“Home at Last” – a written piece on ‘why Maine?’ by M.J. Mott-Auns

On the last night of our celebration at this summer’s reunion, as we were hugged on the waterfront by trees and warmed by the campfire, alumna M.J. Mott-Auns (1954-1964, 1984-1995) shared a written piece in response to the ever-asked question: “why did you move to Maine?”

This piece sparked many collective dreamy sighs, laughs, and a few tears amongst the crowd – while you won’t experience the joy of hearing M.J. read it aloud, she has shared it with us to read to ourselves:

 

When we first moved to Maine, the most often asked question was “Why did you move here?” If directed to my husband Vilis, he would simply point to me. I then had to find an answer that made sense and didn’t involve too much explanation. But answering that question never seemed easy to me. My journey to living in Maine began many years ago.

I was an only child raised by a single parent and I was lonely.  My father died when I was four and my mother had to step in and run the family insurance business.  As you might imagine this created some parenting dilemmas as I was way too young to be left to my own devices.  It happened that when I was 7 my mother heard about a wonderful camp in Maine where I would be with children my own age and older and be well cared for. So it was that I found myself, along with my friend Romney driving with our parents into New York city on a June afternoon so that the two of us could be put on the camp train and sent to Maine for two months. I remember feeling scared and nervous, but not wanting to let Romney see that side of me.  She was both more confident and sophisticated than I was.

We arrived in the city and found our way into the Statler Hilton Hotel where we would have dinner before boarding the camp train.  We were dressed in nice dresses and our brand-new camp blazers.  As we were sitting down, my mother said

 “See those girls sitting at that table over there?  I’ll bet they are headed to camp too. Wouldn’t it be fun if they are going to Runoia?”

All during dinner I wondered about those two girls and whether they would be on the same train with Romney and me. I also noticed that one was crying all through the meal. I was happy that although I was sad to be leaving my mom, at least I wasn’t crying like a baby. I ate as slowly as possible to prolong the trip into the station, but eventually it was time.

When we got into Grand Central Station, I looked around and all I could see were signs with different camp names. I couldn’t imagine how we would find the right one, but we did. There were lots of girls waiting already and most of them seemed very excited, a good sign I thought.  Then I saw those two girls from dinner approaching.  Sure enough they were going to my camp too and it was their first year as well.  One was still crying. Little did I know that she would be one of my bridesmaids many years later.

Goodbyes were said and some tears shed, but we got on the train and soon enough were pulling out of the station. The whole train, it turned out, was devoted to transporting children to camp in Maine. Runoia filled up one car. We slept in bunks and spent much of the night peering out of the curtains to see the older girls talking and singing camp songs at the end of our car. Meanwhile I was making friends of my own and comforting the crying girl who would become one of my best friends.

The next morning, we arrived at a little station in Belgrade, Maine and were met by the camp director who was named Johnny, the Arts and Crafts counselor Shelley, and a few other counselors.  We were shown which cars to get in and were driven to camp in Belgrade Lakes. I was in the car driven by Johnny. She was a little scary to me, but I did notice that most of the other girls were laughing and joking with her and I began to relax. When we turned onto Point Road Johnny told us that there were a few steep hills to climb and that the car we were in needed some help to climb them. She told us that we should all raise our feet off the floor of the car when she gave the signal and that would help the car make it up the hill. We did as we were told, and eventually all the new girls realized this was a joke that Johnny always played on new campers. When we arrived, we were told how to find our cabins and off we went.  I remember smelling the pine and the old wood of some of the buildings and thinking it smelled like perfume. There was a lake down a hill, tennis courts, a tree house, and way too much to take in all at once.  I knew I would love this place from that moment on.  I felt as though I had found a second home. Romney and I were both in 4th Shack which made me happy.

