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Summer Camp in Southern Illinois

Near St. Louis MO

Here at Camp Manitowa, Summer Camp in Southern Illinois, we get many excellent and commonly asked questions about our summer camp and other camp programs like our retreat center, so we have compiled the most frequently asked questions along with the answers below. This is to help you get the answer you are looking for in the quickest possible way. Of course, If you do not see the answer to your question below or simply need more elaboration on the answer(s) provided please do not hesitate to contact us at (314) 375-6766.

Don’t forget we are very centrally located and offer a Summer Camp near St. Louis MO.

Where is Camp Manitowa located?

Camp Manitowa-Rend Lake is a smaller camp with 40 acres nestled in between Lake Hamilton and Rend Lake in Southern Illinois about 90 minutes from St. Louis, MO.  The address is:  12770 North Benton Rd, Benton, IL 62812Camp Manitowa-Cedar Point is an impressive and beautiful 257 acre property located directly in the Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge in Makanda, IL 20 minutes in-between both Marion and Carbondale, IL.

How long are the camp sessions?

Camp Manitowa Summer Camp runs for 8 weeks with four separate 2-week sessions that each host 1 and 2 week options. Camp Nadav is a 2-week program in late July

Is each 1-week session the same?

Never! While each 1-week camp session is all-inclusive, we offer different special events and activities each session so campers will experience new things throughout the summer.

Where do campers arrive from?

Camp Manitowa campers come from a variety of midwestern states including: Missouri, Illinois, Ohio, Tennessee, Kentucky, Kansas, Iowa, Nebraska, Texas and Indiana. We’ll also get campers from other cities and states that have connections with the Manitowa family.

What are the counselors like?

All Camp Manitowa staff are awesome! Each Counselor and Village Director is hand-picked after going through an extensive interview process. Dan and Andy’s years of camp experience provides them a network of enthusiastic, experienced counselors who wish to work for Camp Manitowa.  Camp Manitowa counselors are warm and friendly with an outgoing personality and a genuine love of working with children.  There will be a healthy representation of international staff at camp, which we feel adds to the overall camper experience.  We recognize how key staff is to the success of our summer program.  Your child will come to think of his/her trained and certified camp counselor as family.  And maybe one day, your camper will want to train to become a counselor too!

How are bunks assigned?

The bunk beds are assigned by age and gender.

What are the cabins like?

Cabins? We sleep in yurts at Camp Manitowa, and they are amazing!  Each yurt is 700 square feet and has electricity, a ceiling fan, and a retractable skylight.

What do campers do at night?

We will participate in an evening activity every night. Evening activities may include events such as campfires, plays, scavenger hunts, talent shows, wacky special events, overnights and much more.

How do you handle allergies at camp?

We are a nut-free camp.  In addition, our medical staff screens all camper medical forms and informs the kitchen and bunk counselors of any information they need to know to provide the camper a safe summer. Accommodations are made for campers with special dietary needs.

Can I send a care package?

Parents are welcome to send their children care packages, however we ask you to follow certain guidelines. If you decide to send a package, please keep it reasonable and please do not send any food. We want to avoid “care package competitions” amongst campers, and because of food allergies we need to be aware of the ingredients of all food in camp. You may wish to pre-write letters to your son/daughter that we will deliver to your child during rest time after lunch on the date specified.

What do you do about laundry?

Laundry is done once every 2 weeks by a crack team of counselors in training. We do have washers and dryers on site for immediate laundry needs.

How can I communicate with my child?

Send email letters to campmanitowa@gmail and include your campers name in the subject line. You can send letters to camp old school style  by snail mail, and you can pre-write letters, date them and leave them with us to hand-deliver to your child on the specified date,   (We print out and give emails to campers during mail call.) Campers will have opportunities to write home daily.

Do you update your website for camp photos of the kids?

We email parents photos each day. We also share some through our Facebook page. This is a great way for parents to be able to check up on what’s happening at camp and see the children in action.

What if it rains?

It will rain at some point during the summer. Depending on the severity and length of the rain, we have a number of indoor activities, both large group and small group that can be done during rainy days.

What if my child gets homesick?

Homesickness is a common occurrence at sleep-away camp. The best cure for homesickness is to be active, so we make sure to keep campers busy through the day! And when the “missing home” feelings occur, our staff are there to help. Getting over homesickness is an important part of the camp experience and helps campers build their self-esteem and develop a sense of independence.

