Preparing for Opening

We are busy all year but the merry month of May is a particularly busy time. With camp booked full very early this year, we have been able to focus on making connections with family and campers, prepare the physical camp and work well as a team.

Our summer leadership group has been meeting mostly since the fall, working on our commitment to support each other and in turn support campers to have the best summer ever. We have gotten to know each other better, working on Brene Brown’s Braving Inventory and Radical Candor. Our team of year round directors have done our own community contract, which is something we will do with our leadership team and our staff group. Counselors also do this with campers. It’s about caring and empathy, including things that are important to everyone in the group with a consensus to follow the contract together. Everyone signs the contract and it is posted in a common area. The community contract can be used when there are issues that surface or when someone needs to talk about a situation that arises.

Meanwhile at camp, we are physically busy. The lawn is growing as everyone in New England knows! And boats are going in the water, we are practicing our driving skills, our camp docks are in, the boat house is opened up and ready for camp. This weekend we have a few families coming to visit to see camp – because of Covid, they haven’t been able to come into camp so this weekend they can visit when camp isn’t completely open.  So, on we go…cabins are being cleaned, equipment and other supplies are being delivered. The last touches to staff training and Covid protocols and we are still chasing down families for Forms! Forms! Forms!  Did we mention we already have 10 horses here? Riding staff have worked hard getting ponies and horses back in shape for the summer season.

So, we send our positive thoughts to everyone as you wrap up the school year to stay safe, try to do outdoor low-Covid-risk things and reach out with any questions about packing, uniform, transportation and more.

All our best,

Aionur

What are you reading Camp Runoia?

Reading is an integral part of our Runoia summers. A tech free environment means that campers and staff have ample opportunity to grab a good book and delve into the pages. Whether it is at rest hour or before bedtime, a book is a great way to settle and relax on your bunk. We encourage campers to bring their books from home and also have a large library in the Lodge with reading material to suit everyone. It is an established tradition that in all cabin groups staff read to campers at night from a shack book. We also try to keep track of how many books collectively get read throughout camp over the summer.

While often an independent activity, reading can also be a great connector. We sometimes run a ‘book club’ at camp so that campers of all ages can engage together about a particularly enjoyable novel. Our Runoia staff share their reading favorites on our group facebook page and it often results in some cross cultural exchange with our friends across the pond.  Maine camp directors use books to come together for professional development and meet every few months to share thoughts about an inspiring text that helps with camp management. Talking about what you are reading can not only be enjoyable but can be the start of great friendships.

Women’s History month is the perfect time to take on some thoughtful reading and explore more about how women have shaped our society and cultures. We continue to build our already well stocked Runoia library to include more diversity and love to offer books by great women authors. Suggestions of any favorites that you feel are a ‘must’ read for our camper population are very welcome.

It is often hard to pin down what to read next – there are so many books and so little time! Check out the list here for reading material for kids of all ages, A Mighty Girl is a great place to get other ideas and resources too.

For the more mature reader this proved to be a great list and many of our staff were reading titles from this collection.

If you don’t have time to grab a book there are plenty of TED talks that may be equally inspiring and focus on women’s issues.

As our thoughts start turning towards the summer, having a summer reading list is an exciting part of the planning process. Certainly some campers have school books that need to be read before school is back in session but there are endless hours of time to grab a great book and sink into the joy of turning the pages. There are so many great spots around camp to be in harmony with nature and just jump into a book, we can’t wait to be back on Great Pond.

The Silver LIning of Covid

I never thought I’d be writing “silver lining” and Covid in the same title. Nearly two years since we learned the name of the virus, we are leaning into our third summer of operating with Covid (endemic rather than pandemic, we hope). Where is the silver lining, you ask?

Okay, here it is. As a seasonal business that really functions and works all year long (10 for 2!), we are MORE connected because of the tools Covid forced us to find using technology. Scoff at the word Zoom or Meet and simultaneously say, “Necessity is the mother of invention”.