I attended Camp Runoia for ten summers as both a camper and a counselor, and those years were formative for me.  I learned about being a child among children which was sometimes difficult for me as an only child.  On the flip side, I learned the joys of sisterhood and embraced those fully. Sports became central to my life and have brought me great joy. Being a counselor gave me skills I used all my working life as a teacher. All of this helped me to become the person I am today. My camp friends and I marvel to this day that we were able to have this incredible experience.  I see several of my camp friends to this day, people I have known and loved for over 60 years. 

I returned to camp when I had children of my own to be an Assistant to Betty Cobb.  My daughter attended and my son went to another camp on the lake. Vilis enjoyed being part of it all, happily grilling at camp cookouts and attending campfires. Even our Yellow Lab Jamie was a part of Runoia although he usually stayed on his own property except when it was cookout night and there were all sorts of treats for him to clean up after the campers left for evening program.

I am still involved with Runoia as a member of the Alumnae Board that exists to raise scholarship money for girls who could otherwise not afford to come to this wonderful place. As I return each summer for our board meeting, I still get butterflies when I drive through the camp gates.

And so, when I am asked “Why Maine?”

I almost always answer,

“Because of camp.”

To Change: The 2022 Log Dedication

If I were to hold a self-authored book in my hand titled ‘lessons learned in recent years,’ the first page would read: “change, while uncomfortable, and at times even scary, is inevitable, necessary, and important.” Just below this line would read a dedication which credits this realization largely in part to my experiences at Runoia and my witnessing its resilience.

I hold immense gratitude for Runoia’s eagerness to change in ways that show care for our community and open our gates to more friends and family each year. Runoia is able to hold fast to its most vital traditions and pieces of history when we are flexible and bold enough to transform around them.

We owe our continuation, and the perpetuation of our traditions and history, to the courage of ourselves and of generations before us to change. It is due to this courage that we may keep what matters most: the same small bell that has called our attention for over eighty years; our voices that carry through Runoia trees with melodies passed through lifetimes; our boathouse which stands with painted names from the 1920’s through 2022; a culture of summer siblings and lifelong family. 

The winds of Camp Runoia have taught me that change is good. The winds play no favorites – filling our sails one moment, then shifting to calm our waters for skiers the next. Among the winds, we honor all of the transformative shifts of Runoia:

 

Everything ‘lost’ each summer which has ever made room for something ‘found’;

The rain which rolls in just as we could use respite from the sun; 

New lyrics which empower us rather than place us in boxes;

New campers and counselors who arrive at our gates; 

 

People coming as strangers and leaving as siblings;

The ‘Bees and Eees’; 

The changes made each summer, 116 times over, which have made Runoia a permanent fixture in our summers and souls.

 

I hereby dedicate the 2022 log to the changes, both monumental and slight, of the past 116 summers of Runoia, and to its agents of change – our campers, staff, and alumni. May we continue to adjust our sails together to point toward the future. Tonight we celebrate changes which have made Runoia what it is, and who it is, and have led to this very moment exactly as it is now – Runoia and I would not have it any other way.

The 2022 Name Story

As we close the books on the 2022 season, a few traditions hold fast – including our name story featuring the names of our staff members and full season campers. Written by Alex and best read aloud, we present to you the 2022 name story:

Runoia adventures

Once upon a time at a coed summer camp called Runoia, there was a Zahny group of campers who planned to go off on a grand trip adventure.While they didn’t really know what to expect Allison, Shirley, Martin, Russell , Jacob and Grace were so excited to hop into the White van with the counselors in the Cabrera and Gomez on their way.  They hurried to get packed up and head out. At a Quarez to Tena as the sun Vose over Great Pond and  Raya’s shone in the Skiera and on to the lake they were Dyeing to get started. With the help of Jackson, Murray they planned their lists of what to bring. ‘Oh Budieri we Mahedy need our Hobbs nail boots and can feNagle, Sanchez’s and snacks for the ride’.

They needed plenty of supplies to take with them and wondered Howes it would all fit.  They packed Ekart full of gear then worked on the cooking supplies .”Alvarez you? its time to Rohatyn over to get the canoes from the Marini so that we can load the trailer.

