While Camp Manitou will retain its board of directors, the Winnipeg Jets True North Foundation is leasing the 83-year-old camp as of Jan. 2 to enhance its programming for at-risk youth.
"The mandate of Camp Manitou aligns with our mandate to serve youth," foundation executive director Dwayne Green said.
Nestled along the treed bank of the Assiniboine River just inside the RM of Headingley, the camp’s tranquil setting includes a pool, area for games, large dining hall, activity and residence areas.
He called the camp "a diamond in the rough."
The camp’s board president, Garry Hirsch, said the long-term lease and operating agreement will benefit the camp tremendously, as the foundation has the financial resources needed to make improvements to the buildings and offer more programs.
Originally founded by six service clubs, the camp operates as a non-profit organization. Between 2,500 and 4,000 youth attend the camp each year, with the majority coming in the summer months.
Green and Hirsch said that will likely change as they foresee the foundation offering programs on a year-round basis.
"We’re in the early stages of planning," Green said, adding that the approximately 530 boys and girls involved in the Winnipeg Jets Hockey Academy will certainly use the camp, and he expects the number of participants to grow.
He also said the foundation will likely work with Winnipeg school divisions to run student programs in the cooler months. The camp’s location just past the city’s boundaries makes it a handy destination for city students.
The non-profit organizations and agencies that have used Camp Manitou for youth activities in previous years will still have access to the facility, Hirsch said.
"It’s a triple win," he said, referring to the benefits for the camp’s board in terms of stable funding, the foundation’s ability to expand its programming, and the greater number of youth who will be able to enjoy the outdoors and the programs being offered.