My week is like a connect the dots painting (remember those?!) with Zooms and Meets. And, I love it.

Weekly I get the chance to connect with the most amazing people:

  • Monday morning brings our team kick off meeting with our year-round admin team
  • Monday Mark meets with Tim – together they are working on site and facilities
  • Tuesday I Zoom individually with two of our administrative leaders and separately our social media consultant
  • Wednesday we meet with an outside consultant and most industry-wide educational events seem to be scheduled on very large Zooms
  • Thursday I catch up on all the new plans we’ve schemed up and meet with parents
  • Friday we meet with, Nina, our Director of Residential Life

Monthly and Random

  • We meet with 14 Runoia seasonal leaders,
  • I Zoom with the Diversity Advisory Committee
  • The Camp Runoia Alumnae Organization meets every few months
  • The Belgrade business group, the Maine Camp Experience Group and the Maine Summer Camp group all throw in their board meetings, membership meetings and more.
  • Conferences from San Diego to Denver to New England have allowed us to Zoom in and meet
  • And how about those “stay connected to family and friends” Zooms
  • Oh and the weekly 8 am dance party?
  • And reading Harry Potter with a granddaughter (book four since the pandemic started)

And most importantly of all, I have the amazing opportunity to Zoom with families across the globe about camp and meet their daughters and connect about the Runoia experience.

So, yes, Covid has crushed us all in many ways. And interestingly enough, because there usually is a silver lining to every dark cloud, Covid has connected us more through Zoom, Google Meet and technology and an urgency to make connections. See you on a Zoom soon and counting the days to see you in person at Camp!

Love,

Aionur

 

The Essay that Got Me Into College!


My College Essay – Guest Blog from Dallas White (camper from 2013-2019)

In a quiet place tucked in the wilderness of Belgrade Lakes, Maine lies a sleepaway camp, where every summer 150 girls attend and get to do things they never dreamed about. I was fortunate enough to be one of those girls for 8 summers. As a city girl, I particularly valued this getaway for its peace and serenity. Waking up to the sound of loons instead of an ambulance’s siren was a dream from which I never wanted to wake up. Meeting girls from all over the world, exposed me to many different cultures and experiences

As I was immersed into the camp’s warm community, I began to internalize the camp’s values and how
I now honor them in my own life. The first one being tradition. I never had any big family traditions growing up, so during the summer at camp I looked forward to the traditions of having campfires and singing the songs that correspond, every weekend. I looked forward to having braiding circles every night before going to sleep. Most of all, I looked forward to our annual competitive team games. Sailing regattas, swim races, soccer and softball games, oh my! It was truly always an exciting thing to see. Camp also boosted my confidence by giving me many opportunities to explore and get in touch with my leadership skills from a young age into my high school career.

Being a leader has always been natural to me as I am a very outgoing, outspoken person. At camp, there was never a time I did not want to volunteer to participate in something or be elected to be captain. As team captain, I would organize plays for sports and come up with new events for both teams. I also led my team to three victorious summers in a row, might I add. Though those were low-stakes things, they inspired me to get more active during the year with other leadership positions in my national organization and school. Pre-Covid, I held positions such as Nominating Chair and Recording secretary for my organization Jack and Jill Of America Inc., Very different from each other, as I can say there was no cheering or chanting but required the integrity and proactive skills I once learned at camp. Moving up the ladder, I held the position of Vice President and, in the same year, as President of my school’s Black Student Union, which, although virtual, was nothing short but exciting.

As with being Student Body President for my school and Chapter President for my organization, I have
all these tools in one box that I can take with me wherever I go, with the first stop being: college. I’m ecstatic just thinking about the bigger opportunities to be in leadership roles that I’ll get to experience
these next four years and beyond. The skills that I’ll continue to learn and challenges I’ll experience at university make it all worthwhile. And to think, this all started with a quiet place tucked away in the wilderness of Belgrade Lakes, Maine.

