The Tech-Free Camp Experience

Runoia is one of America’s oldest tech-free camps still holding strongly to unplugging during the summer – even in the face of technological advances and encouragement to stay constantly ‘plugged in.’ We believe that it’s vital for our community to unplug each year. Read on about the phone addictions our kids are facing, the benefits of unplugging regularly and at camp, and some tips on how to prepare (whether you’re a parent, camper, or staff member) to be unplugged this summer.

No, it’s not just you – the science shows that post-pandemic, adolescent phone addictions are at an all-time high. That means that both camper and staff populations are struggling to let go of their technology. Forgetting about the harmful impacts of social media itself, the list of negative effects of phone addictions is a long one. Excessive screen time for youth can lead to:

  • heightened anxiety and depression
  • insomnia and poor sleep quality
  • diminished attention spans and short-term memory
  • reduced conversation quality
  • fatigue
  • lower grades
  • reading fewer books
  • reduced time outside and being physically active

Scientists say that the ideal screen-time limit for adolescents is about two hours per day, but the average actual use is up to nine. We clearly have some work to do!

Runoia is dedicated to a tech-free experience for both campers and staff – no phones, tablets, computers, even e-readers in Runoia cabins. Campers swiftly learn to communicate the old-school way, and in just a day or two, can be seen excitedly opening and writing letters at all hours of the day. We are dedicated to this tech-free policy because we’re dedicated to the development of our campers and staff, and simply can’t ignore the science. Tech-free camp is safer, more beneficial, and allows our community to spend all of that time connecting to each-other rather than the internet.

But you don’t have to take our word for it. We’ve done our research, and compiled a helpful list of benefits and guidance for unplugging this summer – or whenever!

The Benefits of ‘Unplugging’

  • Reduced anxiety, stress, and depression
  • Stronger personal relationships
  • Time to develop hobbies and passions
  • Increased focus
  • Increased physical activity
  • Increased mindfulness
  • Increased self-worth

How to Prepare to be ‘Unplugged’

  • Prepare and practice coping skills – have you ever noticed yourself reaching for your phone when you feel uncomfortable or have an unoccupied moment of time? Knowing that this crutch won’t be available during the summer, think about what else helps you in those moments. Luckily, we’ve already compiled a list to help you get started.
  • Practice at home – you don’t have to wait until camp to unplug. Practice by challenging yourself to:
    • Leave your phone at home for a day, or even just a part of the day. Can your phone stay home during your coffee run?
    • Set app limits for yourself or use an app to reduce screen-time in apps
    • Set phone-free times for your day – can you put your phone away for the first hour after you’ve woken up, and for two hours before bed?
    • Turn off screens during meals and other family or friend time
  • Commit to it regularly – outside of camp, can you schedule a handful of ‘digital detox’ days for yourself, your friends, or your family each year?

We’re certainly grateful for the positive impacts that technology and social media offers us – we get to share our lives and accomplishments and stay connected as a community all-year round. So many of our campers and staff discover us online and through social media, and we can’t deny how fun it is to see yourself on the Runoia Instagram or TikTok. That’s why Runoia thinks it’s so important to learn to live in harmony with technology – to be able to use it for all its benefits, but also know when and how to take a break.

If you’ve ever experienced a Runoia evening program – let’s say Miss Tacky, for example – where everyone is connected and plugged in to our community, then you know just how worthwhile it is to leave our phones behind. We know we could never miss our phones more than we miss our Runoia besties when we have to say goodbye.

Love,

Aionur

Earth Day in the Runoia Community

The land that is now Camp Runoia was originally stewarded by the tribes of the Wabanaki Confederacy – the Penobscot, Passamaquoddy, Maliseet, and Mi’kmaq – and it is now our responsibility and honor to carry on the care of this land, on Earth Day and every day.

We start each ‘Fine Maine Day’ at Runoia with the following mantra: “Grant that we have safe and fun days, and that we respect each other, ourselves, and our planet.” We go on throughout our day with the gratitude for the water of Great Pond – conserved by the 7 Lakes Alliance, for the land so beautifully maintained by our maintenance director Tim Pearson, and for both the days full of sunshine and rain – knowing our planet needs both.

