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.

We Rejoice in Phase Two!

In the midst of a global pandemic, our responsibility to the health of our campers and staff, the greater Belgrade Lakes community and campers and staff families, home towns and cities is paramount.

With the results of negative testing at camp, we have rolled out phase !! of our summer. Campers’ household groups expand to at least twice the size, more time is spent with more people without face coverings, and camp is rolling along with activities, surprises memorable moments, face to face connections problem solving, beautiful sunsets and fun. Our careful plan to methodically increase concentric circles for contact tracing is in play.

Due to our cautious roll out of phases, we feel confident by next week we will be able to move into phase III for our final week of camp. Campers’ households will expand to include entire neighborhoods and as in Runoia culture, girls of different ages will be interacting and playing together. Campers will be able to “tag up” for activities and daily camp life will be much more like normal.

We will consider CRH a success when every camper and every staff member returns home safely with memories of playing tennis, swimming in Great Pond, water skiing, horseback riding, connecting with new friends and meeting up with old camp pals become subjects of school essays and college applications.

Meanwhile, our gratitude to the families who believed in us and the hard work of staff at Runoia who are making this possible is enormous. In the camp time warp, every day feels like a week and every week a month. hundreds of things happen in one day and life feels full. We linger on the moments created and take stock in the memories to hold.

Sincerely, Aionur


Sharing our Update to Staff

What’s New for Staff at Camp Runoia Harmonyville for Covid-19

This important document communicates what we (you and everyone at Runoia) will be doing to help arrive healthy and stay healthy at camp while having fun, allowing campers to interact meaningfully with peers, building life skills and experiencing camp and the outdoors for three weeks this summer. 

Training and Management: This year, our medical staff will be trained on COVID-19 management procedures and be equipped with PPE when needed. We have a health cabin to manage the regular needs of camper and staff health issues and an isolation area ready to handle anyone who may get COVID-19.

Health Care Workers: We are committed to running camp in a responsible and health-focused way. To figure this out, we are listening closely to health care professionals and the relevant authorities (for instance, Maine CDC, National CDC, American Camp Association) to ensure we have the most accurate and current information. New guidelines from the CDC came out today.  We are “camp experts,” and have brought onto our team medical professionals to guide our process. Our doctors are also camp parents so really ‘get it’ from all angles of camp care.

Hygiene: We have raised our sanitation standards to match and exceed recommendations from health care professionals. We will increase the frequency with which we perform deep cleanings of shared surfaces and indoor facilities, and deploy extra sanitation teams throughout the day. “Teams” means all of us staff/counselors/administrators/kitchen crew and health team. There will be hand washing stations throughout camp, along with hand sanitizer dispensers (all of this is new) and counselors will be prepared to model best hygiene practices. Campers and staff will shower daily.

Monitoring: In order to ensure camper and staff health this summer we will add monitoring elements including daily temperature and symptoms checks first thing in the morning. In a cabin “household” counselors will take and record temperatures and symptoms of everyone in the household. 

Guidelines: In keeping with public guidelines, we will modify parts of our camp program to achieve physical distancing standards. For example, our Dining Hall will operate in shifts this summer to prevent overlap between neighborhood groups. We also plan to operate camp activities with smaller household (cabin) groups that will not interact with other households unless there is appropriate social distancing and sometimes face coverings. 

Self-Quarantine and Health Screening: Staff will be required to monitor their own health and practice low-risk/low-density distancing 14 days before they arrive. Staff will quarantine on-site before camp and campers will be asked to self-quarantine before and after camp. Counselors will have a health check upon arrival. Campers will have a health check at drop-off on Opening Day and everyone joining the camp community will be tested. We will adjust the way we manage Opening and Closing Day to minimize interaction between camp families.  

Camp in a Bubble: Parents will not be allowed on campus on opening and closing day. Counselors will help all their household campers unpack and organize their rooms.There will be no outside visitors during the summer. We will limit entrances and exits to and from camp property to essential services only. 

Staff have made the extra commitment not to leave camp in a vehicle or go to any other place except camp property and exercise in the area of camp (including walking/running/biking down the Point Road or Woodland Camp Road) during their time off. 

Illness at Camp: In the event that someone does get sick at camp this summer, we have multi-staged quarantine and isolation procedures that will allow us the time to determine the best response, including whether or not the ill camper or staff member will be able to rejoin the camp population after a period of time.  We will have a team of RNs to care for anyone being tested for COVID and isolated. If you have COVID-19 symptoms or you contract COVID-19 at camp, we will have a comfortable place on campus for you to live until we can make a plan with you.

