Manitou began in 1959 as a fine arts and music camp. Founded by the Wise family, Ben Wise and his father purchased 1000’s of acres of land with the vision of building an internationally renowned camp of excellence for older children. Camp Manitou, was originally associated with Camp Wahanowin, both being Jewish camps offering a religious component which is still available today. In the 1960’s, Camp Manitou (formally the Manitouwabing Sports and Arts Center) began to add land sports, with Tennis being its first sport program and slowly adding many land and water sports. In the 1970’s Manitou specialized in 22 Arts and Sport programs. In the 1980’s Manitou expanded its influence to children of all ages. In fact by the 1990’s Manitou became a more traditional camp offering a full range of outdoor activities and emphasizing a more nurturing environment for its youngest campers.
Today, Manitou, with its over 30 activities, offers a blend of traditional camping, with the benefit of receiving professional instruction based on our camper’s individual area of interests and abilities. Manitou continues today to offer the best of canoe tripping, and eco-adventure, including hiking, fishing and camp craft, while perpetuating its long standing reputation in providing a unique quality instructional program which includes 10 artistic programs, 6 waterfront activities and 10 land sports.
Coming from somewhere else? Get directions from Map Quest
Take the 400 North past Barrie and continue on the 400 towards Parry Sound. After you pass the main exits for Parry Sound, take exit 231 which is Highway 124 – towards Sundridge,
Travel on Hwy 124 for 19 km until you reach the town of McKellar. About half way you will reach the town of Waubamik – and you will see on the right hand side the RED DOOR BAKERY- it’s amazing so go get fresh baked breads, cookies or ice cream.
As you approach the town of Mckellar, you will first pass Lake Manitouwabing on your right, and then you will see the Middle River Farms store and beside it the local corner store on your right. Turn right just past this store onto McKellar Center Road (you are now 5 minutes away) and continue for 6.2 km. Stay to your right where the road splits. Just after Brownley & McKenna Rd, you will go up a small hill. At the top of this hill will be Camp Road.
Turn right on Camp Road. Drive 0.8 km into camp.
SUMMER STREET ADDRESS:
10 Camp Road
McKellar, Ontario, Canada
FAX: 705-389 3079
Our campers range from age 7 to 16 years old, (grade 1 and up) with the camp accommodating an average of 420 children per session. We have an equal blend of children in all age categories. In fact, we often have children as young as grade one, joining our grade two and threes, as part of our unique Manitou Freshkid program.
We welcome campers from all over the world including Canada, USA, Mexico, United Kingdom, China, France, Spain, Italy, Japan, Barbados, Bermuda, South Africa, Lebanon, Australia, Germany, Vietnam and more!
Our youngest campers participate in their cabin group for the entire morning, with one of these periods being a compulsory swim period. For the other three periods a day, they choose their own schedules. They sit down with their counsellor who is trained to ensure your child picks the most appropriate schedule. Your input as to what type of schedule you want for your child is passed on to the counsellor, unit head and head programmer as well as to the Camp Directors. This way we can create a schedule for your child that matches both the aims and goals of the parent and the camper. Most importantly, your child can change his or her schedule at least twice a week, allowing for total flexibility.
Campers are always placed with campers of the same age and are always with friends and in fact often entire cabin groups decide to do some activities together.
Our youngest campers have a traditional camping experience and are encouraged to participate in as many of the 30 activities as possible. As the campers mature and move from sophomore, to junior and senior, the staff work with each camper to make a schedule that takes into account their age, desire to specialize and of course the wishes of that camper and their parent(s). Please see our program philosophy page for more information. Ultimately we want every child to have fun, to make friends and to fulfill themselves at each activity. So while many children may decide to pick a general program and change their activities numerous times, others may decide to concentrate on just a few activities. Usually as the children get older many move from a more general program to a more specialized schedule. However, we also have many older campers who participate in a schedule that incorporates many of our 30 activities.
We only have 6-8 children per cabin in our youngest age group, therefore ensuring that the counsellors can work with each and every camper, and give them the supervision they need. The counsellor, for these campers, spends the entire day checking on the campers to ensure that they are happy, and receiving the necessary support and supervision that is so critical for this age group.
If your child is under 12, there is always one counsellor assigned to ensure that their campers are taken to their activity and feel comfortable being there; for a seven or eight year old for example it would be normal for the general counsellor to monitor and take these kids to each activity and check in on them. For an older child, such as a sophomore (age 10-12) usually after a few days or by the end of the week they are fine to get around on their own but of course we always like to have campers walking with their peers as much as possible. It depends on the child, and every camper will be managed as an individual based on their needs.