We are so fortunate that the campers and families that flock to Runoia are natural leaders and lovers of our earth. In former camper and counselor Grace Pratt’s 2019 log dedication to our planet, she said “Runoia is a magical place, but that magic wouldn’t be possible without the planet we live on.  Earth is our common ground, the reason we get to explore, grow, and connect.”

Knowing our community, we’re willing to bet that so many in our Runoia family will be putting the earth first this weekend for Earth Day – spending their days outside in gratitude, volunteering, doing whatever they can for our planet.

We invite our community to join us collectively to volunteer all around the world in honor of Earth Day – as our campers come from near and far, we know our reach has amazing potential! Wherever you call home this time of year, can you get out this weekend to help our planet?

Luckily, there are so many resources to find volunteer opportunities near you, and it’s not too late to join in the fun!

Here are some resources to help you volunteer or celebrate in:

Portland, Maine

New York City

Boston

Maryland/DC

New Jersey

Colorado

Chicago

Miami

If you can’t find something near you, can you be a leader and start your own event or group to clean up a local park, body of water, or trail?

If you make it out to help our earth this weekend, send a photo to colleen@runoia.com to share!

Happy trails –

Love,

Aionur

 

Camp Visits and Tours – seeing Runoia in action

Amongst our leadership team, the jokes that camp is creeping up on us here in April are abundant. This is always the time of year where the season starts to feel ‘real’ and we can finally see the efforts of each season’s preparation come to fruition.

The 2023 Runoia leadership team spending quality time together at an escape room this March!

At this time of year, we’re still busy with some final enrollments while also putting everything in place for the summer – Tim is prepping our physical spaces, we’re mapping out program and hiring our last few staff members, putting together cabin lists – amongst so many other things.

And, at the same time, the Venn-diagram of 2023 and 2024 is starting to form and overlap as we meet new faces looking at Runoia for future summers and inviting them to visit us to see camp ‘in action’ this summer.

There is no ‘wrong’ timeline for choosing and getting ready for camp, but it’s always great to see families planning ahead and being able to tour with us in the summer prior. Tours are so valuable to new families to be able to see a day in action during the summer, visualize the camp their child will spend 3+ weeks at, watch our programs run, and for campers to build excitement, feel more comfortable and confident about camp, ask their own questions, and meet other campers in the process. Our campers and staff always love to welcome new faces as they pass by on their summer tours!

But the benefits of touring don’t stop there. Touring also helps our new families create a lasting connection with our director team and start a relationship that will continue for years. After a tour, we stay in contact with families and are able to guide them through enrollment earlier on and the likelihood of saving one of our limited spaces for the next summer is even greater. Spaces are typically even more limited in our older age groups, so touring for a rising 6th grader and beyond is an amazing way to get penciled in for any available spaces for next summer.

We also welcome return visitors and love seeing friendly, familiar faces whenever possible – alumni and current campers have a tendency to stop by all throughout the year to say hi, show their families around, and see their favorite place again. Amaya stopped by recently and had an amazing time with her mom seeing camp in the snow – we can’t wait to have her back for summer #2 this year!

So stop on by for a visiting or reach out to schedule a tour for 2024 – we can’t wait to see you on Great Pond either way!

Announcing Runoia’s 2023 Equestrian Camp!

This week, we have one of our most exciting guest blogs to date – Jen Dresdow is here, announcing Runoia’s 2023 Equestrian Camp!

The equestrian program at Camp Runoia has grown over the past decade into one of our capstone programs. The past several summers have seen sold out lesson numbers. We are excited to launch enrollment for our new Equestrian Camp which will allow even more riders to enjoy our fantastic program! This riding intensive week will run Sunday August 13th to Saturday August 19th and will be open to girls going into 6th – 12th grade. This camp is an ideal prep week for those in both IEA and EAP, as they will have an opportunity to ride a variety of horses and practice in a show. However, there will be some spaces for beginner level riders as well.

Our lead coach for the week will be Kayleigh Burke. Kayleigh is collegiate level coach, having worked with both Hollins University and Virginia Tech, and currently coaches an IEA team out of Virginia Tech. Kayleigh is also a USEF ‘r’ rated judge for hunters and hunt seat equitation. Kayleigh will be assisted by collegiate level riders from Hollins University and Miami of Ohio University. 