Communication: Camp Runoia will communicate with parents and staff in a thorough and transparent manner. We recognize the importance of sharing the best information available as quickly as possible.  The information also changes and we are providing updates to families and staff. 

This summer, we aspire to be better than ever.  Thoughtful and detailed communication is more important than ever in keeping our community well-informed and highly-prepared. 


Update from Camp June 4, 2020 Determination, Grit, Skill Building

Camp Runoia “Harmonyville” is rolling!  Our determination to open Camp Runoia with safety precautions in place this summer is three-fold: First, we want to show girls there is a path forward through this pandemic; we want to give them hope. Second, we want to provide campers and staff with the life skills for a new normal; you can adapt and manage life with new protocols like no hand shaking, new virtual high fives and lots of hand washing. Finally and perhaps most important, we want to model when things get hard, we work harder and we overcome hard things by using our brains and determination. Grit? Yes, I dare say we are modeling grit.

Here are a few updates from camp this week.  We have an ever-evolving picture of camp this summer and some of our guidelines have expanded. So, we wanted to update you as we do weekly.

The Updates:

Mail – will be a thing! No packages for campers, please. We have set up to get mail by the Mail Boat/Water route this summer. A first for Runoia! Mark will set up a mail area on the Big Float so John, the postal delivery person will drive up to the Big Float and drop the mail/pick up the mail. This way we do not have to have Sara our office manager leave camp to get the mail. All these little details are being worked out.

Packages for Campers – did you get the part about no packages? We just wanted to be sure you heard us. 🙂

The Bus While auto drop off is the preferred mode of transportation to camp, the bus home from camp is possible – are you interested? Email alex@runoia.com

Our Financial Policy update was announced last week – this reduced risk has made it more attractive for some families to come to camp.

Enrollment We still have a few spaces in camp.  We feel confident about what we are doing. We know your decision is personal and unique. Contact pam@runoia.com if you are interested or exploring again and have more questions.

Other News

Medical: Our health team is fully hired with 9 members of health team joining us. Our doctors are meeting with other camp doctors next week and have already met with Maine General Infectious Disease Preventionist and the Maine CDC Epidemiologist and our local physician at the Belgrade Regional Health Center.  We have a dedicated team of two nurses who will work with our MDs and will care for patients under investigation (PUI) and a COVID-19 camper or staff organizing pick up to head home. The rest of the nurses will be managing all the regular health care needs from an itchy mosquito bite to a twisted ankle. We will be arranging for medical visits off site with PPE as necessary.

Program: We have most of our programs thought through and realize the areas that will be most difficult for everyone at camp to do this summer will be waterskiing, wilderness trips, sailing, Blue/White team competitions and climbing tower/zipline. Everything else seems reasonable to run and disinfect and run again! For both sailing and waterskiing, limited number of groups of campers from the same household will be able to do these activities. The list of participants will expand if we can move into graduated phases.

Counselors: Alex has re-interviewed each and every counselor so they understand the “camp in a bubble” for 5 weeks, the fluidity of their jobs this summer and the counselors coming to camp are “all in”. They know they will have to get all their refreshing by being in and around camp and they are very excited to join in the effort to make camp a positive, learning, skill-building summer. Out of our 16 key leaders in camp, 15 are returning to model and lead with the Runoia Mission.

That’s all from camp for this week. Please be in touch if you have any questions.

All my best,

Pam – For the Runoia Team


Update May 6, 2020

Dear Runoia Families, Greetings from Great Pond.

Safety and Opening Camp in 2020

The safety of our campers, staff and their families and the surrounding Maine communities remain our priority as we sort through the possibility of opening camp this summer.  We know children and families need camp more than ever.  Our hopes are to open camp if we are able to meet or exceed the guidelines set forth by the state of Maine and the American Camping Association.

We remain cautiously optimistic as we work with American Camp Association guidelines (a panel of experts compiled with support of the CDC, American Board of Pediatrics, the Board of Camp Nursing and infectious disease consultants) for safely opening resident camps in 2020. With these guidelines coming out in the next 10-12 days and our industry representatives and lobbyist continuing to meet with Governor Mills’ task force for restarting Maine’s economy.  As of the past week, a few camps have decided not to operate this summer in Maine, including foundations, medical camps, and three resident camps. Over 120 Maine resident camps are still waiting for more information to make a final decision with safety as the top objective.

The American Camp Association will be releasing the ACA Camp Operations Guide for camps by mid-May.  So far they have provided the resource of the table of contents to outline the depth of the finished guide book.  We are eagerly awaiting the guidelines.


