Runoia Reads: a reading list for MLK day

Runoia reads – for fun, to grow, to learn, to challenge perspectives, and to place ourselves in the shoes of others.

Reading is a major component of the Runoia lifestyle – with unstructured free-time, an amazing library, and group reading time in cabins before bed, we are sure to make it a priority every day that we can! It serves as a time to unwind from the tiring and busy camp day, and to escape to alternate worlds.

In the past year, our Diversity Advisory Committee has worked to diversify our library with books that fall under the following categories: Black representation, Black history, gender fluidity, South Asian representation, Asian-American representation, Latinx representation, Indigenous representation, Jewish representation, LGBTQ+ representation, and protagonists with disabilities. From DAC member Claire Williamson’s book list to our 2022 selections that Pam and I stocked our library with this past summer, we are happy to offer more and more voices and represent more of our campers with each passing year.

In honor of MLK day next week, and in celebration and commemoration of Dr. King’s life and work and upcoming Black History Month, we encourage our campers, family, staff, and friends to incorporate more books with Black voices, history, and experiences into their reading lists.

This week we are sharing recommendations from our reading list, with many books you can find in the Runoia library! If you find one that catches your eye, consider ordering from a Black-owned bookstore local to you. Runoia reads, and we hope you join us!

Black Representation
A is for All the Things You Are: A Joyful ABC Book by Anna Forgerson Hindley
All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold
Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman
A Visit to Grandad: An African ABC by Sade Fedipe
Big Hair, Don’t Care by Crystal Swain-Bates
Black is Brown is Tan By Arnold Adoff
Change Sings by Amanda Gorman (Youth Poet Laureate)

I am Enough by Grace Byers
The Colors of Us by Karen Katz
The Water Princess by Susan Verde
Waiting in the Wings by Debbie Allen

Black History
Henry’s Freedom Box by Ellen Levine
How I Met Lewis Howard Lattimer by Ramon Robinson and Brandon Freeny
Little Leaders, Bold Women in Black History by Vashti Harrison
Malcolm Little by Ilyasah Shabazz
Through My Eyes by Ruby Bridges

Graphic Novels
March by John Lewis
New Kid by Jerry Craft

Resilience at Camp

Last month, Dr. Tracy Brenner, “The Camp Counselor”, began a series at the Maine Camp Experience to help guide MCE parents through emotionally preparing for camp, starting with the topic of resilience in the face of homesickness and the absence of parental help.

In the vast majority of introductory conversations with parents of new campers, the inevitable topic of homesickness and preparedness for the camp experience comes up: “How do you help campers through homesickness?”, “What happens if she doesn’t adjust immediately?”

Before diving into explaining our in-depth staff training, our strategies for helping individual campers adjust, and how our social, emotional, and behavioral health specialist provides higher-level support, I always begin by first saying that homesickness is perhaps the most ‘normal’ and expected part of camp. Even the ‘campiest’ of kids experience pangs of homesickness and sadness that can make their way into a letter home, and those letters can be devastating for a parent to read.

But here’s a secret: usually by the time that letter has made it to a loved one’s mailbox, the feelings are three-days old, and those three days were full of smiles, laughter, new skills learned, and countless moments of bravery. Experiencing big feelings can be overwhelming at the best of times, and writing can be an exceptional release of those emotions to the people a camper trusts the most. Sometimes it takes time for campers to feel comfortable expressing those feelings to a friend or adult at camp instead, and be able to save the most exciting news for those letters home.

In the meantime, through all the tough moments, what we do know is that camp builds resilience (in my experience, for kids and adults alike!) Imagine a single day at camp and all of the moments a child will experience – some exciting, some disappointing. Each moment is an opportunity for growth in their resilience. From picking their sail back up after dropping it while windsurfing, to committing to fixing a mistake or rolling with it in an art project, to sitting with the disappointment of not getting their dream role in the play and choosing to be happy for their friend. For kids, these are hard things – but hard things that at camp, they are capable of.

And building that resilience can be exhausting and trying – so don’t be surprised if at week three, you find yourself picking up a quiet, tired kid. In a week or so, they might be ready to open upabout all of their amazing experiences – but be patient, they’ve been building resilience at camp for twenty-one days! And one day, that resilience may just develop to carry them up Mt. Katahdin, challenge them to go to JMG test camp, convince them to try the Oak Island swim, or accomplish something like American Archer, Advanced Equestrian, or Advanced Skipper.

