When Camp Manito-wish YMCA was founded in 1919, formalized mission and vision statements were still decades away. But the core beliefs and philosophy that we embrace today were here from the very start. Our camp founder, W.H. “Daddy” Wones, was a man of strong conviction who believed that camp life should promote physical strength, spiritual growth and a strong commitment to service. Today, our vision and mission reflects that wonderful heritage. We’re proud to continue traveling the trail that Wones blazed, honoring the past while igniting our hopes and dreams for the future.

Our Mission

To enrich the character and leadership development of each person who has a Manito-wish experience, by challenging them to grow in wisdom, in stature, in favor with God, and in favor with one another.

Our Vision

The Manito-wish experience develops confident, responsible and enlightened leaders who will improve the world in which they live.

Our Commitment

Camp Manito-wish YMCA  strives to create an inclusive environment by upholding human dignity, valuing diversity, and acknowledging unique experiences.

Camp Manito-wish is proud of its wide variety of participants and staff members from many different backgrounds.  Our community includes people of many ethnicities/races, faiths, genders, gender identities, sexual orientation, socio-economic back grounds, and life experiences.  We believe we are stronger when we are inclusive and when everyone has the opportunity to learn, grow and thrive.

Our 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.


She loved challenging herself and proving to herself she could do things she did not think she could do.
J. C.