Manitou Experience provides boys who have experienced a significant death-loss with a program that helps build confidence, encourage laughter and navigate their grief through friendship, teamwork, athletics, and the common bond of loss.
It is a safe environment where kids can explore their grief, break the isolation they may feel with their non-camp peers, and have a whole lot of fun. They have the opportunity to meet and connect with kids who are coping with similar challenges, while getting all of the benefits of the traditional summer camp experience. Through team sports, individual challenges and community living they learn about leadership, confidence and cooperation. Under the guidance of professional bereavement staff, campers have the opportunity to share stories and remember the one who died, while exploring skills that will help them after camp.
The program is designed to maximize each camper’s time with his bunkmates to give him time to bond and build the trust that leads to open communication. Boys often build those bonds through sports and activities, which are a main component of the day. Campers can play their favorite games, such as basketball, soccer and baseball, as well as explore new activities, like rock climbing, waterskiing, and archery. A full day of fun and rewarding activity takes place in the beautiful outdoors, surrounded by accepting friends, supportive counselors and fresh air.
A typical camp day begins with reveille at 7:30, followed by breakfast in the dining hall. After breakfast, the campers attend three instructional periods of their choice in a row. One of the periods each day will be an activity focused on different techniques in the bereavement toolkit, built to help the boys identify, express and understand their feelings. After lunch there is a rest period, when our social workers quickly check in with each bunk, and then a campwide activity, such as relay races or a hike up a nearby mountain. The camp comes together again during free swim, dinner, and an evening activity before retiring to their bunks.
Manitou Experience is a non-profit camp originating on the grounds of Camp Manitou, a residential summer camp for boys, located in the Belgrade Lakes region of Maine. Camp Manitou was established in 1947 and continues to provide unique experiences and lifelong memories for boys. Manitou has an active and involved alumni network that credits the summer camp opportunity for providing them with the tools that enabled their personal growth and achievements.
In 2012, Manitou Experience expanded to a west coast location in Southern California at Camp Round Meadow. Camp Round Meadow is a residential YMCA camp nestled in the San Bernardino National Forest. The program will closely mirror the activities and structure of a day at Manitou thanks to the continued involvement of Manitou alumni and friends coast to coast.
Manitou Camps Foundation was established in November of 2007 to provide children with special circumstances the opportunity to benefit from the summer camp experience. Manitou Camps Foundation was founded by the owners and directors of Camp Manitou, Jon & Sara Deren and David Schiff. It has since developed into a team of Manitou alumni and friends that want to share their opportunities with children who need them the most. The first program funded by the Manitou Camps Foundation was Manitou Experience. The camp is staffed with a mostly volunteer all-star cast of Camp Manitou counselors, alumni and friends. The staff are trained and lead by counselors and social workers specializing in bereavement.
Jeff’s Place originated as a year-round extension of Manitou Experience, and continues to serve the MetroWest community and beyond in delivering services and opportunities to bereaved children and their families. Many campers now continue the peer support model that they experienced at camp throughout the school year, and boys in grades 5 through 9 who attend Jeff’s Place are introduced to the fun and rewards of Manitou Experience’s one-week camp.
For more information on Jeff’s Place, please visit www.jeffsplacemetrowest.org.
Circle Camps For Grieving Children are week-long overnight camp programs for girls between the ages of eight and sixteen who have experienced the death of a parent. Their mission is to offer campers the adventures and fun of living and playing together, while offering them a supportive place in which to share their grief.
For more information, visit www.circlecamps.org.
Manitou Experience is lead and advised by a dedicated team of professionals in camping, education, social work, finance, and beyond. The key ingredient that is woven through our management team and board of directors is the passion each one has for summer camp and the life-altering experience it can provide.
Board of Directors
Company: SeamlessWeb (formerly)
Residence: Westfield, NJ
Company: Athletes’ Performance
Residence: Scottsdale, AZ
Company: Turn 2 Foundation (most recently)
Residence: New York, NY
Company: UCG & Atlanta Hawks and Thrashers
Residence: Potomac, MD
Company: Camp Manitou and Tenafly Middle School
Residence: New York, NY
Company: Camp Manitou
Residence: Westport, CT