Keeping In Touch With Your Child

Keeping In Touch With Your Child

CHAPTER 3: Keeping in touch with your child

Kids love mail.  Adults love mail.  So send lots of letters and send them even before your kids are at camp, so that when they arrive a letter is waiting for them.  The mail will take at least one week from Toronto and 10 days from elsewhere.  Please talk to your children about how long mail will take to reach them.  Please remember to use their full name on each letter.  Your child will let you know their cabin number in their first letter or post card and you can include that with their name on the envelope. Just as postal codes speed the daily mail in the real world, at Manitou cabin numbers help speed up our sorting process.  Please do not phone us for a cabin number prior to camp.  All mail without camper cabin numbers is sorted anyway.


Happy Camper, Cabin # 

(Don’t worry if you don’t know your camper’s cabin # for the first week or so!)

Camp Manitou

10 Camp Road

Parry Sound, ON P2A 2W7

Mail from your child is just as important. We encourage them to write often and hope that they will impart to you some interesting information other than “I’m fine. How are you?  Love Joe”. However, if you don’t receive mail, don’t be alarmed and assume something awful has happened to your child; they’re probably too busy having a good time, or have just written three letters that you’ll receive all at once.  Letter Writing Days are mandatory for campers twice each week.

Make it easy for your child to write letters. Send them, no matter what age, with pre-addressed stamped envelopes.  Often mail does not get to you or other family members because campers are too busy to write a letter home or the address is unreadable or wrong so please do the work for them by pre-addressing their envelopes and putting the appropriate stamps on their envelopes and make it easier by sending it all in a clear plastic container that can be the ‘desk’ to write on.

Do not be concerned if you receive a negative letter.  Often campers will use their letter writing to express a frustration arising from a specific incident that has been handled 10 days prior to you receiving the letter. Rest assured that if there is really an issue and it has not been resolved we would contact you if we feel the safety or ultimate contentment of your child is of concern.  If you do receive a concerning letter feel free to contact Jen and she will let you know firsthand how your child is doing.


We still strongly believe that there is nothing better than good old-fashioned mail, regardless of where you are from. But times are changing and our Canadian postal mail system seems to remain in the past! Because of this, we use Bunk1 to assist with a quicker service.

Twice a week, we will give your child(ren) a Bunk1 template where they can write their letter. This letter will be pre-addressed to the e-mail addresses we have on file for both parents. Once we receive this letter from your child in our “mailbox,” we will send the letter as a pdf to the e-mail addresses on file. However, the onus is still on your child(ren) to write a letter and deliver it to us to send out to you. Don’t be fooled into believing that just because the letter has been e-mailed to you it was written that day. It still could be a couple days or even a week old, depending on when it was delivered and when it was scanned in our office. This system is not intended to be an instant form of communication, rather a quicker method of getting mail home to you. In addition, we are unable to offer this service to grandparents, relatives or friends. The letters are strictly for the parents we have listed on file.   Manitou has paid for this service through Bunk1 for 2 outgoing letters per week.


We still believe it is great for you to send some old-fashioned mail to your camper(s) while they are at camp. However, we understand the time this takes to reach McKellar. So in addition to the two e-mailed letters per week we outlined above, you can now use Bunk1 mail to send letters to your child while they are at camp.  Information on this system will be emailed to you before camp starts.  There is a cost to this service as there is for traditional mail. U.S. AND INTERNATIONAL STAMPS ARE NOT REQUIRED FOR CAMPERS COMING FROM OUTSIDE CANADA. DON’T FORGET TO CHECK OUT OUR UPDATES AT WWW.MANITOUCAMP.COM/BLOG




THIS WILL BE STRICTLY ENFORCED – DO NOT STUFF games, stuffed animals, or candy in these envelopes. PLEASE REMEMBER YOUR CHILD DOES NOT NEED A PACKAGE BUT IF YOU FEEL YOU MUST SEND ONE IT MUST BE READING MATERIAL.  The arrival of packages, unless for an urgent matter, creates undue competition and commotion.  We can appreciate the good intent of a package but there can be a negative effect when the volume of packages gets out of control.  It leads to disappointment, competitiveness, and campers feeling neglected or left out.  It also puts pressure on parents.