We also take attendance at each activity ensuring that if for some reason someone is late that we account for every Fresh or Sophomore camper immediately.
At Manitou we seldom have to worry about campers being in the cabin and just “hanging out.” This is because they choose from over 30 activities ensuring there is always something for each and every camper to participate in. By creating their own schedule they are with campers who all want to participate and are placed with campers of similar age or ability. They make friends not only within their own cabin group but also with children of similar age from other cabins at the activities. We also take attendance at each activity so we know where every camper is and can ensure they are participating in the program. Its very rare at Manitou for campers to “just hang out” because they are part of a tradition and culture where campers really want to participate, learn and just have fun at each activity.
Manitou’s greatest strength is its staff. Although we take great pride in our top facilities; as you know, it is the staff that make a child’s summer. We would trade great facilities for great staff any day and that is why we spend so much time in hiring and training our staff. It is important for you to speak to the Camp Directors and learn about their vision and philosophy as it is that vision that will be inculcated to the staff.
Many of our staff are more mature than staff at other camps because they are professionals, many currently in a college or university programs related to children’s education or camping programs. Our youngest staff are only chosen if they are proven CIT’s and are complimented in the camper cabin with a more mature staff member usually between the age of 19 and 23.
Staff are screened, references are taken and most importantly personal interviews and the experience of our five full time management team ensures we hire staff that are dedicated, caring, nurturing individuals. Because our campers come from all over the world, many of our staff do also, therefore adding to a more dynamic and socially interesting camp culture.
All our staff go through an intense week of pre-camp training with sessions on camper issues which include, for example, bullying, respect, team building, behavior management, homesickness, to very intense sessions on preventative rules regarding drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, theft, health and safety issues, risk management and the like. We hire professional guest speakers as well. Most importantly Jeff and Mark ensure respect for every person at camp, respect for the environment and respect for oneself. This starts right from the top and if campers and staff are not respectful, they can not stay at camp.
Because we have 200 staff, there are many new staff of all ages. (Often age 17 to 30, and sometimes older!). Head staff such as Unit Heads or Activity Heads can range from age 21 to 30 and sometimes even a few older people leading our activities. Counsellors usually range in age from 17 to 25. The average age of a Manitou counsellor is about 20, with at least two counsellors per cabin, usually a ‘Junior Counsellor’ who is 17/18 and a ‘Senior Counsellor’ who is 19-25 years old.
Yes. While the demographics change a lot from year to year, we usually have approximately 20% “new staff” in any given year which would usually translate into 50 to 60 new people. As we draw in a lot of older staff, (early 20’s and beyond) with strong programming experience, we tend to have a lot of people that are looking for a year or two of experience and then move on to programs like Teacher’s College.
We not only have a full time physician on staff but this physician is experienced as a family practitioner or pediatrician, such that they are experienced doctors dealing with children. We also have four full time nurses or student nurses/medical personnel and provide sick call twice a day as well as medical dispensing whenever necessary. Our doctor and nurses are on call 24 hours a day and our nearest hospital is only 20 minutes away with a full time on duty emergency vehicle and driver. We also have a child psychologist and pediatric pharmacist on call, and available for advise if necessary. We will attempt to notify all parents first before dispensing antibiotics so you are aware of any illness that may necessitate such medication and if your child is in the health center for a day we will call you as well.
Its hard to believe its camp food. That’s what parents and campers say! We have always had a high standard when it comes to food. That means a flexible and well balanced diet, with fresh baked goods, a salad bar, a vegetarian meal and alternative meals for those that do not like the main course served. Fruit is also available at every meal and in fact is available all day long! The food is all prepared on premises and all breads and baked goods are homemade. We also have snack in the afternoon and at bedtime as well as tuck every other day. We eat family style, such that campers eat with the cabin group and counselors. One morning a week we have a sleep in with a buffet brunch and a lunch where campers can sit with whom they choose. We also host two outdoor meals a week to allow campers to sit with siblings, cousins or their friends.
Manitou’s cabins sleep from 6-14 campers depending on the age group. All cabins have sinks, toilets and showers, electricity and bunk beds with good quality mattresses. These cabins are rustic cedar buildings and many are located with a view of the lake.
