session campers have already helped us raise over $4,500 for Amani during Community Week. At swim, Laps of Love had campers swimming laps for charity. At volleyball, every “ace” serve was worth $1.
We love watching the numbers tick up as these creative fundraising initiatives come to fruition. We always tell our staff that if they can dream it, we can make it happen, and now the kids are taking the lead in a wonderful way. One freshkid led the camp in a cleanup project, where each piece of garbage retrieved from around camp was worth $1. A camper wanted to show everyone how much fun it was to get thrown in the lake, so he started a $1/throw bet with a counselor.
By instilling positive values
There are so many values learned by raising money through karmic actions such as the ones we’re accomplishing during Community Week. Not only do the kids learn about how even their smallest actions can have a big impact, but they also learn to care about the right things. Picking up garbage, for example, is about having accountability for the beautiful Manitou landscape we get to call home every year. Swimming laps is hard work, and teaches us that we have to step outside our front doors in order to see how we can make a difference in the world.
The values instilled through Community Week are starting show themselves everywhere in camp. Today, for example, is Art in the Park. It’s always been a great opportunity for the craftiest kids to get outside and make art in the sun (well, the shade). This year, it’s been infused with a little extra Community Week love. So there’s Art in the Dark, where kids can experience drawing while blindfolded; there’s a scrap wood sculpture garden, where campers are repurposing the scraps at woodworking to add to a giant wood sculpture; there’s gratitude bracelet-making, where everyone makes a bracelet for someone else. These convey messages of empathy, ecology and gratitude.
We can’t wait to watch the rest of Community Week unfold!
Recognize anybody in this photo? Don’t worry, most folks wouldn’t. That’s because this photograph was taken in 1959, the year Camp Manitou was founded. A parent sent it in, pointing out that the woman on the bottom left is the grandmother of the Sarick-Whiteside siblings (currently a staff and CIT camper)!
While fashions may have changed and the building pictured here may be long gone, the spirit of this photo is alive and well at camp in 2016. Frankly, it got us thinking about all the other dusty photographs there must be out there dating back as far as Manitou’s founding! Ever since we started learning about the camp’s aboriginal heritage last month, we’ve been finding new ways to appreciate our summer home away from home.
We also recognize that the passing down of stories is what makes families send generations after generations of their own to camp, and we’d love to be a part of sharing camp history.
So, do you have an old photo of yourself, your friends or your family at Manitou? How about a camp story or memory to share from a time before Mark and Jeff? Let us know about it in the comments section or send it in to camp[at]manitoucamp.com!
Manny Moose & The Entire Manitou Family
All summer long, you’ve heard us (and your kids!) talk about all the great things you get to do at camp: evening activities and exciting new programs abound, not to mention all those impromptu float parades and carnivals.
We sure are lucky to enjoy all that camp has to offer. And at Manitou, it’s especially important to us to pay that gratitude forward. Giving back is at the heart of the Manitou way, and we happen to have lots of fun here doing it. That’s why once a week each season, we host “Community Week,” a 7-day program full of gratitude, empowerment, leadership initiatives and good deeds in the surrounding community.
Community Week kicked off last night starting with Friday Night Fireside guest speaker Spencer West, an inspiring activist from Me to We who redefined possible after having lost his legs at the age of five.
In 2012, Spencer climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro using only his hands and his wheelchair. Like any of our other special guests this season and our wonderful “Camp Is” camper speakers, West embodies the idea of unlimited potential. We’re thrilled to have had him share his story with the camp.
Later this week we’ll have campers from our Theatre program singing at the Lakeland Home, the senior leaders’ trip to the CNIB, Art in the Park, our annual Walk of Hope and much, much more.
We’ll fill you in as each Community Week project comes to fruition. In the meantime, check out the latest edition of the Mosquito for wacky news, camp surveys, silly ads and games for all ages!
Manny Moose & The Manitou Family
Every day, a memory is made at Manitou. No doubt you’ll be hearing plenty about our campwide programs when your kids get home at the end of the month. World Games and Tribal Games are huge spirit events that emblazon themselves in the minds of campers and staff alike, and make up the hallmark of a Manitou summer. This year we’ve even added a few new big-ticket programs, such as the Manitou Olympics.
What you might not hear about, however, are the spectacular evening programs that our creatively minded unit heads run almost every night of camp! On many evenings, after flagpole, the camp splits up into its respective units — Freshkid, Sophomore, Junior and Senior — and participates in a wild, high-energy and occasionally messy activity for about an hour.
Often eclipsed by our larger programs at the end of each session, stories of these evening programs may not make it home. So lucky for you, we’re here to let you know about what your kids get up to after dinner lets out! Continue reading “Derbies and painting and fairs, oh my: a look at this summer’s evening programs”
So, we have something to confess: we can’t stop thinking about last night’s Friday Night Fireside. For those of you new to Manitou, FNF is a weekly ceremony that honours campers, staff and members of the Manitou community elsewhere in the world who exemplify the values we stand for, such as embracing difference, giving back and being true to oneself.
And in addition to giving out camper and staff candles, we heard a number of campers speak about what “Camp Is.”
While it’s always a joy to hear the speeches campers give at Fireside, last night’s young speakers stood out especially as a creative, charismatic group with unique zest for life. Each speaker talked about camp with panache and originality, and many of their speeches received standing ovations.
Us older folks have a penchant for simplicity, so it’s these little moments in camp that remind us why we keep coming back year after year. Here are some of the highlights. Continue reading “TGIF: why we’re still thinking about Friday Night Fireside”
Manitou has been positively abuzz with energy these past couple of days! From the moment our second session campers got off the buses, they’ve been made to feel at home here at camp. They’ve met their cabinmates, been introduced to all of our camp activities and head staff, passed their health and swim checks flying colours, and spent yesterday’s first full evening with their units doing awesome programs: garbage bag fashion shows, inner beauty pageants, painting competitions, and magic shows.
Frankly, every day at Manitou seems to have something extra-special going on! Yesterday we welcomed Owen Tippett, an incredible 17-year-old hockey player with the Mississauga Steelheads who is currently slated to be fourth pick in next year’s NHL draft. Tippett played pickup games with campers of all ages during the afternoon, and held a Q&A where he shared wonderfully positive messages about self-discipline, following your dreams, and taking care of your body by eating properly and staying above the influence.
In addition to all of the great stuff going on in camp, many cabins have also signed up to go on canoe trips this session! We’re looking forward to a busy tripping program to round out what’s already shaping up to be our best summer ever.
You’ll want to stay tuned for news of all of our exciting campwide programs this month — where first session promises a carnival, Rookie Day and Tribal Games, second session has Halloween, Art in the Park and World Games!
For now, get a “read” on the latest and greatest in Manitou campers’ news by taking a peek at the latest edition of the Manitou Mosquito. And have a great weekend!
Manny Moose & The Entire Manitou Family
For many of you, this post arrives just hours after your kids did. Main field was a scene of tearful hugs and final photographs this morning as our first session campers boarded the buses to head home. It’s been an amazing month at Manitou, one half of what we’re sure will go down in the books as our “Best Summer Ever.” Here are some snapshots of what’s been going on: Continue reading “Closing thoughts on an amazing first session”