Along with 2 mounted riding lessons per day, campers will also get 2 unmounted lessons per day covering a variety of horsemanship topics from how to walk to a course to equine first aid to show grooming and braiding. Kayleigh and her staff will also discuss collegiate riding opportunities. Lessons will have 4-5 riders in the group with 2 instructors. A sample daily schedule is:

7:00 – Chores at barn (campers will rotate helping)

7:30 – Wake Up

8:00 – Breakfast

8:30 – Cabin Clean Up

9:00 – Coach talk/groom & tack

9:30 – Groups 1 & 2 lesson/Groups 3 & 4 Unmounted Lesson

10:30 – Snack

10:45 – Groups 3 & 4 lesson/Groups 1 & 2 Unmounted Lesson

11:45- All Chores

12:30 – Lunch

12:45 – Beach Time/Swimming/Rest

2:15 – Groups 1 & 2 lesson/Groups 3 & 4 Unmounted Lesson

3:15 – Snack

3:30 – Groups 3 & 4 lesson/Groups 1 & 2 Unmounted Lesson

4:30 – Chores

5:00 – Showers & Clean Up

6:00 – Supper

6:45 – Evening Program

8:00 – Bedtime Snack

8:30 – Cabin Time followed by Bed Time

Campers will also go on field trip to a local tack shop and sale barn. There will be some fun surprises as well! On Saturday August 19th, all campers will participate in a final horse show at 10am. Parents are welcome to attend the show and depart after with their camper.

Transportation from/to Portland Jetport will be available and a van from the Boston area may be available if we get enough demand. Cost for the camp is $1900. An early bird rate of $1800 will apply until May 1st. Parents can apply on our website. This program is limited to 18 riders and there are limited spots based on riders level. A $500 deposit is due at the time of confirmed enrollment. 

Questions or to check on space, email jen@runoia.com or call 207-613-7004

Ready to ride? Register now!

Feeling Ready for Camp

Feeling ‘ready’ for camp is an exciting milestone for kids – sometimes they are able to self-advocate for wanting to attend camp and come readily equipped with the confidence to take on a new experience. My conversations with new and prospective camp families, however, have taught me that most campers don’t fall into this category – it is normal to feel apprehensive and uncertain about camp!

Camp is a powerful builder of confidence and independence – especially for return campers – but it can be a bit of a catch-22: how can you feel ready for such a major confidence-building experience without first feeling confident enough to try it?

Luckily, there are ways we can help our campers and children feel ready – or, at the very least, willing – to try a major new experience like camp.

Start Small: Harmony Land Camp 

Runoia created its Harmony Land Camp program precisely for the purpose of scaffolding our youngest campers toward comfort and a positive first experience with overnight camping. With expert support and individualized care, Harmony Land campers can grow their confidence over a summer or two in this program before taking the leap of attending a longer 3-week session of our typical camp program. HLC is tailored for kids aged 6-8 to form tight-knit friendships, explore new interests, and ease into camp life. Choose from ‘mini’ 9-day sessions OR our standard 12-day HLC sessions.

HLC is such a wildly popular ‘starter camp’ program at Runoia, we added a new session in 2023!

AND – we’ve heard our parents and families saying that even at older ages, our kids aren’t feeling ‘ready’ for the full 3-week sleep-away experience.

SO, we’ve opened up our HLC B session to a new, older age group: rising 5th graders and 10-year-olds are now welcome to enroll in this Harmony Land Camp session! 

Practice

Like anything else, being away from family members and ‘safe space’ people for a few weeks can be daunting.

Think of how you can help your child practice being away from home and family members they see daily, by doing things like attending sleep-overs with friends or spending the night at a grandparent’s or trusted family member’s house.

You can also help your child practice independence with tasks that you typically help them with so they can feel more prepared at camp – things like brushing their own hair, picking out outfits for their activities, or making their bed – but rest assured that they will also have caring counselors to help them.

Make a friend

Runoia aims to support new campers by helping them create connections and form bonds leading up to camp. Runoia buddies up penpals between returning and new campers in the spring to help first-time Runoia campers make connections and have a buddy they’ve spent time talking to on the first day they arrive at camp.

