Summer Camp in Southern Illinois

Camp Manitowa, owned and operated by Andy Brown and Dan Grabel, is a beautiful independent coed overnight summer camp and outdoor retreat center. During the summer we serve campers in entering 2nd-9th grade from all over the Midwest and the South. During the fall and spring we host retreats for schools, college student groups, religious groups, scout groups, women’s groups, families, weddings, and anyone else wanting to get away for a fun and meaningful camp experience. Camp Manitowa utilizes three different lakes and offers a wide variety of programs and activities for all our participants.

Starting and owning a summer camp in southern Illinois has been a lifelong professional dream of Andy and Dan’s. Both grew up going to summer camp and have a combined 50 years of experience running camps and working with children and youth.  After a two year nation-wide search of camp properties, Camp Manitowa was born in 2010 when they found and purchased the perfect property in Southern Illinois at Rend Lake, 90 minutes from St. Louis, MO. An operational camp from 1947-2005, the Lake Benton Baptist Camp served kids from all around the area. Andy and Dan invested over $1 million renovating the entire camp and Camp Manitowa opened its gates August 1, 2010.

B. Andrew “Andy” Brown, MSW is a life-long St. Louisan with a long commitment to camping. A 1988 graduate of Fontbonne College in St. Louis, Andy received his MSW from the George Warren Brown School of Social Work at Washington, University in 1992. After a brief stint at Youth Emergency Service, a University City based shelter for troubled teens, Andy began his career in Jewish Communal Service. He was the assistant director at the St. Louis JCC’s summer camp, Camp Sabra and later the director of Cap Sydney R. Baer, the JCC’s large day camp. From 1996-2007 Andy worked as the executive director of Camp Livingston, the independent not-for-profit Jewish camp serving kids from throughout the Midwest. Andy is married to the former Stephanie Zetcher and current teacher at United Hebrew Congregation, and is the father of four children, Dylan, a student at the University of Texas, Jake, a student at Amherst College, Gabby, a high-schooler at Clayton HS, and Lily a middle-schooler.

Dan Grabel, MSW, MEd. was born and raised in St. Louis, MO and moved to Knoxville, TN in 2013. Dan has made a career working with children and young adults in a variety of different settings. With over 25 years of experience working in residential and day camp settings including Goldman Union Camp Institute in Indianapolis, IN, Camp Sabra in the MO Ozarks, YMCA Camp Greenville in Greenville, NC, Camp Charles Pearlstein in Prescott, AZ, and Camp Livingston in Bennington, IN. Dan also has 10 years of experience working in Illinois and Missouri public schools as a school social worker. Dan obtained his BA at Indiana University, MSW at Washington University in St. Louis, and MEd at the University of Missouri St. Louis. Dan’s wife, Dr. Lisa Reyes Mason is on faculty at the University of TN college of social work, and his daughter Cora loves school at the Knoxville Jewish Day School.


At Camp Manitowa campers get to choose four of the five daily activity sessions held each day. If they find something great, they can choose to do it each day. We believe in giving campers the space to be creative and have control over their experience. Our core activities include water skiing, tubing, canoeing & kayaking, swimming, our 50 foot climbing tower, 8 element high ropes course and 400 foot zip line, GA GA dodge ball, basketball, soccer, and variety of sports, arts & crafts, biking, outdoor living skills, music, campfires and, of course, s’mores. We shuttle campers daily to the Rend Lake recreation complex and take advantage of the entire facility. It’s 20,000 acre lake, large sand beach, bike trails, driving range, frisbee golf course, and Army Corps of Engineers’ visitor center offers us an amazing addition to our program.


The Camp Manitowa formula includes “Adventure by Choice”. Summer camp is a place to explore and move outside one’s comfort zone. This means something different for every person. Through a variety of activities, programs, and outdoor adventure trips, we hope to help everyone find and fulfill his/her sense of adventure.


Summer camp is a special place and provides the opportunity to interact with lots of people. By limiting the total number of campers each session to around 100, Camp Manitowa kids become part of a family of campers.  We create programs and systems to ensure that everyone in camp knows each other and that each creates positive relationships.


Camp Manitowa has gates, but our commitment to you does not. We will continue to work with your family through a variety of off-season programs. We believe that commitment also means excellent customer service. We are here for you. When you need something you go straight to the top and WE get back to you.


We model positive environmental behavior and will always keep teaching responsible, earth-conscious living.