By: Sarah Braker
Pam Cobb has been the director and owner of Camp Runoia for 34 summers. Situated on a sandy-bottomed lake in Maine, Runoia is an all-girls camp that teaches girls resilience and independence. Cobb and her team have always modeled these traits, but in 2020 they showed the Runoia spirit of determination and grit in ways they never imagined. They plan to do the same for summer camp in 2021 with COVID-19 precautions.
While many camps made the heartbreaking and difficult decision to suspend camp in 2020, Cobb and her team successfully ran camp for 80 girls. Like other camp directors who did the same, Cobb leaned heavily on her leadership team, doctors and other experts, and followed state mandates. She was also part of a group of 16 other Maine camps that were able to solicit advice and best practices from each other.
Cobb and her team faced innumerable and often overwhelming challenges, and she acknowledges that there is still so much uncertainty leading into the summer of 2021. As she herself plans for any number of scenarios for summer camp in 2021 with COVID-19 precautions, she hopes that her peers can learn from what worked for her at Camp Runoia in 2020.
For Cobb and her team, there was no question that camp was going to be very different in 2020. Instead of approaching summer with the goal of keeping as many things the same as possible, they leaned into these differences. They made some difficult decisions, but they ultimately helped her succeed. Specifically, they:
- Adjusted the typical way that campers were organized
- Changed how activities were run
- Limited off-campus activities and on-site visitors, and
- Created plans for various levels of Coronavirus outbreaks among staff and campers
A New Name
One of the more innovative decisions suggested by Cobb’s co-director, Alex Jackson, was to give camp a different name in 2020. Jackson recognized that Runoia was going to be completely unique, and wanted to differentiate and acknowledge the forthcoming experiences of campers. Jackson chose the name ‘Camp Runoia Harmonyville.’
Find additional information about some of our Maine camp group in today’s WSJ article.