A few months before the summer, we announced the 2017 CIT Changeover Trip to the Amazon Rainforest, and the feedback was fantastic! We heard from families and campers all summer about how excited everyone was to participate in the trip. So, Dave and Stephen traveled to Ecuador this fall to research and develop the program.
They just returned from La Selva Ecolodge in the Amazon last week. They flew from the US to Quito, Ecuador, then flew domestically to Coca, transferred to a motorized canoe for a 2 hour ride up the Napo River, stepped into a paddled canoe for a winding ride that likened an Avatar world, and arrived at Lake Garzachoca with a breathtaking view of the Ecolodge. They spent 4 nights at the lodge experiencing excursions, meeting staff, and making plans for the CIT changeover trip next July.
Do the Right Thing
Our Leadership Program has put Manitou High Seniors and CITs into executive roles building a capital project for a special needs camp, facilitating a bi-weekly sports program for needy local kids, and raising money for Experience Camps for Grieving Children.
In 2017, High Seniors and CITs will run the second annual sports program at Oakland Rec and the fourth annual Tou 5K benefitting Experience Camps. But we also believe the more you grow, the more you accomplish. We are striving to incite leadership, not just foster it. And we believe it is the right thing to do to engage our campers in projects and passions bigger than themselves, like our Amazon Trip.
Make Every Day Count
When Manitou first began to explore international travel for the CIT changeover trip, we were looking to offer a “bucket list” experience for friends to remember for a lifetime. Over the years we’ve learned the true Magic at Manitou is the connection and bond campers develop throughout their tenure at camp. We have seen these bonds deepen for older kids during our ski trip, Disney weekend, leadership conference in NYC, or the CIT winter weekend. The boys are so authentic when surrounded by their camp friends no matter the location.
We chose the Amazon because we read the book Looptail by Bruce Poon, founder of G Adventures. He wrote about visiting an ecolodge in Ecuador more than 30 years ago. He was inspired by the incredible Amazon Rainforest but also how the lodge builders fostered impactful relationships with the local tribes. G Adventures believes travelers should have incredible experiences, but should also leave a positive impact on the communities visited.
A ten minute ride down the Napo River leads you to Mandi Village. It is a sparse community of indigenous Amazonians with virtually no connection to the outside world. There are three small buildings that make up a school; one classroom per building. The teachers reported their greatest need is hands-on games and toys for the students. We thought, what a perfect match; our recreational summer camp can support a school in need of fun. The Amazon trip will engage Manitou CITs into a 6 month long project collecting games and toys, developing a carnival day for the Mandi Village, and hosting the children for a day of play!
In 2017, Manitou CITs will give back to younger Manitou campers, local children in Maine, grieving children across the USA, and indigenous children in the Amazon. We hope each experience incites a desire for social innovation.
Play for the Game
There are endless opportunities for 16 year olds to experience the world and develop skills; teen tours, high school trips, family vacations, etc. However, we’ve heard for years that 16 year old boys can be apprehensive to these opportunities. The Leadership Program wants to take our campers away from their world and out of their comfort zone – whether it’s in the local Maine community or father. When done right, it’s not about winning a game or getting an accolade, it’s about feeling you’re part of a something bigger than yourself and feeling good about your role.
Visiting the Amazon is going to be incredible. The views and sounds and experiences are so unique. But we believe the trip is going to leave a lasting feeling. We hope it incites leadership throughout our campers’ lives. We hope it incites a desire for social innovation. We hope it solidifies the bond the boys have together for a lifetime of friendship and connection.