The New Normal with Help from Comfort Food

Okay. You’ve got your new normal plan for the day.

  • Early morning workout (earns the comfort food!)
  • All children are set up at their remote learning stations.
  • Recess and snack breaks and lunch are planned.
  • Dinner menu is in the works. Maybe.
  • Now dive into work and get as much done before you get interrupted and/or the school day is over.

And…what will we do after school today?

Let’s start with some fresh air and outside play.

Everyone can help fold the laundry.

Fall kitchen fun engages, educates and puts food on the table.  Food transitions from summer to fall is fun and refreshing.

We need comfort food now more than ever.

Start this apple crisps in your oven during the school day.

Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Thinly slice one apple per person. Leave the seeds in as it’s easy to eat around them. For four apples, toss with 4 teaspoons of sugar and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon. Take out a baking sheet and place a rack on the sheet, lay out the apple slices on the rack so they are not touching. Flip after an hour, check again an hour later. Will take 2-3 hours. Remove from oven when they are dry but still bend. They will continue to crisp after baking.

Try Bon Appetite’s salt and vinegar potatoes -a great twist on the roasted potatoes we all know and love.

And as a side for tomorrow night, the cheesy baked zucchini helps with the prolific zucchinis in your summer garden and involves the kids with cooking. Try Wholesome Yum’s zucchini gratin recipe making a fab low carb side for dinner. Looking up the definition of au gratin will even enhance their French skills! 

We sure miss camp food, wholesome, readily available, on time and prepared for us. Meanwhile, we can do this: plan, prepare, pivot. Repeat.

Hang in there!









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


Update from Camp April 29, 2020

Dear Runoia Families and our “Runoia Family”,

Here is our weekly update bring April to a close with a hint of some great news:

Our Maine Governor, Governor Janet Mills, with the Director of Maine CDC, Dr. Shah, presented a press conference yesterday. These two have given us hope and as clear as possible messages in these unprecedented times. The great news is with strict practices, Maine has been flattening the curve over the past few weeks. Yesterday’s press conference was a detailed plan about the roll out phases of restarting the Maine community with public health and safety being a priority. You can find more details on the Maine plan here.

Governor Mills put resident summer camps in phase 3 of the roll out plan. This means, if everything goes to the standards her team has set, we will be able to open Camp Runoia in July! This would mean we are looking and hoping for the 2nd contingency plan of camp we mentioned in the April 15 update here. In short, we open camp in July for 2 shorter sessions and full season campers may attend camp both sessions.

As you can imagine the over 100 Maine resident summer camps have been waiting for guidelines so we can make decisions about camp that make sense. The plan and partial mandates given yesterday (including a stay at home order extended through May 31 and 14 day quarantine upon entering the state) leaves us with a lot of questions. Fortunately, we have Maine Summer Camps Executive Director, Ron Hall and the Executive Board meeting with the governor’s task force as soon as tomorrow to get more answers to our many questions. We have a camp “Town Hall” on Friday and hope to receive more clarity.

As soon as we have more information and can set dates and parameters for travel and more, we will be in touch.  We realize this is an ever evolving and dynamic situation. We appreciate your hope, support and patience.

Meanwhile, we continue to lay out health and safety plans for our current employees, our equine team, our local Belgrade Lakes tradespeople (from plumbers to wifi specialists) to keep them safe as we ramp up camp in preparation for the 2020 season. We take the health and safety of our campers, our camp families, our employees and local business families very seriously.

From Great Pond, we send you love and a “wadas”. We will continue to update you in a transparent manner as soon as possible.


For the Whole Runoia Crew,


Make it a Magic Monday

Monday Morning Greetings from Runoia

Hello folks and families!  We hope you had a good weekend and had the chance to get outside. Today, we are going for “magic” Monday. We will continue to update you about camp mid-week on Wednesdays. These updates are also posted on our camp blog here.

Today there is no “breaking news” to report.  We continue to be hopeful about the summer season. We are working with the Maine CDC, American Camp Association, Maine Summer Camps and other professional organizations to make plans for a safe summer.

