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Camp Manitou-Lin, operated by the YMCA, was founded in 1913 as a summer camp on the shores of Old Lake Barlow. The camp is at least 160 acres (0.65 km2), and is situated on the shores of Lake Barlow. There are two main parts of camp - Day Camp and Main Camp - that are separated by Briggs Road. YMCA Camp Manitou-Lin is located in Middleville, Michigan, United States, approximately 30 miles south of Grand Rapids.
The camp has multiple camping programs for different age groups and special interests that can be divided into two main sections: Overnight Camp (includes programs such as Teen Camp, Skate Camp, Horse Camp, Water Sports Camp, Gluten Free Camp, etc.) and Day Camp (includes Teen Camp and Kindercamp).
During the fall, winter, and spring, Camp Manitou-Lin is also active with outdoor education, family camps, break camps, and special retreats.
The Horse Camp program is directed out of Camp Manitou-Lin's riding center, SPIRIT Farms Riding Center. There are at least 48 horses, and 7 farm animals. All horse camps ride twice a day, once after breakfast, and once before dinner. A camper is assigned to a riding group with 6-8 people, and then to a horse in a riding arena, where the whole group rides (e.g. Sally Sue is in group A and rides on Bear with her group in the Blue Arena).
After one camp week (5 days), all of the riding groups put on separate horse shows on the day that they are picked up from camp, which includes a cook-out. The horse camps also have off-riding lessons, known as barn lessons, where they learn colors, markings, grooming, sickness and diseases, horse parts, etc. There are three arenas: The Red (largest), the Blue (second largest), and the Green Arena (smallest). The Red Arena is for more experienced riders, the Blue Arena is for riders with some experience, and the Green Arena is for non-experienced riders.
At the Horse Camp, there are at least 48 horses. The largest horse, Rex, is a Belgian Draft Horse. There was one pair of Clydesdales: Penny and Polly. King and Queen are Belgian Draft Horses The two newest horse, are ponies named Princess and Johnny Cash. Once a week. the horses and their riders get to go on trail. The camp has only one Tennessee Walking Horse, Toronado, or Tori. Most of the horses are Arabians and Thoroughbreds. Most of the horses are Bays, a type of color, which means they are brown all over, with their mane and tail always black, including their legs which can have markings.
At the Main Camp, there are 18 cabins (all named after American Indian tribes), the Cheff Lodge (including offices, the camp store, the dining room, kitchen, and multipurpose "Blue Room"), and one infirmary. The main camp's attractions include indoor and outdoor rock climbing walls, a low ropes/teambuilding course ("Monkey Village"), a high ropes course, the A-field (a grassy athletic field used for camp games), an archery range, a rock-throwing range, the Pioneer Cabin, one of four platform tents on camp (the other three are located across the road near Day Camp), a bathhouse, two designated campfire areas with bench seating, the Liesveld Pavilion, an extensive Nature Trail, an arts and crafts building, and a nature center (which houses birds, snakes, lizards, turtles, frogs, ferrets, rats, and rabbits, among other animals). The North Beach features a swimming area for overnight campers with floating F-dock and water slide, a boathouse, (kayaking, canoeing, sailing, and inflatable water climbing toys. The South Beach features a swimming area for day campers.
All cabins are carpeted and include indoor bathroom/shower facilities. There are six standalone cabins, each with their own bathroom; one double cabin (connected by an annex) with a bathroom on each side; two cabins connected on either side of the Director's office; and two quad cabins: North Quad and South Quad. North Quad is handicap accessible, can accommodate 48 individuals, and includes one bathroom. South Quad has room for 32 individuals on each side of the building (64 people total), and includes one bathroom on both sides of the building. South Quad also features a walk-out basement with two classrooms/meeting rooms, a kitchen, and two restrooms.
Also found on Main Camp is the Gates Chapel, a covered outdoor chapel that can seat over 200 guests.
The Day Camp area is located on the opposite side of Briggs Rd. and is home to the Day Camp and Horse Camp programs. This section of camp includes a large amount of land that is unused/undeveloped for camp purposes. Three of the four platform tents used for "camp-outs" are located on this side of the road.
Day Camp is centered around a large enclosed pavilion. This building includes restrooms, offices, and storage space, but half of the pavilion is open for activities. The Day Camp area also includes a large fenced play area, a small chapel, the Children's Garden (where campers learn about various plants and insects), a soccer field, and a three-sided outdoor rock-climbing tower with zip line.
Core values and motto
At the camp, there are five core values to follow - Respect, Honesty, Caring, Inclusion, and Responsibility. Any camper who shows all of these five values plus more will be awarded by the staff at the Farewell campfire with a Spirit Stick commemorating their successes. Their motto is God first, the other guy second, and I'm third.
Campers at Manitou-Lin are treated to a traditional summer overnight camp experience: twice-weekly campfires (complete with traditional camp songs), daily chapel meetings (each day's skit and/or songs focuses on one of the YMCA's Core Values), family-style dining at meal times, and a little bit of healthy competition for each week's Battle for the Paddle (an award given at the end of each week to the most enthusiastic, spirited, actively involved cabin).
- Camp Manitou-Lin YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids