Summer Camp & Retreat Centers in Southern Illinois
Camp Manitowa hosts coed overnight summer camps and year-round retreats at its two locations in southern Illinois, just a couple of hours' drive from St. Louis.
During the summer, Camp Manitowa serves campers entering 2nd-9th grade from all over the Midwest. During the fall and spring, Camp Manitowa hosts retreats for schools, college student groups, religious groups, scout groups, music festivals, men's and 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.
Co-founded by Andy Brown and Dan Grabel in 2010, running a summer camp has been a lifelong professional dream of Andy and Dan's. Both grew up attending summer camp and have a combined 50 years of experience running camps and working with children and youth. After a two-year nationwide search of camp properties, Camp Manitowa Rend Lake was born when they found and purchased the perfect property in Southern Illinois at Rend Lake, 90 minutes from St. Louis, MO. Previously owned by the Lake Benton Baptist Camp, who had operated the camp from 1947-2005, Andy and Dan invested over $1 million in renovating the entire camp, and Camp Manitowa opened its gates on August 1, 2010.
The mission of Camp Manitowa is to provide each camper with lifelong memories and help them increase and develop their confidence, independence, and maturity. It is our mission to gain the trust of each and every camper and parent so that they return to camp and grow into kind and responsible young adults.
We also intend to provide excellent customer service and transformational experiences for all those who participate in our retreats and to exceed expectations for an outstanding time in Southern Illinois.
We hope to bring campers back to Camp Manitowa for generations through their participation in our multitude of outdoor activities, the creation of lasting friendships, and personal growth. Our summer camp program provides campers with a forum to experience new challenges, enhance self-confidence, develop skills, and establish enduring friendships in the safe, beautiful surroundings of our midwest location.
Each camper at Camp Manitowa brings something special to the camp atmosphere. Our unique gathering of kids and caring, mature, and professional staff create a diverse and supportive community that we plan to witness for generations.
Andy Brown, MSW
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, currently a teacher at United Hebrew Congregation, and is the father of four children: Dylan, an elementary school teacher in Austin, TX, and current assistant director at Camp Manitowa, Jake, a recent graduate of Amherst College, Gabby, a recent graduate of the University of Colorado, Boulder, and Lily, a current freshman at CU Boulder. Email Andy at email@example.com.
Dan Grabel, MSW, MEd
Dan Grabel was born and raised in St. Louis, MO, moved to Knoxville, TN in 2013, and most recently to Denver, CO, in 2020. 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 ten 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 Denver's Graduate School of Social Work, and his daughter Cora is an 8th grader at Hamilton Middle School. Email Dan at firstname.lastname@example.org.