Manito-wish has a long history of promoting character and leadership development. Our dedication to the cause can be traced back to 1919.
That spring found Walter "Daddy" H. Wones, H.E. Andrews and Judge E. B. Beldon searching for the perfect place to establish a summer camp for the State of Wisconsin YMCA. An early champion of leadership development, Wones believed that the plentiful lakes, forests and rivers of Wisconsin’s Northwoods would provide youth with the opportunity to encounter a variety of hands-on leadership challenges and experiences.
Wones was correct. Through the decades, Manito-wish program participants would go into the wilderness, and go on to become leaders in business, education, industry, service organizations and government. In turn, their continuous support and insights through the decades helped the program grow, define the qualities of a “Manito-wish leader,” and refine our curriculum and methods.
In 1998, the accumulated knowledge and insights from the Manito-wish Summer Camp and Outpost (wilderness travel) programs formed the basis for the next great evolutionary step: The formal Manito-wish Leadership Development Program. Created by Manito-wish alumni and nationally-renowned leadership specialists, its focus was collaborative leadership — a model that identified the many positive qualities shared by leaders who had experienced Manito-wish.
Over time, the program evolved further, incorporating additional characteristics now identified as 21st century leadership skills, adopting a more flexible structure and delivery, and expanding its program resources.
Today, the Manito-wish Leadership Development Program is recognized as one of the foremost programs of its kind in the United States, providing a comprehensive array of leadership training to high schools, colleges and universities, and youth-serving agencies.