With the early “ice-out” on Great Pond posted on April 7th, we are looking forward to another summer of comfy lake temperatures to play and learn in and on our favorite lake.

Weekly Events – connect with camp NOW:

Campfire: Last night’s campfire (live stream on Runoia’s FB) theme was Laughter. Next week the theme will be Heroes. Tune in at 7 pm on the Runoia FaceBook page.
Afterschool Camp Activities: learn how to make whoopie pies, pipe cleaner rings with Abbie, macramé bracelets with Alex and K and an assortment of other crafts and science projects! Find us on the Runoia YouTube Channel.
Evening Program – this week on Wednesday night @ 7 pm, Barb will emcee the now famous “MOSTEST” EP. Categories will be coming to your inbox for your family to prepare. Costumes encourages. Join the MOSTEST Zoom Meeting:
Meeting ID: 919 421 4302
contact for the password
We love seeing your forms coming in for the summer. The more you do now, the less the final push will be as we move toward summer. The link to get on your Camp-in-Touch dashboard is here.

Spread kindness,

Pam and Alex
For the Runoia Team

Update from Camp Runoia

Greetings and an Update from Camp!

It’s been a long and busy week for all since we last checked in.  We wait with patience as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to change our lives and routines.  Our hearts go out to those directly affected and also to our brave health care workers and first responders, including many of our alumnae and parents, who are on the front line. We are thinking of all of you and hope our activities help bring joy and laughter to your lives.

Stay tuned here over the next few weeks for news from camp. As of now, we are staying the course for summer 2020.

New this week is: All Family EP This THURSDAY NIGHT

MOSTEST Emceed by Barb!
Time: Thursday Apr 9, 2020 07:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 919 421 4302
Password: contact for the password or search your inbox for “Update from Camp Runoia” sent 4.8.2020

  • The object of the game is for each team to prepare the following categories:

best team name
best team cheer
best team uniform
oldest team (add up all the ages of team members)
longest hair
years at Runoia
weirdest talent
best celebrity impression
most letters in full name
best gentle-est lullaby sung by a team
best dance moves
wackiest pet
coolest socks being worn by a team member
most flexible team member

  • Judges will award points and the team with the most points wins!

Campfire on FB Live every Sunday night at 7 pm
Our April 12th Campfire theme is LAUGHTER. Send your song requests to Alex

As a thanks to Barb for her awesome song “Lava” at last week’s campfire on Earth, attached is a coloring sheet from Mulan!

Runoia’s After School Activities can be found here:

You may have tuned in to try everything from friendship bracelets to Congo bars recently. Here’s a reminder of this week (Monday, Wednesday, Friday at 4 pm EST – Duct Tape wallets, Whoopie Pies and CJ’s egg osmosis)

and next week’s list to help you get your supplies ready:

April 13th, Monday – Flower Rings with Abbie – supplies – 4 pipe cleaners
April 15th, Wednesday – Macramé Bracelets with Alex & K – supplies – tape, scissors, 2 different color nylon craft string (not embroidery floss but nylon string which is thicker)
April 17th, Friday – Toilet Paper Tube Projects with Callie – supplies – toilet paper roll tubes, tape, colored paper, markers

Shout out to Jen for organizing the activities and “bobos” to all the Runoia staff who are leading activities.

Please know we are loving you from camp. We appreciate those of you who have completed your forms on your Camp-in-Touch dashboard. Thank You!

We are busy working on everything from current programming, maintenance, summer program, plans for new health check in and health readiness systems at camp, finalizing staff hiring and preparing for an awesome and safe summer on Great Pond.

To our families who celebrate the upcoming holidays, we wish you a Happy Passover and Easter. To all we send peace and calm.

With love,

Pam and Alex
For the Runoia Team

Update from Camp Runoia

Greetings from Great Pond
Our thoughts are with all of you during these unprecedented times; especially those with family members and loved ones who are affected by COVID-19 and the resulting global economic situation.

