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

 



 

 

Earth Day: the Runoia Way

As Earth day approaches – you may be wondering: how do we love the earth here at Runoia? To that I say: let me show you and we can count the ways – the Runoia way!

Learning to grow our own food…

and loving and caring for animals!

Learning outdoor skills and Leave No Trace in camp craft…

for the chance to practice those skills on trips to enjoy the natural beauty of Maine!

Learning to create with natural materials…

and watching sunrises and sunsets over Great Pond!

Moving our bodies outside…

and connecting with one-another, unplugged, each day!

We are so grateful for the earth that provides the water of Great Pond for us to swim, boat, and play in, for the tree that houses our favorite hangout spot, for the rocks and peaks that we climb together, for the herbs and veggies that grow in our soil, for the materials we make art with, for the sand we’ve spent hours singing our songs on, for the grass we do our cartwheels on, for each other. Join us in celebrating our earth and all of its splendors this spring!

Grant that we have safe and fun days, and that we respect each other, ourselves, and our planet.

XOXO,

Runoia

The greening of Camp Runoia

Green and Sustainable Practices at Camp Runoia

Thanks to Mark Heuberger for the material for this weeks blog. Mark is dedicated to safe lakefront practice and stewardship. Mark is an awesome advocate for lake protection and preservation and passes his knowledge and enthusiasm along to campers and staff.

This is Camp Runoia’s statement and goals for best environmental practices. We believe that it is our duty to do our best to protect and preserve the land that Camp Runoia sits on and to teach the next generations the importance of walking gently on the earth. We acknowledge that we live on the lands of the Wabanaki people who nurtured the land before us and were dedicated to living in harmony with nature.

Camp Runoia is continually striving to increase the sustainability of our activities and decrease our impact on the environment through green and responsible land use practices. We are proud of what we have accomplished.

Recycling, Composting, and Waste Reduction

· Recycling is and has been a way of life at Runoia for over three decades: paper, corrugated cardboard, glass, plastic, metal, newspapers, and magazines are separated and taken to our town transfer station for recycling. Campers, counselors and staff are involved in the daily process of separating waste and recycling everything we can.

· Composting – separating biodegradable waste from our food scraps has helped to reduce our food waste and resulting in nutrient-rich “black gold” soil for our landscaping and gardens through the composting process.

· Spreading manure to fertilize our pastures rather than accumulating piles of manure has proved efficient for our barn management, reducing consolidated waste and reducing potential impacts to the watershed from runoff.

Education and Awareness

· Appreciation for nature and nature conservation are key parts of living at camp surrounded by the natural beauty of woods, lakes, and mountains with people who care. Being located in the Belgrade Lakes Watershed, a watershed area of 180 square miles, 7 major water bodies, and over 9400 acres of conservation land heightens our awareness of human impact on the natural environment

· We identify species of native trees, wildflowers and fungi, take hikes through conservation land, and learn about the natural animal, bird, fish, and inspect species.

· We discuss with staff and campers best practices to minimize our impacts on the lake water quality and natural habitats.

· We teach and implement Leave No Trace practices in our Campcraft and trip programs.

· We often invite local experts on invasive plant species identification and awareness to come to camp to present. The speakers help our campers and counselors to know they can play a part in preserving our watershed area through species identification and reporting suspected invasive plants growing or floating in our lake.

· Campers may choose to participate in programs such as Farm and Garden, where they learn about raising organic vegetables and local food sources or Campcraft, where they learn about living in nature and sustainable camping practices.

Energy and Water Use

· Awareness of water usage and water conservation is discussed and conservation is practiced in everyday living at camp.

· 80% of camp light bulbs are now high-efficiency bulbs used in our living areas.

· We have a greenhouse and garden beds where campers can do gardening and grow and pick vegetables. Irrigation water is supplemented by rainwater collected in rain barrels, and soil is supplemented with compost from food waste and fallen tree leaves.

