Experience Camps truly are the best week of the year. As a camper who goes to ManEx (Manitou Experience in Maine), I can say that it is truly the best week of the year. The bonds formed at Manitou (and all ExCamps) bind us into a community, a brotherhood if you will. We stand together, eat together, laugh together, cry together, compete together, and have fun together. Every person in ManEx, CalEx, and KenEx shares a special bond- a loss of someone near to us. Everyone understands the immense pain we all have gone through. Of course College League is amazing (Go Roadrunners!), Mr. ManEx is astounding (From the 2013 Mr. ManEx), Steve Hirsch Night is wonderful, and I am beginning to run out of adjectives to describe Instructionals, Meals, Campfires, Hikes, Games, Bunk Time, and so much more. However, I really do believe that the best part of camp is the fact that this is probably one of the only places in the world where everyone “gets” that feeling deep down inside every camper. That is where I think the Manitou Magic lies.
You should know that you are making miracles happen. Unlocking the gates to allow these wounded boys to heal. Giving them back laughter and reinstating them in the game of life with new confidence and faith and strength. You show them how to play and take risks and that the sky will not fall. They can trust again.
You all have had a remarkable impact on Eric and all the other young men that pass your way. He looks forward to this all year. The experience he has is sacred. What you do for those who are grieving, hurting and trying to put their lives back together is truly beautiful, and you make a difference, a real difference! I thank you from the bottom of my heart..
William holds his head a little higher, he walks a little taller, and he has a confident swagger [since camp]. He has relocated his chi. He feels more like one of the guys. He doesn’t feel emotionally mutilated. He is steadier on his feet and in his skin. My boy is coming out the other side of grief.
Camp Manitou was a beautiful experience of healing, hope and spiritual growth. The pain of grief is delicate, raw and intense.... the beauty and skill with which that grief is met at Camp Manitou is exquisite. The bonds that were forged during the week were deep and so meaningful. Stephen learned so much about love, life, death, joy, support, friendship, opening, milkshakes, and sharing from each person he encountered. From the bottom of my heart I send my thanks to…all those who made it possible.
It’s a tremendous experience for James. I’m so grateful to you all. I’m learning how isolated he is in terms of expressing his grief. There’s not much space for it in our day to day. Camp is a great release. How reassuring to be embraced in a community that really gets him.