Camp Menominee provides the environment and programs to help campers unlock their fantastic potential. Potential to become community leaders, supportive friends, respectful men, star athletes, critical thinkers, and so much more. No two boys will take the same path or end up at the same place, but all boys at Camp Menominee start with the same core principles: The Menominee Way.
Attitude – Leadership – Heart – Spirit – Determination – Sportsmanship
The Menominee Way consists of six values that define our camping philosophy. This shared set of values provides a common foundation and language for all boys. Camp Menominee’s six core values give every young man a chance to be the best version of himself today and tomorrow. These values guide our staff training and drive our unique programing. They are present in everything we do. If a camper returns home having grown in one or more of these values, then we consider it a successful summer.
Attitude at camp is not just about having a smile on your face. Sure, it helps to approach new adventures with a smile, but what is truly hiding underneath that smile? Attitude at Menominee, is learning to express what we are feeling, trust others around us, and support our friends.
Attitude guides our approach to life and its unavoidable challenges. It helps us learn to share our insecurities, and learn to rely on those around us. A winning attitude starts before camp, when anticipation builds and returning campers share their excitement for the summer. Returning campers know that while many events and traditions return year after year, each summer leads to new experiences and memories.
When campers feel welcome and accepted they’re more comfortable, optimistic, and open. This should fill them with confidence to unlock their world of potential. Maybe that leads to sitting next to someone at breakfast and ultimately making new friends. Perhaps that confidence helps a camper conquer the fear of trying something for the first time. Ask any former camper: they needed a confident attitude for that first trip down the zip line, cruise around the lake on water skis, or to perform in front of the entire camp in Wasserman Hall!
Attitude not only helps campers take risks and conquer fears, it also helps them persevere through the inevitable (and unexpected) setbacks.
When boys face challenges at camp, they’re usually not alone. Simply making the decision to get on the bus and go to camp for the first time can be terrifying! Boys sit in their cabins on night one and are not sure who their new friends will be, or how to even say hello. Small groups of first-time water skiers go out on the same boat. Dozens of young campers try hitting a softball in the same class. Entire cabins go on stage to perform skits or songs. While everyone in these groups might feel nervous, the show must go on. And in each of these situations, someone steps up to go first. We celebrate those who lead by example, because it’s more important to recognize the effort than the result. This can be in a physical activity, or showing emotional vulnerability. It doesn’t matter if he succeeds on the first try (or second). We honor the confidence shown in every attempt.
Setting the right example can happen anywhere at camp. Leaders do not have to speak up in front of a group or captain a team, though our boys have plenty of chances to do both. Leaders make their beds before going to breakfast, leaders fill up water bottles for cabin mates, leaders let friends borrow their equipment, and leaders pick up a candy wrapper at the Canteen. When other campers observe someone doing things the right way, that’s leadership in action.
Leadership also exists one-on-one, without others watching. We look for the small actions that still make a significant impact on individual campers. An older camper might take twenty minutes to chat with a first-year camper about the ups and downs of the first week. An experienced tennis player may see potential in someone a few years younger and offer mentorship through lessons during General (free play time). This kind of simple recognition can go a long way, especially for younger or new campers.
Campers who lead with their heart can receive recognition for that alone. We’re at our strongest as a camp when camaraderie runs deep and campers care about each other like brothers. Everyone deserves respect and empathy, regardless of age, background, or tenure. This leads to strong relationships between campers spanning all age divisions and hometowns, and it’s why some camp friendships last a lifetime.
Building a strong, supportive community takes effort from everyone. While we care that our boys develop skills and achieve personal goals, it’s equally important they understand how we’re all part of the same team and a shared community. Personal success cannot come at the cost of the community, so we recognize campers who display selflessness and a team-oriented mentality. Showing love for others is only one form of heart. In addition, campers display love for themselves, their community, and their purpose.
We cheer for the camper who wakes up each day to become the best version of himself. A dedication to personal improvement requires both passion and patience. Sometimes a camper has a clear vision for his personal growth and sometimes his counselors, instructors, or the admin help him set goals. We support either approach, and the steps that follow: putting in the reps, adapting when necessary, and reflecting on progress.
A camper’s enthusiasm also shows us a strong love for camp, and for life. We welcome that energy, and our staff give that energy back to the campers from the moment they step off the buses. Camp Menominee should immediately feel like a place to be yourself, but for some of us it’s not that easy. It takes time getting comfortable with a new environment, new people, or new activities. We look for campers who not only feel comfortable here, but exude that energy outward. That’s how we define spirit. It’s a willingness to look inside and find the thing that makes you the most self confident. It’s a desire to share your best with your camp family. It’s a want to find what makes you, you. Spirited campers show others it’s cool to be yourself, safer to step out of our comfort zones, and fun to go on a journey of self exploration at camp.
Exploring oneself should be a lifelong process, and camp presents one of many opportunities to do so. If displaying “Heart” at camp means pursuing self growth, then having “Spirit” means celebrating your individuality. Everyone comes to camp with a certain uniqueness to recognize, and it’s important for campers to see that uniqueness in themselves. Owning our independence and treating ourselves with self-respect prevents us from changing based on what others think.
Each summer we select our staff with a similar goal of celebrating diversity. We hire staff from all around the world, with unique talents and personalities, yet we look for common character traits like self-confidence and respect for individuality.
A great performance on the court, stage, field, lake, or rink usually represents the culmination of hard work, practice, and perseverance. The Camp Menominee staff and admin invite each camper to set goals, large and small, and support their work towards achieving them. We dedicate time to teach the fundamental physical skills (during “Big Ten” instructional activities), and activity heads make time for one-on-one training. With encouraging staff and daily access to 65 acres of campgrounds to play in, camp may be the most ideal setting for growing boys to challenge themselves. Plus, no camper goes at it alone. We’re learning, struggling, failing, and succeeding together.
Camp, however, is not just about accomplishing physical goals. Sure, it is fantastic to get up on skis for the first time, or conquer a fear of heights by going down the zip line, but for some campers, it can be debilitating to think about entering a new environment with no close friends and living in a shared space. That’s why we focus so much on character and emotional goals at camp. Determination does not just focus on the activity, but the journey to being your truest and best self at camp.
We recognize those who lead and we recognize those who stick with it. With strong willpower it’s possible to put great effort into every attempt and every relationship. That’s how boys activate and control their own growth, and that’s how they feel confident reaching their own goals. If a boy embodies “Leadership” by demonstrating the confidence to try something new, then displaying “Determination” looks like unwavering courage in the face of struggle.
Competition is an unavoidable part of life. Whether it is traditional competition in sports or games, or the drive to better ourselves and achieve the next goal or pin, the most important thing at Menominee is learning how to focus on the journey and learn from the outcome. Competition produces valuable learning opportunities that are the result of high intensity environments followed by empathetic leadership and teaching in those disruptive moments.
For most of the summer campers play against the same boys they see every day. First and foremost, we are one big family, and part of team Menominee. Contributing to that team—that community—remains most important. Sportsmanship starts with how we respect everyone else around us, even when there’s no competition. It’s essential to keep that perspective when there’s eventually a prize or title on the line, too.
We have a tradition at the end of every sporting event: a cheer from each team. These cheers encourage both sides to recognize each other’s effort. They also help us stay humble because , win or lose, we’re going to cheer for the other team. After the cheers each camper may show his feelings about the outcome. We teach them how to win with grace and lose with dignity. Accept the results with class and model good behavior for anyone watching. Again, these “opponents” are the same friends we start and end each day with, and we should want the best for them. Our instinct should be to recognize great performances like we are cheering on our family.