· More than 50% of our cleaning products are natural or “green” awarded products.

· We are moving toward greener construction in new buildings and use of natural light and natural products.

· We buy local food to supplement our camp food; participating in Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) with our local farmers. Campers participate in collecting our farm shares.

Lake and Watershed Protection and Land Conservation

· Camp Runoia is situated where thousands of acres of land have been held aside in conservation through the efforts of local organizations and individuals. We support the 7 Lakes Alliance who play a key role in land conservation, preserving areas for

hiking trails and restricting development of areas where development would most impact the watershed.

· Camp Runoia also supports The Belgrade Lakes Association, with a mission to protect and preserve Great and Long Ponds, a formidable association in our area – bringing awareness and education to the lake protection.

· We were awarded a Maine DEP Lake Smart Award for the highest rankings in all four categories of the award for good practices to reduce impacts to the lake. We proudly display our award at the Lodge and at the waterfront.

· Erosion control practices on our paths, roads, and drip lines of buildings are managed in our site and facilities plan.

· Natural landscaping and maintaining natural vegetative

buffer zones between our living areas and the lake’s shore line helps reduce run off and phosphorus contribution to our lakes. We have also eliminated phosphorus fertilizers in our lawn care.

· We have a documented schedule to maintain and pump out our septic systems to minimize the impact on water quality.

· Over 80 acres of Camp Runoia property have been set aside as Conservation Land and/or Tree Growth Land and we maintain and follow a Tree Growth Plan.

We are committed to protecting and preserving Camp Runoia for future generations and educating those that will continue the work long into the future.

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.

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

 

Mindfulness for Campers

As we anticipate the start of camp, we are aware of the mental health and wellness of our campers and how mindfulness and coping skills will help. For most campers, this is the first excursion away from home in a long time.

In addition to the extensive health plans and protocols for navigating Covid at camp, we recognize most campers will need help to develop coping skills while at camp. Thanks to our Behavior Health Specialist, Amelia Clancey, we have some ideas for your family.

To best support your daughters, we would like all campers to create a list of coping skills with easy access to make her feel good and also to provide clear ways counselors and staff can support her.

A few guidelines about the list:

  • Self-made List: Feel free to help your daughter AND have her involved. Her thoughts and creations will actually help her when she is at camp revisting her list. (see the last bullet)
  • Length: The list can be as long as she wants, but ideally a minimum of 5 choices.
  • The coping skills/activities should be things that are easily accessible and do not require many materials or assembly – perfect for camp!
  • Variety: Include options of all kinds, such as some for when they can’t sleep at night, some they can do alone, and some they can do with others. Please also think of some options that require materials
    (coloring book and pencils) and others that don’t (taking a walk).
  • Format: It would be best if she brought a hard copy of the list with her to camp. In terms of style, anything goes! Have fun with this! Type it in a fun font that you like, write it in a way that makes you happy, add stickers, add glitter, organize it. The ways to personalize your list are endless!

Take some time with your daughter to think about and practice things that help them to feel safe, calm, and comforted. We have included a couple resources to help with this task and of course are here to answer questions, help brainstorm, and most of all, enjoy a fantastic summer.

Stress balls are easy to packA Sample of Ideas:

      • Deep breathing exercises
      • Meditation (practice before camp)
      • Quiet yoga moves or mini yoga moves
      • Write in your journal
      • Color in coloring books
      • Read a book
      • Take a walk
      • Make Bracelets
      • Silly putty/thera-putty/calm scented putty
      • Scented squeeze toys
      • Stress ball

Some helpful links to peruse:

Grounding Techniques

Feeling a bit anxious? These ideas are about feeling calmer and less anxious.

50 Coping Skills

If she like the style of this resource, she could print this out and cut out the ones your she likes, then have them glue them to their own page

Coping Skills for Kids: Blog

This blog has many articles to help you and your child think of options for their list and help you learn a lot along the way!