Runoia Wrapped: Reflections of 2022

At the end of every year, TikTok buzzes with a variety of creative trends to reflect on the prior year. This year was no exception – the app has been infiltrated with countless videos of reflections on 2022. Of course, we had to hop on the trend to show some of our favorite moments in videos and pictures from the summer of 2022!

It feels a bit odd to be reflecting on the 2022 season in December, as we have really been in 2023 mode since August – filling camper spaces, hiring 2023 staff, and coming up with ideas for the best summer yet. Yet in the camp world, we live “10 for 2” and so much of our best moments of each year are packed into just those two months. And for so many of our campers, you can shorten that to a very concentrated 3-week period.

So our reflection of 2022 is really on 8 weeks of 52 – a mere 15% of the calendar year. The remaining 85% is full of work for some, school for others, time with ‘non-camp friends’ (but if we’re truly lucky, with camp friends too) and family. But for me, and many others, the 8 weeks represents far beyond 15% of my best memories and favorite moments of each year.

So, in case you missed it, you can watch our “Runoia Wrapped” reflections of 2022 TikTok – we can’t wait to see you all in 2023!




Sharing some of the magic of 2022 – make it Runoia Wrapped! See you in 2023 ❤️ • • • #2022wrapped #camp #summer2022 #summer #2023 #goodbye2022 #camplife #summercamp #sailing #horsebackriding #lakelife #newenglandsummer #waterski

♬ original sound – GrandPeachEdits

Rounding a Corner – Winter Solstice

Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year, is finally here, and while that may not feel like something to celebrate, it signifies rounding a corner. We are summiting a peak that allows us to see the end of 2022, and in the distance far below, the longest, sunniest days ahead. Belgrade Lakes will see daylight nearly double in time between now and peak camp season in mid-July. Sunrises will fall from past 7:00 am to before 5:00, and sunsets will grow their patience from 4:00 pm to wait until nearly 9:00 instead. Our own patience is instead probably growing thin – for me, I know that the year changing its last number each January 1st creates a certain eagerness for the camp season to follow.

While we wait steadily in the shortest days, my gratitude for the longest ones grows – and I think of all that we do with our extra hours of sunshine at camp. The Runoia community is an opportunistic one – we know that flat water brings the best skiing, a bit of wind the best sailing, and even the worst of weather brings broom-ball and quality time with our shack-mates. So it follows that Runoia campers and staff are experts at making the most of what they are given and showing gratitude all the while. Here are a few ways that we make the most of our longest days and greatest amount of sunshine in the summer:

An early sunrise means…

  • Staff waking up before their campers to ‘fill their cups’ – with walks with friends, runs, morning paddles
  • Waking up at 7:30 is easier when you’re greeted by the sun
  • We’re ready for our day nice and early, and we can fit in that much more activity time and time with each other
  • Dry grass to eat our Sunday donuts on
  • The chance to swim to Oak Island and back before the wind picks up
  • Light for morning barn chores and time with the horses

A late sunset means…

  • Light for the best EPs (counselor hunt would be a bit more difficult in the dark)
  • Post-dinner cartwheels on the grass
  • Just a few more minutes laying on the grass with your shack-mates before bed
  • The occasional post-dinner beach party on the hottest days
  • Staff enjoying a few more hours of sunshine on their nights off

In this season of gratitude, I am grateful for the Winter Solstice – the shortest day of the year – knowing that memories and hopes of the longest ones at camp will last me until the next time around. We are so appreciative toward our earth and the sunlight that allows our camp days to be just as they are, without missing a thing – and some days we still go to bed wishing there was just a little bit more time together.

On Gratitude and Giving

This season unsurprisingly has us reflecting a lot on gratitude and giving, and I’m particularly amazed by all of the gratitude-worthy camp happenings in the last month. In today’s blog, I want to keep it simple and share some thankful-worthy highlights from Runoia.

CRAO Campership Funds

Perhaps one of my very favorite parts of the year, and certainly of my role at camp, is the honor of sending acceptance letters for CRAO Campership funds to recipient campers’ families. This year, the CRAO has supported 17 campers with tuition and additional riders with lesson funding from the CRAO Pam Cobb Heuberger Campership Riding Fund. The generosity of our CRAO and alumnae directly impact campers and our community by opening our gates to more campers each year.

