Bittersweet Blooms in August at Camp Runoia by MJ Parry

Just as it has for the past 111 years, we have bid our campers farewell for the last time, closing the 2017 chapter of Camp Runoia.

The other night, I was visiting shacks to say goodnight to the girls and I happened to catch some of the younger shacks “Circle Up” conversation. Each girl’s task was to share “a Rose, a Thorn and a Bud”. The rose being something great about the day, the thorn being something not so great, and the bud is something they are looking forward to in the next day or so. The “rose” stories, focused in the moments and accomplishments of the day that were told with enthusiasm, pride, and humor. Then the girls turned to the “thorn and bud” and these stories were almost universally about the feelings of looking forward to seeing their families in a few short days and being really sad about camp ending – such mixed and strong emotions that seemed to be tempered by sentences starting with, “Next summer…”. While girls may not put a name to it, these bittersweet emotions are all tied to the transition of leaving a special home called camp, that they have shared with their camp family for a few short weeks 24 hours a day, to going to their other home and family. Perhaps learning how to manage conflicting emotions, in this case, joy and sadness – is one of the lifeskills girls practice here at Runoia.

The last few days of camp have an extra edge of energy. There is the high excitement of the Blue and White games, cheers and songs; the busyness of finishing up projects and goals; collecting addresses and phone numbers, and finding all of their belongings. The volume of camp is turned way up! The air is alive with the sounds of girls talking, squealing, and laughing, as they jam as much conversation as possible into these last days together. Then there are the tender moments… friends sitting together quietly, working on bracelets, braiding each other’s hair, singing favorite camp songs, sharing important thoughts, and just being in that wonderful place of feeling such a deep level of comfort and contentment with each other. And of course there are tears as girls, know their time together is almost done.

It is indeed a bittersweet time for all of us when summer ends. The days have passed so quickly and everyday, Runoia magic has happened for girls… stepping out of their comfort zones to try something new, helping each other learn, making mistakes followed by growth, living in and contributing to a community, becoming a leader, serving others, having fun, being at ease in nature, building friendships that will last a lifetime, and through it all, girls discovering their best self. These memories and so many more will live on in hearts and minds and in our camp log.

Camp is quiet now and resting until next June when Runoia will welcome campers to again share all of this magic of camp




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