Editors note: Dallas, as you go forth into the world, we hope you’ll return with your many leadership skills to the shores of Great Pond to impress upon others all that you love about camp!

Love, Aionur

 

Is It Runoia? The Olympics? A Top Sporting Goods Company?

Words like driven, persistent, visionary, powerful – we design for you, fight for you, connect with you, reflect on you and step up our game for you. “We are the change in sports to get more women to the top of their game. “

They sound like a commercial for Camp Runoia! But it is not actually Runoia.  If you’re familiar with this powerful campaign from Dick’s Sporting Goods, it is a media campaign designed by the strong women team created by Lauren Hobart. “Inside Moves” supports girls and women as leaders and competitors. Check out the campaign for some inspiration!

As we kick off the Winter Olympics in Beijing, seven new sports have been created for winter sports – most of them mixed gender. And yet one sport has been added just for women: the Monobob. Why? Men’s already has two and four-person bobsled and women’s’ just has two person – the addition of the Monobob levels the playing field. The idea? One person runs the icy track and tries to get the top speed without crashing. Pretty gutsy.

This reminds us of our own Runoia heroes who had the guts to start a girls’ camp on a lake in Maine, to run a girls camp for near 50 years.

Might we borrow the campaign and shout “Runoia is the change in camps to get more campers to the top of their game. “? We think so!

Love, Aionur

Hear the Buzz! Feel the Stampede!

We are a buzzing and a stamping here at Camp Runoia. Camp just celebrated its 115th anniversary; a tribute to its enduring values, amazing staff, campers, families and alumnae. Adapting to the world we live in and forging the tools to help our campers grow; this is what has made Camp Runoia a camp leader developing skills in young people to become positive citizens of the world. With 116 spirited years on our banners, we have decided to loop-the-loop on our camp team names and colors and transition to more inclusive names and colors.

For nearly 100 summers, Runoia has been flying the team colors of Blue and White but, let it be known that before 1923, each summer brought with it new team names:  The Hooks and Eyes, The Crickets and Grasshoppers.

Moving forward AND keeping with our traditions of inclusivity and open-minded thinking, the Bees and the Elephants will prevail as new team names with the colors of Indigo and Gray. Yes, we will rewrite old camp songs and we also get to create new ones! The time is now for a change from Go Whites! Go Blues! to the new team names and colors. Existing Blues will be Bees and campers on the White Team will be Elephants.

We, the Year Round administrative team at Runoia, are very excited about this change. With the support of a focus group of trustees from Camp Runoia Alumnae Organization and the support of the Diversity Advisory Committee of the CRAO, we move into 2022 with our new teams.

This change of team names ushers in a new era that we are proud of and believe in – even though it is a change, it feels positive and growth-minded. We have been committed to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion work for summer staff, as well as year round staff with DEI trainings, educational opportunities, conference  sessions and workshops. We have dropped some camp songs, changed some lyrics and written policies and updated our website to be more inclusive. So, new in 2022: Hear the buzz! Feel the stampede!

Bo-bo-ski-waten-dotten to another 115 years of the best summer camp experience… for ALL campers! Go Elephants! Go Bees!

Love, Aionur

With a lot of help from our wonderful President Elect of the CRAO and Canadian Delegate to New England, Great Pond Resident, Runoia Alumnae and all around amazing woman, Marie-Claude Francoeur 

 

Leadership Development Opportunities at Camp Runoia

Our Counselor-in-Training program at Camp Runoia develops leadership opportunities and skills for 16 year old who have graduated from camp or a similar program.

Here’s more about the  CITS of 2021 in photos.

Can you fill in the blank captions? These young leaders learned, helped, built skills, contributed, grew, developed opportunities for others and will forever be woven in the fabric of the Runoia tapestry. 