We see our own family members managing well after one week with no school. We hear about other people in high spirits and many people are working hard to be kind, be patient and help each other out. We know there will be challenges as more time is spent at home and we hope our camp families will look forward to camp as a welcome change.

Camp 2020
We plan to open camp in 3 months for the 2020 season. Camp is about connections and friendships, community, thinking of others, building lifeskills and it is fun. Camp is a place where children can unplug and take a break from the uncertainty that surrounds us now. Fresh air and activities in small groups at camp is looking like a good antidote for 2+ more months of home school and working from home.

Although we all feel the uncertainty and realize that things are changing day to day, we hope for stabilization over the next few months. We will keep you updated as often as possible as we approach camp opening.

We are working daily to refine how we operate camp in a new normal with best practices of making sure people arrive to camp healthy and keeping people healthy while at camp. We have already secured a number of new sanitization devices and health supplies through our vendors for the summer. We have a seasoned health team prepared to dive in to help everyone arrive safely and stay healthy at camp. We have experience from H1N1 (summer 2007) of running camp while also safely monitoring and quarantining girls and staff as needed. We hope to be virus free and we also want to be realistic and prepared. We have experience and we feel confident we can handle this.

We are planning as we normally do this time of year: finalizing hiring, developing staff training, planning our programs, answering questions, and continuing all the precamp work we have been doing since last August.

Summer Plans
We are managing travel challenges for Runoia staff overseas, as visa processing is on hold. To address this challenge, we have alumnae offering to teach at camp this summer to fill in any gaps in activity coverage. We know we will be staffed well to run fantastic program, as usual, at Runoia.

We are staying informed and flexible through the pandemic to make sure we are making decisions in the best interest of Runoia families and balancing that with our continued operations. We recognize that we may need to be flexible about the date camp opens. For now, we are sticking with June 25 and July 18 (plus HLC camp dates, June 25, July 5, July 18). We will do our best to accommodate families’ travel changes and atypical travel plans, such as pickup days and timing changes.

We will continue to follow the best practices and expert guidance for this summer. We will do everything possible to help families figure out how to get their healthy children to camp. We will work with you to manage the uncertainty and support you every way we can.

Happening Now
Many of our Runoia staff who are teachers are sharing their ideas with us and we hope to have an online “connected camp” in the next few weeks to help campers with the long hours spent at home. We will keep you updated about our after school online connected camp and activities through CampMinder letters to your inbox as well as Facebook and Instagram. Tonight we will stream a Facebook Live Sing-a-long with “K” on guitar and Alex accompanying at 7 pm EST!  We will have a sing-a-long campfire – look for a Zoom invitation later this week. 

With a “Bo Bo and Wadas”,

Pam and Alex
For the Runoia Team

Out on the blue waves where summer breezes blow
Our boats go sailing into sunset’s glow
We leave the shoreline, to realms of dreams we go
Out to the center of the lake where breezes blow

P.S. Recorded camp songs can be found on our website

Camp Fairs – marketing the best sleep away camp!

This week I have been on the road a bunch marketing camp both to prospective campers and potential staff. It is always interesting to consider what to say about Camp Runoia when you literally have a few seconds to make an impression and are hosted in a room full of other incredible programs. Why choose Runoia as a asleep away camp option when you can go Llama hiking in the mountains or get advanced school credit for an academic immersion program?

Camp fairs are a way for families and prospective staff to get an immersion into all of the opportunities that are available. The variety and diversity of camp programs just here in Maine is immense and there certainly is something for everyone. Camp fairs are typically in a gym or student center and have attendance of 50-100 programs. While it is fun to see camp colleagues we all know that we are all trying to make the connection with attendees to share our information and get some traction.

Most all of the programs in attendance at camp fairs have eye catching displays, fun giveaways and are staffed by great personable camp folk. It’s hard to stand out from the crowd and also to connect with the people that really are the best match for your program. The 7 year old boy wandering by trying to score a free pen is certainly not a Runoia camper but maybe he has a sister! In these days of social media and everyone googling and searching online it is fun to connect in real time with real people.