When packing they obviously needed  a Kettell to Cook- Wright , their food included Wieners, delicious  Heuburgers made from Angus beef to get Friedman with crispy corn Cobbs, Boles of spicy Zacapantzi pasta and for extra flavor some Fennelly, Lea and Perrin worcestershire sauce to Dunckel everything in and of course after dinner Mintz. It all looked so Goodman the other campers paid Atienza so they would be  what to bring when it was their turn to go.

There was no need to pack Adams, Clancy Martone pants as they wouldn’t have an opportunity to Dresdow up on their adventure and they would just get Ruized.

As the bell Tinged, they Baydin their camp friends goodbye and they were off out of the Frey. They Lopezed through the Lundgren fields,  Oberdieck instead of through the Colbourn around Paa Kerner and down into the Valle.  When they got to the campsite there was a Hernadez  Welstead for water and they Kavaluskused around at the Botten of the hill picking Blaubergs and deSnydering where to pitch their Bixby Brown tents.

After a delicious dinner and listening to the call of the Bolduc- Jackson had heard on the lake they snuggled up for bed. It was a very Cliette night until a shriek Pearsoned the night and with the Patarini of scurrying feet, the campers Wennered what on earth was going on. In the confusion that ensued, Bradshaw a dark shape in the woods. The emergency Hornbostel rang through the night.   “Oh SantamariaMay cried.  “O’Brien get Hoffman you are being a Dorsch” yelled Jones O’Malley, “grab the Hackett and we will go investigate” It turned out even though it all looked a little Sussman it was just a Schiferstein deer wandering by. Petersen Wilson, was experienced in Morse code so sent a message off to camp to let them know everything was fine and they would see them in the morning.

Camp Magic and the Staff Who Make it So

It’s hard to believe that we’ve rounded the corner into the final week of second session and all of camp 2022! Crazier yet – today marks the final day of the final block of summer. Yet we haven’t called it on the end of summer just yet – the camp magic lives on for another five days.

As I type, there are skiers out on the water pushing for their slalom queen, archers squeezing in one more level, actors singing their way through rehearsals for High School Musical. And while we are sad to hang up our ski lines, put away our bows, and to soon close our scripts – we still have full days ahead that promise memories made of beach trips, swimming to Oak Island, cheering friends at the variety show, laughing until we burst at Miss Tacky, and much more.

And so, while this past Sunday was our yearly #SundayFunday – complete with snow-cones, s’mores, a waterslide, chances to sink counselors in a dunk tank, a slip-n-slide, and fun galore – camp is more of an #EverydayFunday deal here at Runoia.

 

It’s an all-day-every-day affair! Fun is in the wake-up music played in shacks, the uncontrollable giggles at breakfast when an unsuspecting counselor gets plated, the songs and traditions of assembly, the friends made from other shacks in classes, the quiet whispers and games of rest hour, cartwheels on the grass at dinner, the surprise of EP, the sharing of funny moments at circle time.

But since a giant waterslide isn’t a permanent fixture of the apple tree field, the daily fun of camp can truly be traced back to our wonderful staff. Not only are they experts of their activity areas, they are masters of silly costumes, makers of magic, causers of belly-laughs, singers of songs, servers of meals, wipers of tears, solvers of problems, inspirers of smiles! How lucky we are at Runoia for its camp magic and for those who make it so.

 

Second session is in full swing

It has been another incredible week of growing together on Great Pond. Balmy summer days have been much appreciated and having a lake to cool off in is such a treat. Camp Runoia is bustling from morning until night with the sounds of happy campers.

Campers have been so busy participating in all that camp has to offer. From activities, to day trips, climbing mountains and sleeping in tents to crazy fun evening programs and quiet rest hours the days are crammed packed. Free time has seen a lot of blueberry picking as our campus wild blueberries are abundant this summer. 7th shack were practicing their life skills of throwing them up and catching them in their mouth. There is so much to do and being outdoors all day is the absolute best!