99 Coping Skills

Love, Aionur

From Equestrian Coach to Covid Cop and Everything in Between

I’ve been involved with the Interscholastic Equestrian Association(IEA) since 2013, starting as a team coach. Over the years, I’ve fulfilled a variety of roles at the organization’s horse shows from manager to secretary to announcer to steward. During our 2021 postseason, I was called on to fulfill a new role, COVID Compliance Supervisor AKA Covid Cop.

As part of the IEA’s plan to safely return to showing, extensive guidelines regarding COVID protocols were created. As the 20-21 season went on, it became apparent that managing the implementation and enforcement of these rules fell outside of what the show manager & steward could manage, given their other duties, and the role of COVID compliance supervisor was created.

According to the press release from the IEA COVID task-force the COVID compliance supervisor should feel comfortable moving around the horse show reminding/enforcing attendees (coaches, riders, parents) to properly wear their mask, social distance, and leave immediately following their rider’s last class. Having spent my 2020 summer at Camp Runoia, I had already created great habits regarding masking, hand washing, and social distancing. I took those habits forward into my job at a local high school as we resumed hybrid in person learning beginning in October. Stepping into the role of COVID compliance supervisor was in my wheelhouse.

Having safely traveled a lot during the pandemic, I have learned that masks, physical distancing, and following CDC guidelines work! However, getting others to buy in can be challenging. Most recently at a zone finals show, I had many people come up and thank me for taking on the role. They understood that there’s still resistance to following the rules. One thing I learned early on in the pandemic was to not argue with people who weren’t following the rules, but to remind them that they signed up to participate and by doing so agreed to follow the rules. Keeping personal beliefs and politics out of the conversation, and focusing on the agreed upon rules of participation. In fact, if we all follow the rules, we can focus on having fun and enjoying the sport.

The COVID task-force worked hard to create guidelines so we could return to the sport, and consequently, we all have to follow those guidelines, or the opportunities can be taken away. I look at heading into summer the same way. I’m doing all I can to contribute to keeping our camp community safe. I got vaccinated as soon as I was able and I still wear my mask anytime I’m indoors outside of my own home or when in crowded outdoor situations. At camp, we have ACA and CDC guidelines that we have to follow.  Rules the range from how far apart heads must be while sleeping to safety equipment in activities to how our meals are prepared. I look forward to being back at Runoia in a few short weeks, surrounded by campers and staff who all believe in keeping each other safe and having fun!

By Jen Dresdow –Camp Runoia Assistant Director and Equestrian Director (preferably not a Covid Cop!)

Self-Care: Integrating Time for You in the Hectic Schedule of Daily Life

You are catapulting around, working from your hectic home circus, syncing schedules between

hybrid education for your children, after school engagement, managing zoom meetings, connecting with your partner and family, caring for your parents, and hey, by the way, what’s for dinner?

As a reminder to myself and all of us, taking time for self-care during the pandemic is critical. One easy way to ground yourself is through stretching, yoga, movement with meditation. It all starts by rolling out the mat. Can you get up 20 minutes earlier? Can you escape for a lunch time stretch? 20-30 minutes is all you need for restorative healing and self-care.

At camp we are so lucky to have alumna Kara Benken Garrod lead both adults and campers in yoga practice. She teaches yoga in Ohio in the off season and generously helps guide us at camp.  

When we are not at camp, we love at home yoga with Adrienne Mishler.  Her brilliant and accessible at home yoga practice and her annual gift to all of us – 30 days of yoga in January. It is available to you any time of the day for free. She is so generous and beautiful to share her vision about yoga as a lifestyle with millions of viewers.

There are plenty of ways to get your children involved too. Ideas about yoga with children include stories and play about yoga, to classes  Here’s a fun way to introduce yoga, either a deck of yoga cards with some ideas about connecting breath and meditation or a poster of yoga moves for children to do on their own. Just have them roll out their mat and enjoy the fun!