********************
The CIT gift to Runoia was the new song written by: Melia, Grace,

Emily, Jayda, Micayla

Memories Made (Tune: Suitors)

Trunks are waiting at my door

(oh-ah-lay-oh-bod-y-la)

And I’m not sure what’s in store

(oh-ah-lay-oh-bod-y-la)

But I’m off to camp today

(oh-ah-lay-oh- bod-y-la)

For a while I will stay

(oh-ah-lay-oh- bod-y-la)

 

Chorus: Oh, lay oh la! (oh-ah-lay-oh- bod-y-la)

Oh, lay oh la! (oh-ah-lay-oh- bod-y-la)

Oh, lay oh la! (oh-ah-lay-oh- bod-y-la)

Oh, lay oh la! (oh-ah-lay-oh- bod-y-la)

 

Now that time has slipped away (oh-ah-lay-oh-bod-y-la)

When the leaves begin to fade

(oh-ah-lay-oh-bod-y-la)

And the lake remains so clear

(oh-ah-lay-oh-bod-y-la)

How I long to linger here

(oh-ah-lay-oh-bod-y-la)

Chorus

 

And every single year

(oh-ah-lay-oh-bod-y-la)

I can’t help but shed a tear

(oh-ah-lay-oh-bod-y-la)

For the friendships that I gained

(oh-ah-lay-oh-bod-y-la)

And the memories that I made

(oh-ah-lay-oh-bod-y-la)

Chorus

Thank you CITs 2021! More on our CIT program here.

Camp Runoia life skills go to college

At camp we often talk with our campers about how you can learn things at 8 and still be doing them at 80! Imagine still paddling a canoe in your older years after first dipping a paddle as a young camper on Great Pond. Some life skills are technical or ‘hard’ skills  like learning a ‘J’ stroke while others are more subtle and referred to as ‘soft’ skills such as navigating relationships.

Camp provides campers of all ages the chance to learn, progress and master many skills that last with them long after their camp days are over.

In this week’s guest blog, Jen Dresdow talks about how years at camp prepared her daughter for a smooth transition into college.

In August, my husband and I became empty nesters as we sent our only child, Natalie, off to college. After many college visits her junior and senior year, Natalie chose Hollins University, a small private women’s school in Roanoke, VA, about 4 hours from our home in Alexandria.

As Natalie and I both worked at camp during the summer, we had about 10 days between arriving home from camp and her move-in date for pre-season riding. Natalie quickly organized herself for dorm life with the efficiency of a seasoned camp parent.

The transition into college life proved to be an easy one. After 12 summers at Runoia, Natalie found navigating the small campus and being where she needs to be on time an easy task. Similar to navigating her camp schedule as both a camper and a counselor, she quickly fell into the routine. From 7:30am riding lessons to evening French conversation groups to her work study in the gym, she is where she needs to be when she needs to be there. Camp taught her the skills needed for community living and navigating dining hall choices.

Natalie rides on the Varsity Equestrian Team, and just like camp, the barn bubble is her happy place. However, having a roommate who is not a rider, has been a great fit. Natalie used the school’s roommate match program to place with a roommate.  Years of sharing a cabin with others, learning to share, keep spaces tidy, and communicating effectively, have helped her to settle into dorm life.

We are grateful for all the lifelong skills built at Runoia over the years that allowed Natalie to take a well stocked “toolbox” to college.

How old is the ‘right’ age to start camp?

Trying to figure out when the right age to start camp is can be a real challenge for families.  Actual yearly age carries a lot of weight in our society.  We celebrate milestone Birthdays with celebrations and sometimes commiserations!  My daughter just turned 16. There was pressure for a ‘sweet 16’ . We went with the ‘sassy’ version but all the decorations and marketing available were ‘sweet.’ Other friends bemoan that their child is about to become a teenager and by how much emphasis there is surrounding this event.  Mom friends commiserating that they will have a ‘teenager on their hands’ and that it is apparently just the beginning of the ‘tumultuous years’ suggest that the big 13 is bigger than it really is.  Truth is those kids will be the same person today at 12 as they will be tomorrow when they turn 13. There are displays of some of the teenager characteristics for a couple of years before 13, others are sure to develop over time or may never appear for a particular child.  Age does not define us yet it has societal normative behaviors placed up on it.