 

After a challenging prep hike at Tumbledown mountain our first overnight camping trip of the session headed out to Katahdin.  Senior Village campers and a couple of our CIT’s were eager for their chance to hike Maine’s tallest mountain. It was a successful ascent and a fabulous trip for all. Ocho will be rolling out next week. It is a capstone event for our adventuring hikers. Juniors will be heading out hiking too this week. Harmony Land Camp submitted ‘The Mountain’ in Belgrade Lakes and everyone else will be off to Camden Hills State Park. Meanwhile our two JMG candidates are off at testing camp and we cannot wait to hear the stories that they have to tell.

Our friend Matt from World of Change brought the change truck in on Sunday – second session campers brought in almost double the amount of loose change that first session did. The grand Runoia total in change was over $600 and our campers were very thoughtful about where they would like the money to be spent. We will also be delivering our collected food to the local food pantry this week. Supporting our neighbors and showing up in our community is important to us and we are grateful to all those that chipped in.

 

Where to even start with EP! Highlight of the week so far was ‘dress your counselor’ – the goal is that you have to get as many items of clothing as you can onto the on duty counselor. Lucky for Alex she was on with Ocho! They fought hard seeking a win and she was wearing 81 items; they were sadly narrowly beaten by the 7th shack. Counselors were great sports with sweat pouring down their faces and barely being able to walk. There was also a beach party, lipsynch, powder fairies and our Sunday night campfire. The theme for the campfire was a ‘letter to our planet’ and campers shared how they feel they can make a difference protecting resources and helping our world stay healthy.

 

We look forward to the cooler nights coming up and the long days that we can fill with friends and fun. The time is going by too fast, our HLC campers depart tomorrow (and a surprise tea party this afternoon- shhh!)  after such a successful session. We hope to see them all back on Great Pond next summer.

 

Bobos from camp

Aionur

Endings and Beginnings – a new Runoia session rolls in

Hello, Runoia Family!

This past week on Great Pond has been full.

Smiles and Laughs. Huge Accomplishments. Favorite songs and long hugs. Ecstatic family reunions as well as see-you-later’s with new and old friends. We are sad to say goodbye to our summer friends but know we will cross paths again in the future.

The final days of First Session, we had eleven campers complete the Oak Island swim. A one-mile swim in open water, it is no small feat. Our brave swimmers woke at 6 A.M., and were in the water by 6:40. All finished strong, and were greeted with the cheers of all of their friends who came down to the waterfront to support them before breakfast.This group was building life skills of determination, preparation, perseverance and commitment. We also played team sports for the Bees and Elephants, rode in the horse show and proved ourselves on the courts.

Eligible First Session graduates finished their plaques and got to see them hung in the boathouse. So many feelings hung in the air while best friends watched their plaques be drilled in side-by-side. Echoes of “I can’t wait until it’s my turn” and “I hope I can put my plaque right there when I’m in Senior Village” radiated among the young campers who were also excitedly watching the ceremonial placements. Graduation dinner was bittersweet. Enjoying a ‘fancy’ meal in the spiffed up boathouse with your camp friends is a tradition that we relish.

Certificates were also given to all campers, in intimate cabin-group ceremonies. Each certificate outlined campers’ activities they tried, as well as levels passed and achievements reached.

The last night of First Session was our much anticipated last Campfire. All were grateful for perfect weather and a beautiful sunset on the lake. Shacks took turns coming up and sharing camp memories, and what they look forward to at camp next summer. First year pennants, Five-year blankets, and awards for Advanced Equestrian, Windsurfing Queen, and American Archer were given. We sang all of our favorite songs while we said goodnight to cabins one by one, until only a tearful Senior Village remained- to sing one last song together as campers.

After saying our see-you-laters the next morning, staff had a quick turnaround and Second Session campers arrived the very next day!

