School Groups & Outdoor Education


Outdoor education enables and encourages students to understand and experience relationships between themselves and the natural environment. At YMCA Camp Manitou-Lin we provide this environment to help refresh and energize students through activities that promote teamwork and communications.

We believe a student’s hands-on experience is the best teacher and our outdoor educational curriculum is designed to be a hands-on way to learn solid, educational topics. Our program provides students an appreciation of the wonders of the environment through activities that promote teamwork and communication. We have over 160 acres of fields, forest and lakefront to provide the perfect setting for students and teachers.

We will help you custom design a program that compliments your school courses, as our programs are aligned with state learning objectives and educational standards. Our classes are led by trained professionals who facilitate the learning experience through group work, guided discovery, participatory discussions, and fun activities. Plan a day or stay for an entire week.

Outdoor Education Classes

Whether you are seeking a venue for a conference or meeting, or planning a field day to reward your team for a job well done, YMCA Camp Manitou-Lin has the facilities, programming and staff to make your conference and retreat dreams a reality. We have worked with high schools, colleges, sports teams, non-profit organizations, small businesses and large corporations. Our facilitators can individualize your experience in order to maximize your desired outcomes.


  • Group Teambuilding Initiatives
  • Low Ropes Course
  • Mid Ropes Course (outdoor only)
  • High Ropes Course (indoor or outdoor)
  • Orienteering/Gold Rush
  • Outdoor Living Skills/Fire Building
  • The Beast
  • Rock Climbing (indoor or outdoor)
  • Zip Line
  • Creative Problem Solving
  • COMING SOON: Letterboxing


  • Pioneering
  • Fur Trade
  • Choices and Challenges
  • Lumbering


  • Horseback Riding
  • Archery
  • Horse Sense
  • Canoeing/Kayaking
  • Snowshoeing
  • Pontoon Ride
  • Broomball
  • Arts and Crafts  (Leather Working)
  • Tie Dye
  • Guided Hikes


  • Forest Ecology
  • Terrific Trees
  • Insect Dissection
  • Willem’s Discovery Place & Trail
  • Tracking 
  • Astronomy (overnight groups only)
  • COMING SOON: The Food Cycle
  • COMING SOON: Bees – Nature’s Superheroes


  • Capture the Flag
  • Predator-Prey
  • Mock Olympics/Relay Olympics
  • Boof
  • Action Auction/Challenge Night
  • Sensory Night Hikes
  • Creative Dramatics
  • Creative Problem Solving
  • Stock Exchange
  • Smugglers and Spies
  • How Well Do You Know Your Counselor?
  • Campfire (indoor or outdoor)

Facility and Lodging

YMCA Camp Manitou-Lin’s 160 acres include rolling hills, fields, woods, waterfront access on beautiful Barlow Lake, hiking trails, various program areas, cabins and meeting spaces. We encourage you to schedule a tour with a staff member to see firsthand what our beautiful and historic property has to offer.

We are proud to feature a variety of indoor and outdoor program areas, many of which can be utilized for multiple purposes. Our camp representatives are happy to discuss which spaces are perfect for the size and scope of your rental group.

  • Gates Chapel
  • Zip Line
  • Multi-level outdoor high ropes course
  • Hiking trails
  • Two outdoor climbing towers
  • Pioneer Cabin
  • Two archery ranges
  • Six fire circles
  • Athletic courts and fields
  • Day Camp Pavilion
  • Wylie Arts and Crafts building
  • Liesveld Pavilion

Cheff Lodge was dedicated in 1998 and remains the centerpiece of camp. Overlooking our beautiful waterfront and the lake beyond, its distinctive wraparound porch is home to our large collection of lazy rocking chairs. The building also features a cozy stone fireplace, an air-conditioned multipurpose room, an indoor high ropes course and climbing wall, our main dining hall (capacity 250), the Camp Store, an adjacent picnic area, and plenty of space for indoor activities.

Dedicated in 2017, Willem’s Discovery Place is the newest addition to YMCA Camp Manitou-Lin. It is comprised of a beautiful new 1,500 square foot nature center and wetland trail with covered teaching stations. Willem’s Discovery Place is named after Willem Radosevich, an avid fourth-generation camper at Manitou-Lin, who passed away in 2012 after a courageous eight-month battle with a rare autoimmune disorder. In honor of his spirit and zest for life, this nature center and trail are dedicated in his memory.

Our year-round lodging accommodates up to 164 persons. These cabins and lodges are available for use at any time of year. Guests have their choice of two Quads (four cabins in one building) and two double cabins (two cabins in one building).
South Quad
North Quad
Walnut (12 beds)
Lupine (12 beds)
Marigold (12 beds)
Dogwood (12 beds)
Spruce (12 beds)
Fir (12 beds)
Birch (12 beds)
Cherry (12 beds)
+ 4 private rooms (16 beds total)

Meals & Dining

Our modern kitchen and food service staff are here to make meal planning easy for you. In addition to your main entrée, each meal is accompanied by fresh fruit and/or a salad bar. Camp is able to provide anything from a casual lunch to a fine dining experience for weddings, corporate retreats, banquets, and more. Meals can be served “family style” at each table, or buffet-style for convenience.

