In the center of camp is a special place. Its hub endures the hustle and bustle of Camp Runoia’s daily flow. We greet it with the pattering of feet as we fall out from flag raising and it shudders at the end of the day as milk gets spilled upon its floors and crackers crumble into happy mouths. We sing and fill the rafters with graces, bobos and birthday songs.
Where else besides cabins do we spend two and a half hours almost every day with an assorted group of random people? Where else could you find thousands of red and white flowered and plain squares? Like a silent movie, benches and chairs get moved in and out, up on top of tables and down again. It is only furniture but it’s furniture that fills its innards with substance and fortitude.
Probably the person who spent the most time within its screened walls was Johnny. For 54 summers Marion “Johnny” Johnson sat regally reigning from the corner of the Runoia Dining Hall by the flagpole at Table 5. To date, some of her special sayings are shared in that very same corner. Betty’s Table became, and still is, an icon of good manners, quietly closing doors, trying new foods and cleaning plates. Counselors who return to camp for a couple years adopt their own table and create their own legacies with the campers who share meals around them.
Betty and Diane raised their newborn children under her eaves. Alex, K and other camp parents over the summers have done the same. Campers have laughed, cried, screamed, and shrieked with delight amidst the pine paneling. The hum of the water cooler adorned with the magically changing poster provides a watering hole for many. Each corner has its own echo, each it’s own feeling. Late night sardines has been played in all the nooks and crannies. Dances and casino halls, specialty restaurants and rainy day games have transformed her façade at times. Snacks, studying for JMG, package surprises, the mail bag, counselors’ coffee and board games have all been part of its personality. On its walls, some over 100 years old, banners and posters, signs and memorabilia hang to be seen by all. It is the epicenter of our daily sustenance, the Mother Ship of our excursions, the source of many good times and tastes.
The 2006 Log is dedicated to the Dining Hall, to all its bumps and leaks and all its glory.