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RUNOIA’S FIRST FAMILY: FOUR GENERATIONS STRONG
In June of 1907, Jessie Pond met nine girls — the first Runoia campers — at the North Belgrade train station. She transported them in a hay wagon to a farmhouse on Great Pond that she and Miss Wesier had rented in North Belgrade. Miss Pond, Miss Weiser, a cook, and these intrepid girls all lived together in that one farmhouse for the duration of Runoia’s first summer.
One of the campers was 12-year old Constance Dowd of New York City, whose name we all know from the plaque at the flagpole. She has been dubbed Runoia’s “first” camper. Why was she the first to enroll in this grand adventure? We have no firm facts, but it appears that her mother, Eleanor Bliss, was a good friend of Miss Pond, who had been the maid-of-honor at her wedding to Charles North Dowd in 1891. Miss Pond was also a graduate of Temple Grove Seminary – in Saratoga Springs, NY – which Constance’s grandfather, the Reverend Charles Ferdinand Dowd founded and ran. The few facts that we have suggest that the connections between Miss Pond, the Dowd family, and Runoia ran deep.
1922: Miss Dowd returned to camp as the camp secretary after graduating from Bryn Mawr. Miss Weiser recalled that “she was seldom to be found at her desk.” In 1923, she was invited to return as head counselor. In 1927, she became a co-director, and from 1932 on, she was the director of all Runoia’s activities, with the full support of Miss Weiser and Miss Pond. In 1933, she married Albert Grant, who also worked tirelessly in support of Runoia.
1938: Mrs. Grant’s niece, Nancy Dowd, arrived at camp for her first summer in 1938. She had lost both her parents at an early age, and Connie and Al Grant brought her to Cincinnati, Ohio, to help her start over. This may be how she came to be a Runoia girl. Nancy became “Dowdie” over her four summers as a camper.
During these years, many of Dowdie’s cousins from Saratoga, NY (also nieces of Constance Dowd) attended Runoia, including Ruth, Rhoda, Jane, Sarah, Nancy, Mary Jane, and “Queenie” the family dog.
1948: Constance Grant died just six months after the death of Jessie Pond. Marian Johnson, known as “Johnny,” and known to Mrs. Grant through the Hillsdale School in Cincinnati, took over as a camp director during the summer of 1949. Nancy Dowd spent that same summer as a counselor at Runoia, and maintained a lifelong connection with Johnny, returning to camp for Johnny’s 50-year celebration in 1977.
(Nancy Dowd (“Dowdie”) to the right of Miss Weiser in 1949 camp photo (t0p), to the left in photo at left from the 1949 log,and is second from right in the 1977 log photo, taken at Johnny’s 50-year celebration. Joan “Baynie” Williams is far right.
1969: Nancy Dowd’s daughter, Constance Dowd Burton (at right in the photo) spends the first of two summers as a junior camper at Runoia. She returned for two years as a counselor in the 1970s.
2010: A fourth generation of Dowds at Runoia begins! Connie’s daughter, Anna Bastides, joined the Runoia staff as a trip counselor for her first of four summers in 2010 (2010-11, 2014-15). Younger sister Maggie joined the staff for a summer in 2014.
Runoia has many multi-generational families. Follow the links below to read more about them. We’ll be adding them regularly between now and the 115th celebration in August.
If you’d like to see your Runoia Family Tree on this page, contact Boop Tabell Jordan at email@example.com.