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 and cabin number on each letter.  Your child will let you know their cabin number in their first letter or post card. 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.  We will not know your camper’s cabin.  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 first hand 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 pre-printed lined sheet of paper 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 scan it and email 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.






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 (Jen) know.

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

Camp Manitou                                                              Camp Manitou

10 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!

So, 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 of the summer if he or she knows a phone call is available.  For any child prone to homesickness with which we work harder then 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.  Jen will often be able to answer your questions or give you immediate feedback on a particular issue.

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 Jeff‘s cabin at 7O5-389-2792.  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 behavioral, 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.


In addition to hearing from Mark or Jeff you may hear from your child’s unit-head or a director including:

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 19th 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 with Mark and Jeff 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 you’re child is doing, just get in touch with Alec! Alec also focuses on staff hiring and training and is the face behind our social media.  This will be Alec’s 18th 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 14th summer.

CHRIS MCKIBBIN:Our “Head Counsellor,” works closely with our Unit Heads and the counsellors. 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”.  Chris is a dedicated teacher with the Toronto District School Board during the year and brings his expertise to camp.  This will be Chris’ 20th summer.

BENJI BOUDREAU: Benji is our Activity Director working with Activity Heads on a daily basis from the programming side. He manages the skill level development and awards at activities.  Benji during the off-season times, has always lent his creative side to the design of camp, adding a special touch to our facilities. Benji also works on managing the facility and the off-season groups. This will be Benji’s 10th summer.

DENISE “MAMA D” GEORGE:Mama D is our Operations Director working closely with many different aspects around camp.  Mama D manages all of our 1st camper experiences including our Day Camp Overnights and Rookie Day 1-day programs.  She also manages our scheduling system ensuring parent and camper requests are fulfilled.  Mama D conceptualized Friday Night Fireside years ago and since returning to Manitou, has been a welcomed addition to this evening tradition including coordinating Speaker Series.  Mama D has had many roles at camp including, Activity Head, Activity Director, Unit Head and was once full time in the office as the Administrative Director.  Mama D returns for her 17th summer.

KAILEE SMOSKOWITZ: Kailee is our CIT and Leadership 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.  Kailee has worn many hats at Manitou including heading up our Manitou Cares program, young camper visits, and has always played a large role in resolving cabin dynamic issues.  This will be Kailee’s 5th summer at Manitou.