The CRAO’s generosity and support is annual, and if you are able, we invite you to make a donation to the CRAO to support the camp experience for future campers for years to come. The gratitude expressed in our families’ acceptances of their awards is unparalleled and attributable to gift-makers like you.

Giving Tuesday and Supporting our Community

Yesterday, November 29th, was Giving Tuesday and Runoia stepped out once again to donate directly back to the Maine community. A donation of 200 pairs of new underwear was made on behalf of our campers and community to Maine Needs – a grassroots organization located in Portland, Maine, which focuses its efforts on providing clothing, hygiene products, and other necessities to those ‘starting life over from scratch.’

Did you miss Giving Tuesday this year? It’s never the wrong time to do the right thing – we invite you to donate in your home community, explore Giving Tuesday’s suggestions, or make a charitable donation to the CRAO.

Our Staff 

There is never a time during which we are not grateful for our staff – their form of giving is in time, effort, and love for our community. We are especially grateful to have already hired 60+ staff before December for the 2023 season. We are taking advantage of an early hiring season by already connecting and getting to know one-another from a distance – in some cases, entire oceans away!

But what has me feeling an extra glimmer of gratitude for our staff are the responses I’ve received to our staff social media feature survey. In case you missed it, you can catch a new featured staff member every couple of weeks from now all the way to camp on our Instagram and Facebook pages. I can’t selfishly keep these wholesome responses to myself, so here are some highlights from this survey to leave you with a warmed heart:

“[I’m returning to Runoia because of] Amazing connections at my home away from home.”

“I love working with staff to help them be their best, shape the next possible staff members (CITs), and still get so many opportunities to just have fun with the campers!”

“Great pond and everyone at Runoia have a special place in my heart.”

“I love being able to introduce kids who have little to no experience with horses to an amazing sport and community. I also love seeing the more advanced kids skills grow alongside their confidence as the summer progresses.”

“I love teaching sailing because every summer I get to work with an amazing bunch of campers and staff who love to have fun and are just as passionate about sailing as I am!”

“It is not as scary as it seems, I was super overwhelmed last year and everything felt so new but just trust that it’s going to be epic.”
“I love riding, especially at camp, and I want to help other people learn to love it as much as I do!”
“It looks like such an amazing camp and the staff that I have talked to so far have been so kind and lovely to talk to.”
“I love being a part of this community and I’m already counting down the days until the summer!”
My hopes are that you have just as much to be grateful for as we do here at Runoia – the happiest and coziest of holiday seasons, full of gratitude and giving, from us to you!

On Choosing a Camp: what is the right fit?

As we round the corner into what feels like the back half of fall, many families are, possibly for the first time, searching for and choosing a brand new camp for their kid(s). Choosing a camp requires placing a lot of trust into camp professionals to care for your child and to provide a dream experience – but that trust doesn’t need to be blind. At Runoia, it is our goal to help campers find their best fit camp. We are always thrilled when that happens to be Runoia, but each camp is entirely unique from the next. It’s important to know what’s important to you (and your child,) ask the right questions, and pursue that experience. After countless parent phone calls and Zooms, here are the top things we suggest parents and guardians think about when choosing a camp, and some helpful questions to ask a camp director when looking:

Narrow-focused or well-rounded?

The label ‘camp’ can mean anything from a soccer day camp to a sleep-away camp with dozens of activities. Are you hoping that your child focuses on building one particular skill – sailing, riding, a team sport, etc. – or do you hope that they will broaden their horizons, try new things, and gain skills in multiple activities in one summer?

Runoia falls into the latter category – with 30+ activity choices and exceptional programs in multiple areas like our complete waterfront, on-campus riding program, trips, and more! Here are some questions you can ask a camp director:

  • How many activities do you offer at camp?
  • What would you say are your biggest programs?
  • How do you offer skill progression in different activities?

Structured or elective?