Monday held Orientation and Swim Tests, and a day trip out for Full Season campers to Smalls Falls. Yesterday started our first block of the session, with everyone going to activities in their shack groups.  We are getting to know new friends and reconnecting with the old ones. It’s so good to be back out on the Blue Waves even when the summer breezes blow a bit strong!

The camp magic has never left the air, and we cannot wait to see it continue for all of Second Session.

Blogged by Nina B.

Time flies when you are having a blast!

Oh my goodness it doesn’t seem but just 2 minutes since we were donning red,white and blue for the 4th of July! The week blasted by with every second filled to the brim.  It’s hard to find a starting place and an end! The long summer days and fantastic Maine weather have allowed us to make the most of everything offered to us and have so much fun!

We welcomed our HLC A campers on July 5th. They might be small but they certainly are mighty and leapt into camp life mostly in a bathing suit! Getting them out of the lake is a challenge for sure. They have tried activities, hiked mountains, been to the beach and did we mention showed up at every rec swim possible?  Harmony Land Camp is a great way to have a short ‘try it’ experience and we know that this crowd is definitely ready for main camp next summer.

Pretty much everyone has been out to the Maine coast, Popham Beach for seniors and Pemaquid for juniors. It’s great to get out of camp and enjoy a picnic and a fun day doing something different. A long standing Runoia tradition that everyone really looks forward to.

Our Ocho Katahdin hikers had the best trip ever and apparently beat all times for getting up and down the mountain in a little over 7 hours!  The full season girls are begging to go again next session. Providing challenging experiences with supportive adults to guide you is what camp is all about. The SV girls are out now and hoping to make it to the summit tomorrow, weather permitting. Having older campers as role models and seeing the accomplishments of others makes our summer family feel like a place you can safely call home.

Although it has been a bit of a windy week sailors have been out on ‘the blue waves’, campers are passing levels in waterski and windsurfing and our JMG candidates were honing their canoe skills. We are lucky to have Runoia alums Ginny Geyer and Meg (Tabell) Kasprak coming in a couple of days a week helping them.

Activity time has been super busy with lots of projects being turned out in the arts department. We have been trialing a new leather craft program which has been a big hit. Baskets, batik, photos, lino prints and a million more bracelets will be heading home if we can pack them! Not forgetting target sports, horse back riding, play practice and all of the things in between, we are exhausted when we fall into bed at night.

EP’s have varied a lot this week, from a chill all-camp movie night watching and singing along to Encanto, the much anticipated Variety Show, birthday tables and the laundry bag game. We fit in a Sunday campfire which was a bit of a rush as we were all enjoying our Sunday sundaes on the kickball field. Our oldest Senior campers celebrated their years at Runoia with their graduation dinner in a fancied up boathouse. They are busy painting their plaques that will be put up before they depart and be a lasting memory of their time on Great Pond.

Still more….

We played our first big round of games and picked team captains for the Bees and Elephants this past Sunday. This group of campers have taken on the transition of team names and colors with gusto! Team captains are Sayles, Vee, Sofi and Clare! There are amazing new cheers, and they have used the old ones with some rewriting. Bs and Es or Ellies were running wild on the fields and courts for kickball, softball, soccer, volleyball and tennis. Swim races and the horse show are coming up later in the week. The Es are poised to make a monumental comeback after a few years of losses.

As we head into our last tag up block we are making the most of all of the opportunities that camp has given us and will be sad to be packing trunks and duffels on Friday. How has it gone by so fast? how many days until next summer?

See you soon,

Aionur

Bee’s and E’s – week two @camprunoia

Week two of Camp Runoia’s 116th season, has been packed full of adventures, new skills, friend making and about a 1000 friendship bracelets being produced. The Fine Maine Days have been filled with laughter and singing as we sink into the camp experience.

From weather forecasters and TV appearances to July 4th celebrations our days are packed from the minute we wake up until we fall into bed at night. Loons on the lake at night lull us to sleep and we wake to the crows and sheep ready to start new days filled with fun. 

