Covid-19 Round 3

So far the score of the round is Runoia 2 and Covid 0. As we enter our third summer of living with Covid, we hope to make the score Runoia 3 and Covid 0 at the end of this summer, too.  We take the health of our community seriously and the emotional and physical safety of campers and staff are paramount.

Here’s the sneak peak of our Covid testing plan for camp this summer. Things might change but you get the sense of our approach through these details.

Camp Runoia Summer 2022 Covid-19 Testing Plan

Campers must arrive at camp healthy with no cold or flu symptoms, if you are sick with cold/flu symptoms (even if you are Covid negative) you may come to camp when you are fever free for 24 hours and symptoms are gone or mild. Campers with mild symptoms may have to mask at times in camp. 

Campers who have had Covid in the past 90 days: 

  • Campers who had a confirmed case of Covid-19 (a positive test, not a presumed case) within 90 days of the start of their camp session, do not need to test at all prior to or upon arrival in camp. This includes if they have a positive antigen or PCR test 10-12 days prior to arrival and have completed their 10 day quarantine. 

Camper Testing – Pre-Arrival Testing – two tests BEFORE arrival: 

  1. PCR test at home 10-12 days prior to camp- done locally to camper and arranged by family. This allows you to quarantine before you get to camp if you test positive for Covid. Report positive results to camp. 
  2. A rapid antigen test is required the night prior to camp or the morning before departing for camp. This test can by the family with a test they provide for themselves. Report positive results to camp. 

Positive Results:

If the rapid antigen results are positive, the camper should not come to camp on opening day and should contact the camp director. A positive result is a positive result: no PCR confirmation is needed if the rapid test is positive. 

If vaccinated, the camper must isolate outside of camp with their family for 5 days, arrive 5 days late and then mask (indoors and outside) for 5 days upon arrival and sleep and eat separately for those first 5 days at camp; completing their 10 days of isolation. 

If not vaccinated, (asymptomatic or symptomatic), the camper remains with family for 10 days and may arrive 10 days late to camp. 

Post Arrival:

All campers will PCR test in camp (saliva test) 3-4 days after arrival to camp. For Senior campers, we plan to test the evening of day #3, for Junior campers, we plan to test on morning of day #4

For campers who test positive for Covid while at camp: a family member will have to pick up their camper within 24 hours and isolate out of camp for 5 days. They will not be able to remain in camp and will need to be picked up from camp. Exceptions may be made for campers who are vaccinated and are non-symptomatic, decisions will be made on a case by case basis.

Camp Runoia Staff Testing Protocols for Pre-Camp and Staff Training One Month – 10 days before campers arrive.

  • Staff will self-administer rapid antigen test the night prior to camp or the morning before arrival to camp.
  • Staff will take a rapid antigen test in camp on day 3
  • Staff will take a rapid antigen test in camp on day 5

Staff must remain in their cohorts until 3rd test (day 5) is negative.

Reminder about Covid Positive Cases within 90 days of camp: Any campers or staff that had a confirmed case of Covid 19 (a positive test, not a presumed case) within 90 days of the start of their camp session, does not need to test at all upon arrival or in camp. This includes if they have a positive antigen or PCR test 10-12 days prior to arrival and have completed their quarantine. 

Testing Overview:

Camper Info: Staff Info: Exempt from testing
PCR 10-12 days prior to camp Antigen test day prior or morning of camp Positive case within 90 days prior to the start of camp including antigen or PCR positive within 2 weeks start of camp 
Antigen day prior or morning of camp Antigen test day 3
PCR day 3/4 of camp Antigen test day 5

 



 

 

Connections Build Community

As we gear up for our 116th consecutive camp season connections in our community are paramount – more than ever.

I recently reviewed our staff/counselor list of names and my excitement for camp grew. In just over one month, young leaders from all over the United States and from around the world will gather with us to connect, learn from each other, define core values, practice teaching skills, and most of all build a healthy community welcoming children to join in and stretch and grow through the camp experience.

