The Wetfoot Blog

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Happy Birthday to Us (Our 90th Celebration)

This year we turn 90 as an organization. It is something worth celebrating – and we will. During the weekend of August 15th – 17th, various activities will take place around Manito-wish to honor this special occasion. To share more about this, we asked Ellie Orbison to jot down some words.

“Break Out the Oars, Course Set for Manito-wish ...”
Camp Manito-wish YMCA celebrates its 90th year of existence in 2008 … and you are a part of our amazing history.

Greetings!!! I’m Ellie Orbison and I’m the Director of Development and Alumni Relations (or DoDAR - the best job title acronym I’ve ever had in my entire career). I was invited to talk a bit about our 90 years and the celebration that will take place in August at Camp. There are so many wonderful stories to be shared with you, I found myself overwhelmed in trying to narrow it down … so I’ll just give you a quick history lesson (that won’t even scratch the surface) and say we’ll be hearing more historical facts every day during the summer during announcements. We want everyone to know as much as possible about the legacy we share.

Camp Manito-wish programming began in 1919. One hundred boys attended that first summer and paid $7 for their four-week session. By 1941, enrollment was dropping off due to the economy and the camp leaders decided to try an experiment and allow girls to come. They all assumed the girls would try it for a year and that would be it! Little did they know what this experiment would mean to the future of Camp Manito-wish.

As things started to change within the State YMCA, the Camp Manito-wish committee decided to take the step that would make Manito-wish an independent YMCA, separate from the State YMCA, with its own board of directors and the freedom to make its own decision about its future. In April 1970, Camp Manito-wish became an independent YMCA and has been ever since. We are governed by a board of forty-four, which includes four representatives from the seasonal staff - Dana Roberts, Kate Lindahl, Sarah Judkins and Anna Ficken.

Wilderness tripping has always been the core of our program experience (just as character and leadership development has been the underlying purpose of our programs). Though the Outpost program, as we know it today, didn’t exist when camp first started, we have been doing the Pioneer and Canuck canoe trips since the 1950s and 1930s, respectively.

In our 90 years of history, we have only had six Executive Directors (formerly known as Camp Director) – Walter “Daddy” Wones, Elmer Ott, Bob Telleen, John Stanley, Rolf Thompson, and Anne Derber. This consistency in leadership has been critical to our success.

In August, we will celebrate our 90th anniversary as a camp with a weekend celebration at Manito-wish. Starting on Friday, August 15th, alumni and friends can come together for golf in the afternoon and/or for the evening social gathering off property. Saturday, August 16th will be the day for everyone to come home to Manito-wish. A picnic lunch will kick off the celebration followed by tours and activities at Camp. The culmination of the weekend will be a banquet in Nash Lodge where we will not only reflect on our amazing history, but will also officially celebrate the completion of the Capital and Endowment Campaign which helped us undertake many projects, including the Nash Lodge renovations and expansion. The weekend will end with Sunday’s chapel service. We are hoping to have over three hundred alums in attendance at the banquet!

Whether 2008 will be your first or thirty-fifth year, you are a part of the rich history that is Camp Manito-wish YMCA. I look forward to celebrating throughout the summer with you both the history and the amazing people that are Camp Manito-wish YMCA.

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