Our campers have settled in, made new friends and are enjoying the fabulous Maine weather and lake life. With a covid free camp it has been a mix and match program week spending time with friends throughout camp. There have been lots of fun activities to tag up for, art projects to get started, rec swims, gaga games and wacky evening programs. The food has been amazing and we often joke that we have to fit camp in between meals and snacks! We are grateful to the positive energy that radiates from the kitchen and the hard work of the staff to keep us all fed with healthy, nutritious and delicious food.

We have been able to get back to more trips this summer and are enjoying getting out and about seeing the best of Maine. It’s the perfect place to be in the summer with so many natural resources and bright sunny days for visiting the mountains and the ocean. Day trips and camping trips get us out of camp and out into nature.

It was a ‘Wild Wednesday’ with some campers doing activities in camp, whilst the other half ventured out on trips. The Juniors went to Camden Hills State Park for a hiking day trip. The keen hikers went for a two hour, woodland hike and enjoyed their packed lunch with the beautiful scenery at the top of Mount Battie. Other hikers even complimented the girls singing as they climbed the mountain, showing off their Runoia spirit. Older girls had a prep hike at Tumbledown, they will be hiking Mount Katahdin later in the session and stretched their legs and enjoyed the lake at the top. Surrounded by nature on yet another Fine Maine day, campers took on the tough hike with determination and excitement. At the end of the four mile hike, campers were rewarded with the stunning views of Tumbledown’s surrounding mountains.

For our Harmony Land Mini campers, they had a fun day trip on Thursday to Pemaquid Beach. Campers were able to cool off while having fun on a hot, fine Maine day. They enjoyed splashing around in the waves, making sandcastles, and seeing the beautiful, coastal landscape that Maine has to offer. We were sad to see them leave at the end of their session and will welcome HLC A on the 5th. Seeing our youngest friends grow and learn during their stay at camp was very rewarding and we know that they will all be back to join main camp next year

The longest trip of the week consisted of a three day overnight camping trip to Acadia National Park. Here our campers went to the beach, climbed over rocks, explored nature and learned camping skills for outdoor living. The favorite thing about the whole trip was watching the sunrise over the harbor from Cadillac mountain.

Evening Programs or EP’s at camp are a great way to end our long days being altogether and having fun. From running games like Capture the Flag, Run Sheepy Run and a Scavenger Hunt to a Pairs Party and Lyp Synch contest we have used teamwork, creativity and athletic ability to have a blast. We always end the day with milk and crackers served by our fabulous CIT’s

The World of Change Truck rolled in yesterday and we chose how we would like all of our loose change to be spent helping kids in our community. Some campers felt very inspired to take the message home to their hometowns and get the program going there too. Encouraging kids to make a difference however small and truly be ‘the change’ in their world builds life skills that are of great importance.

New campers picked their teams or followed their alumnae family members onto a team. Campers have embraced the new team names and colors and are busy updating and rewriting cheers and creating new team spirit! Bees and Elephants or Ellie’s or E’s are ready to hit the fields and courts next week and earn points for their teams. Martina was able to articulate well the importance of this change and how it is our responsibility so show up in positive and affirming ways for all members of our community. Integrating and explaining out DEI work is an important part of being a progressive camp that works for continual improvement and is willing to say just because it’s been that way or is a tradition doesn’t make it right!

We will be slipping and sliding through today for the 4th of July celebrations with crazy fun stations and our traditional all camp relay later in the day. Ending with a campfire and sparklers at the lake these are the days that make our camp memories strong.

Sending much love home from the shores of Great Pond!

Camp Runoia’s 116th season get’s going!

The best day of the year so far was June 24th. Opening day of Camp Runoia’s 116th season. It was a fine Maine day and the energy that poured into camp was absolutely amazing. From airports to highways, our campers navigated to camp filled with enthusiasm, excitement and for a few a little trepidation. Cabins quickly filled up, bags were unpacked and name games started. 

