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Business of the Month: July 2021

Camp Manito-wish YMCA

Congratulations to

Camp Manito-wish YMCA

July Business of the Month

5650 Camp Manitowish Ln,

Boulder Junction, WI 54512

Phone: (715) 385-2312

[email protected]

Summer camp is one the most memorable times of our life. It was also one of the most rewarding. 

Vilas County is home to Camp Manito-wish YMCA, a renowned camp that enriches lives here and across the country. Their Vision says it all, and very simply - The Manito-wish experience develops confident, responsible, and enlightened leaders who will improve the world in which they live. The data supports their Mission and Vision statements.     

Since 1919, Camp Manito-wish has served more than 150,000 youth with more than 1,000 youth ages 10-17 participating in their Summer Programs each year. Adults can participate as well through Family Camp and volunteer opportunities. 

Camp Manito-wish employs more than 300 young adults to lead wilderness adventures and teach leadership skills to young people who then take their expertise to the larger world. They employ 17 people on a year-round basis.

In addition to summer camp which includes sailing, archery, crafts, horsemanship, music, biking, and tennis, unique to Camp Manito-wish is their Outpost Wilderness Program. These small-group adventures for ages 15 and older focus on both the hard and soft skills necessary for extended wilderness travel. Campers learn about their own abilities and leadership qualities through the challenge of a nine-to-45-day canoeing, backpacking or sea kayaking trip. Trip destinations include: Isle Royale National Park, and in Canada - Quetico Provincial Park, Northern Saskatchewan, Nunavut, and Alaska.

According to Camp Manito-wish CEO Pat Soldan, coming out of the pandemic has presented challenges, and in support of their Mission, opportunities to address the impact the pandemic has had on youth.   

“What are the needs of the youth in our nation coming out of this pandemic?” said Soldan. “They have been sitting at home looking at screens, isolated, with mental health concerns on the rise. What can we do as a camp, what role can we play in helping schools, families and kids rebound from what has been a really challenging 18 months?” 

Soldan attributes the Camp’s success to three things. “Our success starts and ends with our Mission, Vision and Commitment. We are a mission driven organization. Second, we have had such a long-standing consistent, stable leadership. And, third, the relationships with our alumni, staff, and local community.”  

He added, “We have a tremendous alumni network, and they are doing what our Vision calls them to do. A lot of times our Manito-wish alumns are in their own community, at their schools, and they talk about how their students, friends and neighbors could really benefit from camp, that the lessons they learned at camp are unique, and that Camp Manito-wish has that special sauce.”   

That special sauce is not only the fun activities. “It’s what the kids come away with, what’s happening underneath all of that,” said Soldan. “Consistently, we hear from parents how their kids back at home are asking ‘what I can do to help?’, doing tasks that maybe they weren’t doing before like cleaning up after themselves, doing dishes, or taking the lead on a school project. It’s based on the lessons they’ve learned from their camp experiences. They’re taking those leadership and life skills back home. But most importantly, it becomes part of who they are.”

Soldan added, for the kids and staff … “it’s all those intangibles, that when they really start reflecting, many acknowledge, that where they are at today has a big part to do with their experiences at camp.”

If you would like to nominate a Vilas County Business of the Month, please contact Kathy Schmitz, VCEDC Executive Director, at [email protected]

Do you know of a wonderful Vilas County business?

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Want to learn why Vilas County is one of the best places to live, work, and play?

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