This is an important question to ask, especially after deciding on the prior! Once you know how many and what kind of activities a camp offers, it’s important to also know how much of a camper’s schedule is in their own control. If you are leaning towards a camp that specializes in just a handful of activities, you may also be looking for a structured camp that sets campers’ schedules for them. Runoia’s culture is one of choice and individual expression – our campers choose their own schedules in 2-day and 3-day blocks at camp. Our campers choose their schedules at camp for each block at a time, so they can pursue a new-found passion, change their minds, or be a completely different person from one block to the next! Here are some great questions to ask a camp director to get a sense of their structure:

  • Do campers have full, partial, or no control over their schedule and activity choices?
  • Do campers do activities with their cabin group or are classes mixed?
  • Do campers choose their schedules before arriving or at camp?
  • Do you offer any special-focus programs for campers to enroll in?

Small community or big population?

There are certainly benefits to each different camp population size, from a trip program with just a handful of staff and campers, to communities with hundreds of staff members and thousands of campers in one summer! When choosing a camp, ask yourself and your child whether they would prefer a tight-knit community – one where everyone knows one another and friendships span all ages – or a large community with the opportunity to meet hundreds of others? Runoia is a community like the former; our director team knows our campers’ names and each are involved in all aspects of the community on a day-to-day basis. Here are some questions to ask a director about their community:

  • What is your community size in each session?
  • How many campers and staff are in each cabin?
  • What is your overall staff to camper ratio?
  • Are your senior-level staff and directors involved in the daily community?


As a camp entering its 117th consecutive season, we’re no stranger to tradition – when your camp has been standing since 1907, you pick up a few along the way! We try to strike our best balance between tradition and progression – honoring our foundations while moving forward. Here are some great questions to ask on tradition:


  • What traditions are important to your camp?
  • Does your camp partake in any intra or inter-camp competitions?
  • Do you have something like ‘color wars’?
  • Do you ever reevaluate traditions with a DEI lens?


An immersed experience, or connection to the ‘real world?’

We believe that camp poses a unique opportunity to ‘unplug’ to connect to nature, others, and ourselves. Therefore, Runoia offers a truly classic, immersed camp experience for its campers and staff. Technology is a no-go at Runoia, and we keep it old-school with letter-writing. Runoia also communicates with parents throughout the week through multiple modalities. We find that our system of communication really helps our campers make the most of their time at camp,

connect to others, and fight off feelings of homesickness. Each camp is different, however, and it’s important to know what level of communication you expect from your ideal camp. Ask these questions:

  • Are phone calls allowed at camp?
  • Can you describe how mail works at your camp?
  • Do you have a system of regular communication for updates from the leadership team?

Session length

Again, each camp is so different from the next, and the topic of session length is no exception! Camps range from offering just 1-week sessions throughout the summer, to only offering a summer-long experience. Runoia offers two 3-week sessions and limited opportunities for a full summer. We also offer a 2-week ‘try it’ program for our youngest campers called Harmony Land Camp. When thinking about session length, try asking these questions:

  • Do you offer a shorter ‘starter camp’ program to try? What ages are eligible if so?
  • What are your session dates and how long is each session?
  • Do most campers choose to go for one session or the full summer?


Location, location, location

We might be a touch biased to say that Maine really is the summer camp capitol of the world, and Maine does it well! Offering plenty of water, beautiful green land, and mountains to boot – you just can’t beat it. And since each year we welcome campers who have traveled from not just states away but countries away, we’d have to say it’s a worthwhile journey. Here are some important questions to ask about location and transportation:


  • What are the options for transportation to camp?
  • What does opening day look like for each mode of transportation?
  • Do parents and guardians tend to travel in the area for the duration of camp?


When choosing a camp, it is important that your child finds a community in which they can see themselves represented by other campers, staff, and in camp policies. Runoia is happy to have seen its camper diversity grow organically in recent years, and has responded with the formation of its DAC, Diversity Advisory Committee, and intentional efforts to positively impact access to camp and the experience of camp for all families. Whether this directly impacts your camper or not, it is an important component in a camp’s culture and community. Here are some questions to ask a director on diversity at camp:

  • How would you describe the diversity of your camp? Has it grown recently?
  • Does your camp have any official advisory, DEI professional, or DEI policy in place?
  • Do you offer DEI training to your staff members?
  • How does your camp approach gender identity and pronoun expression?

What does it mean to be accredited? 