No. Because Manitou has a tradition of campers coming from all over the world. We specialize in ensuring these campers arrive in a relaxed and nurturing fashion. Usually there are other campers on the plane or bus that we can introduce the campers to, and of course our staff are there to ensure they arrive safe and happy.
There is no doubt that campers from far away places such as Europe arrive tired but we make sure they are fed and ready for camp. In fact, by the next morning they are so excited to become part of the Manitou family it seems they forget about their long journey. Of course we are only a phone call away and if homesickness occurs for any child, we have a staff that is superb in dealing with such issues with the utmost of sensitivity and success.
It seems you really do accomplish a lot at Manitou, with great activities, nurturing staff and a spirit and tradition like other camps. How do you do it?
We think one of our greatest strengths is that we have an upper management team (of eight camp directors) whose experience and numbers allow us to take camping to a unique level. In other words, if there is a problem we have eight people at the top level to deal with an immediate issue along with another 40 head staff! We believe camp in the 21st century demands a more sophisticated approach where we can respond to the needs and issues that arise immediately. It demands greater training, evaluation throughout the summer and a low camper staff ratio. We have approximately 200 staff for our average of 430 campers.
All ages are well represented at Manitou and in fact in our latest focus group, our return ratio for the younger age group is almost 100% when you remove the odd child that decides to go on a family trip, etc. Our focus is on every single camper with particular emphasis on our youngest campers who get special cabin group activities, and a counsellor specifically checking on the kids all day long.
Sophomores have a designated counsellor as well to check up on the kids at activities but usually after a few days most of these kids are quite independent but this counsellor still watches over the kids and ensures they are comfortable and ready to move around camp. It is well known around camp that this group of children is our future and we have to ensure they are happy, safe children who benefit fully from the Manitou experience. Each child must be adored, respected and truly cared for! We have a camp philosophy that teaches all staff to watch for any child ever walking alone as it is our goal that campers are always with their peers as much as possible.
It is also important to know that our youngest campers are encouraged to try all their activities and our evening programs are geared to each particular age group, while our special programs cater specifically to all ages.
Furthermore our special two week sessions for ages 5-9 first session, and all ages second session is designed to give the all campers the same sense of achievement, fun and positive experience that the older or more experienced campers enjoy.
To be part of the Manitou family allowing children the opportunity to have fun, make friends and fulfill themselves at activities therefore allowing them to develop socially within the camp environment. By fulfilling themselves in their cabin group, at activities, campers develop self esteem, confidence and friendships. We provide the blend of a quality instructional program within a traditional camping experience. Manitou is a role model for respect, ethical values and the most appropriate environment for developing the necessary emotional, social and physical skills of everyday living. Our goal is to inculcate the core values of respect to your child, and an appreciation for the world around them. That is why we have an all summer program centered around outreach, and giving back to the community. This program is called Manitou Cares and culminates in “Community Week”.
Yes, we are a member of the Ontario Camping Association that does inspections on the Camp and we must meet all camping standards. In fact Mark Diamond, co-owner and Director, has helped draft the newest and most up to date safety standards for the O.C.A and has sat on the Board of Directors.
Please see our Camp Calendar of important dates. On Visitors day we encourage campers and parents to stay in camp during the entire day, as our activity heads have planned special events that combine parents and campers, in arts sports and outdoor adventure. Go to the Art Gallery and learn to paint a portrait with your child, or watch your child on the climbing wall. We also serve a special outdoor BBQ lunch and we hope that you will stay and enjoy the food and pleasant atmosphere.
Please see our Camp Calendar of important dates. On Visitors day we encourage campers and parents to stay in camp during the entire day, as our activity heads have planned special events that combine parents and campers, in arts, sports and outdoor adventure. Go to the Art Gallery and learn to paint a portrait with your child, or watch your child on the climbing wall. We also serve a special outdoor BBQ lunch and we hope that you will stay and enjoy the food and pleasant atmosphere and enjoy our end of day Rock ‘n Roll concert and final words of wisdom from Mark and Jeff.
Families of first session campers who have not seen camp can come for Visitors day or can visit camp the day that their children leave. Second session camper families can visit camp also on visitors day if they wish or can pick up their campers at camp and thus take a quick look around. Or if visitors day is not an option because you are out of town or for other special reasons you can not make it, contact us to make arrangements to visit camp on another day. You must give us lots of notice to ensure the camping environment is not affected, but we want you to see camp and be proud of where you child is all summer long!