Meanwhile, you can take a deep breath (breath in love, breath out fear) and grab your afternoon cup of coffee to get ready for the next 8 hours of catapulting around!

Love, Aionur

 

 

 

 

 

Light in the darkness

What a year! One that none of us could have imagined this time last year as we were planning for the summer of 2020.  What we assumed would be a typical camp summer season turned into anything but and taught us lessons that will guide us as we prepare for 2021. We have so much gratitude for those that were with us along the way, there was so much team effort at all levels. What initially appeared to be a pervading darkness evolved with lots of hard work into joy and light.

The Maine summer camp community pulled together in ways never seen before. For the good of all Maine camps there was advocating at the legislative level and support for all regardless of the decision to operate camp for the season or not. Camps were offering resources and practical help to each other wherever they could. Calling and cheering on those that opened camp, celebrating the wins together and also mourning the losses.  Maine summer camps were definitely stronger together working to support each other in a time that created great hardship and an unprecedented struggle for many small family businesses. The resource sharing continues as we plan for the next season, those of us that opened sharing our journey and all forging ahead to ensure that as many children as possible get to have their summer camp experience.

Our Runoia camp community grew stronger too. Even though we were missing so many of our summer family, the support was incredible. The families that trusted us to take care of their girls and literally dropped them at the gate showed a commitment and bravery to the camp experience that we couldn’t have imagined. Our girls were brave and bold, flexible and willing to adapt to all of the protocols and changes. They showed up ready to have a blast at camp and did just that. 

The staff group that literally came together in May as we decided that yes we would open was such a dedicated and resilient group. We definitely couldn’t have opened without their commitment and flexibility. Our senior staff who after a zoom call about protocols and what camp would look like said ‘let’s do it!’ and dived in with gusto to create a fabulous and safe camp experience. The health team who planned and prepped and took all the protocols seriously and kept everyone healthy. Our amazing kitchen crew who masked up in the incredibly hot kitchen and kept us well fed. Everyone who pitched in, sanitized, cleaned up trash, kept kids entertained, figured out how to operate their program safely and stayed on site for 5 !/2 weeks without complaining! How lucky we were to spend the summer with this group of folk, many whom were feeling the sadness of their own camps being closed yet showed up for us.

 

In this season of lights and bringing in brightness to our homes on the shortest days we are grateful for the joy that camp brings to us. Although the year has been challenging in so many ways there is so much to be thankful for and so much light in our lives.

We are so grateful for the smiles and laughter of a summer on Great Pond, the  relationships that endure over the years and the promise that Runoia will be there no matter what.

However you are celebrating the holidays may you have light and love around you.

A Shout Out from Dr. Dora Mills

 

Put Your Hands in the Air! 

The sister of the Governor of Maine and former CDC Director of Maine, Dr. Dora Mills posted this about the summer camps that opened in Maine this summer:

A few weeks ago, there were numerous news stories about summer camp outbreaks in Georgia and other states. People were wisely asking why they were allowed to open. And when they did open, why weren’t they adhering to known effective strategies, e.g. masking, distancing, and cohorting? The good news is that Maine’s overnight youth camps have recently adjourned after a successful summer. They hosted campers and staff from most states in the U.S. as well as a number of other countries. I understand that it appears we did not have one summer camp outbreak. Maine’s guidance required camps to implement all of the known effective strategies. They used a great amount of creativity to implement them, and seemed to have done so very successfully. 

Although summer camps are not the same as schools, the experience here this summer gives me optimism that we can do the same for schools and other venues. Having worked with many youth camp directors over the years when I led Maine CDC, I found them and their campers a most creative and flexible group. Teachers I know or have known (including my own mother, grandmothers, aunts, and nieces) as well as school children are similarly innovative and adaptable, which are key ingredients to reopening camps as well as schools. We are also fortunate in Maine to sustain low levels of pandemic activity, although some recent outbreaks are concerning. This gives us higher chances to reconvene schools successfully in the coming weeks.