To help reduce risk, Camp Runoia is voluntarily accredited by the American Camp Association (ACA). We follow standards pertaining to: program, site, facilities, transportation, vehicles, administration, personnel, and health care. If a camp holds a current ACA accreditation, it means that it has also been evaluated to meet the same rigorous set of standards as Runoia. Here are a few questions to ask about accreditation:

  • Is your camp currently accredited by the ACA?
  • Has there ever been a time recently when your camp was not accredited?

There are many factors to consider when choosing a camp, and each individual family and camper will have a unique set of ideas of what ‘camp’ should look and feel like to them. We hope you utilize these helpful questions in your next conversation with a camp director and wish you luck on your camp search!

Interested in Runoia? Reach out to request more information!

The Staff Low-Down at Camp Runoia

It’s no secret that at Runoia, we like to plan ahead and be prepared for the coming season so that we can be as spontaneous and in-the-moment as possible during summer. With so many of our camper spaces filled by returners and new friends already, we’ve now set our sights on putting together the best staff ever. In just a few weeks, with lots of effort made by Jen and the team, we have over 30 staff members committed to the 2023 season, with more pending! It’s definitely a puzzle each year, so here’s the low-down on staff at Camp Runoia:

Where do our staff come from?

Currently, with just over 30 staff hired and many more to come, we are representing 12 states from within the country, and 5 total countries already. While our international representation looks a little different each year, the flags hanging in the Lodge act as a historical reference of all of the countries every represented at Runoia, by campers or staff. While it’s increasingly rare each year, when a new country is represented by a camper or staff, the flag is added to the Lodge. So far this hiring season, we’re welcoming staff from Mexico, England, Scotland, and Australia! We can’t wait to hear them sing their national anthem to our community on the 4th of July this summer!


Who do we hire?

We focus on hiring people with a child-centered mindset and the flexibility to join us for the summer. Oftentimes, this means college-students, our former CITs and JCs, folks in grad school, teachers or other professionals in education, traveling nurses, and people in-between steps in life. I myself joined the team for what I thought would be just one summer in between undergrad and grad, and well … you know the rest.

What is it like to work a summer at Runoia?

If you really want an inside look at the Runoia staff experience, your best option is to follow our TikTok. We regard our counselors as the hardest workers we know – the job is often challenging and exhausting, but always worth it for the amazing moments and memories made every day. We live “10 for 2” here at Runoia, and we put all of our energy in those 2 months! While the experience could never be captured in just words, here are just a few glimpses of the camp counselor life at Runoia:

  • four periods a day of sharing your skills in an activity area you’re passionate about
  • guaranteed giggles every day
  • finding new best friends amongst fellow staff members
  • feeling proud of yourself for rising to challenges, solving problems, and supporting your campers
  • applicable skills gained for college, your resume, interviews, and your career
  • a summer full of #FMDs – Fine Maine Days – in the New England summer sun
  • a chance to let go and be your silliest, most authentic self – and feel good doing it

Where do our staff go?

Our hope every summer is that our staff will have the ability to return for summers on end – and while some do, like our teachers, not everyone has the flexibility. So many of our staff eventually graduate college and succeed in getting an amazing full-time job. Luckily, camp skills are life skills! You might be surprised to know that there’s a camp situation for just about every interview question there is, so whether our counselors become a teacher or an accountant, it doesn’t matter – those skills and experiences are in their back pocket, ready to go.

Do you know someone who would love to join our team?

Tap your favorite college student or teacher on the shoulder and send them our application!

Caitlin Jacob on the unplugged camp experience

One of the greatest benefits of an unplugged camp experience is the disconnect from social media and the pressures of the ‘outside’ or ‘real’ world. While putting away the tech can be daunting for a new camper, our long-time campers know very well just how freeing putting their phone away can be – that it’s a more-than-fair trade for the friends and experience of camp. Caitlin Jacob, who just finished her 7th summer with her CIT year, wrote the following piece, titled “Summer camps help escape everyday social circles” for her high school paper:

When I’m at home on the weekends, a large amount of my time is spent scrolling through social media. But I’m not on Instagram or TikTok looking at the latest trends or where people spent their summer vacation; instead, I’m looking at Snap Map. In fact, I’d say about an hour of my day is spent seeing where people are, not even necessarily those I’d consider to be my close friends.