Old friends shared hugs and new friends were quickly made. By supper time the volume was high, the laughs were many and everyone was excited to see what the next few days would bring.

The first full day of camp always starts with a morning of orientation to get everyone up to speed with all of the guidelines and systems. Staff shared information about activities and campers practiced safety protocols and took swim tests.  The afternoon we were quickly into activities with shack groups and every area of camp was filled with fun. Volleyball is once again super popular with large groups of all ages and abilities playing together on the court.

We started strong with covid protocols in attempts to reduce risk and disruption for the community. We are doing some masking when we are mixing indoors and have been tagged up with our shack group for the first block. Everyone is engaged and busy all day long and we are finding that it is already much quieter earlier at night especially in Junior end. Long days outdoors being active and without tech feels so good. 

It is impressive how quickly everyone had adapted to the camp routine, understands the schedule and is ready to spend their day adventuring all over camp. The bell gets us up in the morning and keeps us rolling on time all day long. From the lake to the barn there is action and learning going on everywhere. It is impossible to count the number of friendship bracelets already made and the books being read. Unstructured free time often sees the gaga pit, courts and fields full of happy campers hanging out and playing together. Counselors are keeping a close eye on things and supporting those that need a little extra to navigate their way around. 

The kitchen crew has been cooking up a storm and we are being kept very well fed. Three meals and three snacks a day keeps us energized. So far there have been great options including produce from our own camp garden. The farm class harvested kale and cooked up some kale chips to try. We have sheep at camp for the first time this year. They are providing plenty of entertainment as are the chickens. We are trying hard to reduce food waste and compost what we can.

Our night time evening programs(EP’s) have been a blast, we started with an old camp favorite, ‘capture the flag’ did some sporty rotations and had our first campfire of the season last night. It was so great to all be together at the lake sharing about our ‘Cultural Diversity’, singing songs and enjoying the loons and the sunset.

 

Camp is a Puzzle

Camp is a puzzle – and our pieces are slowly starting to come together this week.

The funny thing is, we don’t have a puzzle box for reference – we know what previous summers looked like in memory, but no two are ever the same! We will have to wait for each piece to be laid throughout the next two months until we can stand back and admire the picture made. 

For the past month at camp, we’ve strategically laid edge pieces and built the frame of our 2022 puzzle, leaving the sides of pieces open for others that hopefully click in perfectly. Edge pieces set in place include boats built and placed in the water, cabins cleaned and prepped for staff arrivals, seeds planted – literal and metaphorical, beds built, a kitchen stocked – you name it, it’s been done!

Yesterday we gained 10 new pieces – bringing hints of what our puzzle will look like this year. Of these 10 staff arrivals, 9 made their way to Runoia from across Mexico. Summer 2022 brings back puzzle pieces painted in hues of cultural exchange!

Today and tomorrow bring 8 more pieces – 7 of these to round out the leadership staff who have worked all year in preparation for summer. After this, the flood gates open – over 50 more staff members will make their way to us between now and opening day, and suddenly staff training is rolling in full force!

On the Runoia home page, way down at the bottom, is a countdown to camp. I’ve watched it dwindle from triple digits to double digits over months, and now it sits at a mere 14 days. In these two short weeks, on opening day of 2022, we will still only have a partially complete puzzle. Our campers will be the ones to fill in the remaining spaces and truly paint the picture of the summer with their experiences, skills gained, laughs shared, bracelets made, songs sung, games played, and friendships formed.

Here are a few more pieces I can’t wait to see click into place:

  • trip songs shared by brave Katahdin summiters
  • plaques and a dinner signifying our graduating camper’s accomplishments
  • levels passed and awards earned
  • cozy campfires on the beach
  • Oak Island swimmers crossing the finish line

Some pieces of this summer we will know well – traditions passed for years down the line at camp. But it’s the “new in 2022” pieces which I can’t wait to see find their place: new campers, new staff, brand new norms and traditions.

And we can’t wait to see how you fit into our puzzle this summer.

Until then,

Aionur