Rental groups are also welcome to bring their own food that does not require preparation. Please note that, due to health code and licensing requirements, we are unable to allow use of our kitchen facilities by rental groups.

Dietary restrictions? Never fear! Individuals with special dietary needs may bring food to be stored and prepared by our kitchen staff. We are also able to accommodate various dietary restrictions within our regular meal offerings, including vegetarian and gluten-free options. Please contact us in advance to discuss any special dietary needs.

All continental or hot breakfasts include fresh fruit, assorted cereals, oatmeal, coffee, tea and juice. Breakfast options may include:

CONTINENTAL BREAKFAST: Assorted muffins, bagels with cream cheese, English muffins, yogurt.

HOT BREAKFAST: Biscuits and sausage gravy, breakfast burritos, scrambled eggs, French toast sticks or slices, pancakes, vegetarian breakfast casserole, hash browns, turkey sausage links or patties, bacon or ham.

All lunches and dinners are served with juice, tea, coffee, milk, and two sides. The salad bar and hot bar are also available. Side dishes are at the discretion of our Food Service Director and are chosen to best compliment your entrée. Lunch and dinner options may include:
Fettuccine Alfredo
Chicken fajitas
Hot dogs / chili dogs
Asian stir-fry with veggie egg rolls
Honey glazed ham
Chicken nuggets
Sub sandwiches
Roast turkey and stuffing
Baked chicken
Corn dogs
Meatball subs
Grilled cheese or grilled ham and cheese
Spaghetti and meatballs
Sloppy Joes
Chicken patty sandwiches

When served with a meal, dessert is chef’s choice. However, please let us know if there is something specific we can make for your group. A few of our favorite dessert options include:

S’mores bars
Rice Krispy Treats
Cake (various flavors)
Cookies (sugar or chocolate chip)

Fresh fruit and coffee or tea are available 24 hours a day in Cheff Lodge—help yourself! Snacks are available upon request, for an additional charge. Please contact us in advance to add snacks to your group’s menu. Snack options may include:


Tortilla Chips and Salsa
Oven-Roasted S’mores
Soft Pretzels with Mustard
Fresh Fruit or Vegetables and Dip
Cheese and Cracker Tray
Assorted Baked Cookies


Room Name
Meals Included
Half Day (4 hours or less)
Day Trip (4 hours or more) No Lunch
Day Trip (4 hours or more) Lunch Included
Team Building and High Ropes
2 Days/1 Night
3 Days/2 Nights
4 Days/3 Nights
5 Days/4 Nights


These choices are available as add-ons to your booking, at an additional cost per participant. 

Add On
Horseback Riding (1 hour)
$14 per rider
Zip Line
$8 per participant
High Ropes
$12 per participant
Additional Meals
$8 per participant

Please Note: As of March 2022, due to the size of our current herd, horseback riding is limited to participants weighting 200lbs or less. High Adventure activities using a harness and helmet are limited to participants who can use the safety equipment as intended by the manufacturer. Guest participation in these activities will be at the discretion of our trained and experienced camp staff. Please contact us at in advance of your visit if you have any questions about these policies. 

What to Know

Contract Stage

  • Contact us to schedule a facility tour, if you’ve never visited us before. We love to show off our camp!
  • Select dates for your Outdoor Education experience.
  • Sign and return your contract with initial deposit.
  • Review Teacher Planning Guide and begin selecting classes for your trip.

Planning Stage

  • Schedule a call with our OE Director to design your schedule and discuss program goals and class options. 
  • Schedule a designated Health Officer to attend with your school to administer medication and First Aid. 
  • Assign students to activity groups and cabin groups. Assign chaperones for each group and cabin. Create name tags for students if desired. Secure your transportation to and from camp. 
  • Distribute Liability Release Waivers to all camp participants, both students and adults. 

Pre-Trip Stage

  • Review schedule, procedures, camp policies, and any other important information with students and chaperones before arriving at camp. Collect completed waivers from all adults and students.
  • Collect all medication and emergency information from students and provide designated Health Officer.

At Camp

  • Turn in all signed waivers to OE Director upon arrival. 
  • Let us know if you need anything during your stay!
  • During your last meal, please complete a program evaluation so we can continue to improve our services. 


Limit your luggage to one duffel or suitcase. Storage space in cabins is limited to the area under your bunk. Pack compactly – guests must carry their belongings to their cabins. Please label ALL items with student’s name. Closed-toe shoes are required for participation in many activities, including horseback riding, high ropes, zip line, and rock climbing. Long pants and long sleeves are required for horseback riding. Michigan weather is unpredictable and many activities are exclusively outdoors, so come prepared! Dress at camp is casual; bring clothes and shoes that are okay to get dirty. 