I suppose this action stems from my fear of being left out of social gatherings and my resentment towards the feeling of doing nothing. Sometimes, though, I question this routine. After all, why has spying on people’s locations developed into such a large personal pastime ? It’s the times when I don’t have access to my phone, such as at my camp, when I’m truly able to enjoy life and live in the moment.

All too often, people tend to overlook the simple aspects of life experienced when in a remote program, and end up revolving their lives around where others appear to be on social media.

For about seven years, I had been a camper at a small, intimate all girls’ camp in Central Maine. This past summer, I returned once again to be a counselor in training. Whenever I’m there, I feel confident in who I am as a human being. I don’t feel deprived of my phone in the slightest, and am instead able to live in the moment and fully embrace a life that doesn’t involve the actions of others.

I’ll be honest, when the new Staples phone policy first came out I had been extremely frustrated, as my days in a way revolved around the actions of others. Having to put my phone in a small sleeve continuously made me believe I’d be excluded from multiple gatherings, not even knowing.

The more I reflected on this policy, the more I realized that every day when I was at camp I never felt excluded from whatever had happened at home. It was the pure action of not having access to my phone that made my life less “defined” by the actions of others. Maybe if I took a moment to fully embrace a phone and social media free life at home many of my worries regarding my own social life would disappear.

After all, studies have continuously proved that being in a remote location such as a camp does have a positive impact on one’s social skills and confidence. A study conducted by the American Camp Association showed that out of 167 campers, 140 had reported an increase in their social abilities.

Perhaps living a lifestyle not revolving around others’ social lives has overall made me a happier and more confident person, even if only for a couple of months each year. I will be eternally grateful for camp for providing me with an atmosphere free of much of the chaos and drama associated with friendships and friend groups at home.

Thanks, Caitlin, for the testament to the unplugged camp experience, and quelling some of the anxieties of putting our phones away to connect to one another. We hope to see you for another unplugged summer in 2023!

Leadership Development at Camp Runoia

As we opened applications this week for our 2023 CIT program and prepare to open hiring to returning staff, I think our culture of leadership development has been on my mind all week.

During a Zoom call with a new family yesterday, I was asked a question that I loved answering: “what is your favorite thing about Runoia?” I took a moment to think, and realized I could answer in two ways. In a more literal, physical, and tangible way, of course the waterfront and Great Pond are my favorite part of Runoia! But I had another answer – the people, our campers and staff, and the community we’ve built across generations and (literally) more than a century of time. I thought about the irreplaceable people I’ve met and bonds I’ve formed, the weddings of best friends I will attend, and the indelible memories that are a result of time spent at camp.

When I reflect on how this continuity of culture and community has developed and sustained at Runoia, I think of all of the intentional decisions made each summer by our leadership staff. In a meeting with Jen yesterday, she and I pondered how to better help our new staff integrate and feel welcomed immediately upon arrival. Striving for betterment for our camp population every summer is at the core of who we are.

One of the strongest intentions of Runoia which contributes heavily to our community and culture is our commitment to leadership development within our own population. We aspire to help our campers take on more responsibility, leadership, and create moments of mentorship with younger campers in each passing year. By their Senior Village year, our oldest campers are often seen sitting with our HLC campers on their lap at campfire, helping them make decisions in the food line, and passing on their hard-earned skills in classes.

Each year, several of our graduating campers move on to take part in our CIT (Counselor-in-Training) leadership development program the next summer. This program is designed as both a stepping stone to becoming a JC (Junior Counselor) and eventual full-fledged counselor, AND simply to help our long-beloved family members develop as people. In our CIT program, participants:

  • Complete workshops on focused topics of leadership
  • Assist counselors in program areas and in the cabin and explore areas they’d like to teach in the future
  • Gain experience running EPs (evening programs) and campfires
  • Plan and orchestrate camp-wide events like the 4th of July
  • Choose to train and attempt certifications in JMG (Junior Maine Guide) or Red Cross Lifeguarding
  • Experience a bonding trip together and learn about the perspective of a trip leader out of camp
  • Earn an archery instruction certification
  • Experience a college tour together


All of the above create a summer-long learning experience to develop our CITs as both future counselors and great human beings. This past summer, three of our four 2020 CITs were on staff as counselors, and four of our five 2021 CITs were on staff as JCs. What results is a staff sprinkled with love for camp and certified Runoia experts.