Of course you are always welcome to tour the camp during the time your child is not at camp.
We believe mail is the best way to communicate with your child but if you live outside of Ontario we do allow email. Phone calls are not allowed home except on their birthday, or of course in case where a child for a special reason must speak to a parent. (Medical/Psychological/Social issues). We will contact you for any medical reason or if a social/emotional issue comes up that would benefit from your input. We tend to call parents more than most camps so don’t worry if we do!
If you do not hear from your child just contact us and of course you can call us at any time to get an update regarding your child. We do a full call around day four or five about your child but we always want you to feel comfortable so if you need to call us, please do.
If you want more information on our communication policy please contact us personally or just ask us for our written communication policy as to why we follow a traditional camping approach on such issues and how that policy contributes to the success and well being of the campers.
Usually about half of our campers stay for the entire seven weeks, and each of the first and second month sessions are filled. But we have also lots of two week campers especially at the younger ages. Most of these campers however decide to stay on for the final week or so.
Manitouwabing Lake is one of Ontario’s classic lakes in the heart of the Muskoka/Parry Sound Region. It is beautiful freshwater lake, with a sandy bottom, perfect for swimming (playing at the slide or the water tramp), skiing, sailing, canoeing/kayaking, or fishing. We have clearly designated areas for swim classes. We would not think of having a pool. Campers love the lake and appreciate fresh water, without chemicals, and endless space in beautiful surroundings.
Each group has one or two trips per session, for a day trip to experience the Georgian Bay, or Muskoka parks, to play in the famous crystal clear water, and adventure in the park among their peers with their counsellors and/or swim staff. Of course about half of our campers participate in canoe trips, hiking, or similar trips, depending on what is available for their schedule.
Manitou is not small nor is it large. Many large camps have 500-1000 campers, while smaller camps have less than 100. At Manitou we have about 215 boys and 215 girls on average. We are able to provide the guidance, warmth and supervision of a small camp but have the numbers to ensure there will be enough boys or girls of the same age, all with different personalities, thus allowing us to match up children in the appropriate cabin group, in the hope they will create long lasting friendships.
At the same time because we are not a small camp, we can offer over 30 different programs, match children in appropriate activities, offer inter-camps and special colour wars such as “World Games”. We also have eight camp directors to work closely with the unit heads and counsellors and to provide the ongoing every day support for each and every person in camp.
If my child is a junior or senior how does an activity counsellor spend time with the cabin and make sure it bonds as a cabin group?
We know cabin time is critical and that is why we ensure that all campers have cabin nights, cabin days and special times with their bunk mates. They may include a cabin late night birthday party, a canoe lunch or a special game before dinner. All counsellors are trained on this important aspect of Manitou camping. This combined with cabin time at breakfast, clean-up, lunch, rest hour, free time before dinner, cabin emphasized evening activities, and time in the cabin before bed, ensure the cabin bond is as strong as ever. After one session, campers already want to be with their friends and return often with the same bunk mates every year. The reality is that many campers in the cabin are at activities together as well but if your child has a particular interest they still can follow their passion and pick that activity.
The weather at summer camp is absolutely perfect- highs average about 77 F/23C and lows are about 60F/15C making it nice for sleeping. In recent years summers have been warmer than this with highs even reaching 85-90/30C degrees on a few days.
For two reasons…our goal is remove the emphasis on how one looks on the outside so its also about no make up and just being natural at camp. We want camp to allow people to focus on the inner qualities of our campers. So if we can avoid hair dryers and hair straighteners more time is being spent on being active and not one being insecure about one’s looks. Just like no technology the truth is the campers really appreciate the freedom of not having to worry about what how they look.
For all the reasons summer camp was created. We think that unplugging is right at the top of the list. Our kids live with technology all day long at home to the point where they forget how to communicate face to face. Summer camp is a place to create fun in new ways and to teach children about the best form of communication; talking to each other. Without gadgets and games campers learn to play cooperative games with each other rather than isolate themselves. Its all about relationship building with fellow campers and staff. Our goal is to promote and encourage positive social interaction among the Manitou family. We do allow campers to listen to music in the cabin and find this absolutely acceptable.
We truly feel that camp is about equality and that campers do not need anything extra at camp. Of course campers can always be sent up reading material or an extra sweater if they are cold. But packages other than on a birthday can cause many complications, and a sense of an unhealthy competition among campers and parents feel they have to send something up as good as the next child package that they receive.