WOWZA! We’ve been having a blast these past few days, and I can’t wait to tell you all about what we’ve been up to!
On Friday night we had our first Friday Night Fireside of Second Session, and our campers and staff were all at peace and respectful of our traditions. We started off the evening with Rach Klein, our Head of Tripping, giving a land acknowledgement that recognizes the original caretakers of our land and that we are not the first people to be on it. After that, Denise “Mama D” George, our Operations Director and one of the founders of Fireside, spoke about how Friday Night Fireside originated and why we sit together every week for it. We then had our candle ceremony, where two campers from each unit receive the honour of receiving a candle, which recognizes their camp spirit and how they represent Manitou values and beliefs. It’s always exciting to see which camper is going to receive a candle that week, and to hear all of their friends cheering them on.
We then continued into a very special Friday Night Fireside, where we had some of our amazing staff members educate us about the LGBTQ+ community. These staff members each talked about their experience and how being at camp also plays into that. I think it was extremely important for our campers and staff to hear about the experience of others in a community they may not be part of, and how they can learn from that and take the LGBTQ+ community into account. I’m always in awe of our brave staff, and I was inspired to hear them all tell their stories.
After we hear from some of our staff, we continued into our ‘CAMP IS’ speeches, brief stories and words of wisdom from campers, sometimes giving their advice to new campers or just telling their story and how they feel about Manitou. Here are bits of the speeches from our amazing campers:
“The most important thing I like most about camp is friendship; I’ve made some amazing friends . Secondly I love the nights. Why the nights? Because Mexico is a polluted city which makes it difficult to see any stars at night, but at camp the sky is full of stars. Third, the staff who are so professional and you can really bond with them and make a friendship ….for every new camper I promise you will love the camp, environment, and the people.”
“I remember when I first came here, instead of being excluded everyone welcomed me. And here I can do activities I can’t do at home. I love camp because it feels like a home that I belong to.”
“Camp Manitou taught me the values of great new friendships and made me feel like I was part of a family. I loved meeting new friends and I learned to waterski and I trust you too will have a great summer.”
“When I came here last year from Chicago, I barely knew anyone and then I met my cabin mates. Everyone was so nice that I immediately forgot about home. I came back because of the many friends I made here. Camp is different than Chicago because I am always making new friends at camp.”
“The first time I came to Manitou I was nervous but excited. I didn’t know anybody or if I was going to make any friends, but once I met my cabin and counsellors I felt right at home. So just remember that at Manitou there are people who care about you and you can trust.”
I can’t believe how mature and well-spoken our campers are and how they were able to put all of their feelings into words! But it’s not just Friday Night Fireside that we’ve been busy with! Our campers have been going to their activities and working on projects and completing their goals. It’s so exciting seeing a camper getting up at Waterski or witnessing someone catching a fish! And after our full activity days, the Unit Heads have been planning incredible Evening Programs for their Units like Counsellor Hunt or Egg Drop.
And tonight is very special because on Sundays we have Outdoor Dinners, where we have Will’s Famous Burgers, and then the counsellors plan Cabin Activities for their campers, and it’s always a thrill seeing the creative things that our staff come up with.
Well, I’m off to see my friend Amber Hartley, our Head of Creative Arts, so I can learn how to paint!
Manny the Moose