Some items on this list many not apply to day-only groups. Overnight recommendations are marked (*).

  • Pillow + twin size bedding OR sleeping bag*
  • Towel + toiletries* (shampoo, soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, hair brush/comb, deodorant, washcloth)
  • Pajamas*
  • Daily change of underpants and socks*
  • Comfortable clothes for indoor and outdoor activities
  • For groups riding horses: long sleeves + long pants
  • Comfortable closed-toe shoes that can get dirty (like sneakers) – we recommend bringing 2 pairs of shoes
  • Multiple layers + winter clothing (when applicable)
  • Rain gear (when applicable)
  • Snow boots or rain boots (when applicable)
  • Sunscreen and/or bug spray
  • Day pack or small backpack
  • Money for the Camp Store
  • Reusable water bottle
  • Camera (clearly labeled – camp is not responsible for broken, lost, or stolen personal items)
  • Flashlight or headlamp + spare batteries
  • Aerosol cans
  • Personal sports equipment
  • Pets and animals
  • Knives or firearms
  • Alcohol, drugs, or tobacco products (medications must be turned in to school personnel and administered through designated school health officer during camp)
  • Electronic equipment, games, personal music players
  • Cell phones
  • Tablets and laptop computers
  • Smart watches (i.e., Apple Watch)
  • There are bugs at camp! We try our best to keep them outside. Please don’t bring food into cabins, because that invites critters inside.
  • We have well water at camp, so it may taste different than your water at home. It is safe to drink and is tested for quality on a regular basis. 
  • You’ll be moving and grooving more at camp than you normally do at home, so make sure to drink extra liquids while you’re here. Water is your friend!
  • When it is time to be quiet, our staff need your attention, so we can move on to the next fun thing. We will teach our quiet signal when you first arrive.
  • We act goofy and fun at camp, but that doesn’t mean we enjoy disrespectful behavior. Have fun and enjoy this time to be carefree and happy. Play games with us and sing your heart out when it’s time to!
  • Some activities are designed to push you out of your comfort zone. That’s good! Try to set a goal for each activity and accomplish it, even if it seems like a simple task to you. For example, if you are sure you don’t want to go horseback riding or zip lining, consider petting one of the horses or trying on a harness instead. That will get you a Willee Noxen for being brave!

YMCA Camp Manitou-Lin is not responsible for clothing and personal property brought from home. While our staff will help students locate lost items, it is considered the responsibility of the student to keep their belongings together. The Lost and Found box is located on the Lodge porch; please check this box before departure. Unclaimed lost and found property will be donated to local charities on a regular basis. 

YMCA Camp Manitou-Lin is proud to be a tech-free zone. We encourage all visitors to leave electronics and cell phones at home. This will help you connect with nature, but also with each other. Cell phones, smart watches, and other electronic equipment can easily be lost or damaged during your time at camp. Cell service is spotty at Camp, so we have an emergency phone number that can be provided to parents/guardians if they need to reach school personnel during your trip. 

  • Plan to be with your group at all times. If you must leave the group, ensure that another chaperone is supervising the group.
  • Never send students anywhere on their own. We recommend the “truddy” system (sending a group of three) for students’ safety.
  • During classes and activities, try to actively participate with your campers, unless staff have requested that you only observe (i.e., during Teambuilding)
  • Set a good example for your group by modeling good behavior. Follow all rules, be positive and enthusiastic, and dress appropriately for the weather.
  • Please help to enforce camp rules and encourage positive behavior from students. Take charge of any situation where a student is not following the directions or guidelines of our staff members.
  • Ensure that students are dressed appropriately for the day’s activities and for the weather conditions.
  • Do not consume alcohol, illegal drugs, or tobacco products on camp property, including parking lots and wooded areas.
  • Coffee and tea are available all day for adults, but are off limits to students.
  • Remember to keep the group together in the cabin at night.
  • Do not allow horseplay in the cabins (i.e., jumping from bunk to bunk, pillow fights, water fights, etc.)
  • Contact camp staff in the event of a maintenance or facilities emergency.
  • Please spread out so that there is at least one chaperone at each table during mealtimes.
  • Encourage polite table manners and passing of food. Make sure all students get a first helping when the food arrives at your table.
  • Hopper tags are required for students to leave the table during a meal (except for bathroom visits).
  • During cleanup, all table members should help scrape and stack dishes to make the hoppers’ duties easier. Students should not be wandering around other tables to chat with their friends during cleanup time.
  • Do not allow students to leave the lodge until the group has been formally dismissed. Announcements are often made at the end of meals and it’s important that all students are present to hear those updates.

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