Give Back. As we defined our Core Values this season, we purposefully dedicated a fourth of our message to giving back.
Do the Right Thing.
Make Every Day Count.
Play for the Game.
Giving back is everywhere at Manitou. It’s former campers leading College League teams to give younger campers as special an experience as they had growing up. It’s counselors spending an extra few minutes making a new campers feel at home. It’s the Waterfront Director reviving the Island Swim because he remembered it as a special event decades ago.
Giving back is the incredible devotion so many of our directors, counselors, and families have to Experience Camps. This summer over 375 boys and girls who have experienced a significant loss will spend a free week at camp in California, New York, or Maine. The Manitou Magic spread during this week lasts all year for these incredibly resilient kids.
Over the last few years, our Leadership Program has put Manitou’s oldest campers into the driver’s seat of engaging projects that impact our local community. We want our boys to become involved, passionate community members who possess a skill-set to be a leader both in and out of camp. The Leadership Program puts High Seniors and CITs in executive planning and facilitating roles to give back and add value within our camp community and in the world at large.
This summer High Seniors, campers who just completed 9th grade, gave back by organizing the Tou5K. Over 100 campers and counselors participated raising over $3,000 for Experience Camps. The High Seniors registered runners during their rest periods, prepared the course during a lazy morning, ran the PA system, took photos, and cheered as they inspired our whole camp community to give back!
All High Seniors and CITs also covered junior cabins each Monday during our staff meetings. The younger campers love having the older guys play bedtime games and share camp stories.
The greatest Give Back of the summer; however, was a 4 week CIT project: The League.
Manitou’s greatest program is College League. The pure passion is seen in every element; from the Break to Pres. During the March pre-CIT trip to camp (when campers walk across the lake to the island), the campers asked if it would be possible to share College League with local kids for their Leadership service project.
We partnered with our local town’s rec department in the early summer and began planning The League. The goal was to recreate the passion of College League with local kids, and it was a HUGE success. Every Tuesday and Thursday for 4 weeks all 32 CITs went to a local elementary school and replicated College League.
Things started with a Break. The CITs huddled up and danced to loud music while calling kids into the huddle with a roar of cheer. The kids were hooked.
We had 6 loops: basketball, soccer, handball, kickball, and dodgeball. The program’s director said his day campers rarely showed interest in team sports, but they couldn’t wait for Manitou to show up for another loop!
Each visit concluded with Manitou CIT’s recognizing kids on their team for teamwork, passion, and determination. Seeing the look on the kids’ faces as they were recognized in front of their peers and the older “cool guys” was priceless. The Rec kids will remember the high fives, hugs, and cheers for a long time. We believe they will carry this memory into school and sports and feel more confident and engaged.
Our CITs equally felt proud of their contribution. They could directly see their impact. They loved getting the opportunity to share something they value so much with others. College League comes so naturally to them; they loved sharing their joy.
We always hope to continue touching more lives with Manitou Magic. This fall we will have our 3rd annual Manitou Service Weekend. We hope you find a way to join a project to give back with us. We also will host campers at an ACA Youth Leadership Conference in the spring. And in 2017, in addition to running The League, CITs will travel to Ecuador to give back to the environment as well.
People give back in hundreds of ways at Manitou. We believe investing our time and energy into others – whether it’s 13-year-old boys who idolize their Deans, or 17-year-old Junior Counselors helping a camper find a lost baseball glove, or an entire community sponsoring campers at an Experience Camp, or spending a few hours a morning spreading passion to local kids – is worth it. It adds value and helps others. It teaches empathy and inspires collaboration. It makes leaders.