Please ensure the following:

  • NO PACKAGES other than reading material – any package must be approved by Jen.
  • No Boxes! Use envelopes only.  They must be flat and no larger then 9X12 inches.
  • Send only books, magazines, unless for a birthday (please notify us in this event, in advance.)
  • All boxes and non-flat envelopes will be donated to charity. Tell aunts, uncles and grandparents please.
  • NO FOOD, NO CANDY OR GUM to be sent up!
  • If you use courier, DO NOT USE UPS. As their packages are held up at the border and duty is charged, we cannot accept them.  We do not keep cash in the office and will not accept a package where duty must be paid or where the package is COD.  Please use Purolator or Federal Express only BUT YOU MUST LET JEN KNOW otherwise the package will be returned.
  • We cannot be responsible for lost packages. Hang on to your “way bill” to track a missing package and contact your courier company.
  • The only exceptions to the package policy are birthdays and necessities. If you are sending a birthday package or items that your child needs (i.e. glasses, clothing, bedding), please call ahead and let the office know.

To send by courier (i.e. Purolator)                                 To send by Canada Post/USPS:

Camp Manitou                                                                               Camp Manitou

110 Camp Road                                                                              10 Camp Road

McKellar, ON P2A 0B4                                                                Parry Sound, ON P2A 2W7


We will not be able to “track” mail from camp.  Please do not call to confirm we have received mail.  Our staff need to focus on campers concerns and do not have the time to track mail.  It is not recommended to send any items that need tracking by our staff unless arranged in advance for a specific item needed for a camper.

Note:  As guardian for your child, we have the authority to open up any mail if we believe it could include something that could jeopardize the contentment and safety of campers.  For example, any food since it could contain nut or nut traces.


Firstly, kids will be kids, some like to share their things and others don’t.  When inequities exist it can lead to temptations that are hard to resist, often leading to cabin problems, jealousy and unhappy campers.  Secondly, stock piling all these goodies in camper cabins encourages the natural inhabitants of the forest to enter cabins in search of the source of all the delicious smells!  Raccoons, chipmunks and squirrels, although very timid little animals, are curious enough by nature, we really don’t want to encourage them anymore, not to mention ants and mice.  Finally, food packages can lead to problems with other children in the cabin that may be sensitive to certain foods, especially peanuts.  We outline our concerns more fully in Chapter 6, but not being aware of products that may contain traces of peanuts can be life threatening!

FOOD IS NOT ALLOWED TO BE SENT TO CAMPERS OR BROUGHT INTO CAMP DURING THE SESSION.   We do have a wonderfully stocked TUCK SHOP where goodies are available frequently so there is no need to “stock up” in the cabin.  We will continue to enforce this policy very strictly and any food sent will go directly to a local shelter.  Please do not embarrass your child by sending food to camp; please have respect for the rules. Thank you!


We try to limit all e-mail contact during the summer as our time is best spent with your children.  Please refrain from emailing directors and call us at 705-389-2410 to speak with a director or Unit Head.


We do not permit campers to call home except in emergencies and on a camper’s birthday.  In our experience it is very disruptive for a child who is learning to get the most out of the summer if he or she knows a phone call is available.  For any child prone to homesickness with which we work harder than anyone to help overcome, phone contact in 95% of cases is regressive. If you wish to have more detailed information on this policy please request our COMMUNICATION POLICY PRINTOUT or read this in our parent articles at

Feel free to give Jen a call if you have evidence of an issue (a concerning letter) and she can let you know how your child is doing.  If there is an issue that is not resolved, we can also arrange a call between you and a unit head or director. If you do not hear from us right away, please understand we may have to arrange to call you back.  Often the Camp Directors and other staff will be busy and assuming your child is doing well, you may not get a return call until the end of the day, or the following morning, when we can catch up from the day’s events.  So please be patient if we do not call you right back.  Remember no news is good news.