So what does make Runoia different? We are a small camp with an intimate family feel and as one of the oldest girls camps in the country we truly live the history and tradition of youth camping. Runoia creates a space for girls to be their best selves in a safe supportive community and allows campers to explore their interests and talents in a low stress environment. Runoia girls find their summer home away from home and make life long friends while building life skills.

We are still happy to send out material by mail if you would like a camp brochure! It is always a treat to stop by the tiny Belgrade Lakes Post Office to send out camp mail even in the winter.

Conscious Leadership and Learning

This week four of our Runoia leadership team met in Portland ME for a workshop in conscious leadership. The joke I heard from anyone I told I was going was “I’m glad it’s not about unconscious leadership”.

Truthfully though many of us plow through our days on auto pilot and we don’t frame our interactions with people with a sense of curiosity, an openness to actively listen, not engage in drama, a commitment to feeling and being honest.

Being honest seems so obvious however statistically 97% of people lie at some time. Even answering “how are you feeling?” And answering “fine” is easily a lie. But we all know most people use the question as a greeting and they really aren’t asking for us to unload everything on our minds. So we answer “fine”. We say things to protect people’s feelings or we stretch the truth so we don’t cross wires with someone. And sometimes we lie to do that.

What we mostly received from spending a few hours with an engaging albeit intense, humorous trainer was a way of supporting each other, to be real and honest with each other, to make agreements we can commit to 100% with the caveat that we can re-negotiate the agreement. We are inspired to bring this concept to the rest of our Camp Runoia leadership team.

We realized we can express ourselves, put ourselves in each other’s shoes, not have to solve everything for everyone but create a safety net that will help them to learn on their own.

All year at Runoia we are preparing for the next summer. We model our staff training on workshops we attend, we reach into our bag of tricks to add a special twist to an event for camp, sketch out ideas we share with our team and flesh out together. It’s the positive and calm moments of the off season that help us fire up our engines for the on season.

One of the best parts of preparing for camp is we learn in the process. Camp is a place for intentional youth development and a side outcome is we adults get to grow through the process as well.

Choosing Summer Camp – Guest Blog by Alicia DeHart

As a former camper and summer camp counselor I immediately knew that my children would attend summer camp.  As a director at a girls’ summer camp I thought choosing a summer camp for my daughter would be a breeze.  With more than ten years working at a Maine summer camp I had more information about summer camp options than other parents researching summer camps.  I thought this would help me filter through the options to find a final choice rather quickly.  I soon realized that choosing summer camp wasn’t any easier for me than other moms and dads searching for their child’s summer camp.

While I had more information about camps and connections with various people in the camp industry, I was just a mom trying to make the best choice for her daughter.  Choosing summer camp for my daughter was filled with many of the same considerations that families across the country are working through as well.  Our decision process was guided by my purpose of choosing summer camp.  Then the things my daughter and I valued in summer camp.  And finally, our family schedule and other family dynamics.

Why Choose Summer Camp?

As someone who has spent three-fourths of her life at summer camp attending camp is an obvious choice.  However, many of my friends didn’t grow up attending summer camp.  So, their first question was, why choose summer camp?  While I was answering their questions, I quickly realized why my daughter wouldn’t attend the girls camp where I am a director.  This decision was easy, but it didn’t make the decision-making process any easier.

To me summer camp is an opportunity for campers to gain independence and a greater sense of self.  It’s a time away from parents to learn and explore under the guidance of summer camp counselors.  Summer camp is one of the greatest opportunities we as parents can give our children.  I wanted my daughter to have the true camp experience where she could be just another camper.  I felt she deserved the opportunity to have her own adventures just like I had when I was a young camper.

The Value of Summer Camp

The value of summer camp doesn’t come in its price tag.  The value of summer camp comes in the little details found in its values and philosophy.  I knew that I wanted my daughter to experience a camp similar to the camp where I work.  A camp where simple living, independent choice, and a sense of community guides daily life at camp.  I was surprised when my daughter wanted similar things.  She felt strongly about an all-girls camp.  I am sure this was partially because it’s the primary summer camp experience she’s had.  There’s likely an equal part for her choice of a girls’ camp because it guaranteed her younger brother wouldn’t attend camp with her in the future.  She’s an independent spirit so I fully understand her choice in not wanting to share her camp experience with anyone from home.  Especially not her brother.