Applications for our hopeful 2023 CITs are open now by request! We can’t wait to see how another wonderful group of CITs shapes up for 2023, and are already thinking about how our youngest campers will one day be there, too.

What to expect when you’re expecting…a Runoia experience!

While our camper attrition is low, we are lucky enough to be able to welcome new families each year in limited spaces. With each sad goodbye to a graduating camper comes a space that opens in our youngest age groups – a subconscious gift from one Runoia gal to another. And those graduating campers are so often welcomed back as CITs, then JCs, and eventually fully-fledged counselors as we watch them grow up in front of our eyes. Just this summer, four of five CITs of summer 2021 joined us as JCs – and we certainly hope to see them return as counselors, just as three of our four 2020 CITs did this year, too.

It’s crazy to think that for many such campers, their Runoia experience began years prior as they settled into a junior end cabin for the first time. Research, camp tours, and plenty of conversations often precede the life-changing decision to walk through the Runoia gates for the first summer of many, and it can be weird to not know what to expect! So, for our new parents, guardians, campers, and family members, let’s get a lay of the land so we know what to expect when you’re expecting a Runoia experience.

The months leading to camp

It can be a long haul between signing up and the big day – especially for families who have built excitement by touring, Zooming with us, and signing up early. If you’ve signed up by early or mid fall, it can be a quiet few months through the holidays, but we are always here as questions come up along the way. In the spring, you can expect communications from us to become more frequent as we fill you in on everything we can think of: food details, options for trips, tricks for packing, information on shipping, help with transportation, any special protocols for the summer, and more!

Preparing for camp

Preparing for camp really comes down to the big three: forms, packing, and transportation. All of your forms and helpful information regarding prep for camp, packing luggage, and transportation will be easily accessible on your Camp in Touch dashboard. Here’s a quick rundown of some key take-aways about preparation for camp:

  • Forms are mandatory for attendance at Runoia! Forms include a signed medical form, activity release, health history, and more. It’s not unlike forms for sports and school, and you will get plenty of help and reminders from us.
  • We will give you a detailed rundown of packing, but we prefer two big pieces of luggage over many smaller items. Popular choices are hard-sided trunks and large duffels!
  • Campers are welcome to have luggage shipped to camp, especially if they are flying! Bedding is available for rent to cut down on the packing volume.
  • Campers can come by car, plane, or our camp bus – which stops in NYC and Massachusetts.


During camp

Suddenly the big day is here, you’ve completed the right forms, packed the right things, and set off with the address in your GPS! The rest is cake, right? Well, it can certainly be hard for parents, guardians, and other family members to say their goodbyes for over three weeks. We keep it old-school and truly ‘campy’ for our communication – letters are our love language. From home, families can utilize our Bunk Notes systems to get digital letters to their camper(s) quickly, and campers write letters in return. Another great option is to send a letter ahead of time so that it’s ready for your camper on the first full day. Phone calls aren’t a typical Runoia thing – they are reserved for international campers and birthdays calls! While the communication change can be a big adjustment, we work hard to have qualified and well-trained staff members to support your camper(s), and a great system of communication with families. As a new family, you can expect:

  • Trained live-in counselors in the cabin to ensure the physical, mental, and emotional safety of your camper(s).
  • Connection with your camper(s)’ HOC (Head of Cabin) – a senior staff member who knows kids and Runoia well – who will update you on your camper(s)’ activities, friends made, and growth at camp!
  • Detailed communication with Colleen, who acts as our liaison for new families. New families will have a phone call to talk about their camper(s)’ adjustment to camp and their experience.
  • A little bit of homesickness from you camper – which is totally normal and usually short-lived. You’ll soon be receiving letters all about the greatest parts of camp!

After camp

Post-camp can look and feel different for every camper – the experience is unique. Some campers may hop in the car talking a mile a minute, seemingly unable to get all of their amazing stories out fast enough! Others may be experiencing feelings of sadness due to camp ending. Others may be quiet and not quite ready to share. There is no “normal” when it comes to post-camp emotions. Look out in 2023 for a detailed blog on what to expect post-camp and how to help your camper(s) process their feelings!

No matter where you are in your Runoia journey or camp decision process, we hope to see you in 2023!