Talk about how to self-advocate with your child

One of the most important life skills that we help our campers build every summer is self advocacy. We encourage our campers to speak up for themselves, let someone know when they need help, and to identify and feel comfortable approaching trusted adults in our community.

It helps to talk with your child about self advocacy and how and who to approach for help at camp. Luckily, camp is well-equipped with caring adults prepared to help your child at any moment. Some of the trusted adults and helpers in our community that your child can ask for help are:

  • Directors and assistant directors
  • Leadership staff – look for someone with a walkie talkie
  • Your child’s Head of Cabin (HOC)
  • Your child’s cabin counselors
  • Program staff during classes
  • CITs

No Surprises – Setting Expectations

Having clear expectations and knowing what to anticipate is important for a child’s first camp experience, especially if they are feeling on the apprehensive side. You can help your child form realistic expectations for camp by:

  • Talking regularly about camp leading up to the summer and listen to how they’re imagining it, what they’re most excited for, etc.
  • Going through our website and using different tools like our media galleries, videos, our virtual tour, etc. to help them form an idea of camp
  • Discussing how you will communicate over the summer – including learning how to write and send letters if necessary – campers should know that phone calls, promises to be picked up, etc. are not realistic expectations for camp
  • Identifying and discussing things that will look and feel different at camp – like meals, showers and self care, alone time, etc.
  • Still have questions? Give us a call!

Prepare Coping Skills

When the inevitable does happen at camp – having a bad moment or day, struggling with a new skill, adjusting to a new social situation – it’s important for kids to know that they can do hard things and have the skills and tools to move through those tough feelings. ‘Coping skills’ may sound like a scary term meant for crisis situations, but really they’re helping tools for us all to use when we’re feeling a bit stressed or overwhelmed. Coping skills can be distraction methods, tools for processing emotions, physical calming strategies, and more.

Look through our suggested guide of camp-specific coping skills at the end of this blog and help your camper make their own, individualized list that they can use at camp.

Jump in Anyway!

At the end of the day, we may never really be fully ‘ready’ for anything we try in life – and we think it’s okay to jump in anyway. At camp, our counselors and campers learn that they are capable of doing hard things. Sometimes we have to do things scared, or we’ll never do them at all. And whatever happens along the way, we can handle it with our community by our side.

 

Coping skills for camp

Women’s History at Camp Runoia

March 1st marks the first day of a month-long celebration here at Camp Runoia: Women’s History Month! Founded by a small group of incredible women, carried on by more incredible women for generations, with its history recorded in detail by incredible women – 116 summers later (soon to be 117), here we still are!

A painting from the 1910-13 log – “Miss Pond’s New Toy!”

Most of the record keeping of Runoia summers was done so in what we call summer logs – a tradition we still carry on each summer. The main difference is that through the years, we saw logs transform from handwritten pieces and newspaper clippings to typewriter passages and now to typed and printed, full-color books.

Our logs tell stories of formative people and summers past, and provide an amazing inside look to the fashions, language, and current events of each time period in American and Runoian history.

Camp Runoia predates women’s right and ability to vote in our country, for example – and in our oldest log available online, we can see evidence of something we already knew within us: that Runoia ‘gals’ were among those pushing for their right to vote:

A page from the 1910-13 log: “Serena’s emblem” regarding women’s right to vote in the US.

So, some things change and some things remain: it’s with gratitude that I say the women of Runoia are still carrying on the legacy of recording camp history, and now thanks to the work of women of that history, we hold the right to vote in this country. And perhaps the most lasting thing among the Runoia community: 110 years after the completion of this log, we are still fighting for our rights, for the rights of friends and family in our community, and working to ‘add more seats to the table.’

While the fashions and language change from log to log throughout Runoia history, it’s also astonishing to see so many things that hold true of Runoia campers across 116 summers. The learned lesson from borrowing and lending important things, the occasional rainy Maine summer day, the love for sunny afternoons on Great Pond, cotillion, silly songs and rhymes, the love for horses – the list goes on.

And, perhaps one of my favorite lasting gems that I found in our logs – the sign-off of “Love, Ainour” which still is a signature stamp of love and care from our camp.

