Director, 1990 – 1999

John Stanley brought 16 years of YMCA experience to his new position at Camp Manito-wish YMCA. While he was the first director who had not had a Manito-wish experience, he proved a good listener, a strong supporter of camp values and a tireless visionary and advocate for what was to become the Leadership Program.

Leadership training had always been a mainstay of Manito-wish philosophy, principles and practice. Stanley’s grand vision would build on this foundation, but reach out beyond the confines of Summer Camp and Outpost, establishing a year-round program designed to reach students and their teachers and attract them to Manito-wish for dedicated leadership training.

Stanley’s proposal was ambitious and required expansive new facilities. Thanks to generous donations, the new Leadership Center and Smith Leadership Village were dedicated in August, 1998. A curriculum based on collaborative leadership — qualities possessed by alumni — was the guiding vision.

Stanley promoted the new endeavor, traveling throughout the Great Lakes region to tell the story to principals and headmasters. Today, the program stands as a testimony to Stanley’s vision, and offers an effective way to provide a Manito-wish experience to participants.

“The basic tenants of the Leadership Program were simply observations of how Manito-wish trip leaders have led canoe trips for seven decades.”


Every day he and his trip mates worked through challenges together. Every day they got closer….It was one of the best, and most formative, experiences he’s ever had.
O. G.