One name on the list jumped out at me. Liz and I met because she thanked me for supporting her college. As a student working with Sterling College advancement, she reached out with a personalized thank you note to me. She told me about a field study trip she was taking with her class to the SW of the United States. She is from Brooklyn, NY and was excited and a little nervous for her adventure – completely normal. I looked her up and reached out to her. Someone with her courage and determination was someone I was interested in finding out more about!  Fast forward through the connection, she applied to camp and Alex Jackson, our co-director interviewed and hired her as a counselor who will help lead trips, work on our ropes course and connect with youth in an outdoor, unplugged setting.

Camp is all about connections. Our alumnae come back to camp to work and send their children to camp. Our staff reach out to friends to have them work at camp. Our families, alumnae and staff meet people who seem like a great fit and invite them to come to camp to work. Our assistant directors, Jen and Colleen, reconnect with camp friends and reach out to college friends and people in specific jobs, be it nursing or crafts, riding or rowing, and help them find their way to our community. Together we join at camp to build our summer community of leaders. We are all very excited and maybe a little nervous – completely normal.

Jen recently added a fun pre-camp idea for our counselors. Alex has our returning campers write a new camper before camp starts. Sometimes they become pen pals and it’s a lovely, old-fashioned way to make a connection before you come to camp.  Jen extended this same idea to counselors. This year, she has connected returning counselors with new counselors by letter writing.  At Camp Runoia, we are part of something bigger than ourselves. Whether we are campers or counselors, it’s the connections that make the difference.

Sometimes it all starts with a simple and personalized thank you letter or a new pen pal connection.

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

 

‘Filling Your Cup’ at Camp as an Introvert

January is a quiet time – an introvert’s dream – a time for ‘filling your cup’ to store up energy for the summer.  Here in the mountains of Colorado, it means soft, plush snow and a trail so quiet, you can hear the trees creaking in the wind. As a high-energy assistant camp director and tutor, I think people often assume that I am an extrovert. How could you possibly do all of that and not be? I love being around and working with people, sure, but oftentimes it is draining. I recharge as an introvert does – alone, often outside on a trail, or maybe inside with a cup of tea and a good book or craft.

So then, why camp? Or rather, how camp, as an introvert? Is camp really a space where an introverted camper or staff member can happily thrive in such a busy environment? Yes – with a little something we call “filling your cup” here at Runoia.

We know that our staff and our campers cannot ‘pour from an empty cup’, and introverts can find that cup drawing dangerously low after a busy day full of social time. Filling your cup means something different to each person; it is whatever we like to do that recharges our battery when we sense it getting low. Some may find a solo, early morning run before breakfast fills their cup; others may be seen reading a book during rest hour to recharge.

Luckily, Runoia is built for our extroverts, introverts, and ambiverts alike. Our schedule is built intentionally to include quiet, reflective times like rest hour and bed time routines, as well as times of choice – unstructured free time when campers can recharge however they need each day. Even our 30+ activity areas offer campers the chance to slow down, focus on a project, or spend more time in nature.

Our campers may slow down and recharge with a bracelet-making session on their shack porch, a walk down the nature path, or perhaps a book enjoyed in a Crazy Creek on the lawn. Staff may be seen watching a sunset on the docks, taking an early morning walk or run, or enjoying a yoga session with Kara.

Camp’s reputation as a space for everyone is not for nothing. We see a beautiful spectrum of personalities in our campers and our staff each summer, and it is what makes our community whole, and so strong. Introverts and extroverts alike – here we are, settling into winter,  dreaming of summer.

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 

 

Inclusivity at Camp Runoia

Camp is inherently an inclusive experience where youth have the chance be a member of a community, part of something bigger than themself and to develop skills at their own pace. They also have a chance to form and express opinions, try new activities without fear of humiliation and unplug, laugh and be silly.

More recently youth across country found themselves exploring more about pronoun usage, gender identity and wondering who they are in society. Camps became safe harbors (across the country) where youth explored pronoun usage and other gender non-conforming concepts – not because camps were promoting exploration but rather because it was a youth-driven experience.