So…

Love, Ainour

Camp Teaches us to Love – a reflection on Valentine’s day

Camp teaches us to love and how to be a friend. To love and be a friend to each other, to the earth, to the people who came before us and those who will follow after. We are so lucky that Runoia is a home base of love for campers, staff, family members, and alumni – anyone who has spent a summer at camp knows that you leave a piece of your heart at Runoia, and with a piece of Runoia in your heart.

Valentine’s Day last week had me thinking about all the ways that love shows up in our daily camp lives, and the camp-specific ways that we show love to each other, our earth, and the generations before and after us. So often during the summer, we don’t stop to say ‘I love you’ every day, but rather show that love in Runoia language! These are just a few ways I’ve seen love show up at Runoia, that you can see any day of the summer:

We show love to those who came before us by enjoying the land they cared for.

We show love to those who came before us by honoring traditions that they thoughtfully formed together.

We show love to those who came before us by acknowledging the indigenous communities that stewarded this land.

We show love to the next generation by making progress for our community.

We show love to the next generation by passing down songs, skits, and traditions.

We show love to the next generation by updating our library, our equipment, and our facilities.

We show love to the earth by caring for the animals of Runoia.

We show love to the earth by learning all about her in camp craft, JMG, and on trips.

We show love to the earth by practicing LNT when we go camping and hiking.

We show love to each other by offering kindness in the hard moments.

We show love with the sentence ‘I made you a bracelet.’

We show love when we say, ‘you can come sit next to me.’

We show love by sharing our song book.

We show love by giving someone else the opportunity to be Miss Tacky.

We show love when we celebrate other’s accomplishments.

We show love when we give each other the space to be seen and heard.

We show love by listening about each others’ days at circle time.

We show love in so many ways unique to the summer, to camp, to Runoia.

Love,

Aionur

 

All About Art Activities – ‘Wait, you have that?’

At Runoia, we’re lucky enough to offer such a diverse list of options that we couldn’t fit all of our incredible art activities in just one blog! Ruby, our Head of Creative Arts, is back this week to continue telling us all about each and every offering in our arts department at camp. This time, she’s delving into the more niche art forms you can try with us:


Hi y’all! Just like last time, my name is Ruby and I’m the Head of Creative Arts at Runoia. Did you find your perfect creative outlet in our last post about art activities? This time we’ll be talking about six more art activities and why you might be interested in learning more about them!

Whether you sign up for every art possible, or find yourself in one of our many art classes, welcome! On average, one of four campers will be in an art class at any time, so let’s see what they’re doing!

Stained Glass – An activity reserved for the oldest campers, stained glass combines so many creative elements together to create a lasting piece. Do you want to create a flower motif from glass, a boat out on those blue waves, or perhaps create a design with the help of our expert staff? Definitely give this a try if you’re looking to make an awe-inspiring piece!

A beautiful finished Runoia stained glass piece!


Photography – Do you take a hundred photos of your pets everyday? Or maybe scenic landscapes, or portraits? Our photo classes will help you hone your camera skills while teaching you about the chemical reactions needed to develop film in our dark room! If you want to up your photography game, definitely take this class.

Sewing – If you’re looking for a craft to connect to over one hundred years of Runoia history, look no further than sewing. While this traditional skill can make some think of mending or fixing holes in socks, don’t count this activity out! For the truly fashion forward, sewing is a great way to see designs come to life! From scrunchies, tote bags, and even small plushies, sewing is a great way to try creating functional art. 

Drama – Do you have about a million songs downloaded onto your device of choice? Do you wake up in the morning and the first thing you do is jazz hands? Okay maybe not, but our drama program might be right for you! Our drama instructors help campers put on a play the first session, and a musical in the second session!

Campers enjoy our newest art option: leathercraft!

Leathercraft – This new craft made its debut to Runoia in 2022, and had rave reviews from campers! Some people relax with yoga, a warm beverage, a good book, or a comforting movie. Others love taking a rubber mallet and whacking precise holes and designs into hand sewn leather goods. The concentration needed for this art lets the background just melt away, and allows you to focus on crafting a one of a kind piece. Once you start decorating, it begs the question, to stamp or not to stamp?

 

All smiles in the process of making this basket!