CAMPER BIRTHDAYS:  Campers (not their siblings) can phone parents on their birthday only (not on their parent’s birthday).  All camper calls to parents on their birthday are made AFTER Lunch between 1:30 and 2:00 and calls are limited to 5 minutes in length.  Campers also receive a birthday cake, special all camp “Happy Birthday” sing along, special cabin get together, along with a spin of the famous birthday wheel (where they can win a movie night, special snack and other great prizes).

CELL PHONE POLICY:  NO CELL PHONES, SMARTPHONES, OR IPHONES ARE PERMITTED IN CAMP.  If your child is coming by plane and therefore has a cell phone please instruct him/her to hand in their phone as soon as they are greeted by our staff at the airport by giving the staff their cell phone along with their passport, and ticket and valuables.

EMERGENCY NUMBER:  If it is a life and death situation, you can call Jen White at 647-228-7769 or Chris McKibbin at 416-525-6177.  This number should never be used unless it is an ABSOLUTE EMERGENCY and you need to get a hold of us right away (after 8:00 P.M. at night).  If there is any abuse of this emergency number it will leave us no choice but to resort to the regular camp numbers.  We sincerely hope this number will never be used.



If there is a problem, whether of a behavioural, social, or medical nature, we will call you to discuss the matter, in the event a counselor, unit head, director or physician feels that it is in the best interest of the camper or parent.  As indicated in our medical section, we will call you if your child is in the health center for any significant length of time (usually if they are there for more than 24 hours), or put on antibiotics, and so on. For our 1st time campers, the unit heads or a director will call within the first 4-5 days of camp.

We do not provide “camper letters” from counsellors because in the long run this does more harm to the camp and your child than the goodwill and PR we get out of it.  For counsellors to write camper letters once per session it means realistically (without the use of a computer) they have to spend on average about 6 -10 hours minimum to provide a proper letter. This means that our counsellors for a few days have to find 3 hours during the day that would otherwise be used to supervise and manage their campers.  When counsellors provide camper letters the end result is poor supervision and unhappy campers.  We already demand so much from our staff that we feel it is imprudent to provide these letters.  All counsellors do complete detailed camper profile forms and if you wish to inquire about these forms feel free to contact us after the summer.  We are more than happy to review these forms with you.  If we have serious concerns, we always contact the parents in any event but if you wish to review your son or daughter’s form we can give you the counsellor and unit head’s view on many matters.  For example, leadership abilities, respect for campers, staff and camp, adherence to camp rules, hygiene, ability to connect with kids in cabin, favourite activities, medical issues and much more!  Often we can partner with you in discussing your child’s evaluation and give advice re schools or contribute useful information that may assist your child as they navigate their personal situation.


We are lucky to have a large Director team during the summer, below are who you may hear from!

CHRIS MCKIBBIN: One of our Directors and Co-Owners and is our “Head Counsellor,” Chris manages all Head Staff at camp including Unit Heads and Activity Heads. Working closely with Alec and our Activity Coordinators, Chris has been a key member of our leadership team for many years. A former Manitou counsellor, Unit Head and Activity Director, he has become an expert in conflict resolution, and offers advice and support to counsellors and campers. Campers may know him best as the guy up at the “mic”.  Prior to taking on an ownership in Manitou, Chris was a dedicated teacher with the Toronto District School Board for over 15 years and brings his expertise from school to camp.  This will be Chris’ 22nd summer.

MARK DIAMOND: Our Director and Co-Owner who focuses on camper success and parent involvement. Year-round, Mark remains fully committed to all details of camp. He spends many hours working closely with families throughout the year, creating friendships and continuing relationships to build trust and ensure a strong connection for each child once they arrive at camp. Mark’s vision of giving back has formed Manitou’s values around giving back, gratitude and value-based programming. This continues past the summer at camp to throughout the year with our Manitou Cares programming. Mark spends time in our “off-season” searching out speakers for camp, charities and our theme for the summer. This will be Mark’s 23rd summer.