When discussing camp with my daughter it was very apparent that she wanted an opportunity for a “trial” experience.  She was excited about the opportunity to have “her own camp.”  But she wasn’t quite ready to fully jump in with both feet.  Runoia’s Harmony Land Camp program was the perfect fit.  This shortened summer camp experience provided her an age-appropriate residential camp experience.  It also solidified her desires for an all-girls program with a strong focus on the outdoors.  And there were enough arts options to ensure her creative spirit was never bored.  After Harmony Land she was all in.  Five summers later and she hasn’t looked back.

Choosing Summer Camp for Your Family

The variety of programs and options can make choosing summer camp a complicated process.  However, choosing summer camp for your family schedule and dynamics can make everything more complicated.  One major consideration for us was camp dates because of the school calendar in the southeast United States.  There are summers that school begins before Maine camps are finished.  Due to this a half-summer session was a must.

An unexpected aspect of being a camp mom is the level of communication and individual attention Runoia families receive. The owner/director, Pam, took the time to speak with me about the Runoia experience and answered all of my questions throughout the enrollment process.  The level of attention we’ve continued to receive as a Runoia family has been amazing.  My daughter’s face lit up when she first received a letter from her camp pen pal and welcome post card from Alex.  Now she has the opportunity to do the same for new younger campers.  And my daughter now anticipates her birthday postcard in October!  The connection to summer camp truly continues year-round.

Choosing Summer Camp as A Camp Director

Sometimes being a summer camp director gets in the way of being a camp mom.  The summer season is crazy for all camp directors- our attention is on the amazing campers who create our camp community.  Due to this I knew I had to fully trust the leadership team for my daughter’s summer camp.  As a camp director who speaks with parents on a regular basis, I think this is the most important aspect of choosing a camp for your child.  As parents we are sending our most prized possession away for an amazing experience.  We must fully trust the people who are going to be responsible for them.

Here is where I have an advantage.  I met Runoia Director and Owner Pam very early in my years as a camp director.  As a young director I admired her for her integrity and commitment to summer camp.  As a mom I knew I could trust everyone at Runoia because I knew Pam was leading them.  2020 will be my daughter’s fifth summer as a Runoia girl. Directors Pam and Alex and the rest of the Runoia team haven’t ever let me down.  And more importantly, they’ve gotten to know and supported my daughter like she’s one of their own.  They’ve given her all I could have ever asked for in a summer camp experience and so much more!


The Spirit of Giving

Runoia’s continued partnership with World of Change deepens the spirit of giving. We feel honored to donate to WOC on behalf of our campers and staff.

Last summer we encouraged families to bring their loose change to camp. In the US over $10 million in loose change exists today. That’s about $90 per household.  Founder and executive of WOC, Matt Hoidal, came to camp to share about the organization with our campers. Amidst cheers and clapping, holding up two large jars of change, Matt exclaimed, you are giving over $200! Matt explained how ALL the money raised goes directly to recipients. His salary is paid by a donor so that none of the overhead in running the organization is paid through donations. What a great model!

Matt then surprised us by sharing that all the money will go to specific needs and, wait for it, we can choose! The campers decided to buy a bed for a child who was sleeping on the floor, backpacks for back to school students and hot meals for people who needed food. We all got a warm feeling from the experience.

This summer we hope to double our change fundraiser. At the beginning and end of each session, change jars will be available. Collect change at home or find some in your car on opening or closing day. You’ll get a great feeling from being part of the movement!

And, if you’re reading this and want to do a mitzvah, you can raise money at your school or community for World of Change. Find out more about inspiring others here.

We are thrilled to make the connection this holiday season and donate to WOC from all of us at Runoia.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Love, Aionur