Availability of accurate testing would be a game changer for our ability to safely open camp. Two of our peers in camping have connections with labs who say they can get us tests. How testing campers before arrival at camp will roll out logistically is another puzzle we are working on. If any Runoia parents are involved in testing and have a way to connect us with quality tests, please contact pam@runoia.com or call #207-495-2228 to connect. Without testing, we can rely on diagnostic information from families prior to camp and checking and monitoring for symptoms upon arrival at camp and implement contact tracing guidelines.

Preparation and Timeline for Camp 2020

We meet daily with other camp owners and directors and our Runoia team, medical consultants and industry representatives. We are working through scenarios including all aspects of running a safe camp parallel with the COVID-19 pandemic. Alex and I connect every day working on our plans for camp.  We have two doctors who have volunteered to step in to help guide the Runoia Health Team this summer. Both doctors plan to live at camp for part or all of their assigned session.  We have a team meeting with them scheduled for mid May.

We have been told we will have more information in the next 10-12 days from the state of Maine and ACA.  We will share with our families and staff as soon as we have the final details of our plan. Meanwhile, in addition to these emails, you can find weekly updates on our website: www.runoia.com on our COVID-19 banner at the top of the page. We recognize some families will decide that camp will not be part of their plans this summer. If so, we hope camp will be in your plans for next summer.

Tuition and Refund/Rollover

You may have questions about refunds and tuition rollover.  As you know, we work on camp all year. The past nine months have been busy for our full -time employees and our summer staff who work with us in the winter to contribute to the next summer. Financial obligations have been made throughout the year on mortgages, taxes, licenses, maintenance of buildings and grounds, payroll, renovations, equipment loans and purchases, operating expenses, pre-paid expenses, program improvement, horse care, and ironically, an addition to our camp Health Cabin.  There is no insurance coverage for this pandemic for loss of, or interruption of, business income.

We recognize that everyone’s situation is different.  Some families have experienced reduced income, and others have had financial disturbances. We know everyone has been affected.  We are thinking of you. Whatever you are able to do for Runoia is appreciated. If you are able to roll over your tuition for next summer, that will be a great help to ensure camp can continue to operate at our very best. If you are able to donate a part of your tuition to camp’s operations thus far this year, we would be so grateful. If you need a full refund of tuition paid, we will take care of you with love.

We know camp is a very important priority for many families. For 113 summers Runoia has persevered through world wars, the Spanish flu, polio outbreaks, the Great Depression and multiple recessions. In our hearts we want camp to open this summer – we want to see our campers and allow them to just be children at summer camp; their summer camp.

We are holding onto hope, planning and waiting some more. We are exercising our best patience. We appreciate the support many of you are sending us.



For the Runoia Team

A selfie to build Runoia community

As people that know me well will tell you, that while I may appear to be a confident, up front, extrovert, I tend to prefer the shadows and the back of the photo shot. This new world that we are living in has required a lot more up front camera work than I ever could have imagined and has really required getting out of my comfort zone practically and emotionally.

I have needed coaching from my younger professional friends about the art of taking a good selfie and how to show up in a zoom meeting so that you don’t look like you are staring out of the window or looking at your knees. I found things on my laptop that I never knew that it could do and have stretched my technology skill set to the max.  Who knew that something as simple as a small sticker by your camera would encourage you to actually look at it not at the screen? and definitely don’t read the comments while you are on live they are so exciting and distracting.

My greatest realization in the past couple of weeks is that it is better to show up virtually than not at all.   It is really not about the quality of the photo, what you are wearing, if the singing is pitch perfect or how messy the house looks, it’s about connection. Connection with the people who physically miss our faces in their everyday lives. Connection with those far away who are holding onto the familiar to get them through today’s challenges. Connection with our groups and communities for whom we are a grounding anchor. Connection with the people who we may not even know that we have an impact on as we move through our lives.

I don’t think I will ever get to love taking ‘selfies’ or going ‘live’ but I’ll keep trying to get better at it because the connections have great value to me too. We are developing new and continuing to build on existing relationships in ways that we never knew were really possible. It’s amazing!

Our Runoia community is strong and stretches generations and endless miles.

Keep reaching out and connecting anyway that you can.

Camp More Than Ever

Dear Runoia Families,

We all know things are changing day to day, moment by moment. Camp and the camp community continue to be an anchor for many of our campers, alumnae and staff.  We care about you and your families. We are connecting with campers and staff online and it feels good to all of us.

What we are doing now:

Our Team: We continue to plan, hire, maintain camp, order supplies and prepare to open safely. Over a dozen Runoia staff are remotely planning online programming for the upcoming weeks.