What surprised me most about the summer of 2021 was not another round of Covid challenges (expected), not a staff shortage (expected), not simple joys of face-to-face connections (expected) but finding out from my peers who operate boys camps, girls camps, co-ed camps, day camps, that they too, had an increased amount of youth exploring their identity. One camp said they had a whole bunk of girls show up in skirts and dresses to support a boy who wanted to wear a skirt to dinner. Another director told me most of the boys in camp painted their nails at one point or another and he also had his nails painted. Another camp owner mentioned an increase in girls who returned to camp wanting to use the pronouns he/him/his and be called by a typically boys’ name. All camps I know of just went with the flow and allowed campers to be themselves and just enjoy camp rather than freak out about being accepted.

At camp we introduce ourselves now as I’m so and so and my pronouns are… it feels normal and fluid although it took some getting used to by many older people. Here’s one camp mom’s perspective.

Are you reading this and wondering how we went down this path and why camp is an inclusive experience? Do you feel like you need a few more tools to figure out what we’re talking about?  Or maybe you have more to share with us. Please do!  We turned to NPR for some better understanding ourselves. We don’t pretend to be experts in diversity and inclusion but we are willing to learn and our leadership staff and summer staff at Runoia are 100% behind us.

The bottom line at Camp Runoia is we want all people to feel safe, accepted and part of our community. We continue to be a girls’ camp offering amazing, top notch, premiere camp experiences for youth. This includes age appropriate conversations about who you are, how you feel about yourself and how you want others to include you. We also want to support parents and collaborate with them to provide the best camp experience possible going into 2022.

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.

Making bagels a recipe for happiness

A lifelong love of baking, a summer working in the camp kitchen and connecting all of those life skills with developing positive mental health strategies. 

Tori’s guest blog this week is an excerpt from her descriptive essay about the joys and benefits of making bagels from scratch.

 

When I first tasted a bagel I was genuinely confused as to how people enjoy consuming them. It tastes like a stale piece of bread topped with some expired, whole milk. Their value to this earth and to cultures doesn’t make much sense. They’re not particularly high in vitamins, they taste like cardboard, and are difficult to make. Okay, maybe I judged them too harshly too fast. I let my opinion of one bad bagel escalate into a future of bagel negativity. Once I finally allowed myself to coexist neutrally with the bagel, my perspective changed. Approaching bagels from a different angle made all the difference. The satisfaction of kneading dough, testing herbs, and creating life from scratch lured me in. Watching the dry yeast bubble in excitement while preparing a collection of herbs and flavours makes me feel at home. I can feel the anticipation building up by the time the dough just barely starts to form together. Getting to knead it and let all of my energy out from throughout the week is like my version of a “runners high.” Its relieving nature helps me to expel excess anger and emotion. I think that it’s probably best that I let it out on the dough, rather than on something or someone else. It’s also not like a bad anger, it’s more of an energized one. One that drives self motivation rather than self discipline. By the time I take the bagels out of the oven and bite into their crisp, golden exterior, all of that built up emotion dissipates. I feel calm, refreshed, and relaxed. There is nothing more satisfying than making a bagel, completely from scratch. 

While in the kneading step of the bagel making process, I enjoy experimenting using flavors and herbs. Of course topping a bagel with everything seasoning, or cheese smells amazing by itself, but incorporating herbs takes it to a whole different level. Just for the aromatic aspect, my favourite go-to flavor combination is rosemary and garlic. Not the rosemary you get at the grocery store dried, and not the minced garlic you find in a jar, but the fresh sprigs and full cloves found organically in nature. My favourite part about seasoning breads and focaccias is the trip to my fresh herb garden. Living in Maine does mean that all my herbs are indoors, but I still like to imagine them prospering in their natural biome. Also, the word ‘trip’ might be a bit too generous of a noun. It’s more of a change of rooms carrying my harvesting tools. As I approach my herb collection, I get reminded of all the culinary flavour possibilities that I have yet to develop. Gently peeling individual sprigs off of the base of my plant, its aromatic nature fills my senses with joy. It’s also very joy provoking knowing that harvesting my herbs only encourages new, more quantiful growth. I continue plucking off rosemary sprigs, usually way more than I need, just so I can let my nose take up all of the aroma it possibly can. Then, I scurry over to my other herbs, chopping them carefully with my herb scissors. Another flavour combination I enjoy is chive and herbed goat cheese. I get great satisfaction using my multi-blade scissors to efficiently cut up my chives, without bruising them. 

