A Warm Welcome to Schuler: the Leadership Camp Experience

Every summer, a new class of Schuler Scholars heads to Camp Manito-wish YMCA in the Northwoods of Wisconsin. For rising high school freshmen, the camp experience is a unique introduction to the culture and rigor of the Schuler Scholar Program. Scholars spend 10 days working on leadership development, team-building and personal discovery. They explore their individual leadership styles, strengths, and challenges, and the class collaborates to overcome challenges and learn new skills. After five days of in-camp activities, small groups head out on trail for three nights and four days of canoeing, camping, and applying the skills they have learned. To see pictures from Camp 2013, visit our "Break out the oars..." album on Facebook.

Reflection by Cheyenne Craig
Maine East High School, Class of 2017

“Break out the oars, course set for Manito-wish!”

The goofy lyrics that will never be forgotten, the counselors who were constant sources of amusement and guidance, the hymns we hold so dearly to; this was the Schuler Camp Manito-wish YMCA experience.

I remember clearly how tense the bus ride was on that cold, rainy morning. Everyone was half-asleep, but so nervous to get to our destination six long hours away. Many cuddled with their best friend or found themselves sitting with peers they had known about, but never talked to. We all had different ideas and expectations for camp.

Never in a million years could we have expected what we received. With wide-open and warm arms we were accepted as if we had been there every summer for as long as we could remember. We took our first steps into the Manito-wish Leadership Center. The feeling was something most of us had never experienced. We were never sat down as equals so fast in our lives. Twenty new scholars felt whole-hearted curiosity about what was to come at Manito-wish.

There were awkward moments, sure—bunking with a bunch of girls you don't know was a large leap for some and changing in the middle of nowhere was even worse—but this lovely camp fixed that quickly with many trust exercises. I don’t think any of us have been blindfolded so many times in our life! For so long, we had all been considered the “Smart Kids” with absolutely no cares. Camp chopped that idea in half and we began to see each other for who we really were—beyond just “smart”. With every new challenge came a new level of acceptance and self-discovery. Big friendships and friendly rivalries were formed, forcing an interesting mix of humor and personal connections.

Trail was the most nerve-wracking experience for everyone. Three days without communication to the outside world, two outfits to change into and out of, eight hours of nonstop canoeing, and four to seven practical strangers to tent with…to the normal, suburban kid, that was scary. Constant encouragement, silly jokes and games, and the fact that this was the experience of a lifetime pushed everyone forward to the end of the trip and the goal of coming home. Finding home.

Every person left a part of themselves in Manito-wish, whether large or small. We prevailed through thick and thin, found each other’s kindness and support were the only things we needed, and saw through the unease of the unknown to our future together.

Our experience at Manito-wish was amazing. I’m sure no one will ever forget it for a long, long time.

“...Swing it out smooth, we’re in the groove, for home…”


Popular Posts