JEFF WILSON: As a Director and Co-Owner of camp, Jeff’s vision of Manitou has created an incredible place for making friends, building skills, and becoming a better person. Jeff manages the maintenance and kitchen areas of camp, ensuring we have a safe and well-functioning facility and the best camp meals you can find! Jeff also plays a huge roll in the programming aspect of camp, overseeing camp programs, social media, and the special touches. Jeff’s creative mind has pushed Manitou to new limits over the last 20+ years. This will be Jeff’s 23rd summer.

JEN WHITE: Our Administrative Director and full-time member of the Manitou family. A former Activity and Unit Head, we are delighted to have such an experienced person involved with camp full time. Never flustered and always willing to give the benefit of the doubt; Jen is there to answer questions of any and all types. Jen also coordinates our Manitou Cares year-round programming and manages the charitable arm, the Manitoucamp Foundation.  If you have any concern at all, just call Jen! This will be Jen’s 21st summer.

ALEC AMATO: Alec is our Assistant Director and working full-time during the year in the office. Alec started out as a camper at Manitou, moved on to be a CIT, counsellor and more recently our CIT Coordinator. Working in the office during the year, Alec spends time meeting with campers and parents to ensure a positive summer. He works with our Unit Heads and offers advice and support to our campers in all aspects including conflict resolution, self-esteem, cabin bonding, and schedule requests. He continues to be a liaison between camp and you, the parents. If you want to know how your child is doing, just get in touch with Alec! Alec also focuses on staff hiring and training.  This will be Alec’s 20th summer.

MELISSA BRUCE: Melissa is our Assistant Director joining us full time in the office.  She manages the Health Center, creating an efficient and safe space for all campers and staff.  Melissa is in charge of our Canoe Tripping Program and Off-Season Staff and Rental Program. Melissa works to ensure dietary needs are met for campers at meal times ensuring a successful experience for all campers.  Along with Alec, Melissa is in charge of hiring staff including off-season, medical and kitchen staff.  As a former Manitou counsellor, Activity Head, Unit Head and CIT Coordinator, Melissa has seen all aspects of camp and has a way of making everyone who meets her feel appreciated for their role at camp.  Melissa returns for her 16th summer.

KAILEE SMOSKOWITZ: Kailee is our Youth Director, working closely with Unit Heads and staff for our younger campers.  Parents, you may hear from Kailee for a check-in or first call if your child is new to Manitou. Kailee has worn many hats at Manitou including heading up our Manitou Cares program, young camper visits, our CIT Director, and has always played a large role in resolving cabin dynamic issues.  This will be Kailee’s 7th summer at Manitou.

LIZZIE MOSCOE: Lizzie is joining the Director team as our Program Director.  With years of experience on our Unit Head team, Lizzie brings her creativity and big picture mindset to this role.  She first came to Manitou as a camper, continued to our CIT program, then counsellor and Activity Head.  As Program Director, Lizzie will be planning our big camp-wide programs such as Tribal Games, Talent Shows, Carnival, Halloween and World Games.  As well, there will be some new fun programs each session that we look forward to experiencing.  Lizzie is a great resource to counsellors and unit heads for cabin dynamics and conflict resolution.  Lizzie returns for her 17th summer at Manitou.

HALLE PURTHER: Halle is joining the Director team as our CIT Director. She will be leading our CIT’s in their last summer as campers and training them with skills and evaluating all aspects required be a staff member at Manitou. Halle grew up at Manitou starting as a camper, then a CIT herself and moved on to a counsellor, Activity Head for our Dance program and has been a Unit Head. Halle will also be training our staff and CITs on consent training. This will be Halle’s 16th summer at Manitou.