It might be our location , nestled among hundreds of acres of northern Wisconsin forest, plentiful lakes and miles of rivers and streams. Or our staff , dedicated to enriching the character and leadership skills of every participant. Or our focus on promoting youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. We believe it’s all of these, working together, that makes Camp Manito-wish YMCA so special for so many. Read on to learn more about our people, our place and our purpose.

“Manito-wish continues to mold and shape kids with experiences that most of today’s kids are unable to experience.”

Here at Manito-wish, character and leadership development is at the core of our organization. In fact, it’s been that way since 1919! Our program areas provide excellent opportunities for youth to challenge themselves, become more confident, make lifelong friends, learn new skills — and have a lot of fun in the process!

This site has been designed to serve as an information hub, providing you with most everything there is to know about our philosophy, our programs, our staff, and the many great benefits we offer to those who join us for a program experience. So feel free to take this virtual tour of Camp Manito-wish. That said, we’d enjoy taking you on an actual tour when you’re in our neck of the Northwoods!

If you’d like to visit us, or if you have any questions about any aspect of our programs, please feel free to call (715.385.2312) or email us. We look forward to hearing from you!

Anne Derber

Chief Executive 

Approach

Camp Manito-wish YMCA has been helping youth build character, embrace traditional values and cultivate leadership skills since 1919. And while times have changed, our methods haven’t. We focus on three major areas of emphasis to instill these qualities in our program participants:

Collaborative Leadership

This model of leadership emphasizes checking egos at the door, embracing new experiences and partnerships, creating a shared vision, learning from mistakes and trying again. These qualities, which have grown out of our rich heritage and the experiences of thousands of participants, are at the heart of all our programs today.

Character and Leadership Development

All of our programs are purposefully designed to instill eight character and leadership attributes — humility, empathy, awareness of self and others, resourcefulness, resilience, optimism, adaptability and responsibility — in short, H.E.A.R. the R.O.A.R. And programming is progressive: As participants engage in new experiences, activities, curriculum and challenges, they are constantly growing, maturing, and gaining positive new leadership and character traits.

Wilderness Tripping

From the earliest days of camp, “tripping” has been an integral part of the Manito-wish experience. Small groups of youth and counselors embark on wilderness expeditions beyond the familiar confines of camp. While destinations and duration vary by experience level and program area, these trips all have one characteristic in common: Their ability to instill confidence, leadership and self-esteem.

Manito-Wish Experience

Talk to anyone who has participated in one of our programs, attended an event or volunteered their time here, and they’ll tell you of their “Manito-wish Experience.” So what exactly is it?

When you come to Camp Manito-wish YMCA, you encounter a place, a group of people and a culture with a singular purpose: To build character and cultivate leadership skills. How that happens at Manito-wish is unique and special. The staff and campers are role models of caring, honesty, respect, and responsibility. There is a close connection with nature and the wilderness that surrounds our location. Our rich heritage also plays a role: Traditional values are embraced. Responsibility and respect are encouraged. And while there are laughs to share and fun to have, there’s also work to do and challenges to overcome.

It’s this unique combination of philosophy, approach and tradition that makes Camp Manito-wish YMCA so enriching, inspiring and impactful. You can’t help but be affected by it — physically, emotionally, intellectually or spiritually —regardless of how long you’re here or what program area you experience.

The result is a transformational and often life-changing experience that sees self-confidence grow, character enriched and leadership skills embraced.

We call it the Manito-wish experience, but you’re welcome to call it whatever you like. The important thing is that you experience it for yourself!

H.E.A.R. THE R.O.A.R.

At Camp Manito-wish YMCA, our singular goal is to build character and leadership qualities — and we work to realize that goal in time-tested, intentional ways. Whether youth are involved in a Summer Camp session, exploring the wilderness in Outpost or enrolled in a Leadership program, each experience is designed to encourage and instill eight core attributes:

  • Humility
  • Empathy
  • Awareness of self and others
  • Resourcefulness
  • Resilience
  • Optimism
  • Adaptability
  • Responsibility

Since the very beginning of Manito-wish, these qualities have proven vital to encouraging personal growth and positive transformations. They’re the building blocks of character that provide a solid foundation for leadership. So we encourage participants to embrace them at every opportunity.

Around Manito-wish, these eight attributes are often referred to and remembered by using the first letter in each word, creating “H.E.A.R. the R.O.A.R.” It’s a roar that rings out powerfully and positively — in word and deed — from anyone who’s had a Manito-wish experience.

Testimonials

“Not only did students come back from this trip describing how amazing it was, but they came back acting in a way that reflected what they learned.  I have witnessed them be more consistently engaged in volunteering at school and in the community, be more mindful of their peers, and in many cases, be enthusiastic about returning as mentors for a new class of participants.  This is all the result of the intentional and dynamic way that Camp Manitowish Staff talked with us beforehand about outc…
Michael Greuel, Social Sciences and Theology Teacher