Here are some tips for parents to help curb their child’s possible homesickness:

  • It’s normal for children to ask prior to the first day of camp, “What if I want to come home?” Most parents provide an answer that virtually guarantees intense homesickness. “If you feel homesick, I’ll come and get you.” Please do not make a “pick-up deal.” Promising this will undermine the children’s confidence and dramatically intensifies homesickness. As a parent, you will always have ability to pick up your child at any time. The pickup deal often gives children something to be preoccupied with. We suggest talking positively about their anxiety and how they will have a great time at camp.
  • Have your child talk to another child who has been to camp. Children who have been to camp can tell each other better than any adult.  And coming to camp with a sibling or friend can always help.  Camp Manitowa offers sibling discounts.
  • Pack some pre-stamped, pre-addressed envelopes, along with paper and pens. This will allow for children to easily write home when they need to communicate to you. This will also ensure you receive a letter!  We encourage kids to use the down time after lunch to communicate with loved ones back home.  You may also wish to pre-write a letter for each day your child is at camp, asking them little things, like “Did you make a new friend today?  Did you swim in the pool or try a new skill?”  These questions prompt your kids to write about the fun things they did, and will reinforce their feelings of successful independence.
  • If you have time before camp, have your child spend practice time away from home. Time away from home will build confidence and teach a child how to cope with being away. A weekend at their grandparents’ or an overnight at a friend’s house work well.
  • The cornerstone of homesickness prevention is parents’ attitudes. We suggest expressing confidence, optimism, and a positive attitude about camp to your children. Your children look up to you and will role model the tone you set.

How do campers get there?

Due to COVID-19 protocols for summer camp 2021, campers are brought to camp by their parents or guardians and dropped off at a specially designated location,  Campers arriving by airplane will have transportation provided from the airport to camp.

Can we take a tour?

Absolutely! We’re out at camp all the time and we’re happy to set up a time to give you and your family a tour. Just contact Andy or Dan and we’ll get things set up. We’re at camp most weekends in the fall and spring and it would be a great time to bring your potential campers and let them check out all there is awaiting them this summer.

What if my child needs medical care?

Our Health Center is staffed by a licensed registered nurse. One of our RNs dispenses all medications to campers as prescribed by your family doctor, and treats campers at any time if they are ill or sustain an injury. Parents are always called when a child stays overnight in the Health Center, needs to see a specialist, or needs to be started on prescription medication. In the unlikely event of a more serious illness or injury, Camp Manitowa is 5 minutes from the local hospital.

What do you do for camper birthdays?

Nothing like having an entire dining hall full of people sing and cheer for you on your birthday! We’ll also bring your group something special like cake.

What is your policy on cell phones?

Campers are not permitted to use cell phones at camp. Campers should gain a sense of independence and learn to rely on themselves while at camp. In case of emergency, the camp will always get in touch with parents, and parents can always get in touch with their child by calling the camp office if the need arises.

Is there a religious outlook at camp?

Camp Manitowa is not a religiously affiliated camping program. However, we believe that camp is naturally a spiritual place. By welcoming campers from all backgrounds, religions, faiths and perspectives, we feel that we elevate our appreciation and awareness for the beliefs of ourselves, and our friends.

Why should we choose your Camp Manitowa?

Dan and Andy are passionate about offering Camp Manitowa campers the same lifelong experiences they both shared as campers, camp counselors, assistant directors, camp directors, and now camp owners/directors.  To quote former Walt Disney Co CEO, Mike Eisner, when he shared his memories of summer camp with participants of the 2001 Tri-State Camping Conference — “…the remarkable appeal of summer camp is that it makes memories. At camp, the days come alive with their own identities. Each day makes its own mark. Everything is more vivid because everything is so different from the normal urban routine. The entire pace of life changes and we form wonderful recollections that don’t just stay with us until we get home or until the next year … they stay with us our entire lives.”  This is our goal, to help our campers cherish their Camp Manitowa memories for life.  So much so, that they send their kids to Camp Manitowa someday.

What is Camp Manitowa’s position on bringing electronic gadgets to camp?

We believe iTouches, Nintendos DS’s, cell phones, other portable electronic devices are better left at home. Not only are these items easily lost, damaged or even stolen, they are counterproductive to the camp experience.

Camp Manitowa is a place for teaching kids about new activities like water skiing, ropes coursework, and horseback riding; and it’s a place for facilitating new friendships.  When kids are playing with their cell phones or electronics, their opportunities to learn and experience new things with their group are limited.

A major component to the sleep away camp experience is learning to live independently. Kids can’t do that with their parents calling them all the time. So we feel that parents should resist the temptation to send their kids to camp with cell phones. If you need to reach your child in an emergency or for any other reason, just call or email the camp office. They’ll be able to contact your child right away. Camp Manitowa will post pictures of the campers on a secure site on the Internet and give parents the opportunity to send letters and/or emails to their kids as an alternative to calling.

How do I get more information?

Andy Brown: or 314-591-7771
Dan Grabel: or 314-348-6412