Baskets – Now I know what you’re thinking, basket weaving? Like underwater basket weaving? Yes! Well, weather dependent, but the regular basket weaving happens all the time. Basket weaving is an awesome and odd skill to have. If you’ve ever wanted to live out your cottage-core dreams, learning how to basket weave should be the first step on your journey. Plus you can use your new basket to collect berries at camp!

Now that you know all about the arts we have at camp, start thinking of that perfect schedule. I think mine would be AC, swim, baskets, and then sewing! There’s so many awesome and new things to try at camp, but what fun is planned this year? I don’t want to give too much away, you’ll just have to come and see for yourself!

See you soon!

Ruby (she/hers)

All About Arts Activities – the Classics: a guest blog

One of the beautiful things about Runoia is that we value the differences and interests of all of our campers and offer something for everyone. Whether you choose to focus on riding, sailing, target sports, JMG, or the arts – Runoia is the place for you. And on top of it all, we have some incredibly dedicated, skilled staff members who help our campers explore new activities and build skills. 8-summer staff member Ruby has joined us on the blog this week to tell us all about arts activities at Runoia!

Hey y’all! My name is Ruby, and I’m the Head of the Creative Arts department here at Runoia. This will be my 8th summer coming up, and when I’m not at camp I’m living in the great state of Oregon! I’m stepping in today to talk about our awesome art activities we have at camp.

From our bustling waterfront, to the awe-inspiring equestrian program, there’s so much to choose from! If those don’t excite you, we’ve got target and field sports programs that will keep you on the edge of your seat! Not to mention trips, ropes, farm and garden too. There’s so many programs to choose from! The variety at Camp Runoia is part of what makes a summer here worthwhile, and there’s no better place to see all those differences shine than in the arts program. From graphic arts to visual arts, performing arts to decorative arts, we have an abundance of choices across the creative spectrum for campers to try. On average, one out of four of our campers are in an art program during any class period.


So to those of you who are art inclined, might be trying a new art for the first time this year, or happen to find yourself in one of our many art classes, welcome! Below you’ll find a quick  description of these awesome arts, and recommendations of arts to try!

Arts and Crafts – What a wild card! Each time you come to Arts and Crafts you’ll have a different activity to create. Polymer clay? Print-making? Giant friendship bracelets? Who knows! You could sign up for Arts and Crafts every time it’s available and do something different each time! If you love scrolling on social media to see what random crafts the internet is cooking up (guilty!) you’ll love AC!

Batik – An unusual activity where the artist first creates a design on fabric, and then wax is layered onto the design which helps keep the different water based colors from mixing. Batik reminds me of stained glass, where these strong wax lines contain beautiful colors. If you love painting or find coloring books relaxing this will absolutely be your new favorite activity.

Dance – It’s hard to resist dancing when your favorite song comes on! What about a whole choreographed dance number? Learn some fresh moves, or even teach others some moves you know! Dance is great for all types of skill levels, so don’t count yourself out before you try it!

Yoga – Camp can be stressful! From trying new things and always on the move vibes, it can be hard to catch your breath! Carve out a piece of you-time with yoga. Learn some great stretches, stress relief tips, and how to practice mindfulness. If you’ve never tried it, camp is a great place to get a taste of this body and mind centered practice.

Woodburning – Do you enjoy doodling within the margins of your homework or notes? Taking an existing project and elevating it? Woodburning is just that! Taking a small piece of raw edge wood or trinket box and personalizing the piece in some way. A blueberry bush? A wolf running into the distance? Add both if you have room!


Pottery – There’s nothing more satisfying than starting with a slab of clay and working it into a mug, pinch pot, or even wind chime! What about a tiny woodland scene, or mini Kirby?  Ceramics is one of the oldest art forms out there, and something everyone should have the chance to try! If you like polymer clay or the idea of 3D printing, watch your ideas and hands come together to create!

There are so many art classes at Runoia, I can’t fit them all into one blog! I hope you can join  me next week for six more activities! These ones promise to be a little more unconventional!

See you soon!
Ruby (she/her)

Thanks Ruby, for taking the time to tell us all about arts activities at Runoia – and she’s only just started! We’re excited to check back next week to learn more about the unique offerings at Runoia!

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.