The feeling of engaging all my senses is so grounding for me. To be able to focus on one sensory stimulation at a time helps me connect with the here and now. It soothes all of the tension being built up in my mind. Somehow, the whole process of not only making bagels, but eating them too, is reassuring to my brain.It helps me feel more satisfied when everything is not completely perfect or equivalent. Having a blob of sticky flour and water turn into an insanely smooth, pliable edible delight  is beyond fascinating. It confuses me how a combination of ingredients, heat, and time can evolve into something so different. Well I guess that’s the science and practiced patience of baking. A learning experience that turns the ordinary into something magnificent and unique while adding a touch of personalization.  

 

By Tori B-J aged 16

 

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.

First week of fun – Great Pond camp life

Our first session girls arrived last Sunday on a hot and sunny Fine Maine Day! After unpacking and meeting/getting reacquainted with their cabin mates, everyone got a chance to take their swim tests and enjoy a quick dip in the lake – our fabulous 8,000 acre Great Pond. Supper was a delicious combo of spaghetti and meatballs, salad and vegetables, garlic bread, and brownies, and it was wonderful to hear the laughter of new and old campers alike ringing through the dining hall and outdoor tents. Evening program for our junior end campers included a game called “Mostest” in which each cabin worked together to create cheers and songs and even wrote and performed a commercial for Runoia! Senior end played Family Feud, while our oldest girls in senior village had their own special campfire by the lake. Milk and Crackers were enjoyed by all before returning to cabins to make community contracts and gain a better understanding of what each of us need to be our best selves at camp this summer. Counselors began reading their cabin books aloud as girls settled into beds for the night. We miss our loved ones who are not with us here at camp, but homesickness is easily overpowered by all of the fun and excitement everyone is having doing activities and spending time with friends. 

The first full day of camp was another hot one! We started with an orientation in which we found out (or were reminded) where everything was around camp, practiced vehicle safety evacuation drills, learned how to put on our PFDs for when we go out on the blue waves in boats, and played many get-to-know-you games. Activities started after lunch and rest hour, and we had almost all campers swimming in the lake for recreational swims! Horses walked and trotted around the ring up at the barn while a fleet of kayaks, canoes, and paddleboards, aka “Floatilla”, headed out into the cove. Our Harmonyland girls took a little hike to our Fairy Ring campsite and built fairy houses out of leaves, sticks, pine needles, and birch bark. After supper, our junior end girls enjoyed a beach night on the waterfront, and our senior end girls got to play a variety of land sports and even got in an evening swim to cool down before bed. Campers fell asleep looking forward to the first activity block starting the next morning.

The first activity block flew by with shacks going together to give each area a try, from flotilla’s on the lake, climbing in the trees and learning the art of shooting sports everyone found something they loved and an activity to work at throughout their session here. The heat meant lots of lake time and evening programs were modified to include much appreciated swims. The sounds of splashing and laughing in the cooler evening air could probably be heard by our Camp Runoia alumnae neighbors over in Echo Cove.

 

A bit of rain and cooler weather provided opportunity to focus on our arts skills, work on fitness and get some impressive dance routines going! Nothing stops us and we kept activities running and the fun going. The gaga pits are full at free time with some intense games going on and everyone being included. 

We are so grateful to have camp full again. To see our girls that we missed last summer, to welcome new friends into the Runoia family and to be able to spend amazing time together on Great Pond. In person, unplugged life in the woods is pretty fantastic! We have been able to watch a nest of baby barred owls learn to fly and hunt in the evenings over the kickball field. How lucky we are to live’in harmony with nature’ and get to have these experiences on our beautiful lake in Maine.

We are ready for another week of fun and frivolity, growth and learning and deepening the friendships that we have started to make.  Making life long memories and developing life long skills every minute of the day!