Afterschool Activities: We are offering online camp activities on our YouTube channel. New releases every Monday, Wednesday, Friday at 4 pm EST. This week: Faux Stained Glass, Making Congo Bars and Basic Horse Grooming. Next week new projects and experiences from Barb, Callie and Alex. Jen is working on a scavenger hunt and/or crossword puzzle from the camp “logs”. Stay tuned!

Campfire: We are broadcasting on Facebook Live Sunday night at 7 pm. Join in!


We think that by the early to middle part of May, we will know a lot more about what the summer holds for us and the timing of the start of camp. We realize we may have to be flexible with camp start and end dates, lengths of sessions, new health check in protocols, etc. We will continue to send you messages as we make decisions. We will work with families on transportation needs and challenges as needed. Meanwhile, it feels like April will be a long month – we will be in touch often.

Final Thoughts:

Camp is a place where campers are able to be themselves and connect with others.  The importance of camp has never been more real. It is a safe place for campers to unplug and come together to learn life skills and feel part of something bigger than themselves. Summer camps may, in fact, be one of the safest places for any child to be this summer, since they are generally protected, remote and closed environments with resident health professionals.

We believe in our mission statement now more than ever:

“Building lifelong skills and empowering campers and staff to live

in harmony with themselves, each other, and with nature.”

Be safe and stay healthy, wash your hands and best wishes for your shelter in place experience for the next days.

Until we meet (online) again,

Pam and Alex


Happiness and Smiles

From my friend Joy, posted on Runoia’s blog with Joy’s permission:

COVID-19 and Happiness- A Strategy For Everyone

Mother Teresa said “peace begins with a smile.” Researchers report the facial muscles used in creating the simple act of smiling triggers special brain neurotransmitters that release endorphins and immune boosting T-cells. In fact, the simple act of smiling lowers our stress hormone called cortisol, and produces hormones that stabilize our blood pressure, improve our respiration, reduce our pain level, relaxes our muscles, speeds up our healing, lowers our chance of depression, and creates a change to stabilize our entire mood.
Did you know that it takes 62 muscles to frown and only 26 muscles to smile… so then why don’t smile more often?
Resilient people know the importance of taking positive actions to enhance their mental status. Would you like to practice a simple goal and watch its powerful effects during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Goal: Commit to 5 smiles a day.

Keep a record of incidents during the day that make you smile. Interestingly, you will notice that the sheer fact of changing your focus and “looking” for things that make you smile, will actually stimulate you to witness increasing items that make you smile. Give it a try !

Copywrite: Joy Miller, PhD, LCPC, MAC

An Update from Runoia

We are thinking of anyone who is ill and in self-quarantine or hospitalized. We are sending positive thoughts to loved ones, family and friends.

We are well aware that everyone’s every day lives have been turned upside down. Camp Runoia has preserved through other outbreaks (H1N1, SARS, polio) as well as WW1 and WWII and more recent wars. We will forge forward!

We are also monitoring the CDC, following guidelines, and in touch with other resources that have been extremely helpful including our parents who are doctors, our local health team, our insurance company, and food and supply purveyors; we are ready for camp 2020.

The Maine CDC has this info to help understand transmission of COVID-19 and also help lessen the spread of the virus.

Our basic preparedness: requesting no one arrive at camp if they have a fever, pre-camp reach out to families about any illness at home or exposure, our check in systems at camp with new protocols including temperature checks, being outside a lot of the day and frequent hand washing. We are feeling prepared and will continue to respond to new information and recommendations.

Be safe. Stay active. Get sleep. De-stress. Cover your cough. Help others. Practice Social Distancing. Wash your hands!

Message from Camp Runoia

We research. We monitor. We plan.

Wilderness camping never looked so good!
It is just a few months until camp opens and the COVID-19 virus causes many to wonder what might be different about camp this summer. For more immediate plans, families are deciding now about March and April breaks and whether they will need to reschedule a vacation or make other plans. Yesterday, many college students were asked not to return from spring break until scientists have a better understanding about containment and prevention.
We are confident we will be in a more stable situation in a couple of months. We are closely monitoring the CDC guidelines and already have new protocols for arrival.  We have systems for sanitizing, we have supplies and we are prepared for temperature checks.
Once camp gets started we are in a great position to keep everyone healthy. We have skills for practicing good hygiene and teaching life skills from hand washing to cough covering to sanitizing.  We have confidence in our systems, our partnering with parents and our remote location. We are also realistic and so we watch and learn and implement change as necessary.
To all our families and friends, we wish you the best for staying healthy and caring for your loved ones, maintaining productivity and continuing education as we stand strong and wash our hands.