As a parent I feel like I am often battling the social norms imposed upon my children.  It is hard to go up against them when ‘everyone else’ does it, has it or has been there.  I love that my sons K-8 school used the ‘wait ’til eight’ theory for cell phone use as it took the pressure off getting him one and now as a 9th grader we are just getting into that realm.

Figuring out when your daughter is the right age for camp can also appear to have social norms and external pressure about when is the right time to send kids off to sleep away camp.  We all know that kids develop at their own pace, have varying life experiences and certainly come with an array of different personalities that are more or less conducive to the camp experience.  We often get calls from concerned parents wondering if their rising 7th grader is ‘too old’ now for camp? Or if aged 7 is ‘too young’ to start.   Will she fit in if she didn’t start in 5th grade when all of her classmates went off to camp?  Can we advise them about what truly is the best age to send your child to an overnight camp experience?

The truth is there is only a perfect age for each individual child, some kids are ready at 7 others at 12 or 13 and some girls  just may never have the desire to be away for an extended time period.  As we talk to parents starting the camp research process we are always excited to chat about their daughters and to help them figure out if she may be ready to join the Runoia fun.

Great questions to ponder for prospective families are: how does your daughter feel about camp? is she driving the process? does she enjoy being away from home overnight with family or friends? is she age appropriately confident managing her own belongings and time?

If you are pondering camp for 2022 and are wondering if your daughter is ready give us a call. We are happy to help support you in the process of determining if this is the best summer – Camp Runoia  207 495 2228.

We have limited openings and would love to find the right ‘ready’ campers to fill them!

A new season for Camp Runoia

It is barely a little over a month since we shuttered the buildings and closed down camp for the 2021 summer season. Many of our campers have just gone back to school and the leaves are hardly changing color here in Maine and yet our 2022 summer season is open! Early enrollment is in full swing for next summer which is so exciting. This past summer was amazing, we had a blast on Great Pond with old friends and new and truly cannot wait to do it all again next year. After a tough year with lock downs and quarantines, zoom school and no activities our girls were thrilled to be at camp in real time with people. The fun lasted literally from dawn until dusk and even into the night in some cases! We are grateful that parents had confidence that we could pull it off and recognize the social and emotional growth that happens at camp and is even more necessary as kids have been removed form their typical experiences.

In 2020 we were grateful to be able to open with a limited camper capacity and operating only one three week session. We had no idea what the knock on effect would be for future enrollment and couldn’t have predicted that we would still have been in the midst of a global pandemic as we opened the 2021 season. This past summer saw us welcoming 100 new families into our community. How lucky we were to see many of our old campers returning and to have the opportunity to get to know so many awesome new girls.  Camp was full and it felt so good to be operating our regular season again and while there were still some modifications to navigate covid protocols it felt much more like a regular summer.

 

Now here we are looking towards 2022 with an unprecedented early enrollment of returning campers. We have been delightfully shocked by how eager families are to sign up for early enrollment spaces. There have been an increased number of requests for full session spaces and even our younger camper slots and sessions are filling ahead of their usual timeline. This is great news for camp and fantastic from a business perspective yet is certainly a little stressful for folks that are not quite ready to commit yet.

We understand it’s hard to know how life will shake out in the next 11 months. Where we will all be at with covid and its impact on everyday living. The good news is that In uncertain times, camp is a sure thing. Camp Runoia will open in June 2022 for our 116th continuous summer on Great Pond. Campers will swim in the lake, enjoy the great Maine outdoors, connect with friends and learn new skills. There will laughter, bug bites, marshmallows and singing. Camp will welcome old and new faces with the goal of everyone having the best summer ever!

 

We hope that all of our 2021 campers will be back to be joined by some new faces for another amazing summer of building lifelong skills. The season is open for 2022 and we couldn’t be happier.