Announcing Runoia’s 2023 Equestrian Camp!

This week, we have one of our most exciting guest blogs to date – Jen Dresdow is here, announcing Runoia’s 2023 Equestrian Camp!

The equestrian program at Camp Runoia has grown over the past decade into one of our capstone programs. The past several summers have seen sold out lesson numbers. We are excited to launch enrollment for our new Equestrian Camp which will allow even more riders to enjoy our fantastic program! This riding intensive week will run Sunday August 13th to Saturday August 19th and will be open to girls going into 6th – 12th grade. This camp is an ideal prep week for those in both IEA and EAP, as they will have an opportunity to ride a variety of horses and practice in a show. However, there will be some spaces for beginner level riders as well.

Our lead coach for the week will be Kayleigh Burke. Kayleigh is collegiate level coach, having worked with both Hollins University and Virginia Tech, and currently coaches an IEA team out of Virginia Tech. Kayleigh is also a USEF ‘r’ rated judge for hunters and hunt seat equitation. Kayleigh will be assisted by collegiate level riders from Hollins University and Miami of Ohio University. 

Along with 2 mounted riding lessons per day, campers will also get 2 unmounted lessons per day covering a variety of horsemanship topics from how to walk to a course to equine first aid to show grooming and braiding. Kayleigh and her staff will also discuss collegiate riding opportunities. Lessons will have 4-5 riders in the group with 2 instructors. A sample daily schedule is:

7:00 – Chores at barn (campers will rotate helping)

7:30 – Wake Up

8:00 – Breakfast

8:30 – Cabin Clean Up

9:00 – Coach talk/groom & tack

9:30 – Groups 1 & 2 lesson/Groups 3 & 4 Unmounted Lesson

10:30 – Snack

10:45 – Groups 3 & 4 lesson/Groups 1 & 2 Unmounted Lesson

11:45- All Chores

12:30 – Lunch

12:45 – Beach Time/Swimming/Rest

2:15 – Groups 1 & 2 lesson/Groups 3 & 4 Unmounted Lesson

3:15 – Snack

3:30 – Groups 3 & 4 lesson/Groups 1 & 2 Unmounted Lesson

4:30 – Chores

5:00 – Showers & Clean Up

6:00 – Supper

6:45 – Evening Program

8:00 – Bedtime Snack

8:30 – Cabin Time followed by Bed Time

Campers will also go on field trip to a local tack shop and sale barn. There will be some fun surprises as well! On Saturday August 19th, all campers will participate in a final horse show at 10am. Parents are welcome to attend the show and depart after with their camper.

Transportation from/to Portland Jetport will be available and a van from the Boston area may be available if we get enough demand. Cost for the camp is $1900. An early bird rate of $1800 will apply until May 1st. Parents can apply on our website. This program is limited to 18 riders and there are limited spots based on riders level. A $500 deposit is due at the time of confirmed enrollment. 

Questions or to check on space, email or call 207-613-7004

Ready to ride? Register now!

Feeling Ready for Camp

Feeling ‘ready’ for camp is an exciting milestone for kids – sometimes they are able to self-advocate for wanting to attend camp and come readily equipped with the confidence to take on a new experience. My conversations with new and prospective camp families, however, have taught me that most campers don’t fall into this category – it is normal to feel apprehensive and uncertain about camp!

Camp is a powerful builder of confidence and independence – especially for return campers – but it can be a bit of a catch-22: how can you feel ready for such a major confidence-building experience without first feeling confident enough to try it?

Luckily, there are ways we can help our campers and children feel ready – or, at the very least, willing – to try a major new experience like camp.

Start Small: Harmony Land Camp 

Runoia created its Harmony Land Camp program precisely for the purpose of scaffolding our youngest campers toward comfort and a positive first experience with overnight camping. With expert support and individualized care, Harmony Land campers can grow their confidence over a summer or two in this program before taking the leap of attending a longer 3-week session of our typical camp program. HLC is tailored for kids aged 6-8 to form tight-knit friendships, explore new interests, and ease into camp life. Choose from ‘mini’ 9-day sessions OR our standard 12-day HLC sessions.

HLC is such a wildly popular ‘starter camp’ program at Runoia, we added a new session in 2023!

AND – we’ve heard our parents and families saying that even at older ages, our kids aren’t feeling ‘ready’ for the full 3-week sleep-away experience.

SO, we’ve opened up our HLC B session to a new, older age group: rising 5th graders and 10-year-olds are now welcome to enroll in this Harmony Land Camp session! 


Like anything else, being away from family members and ‘safe space’ people for a few weeks can be daunting.

Think of how you can help your child practice being away from home and family members they see daily, by doing things like attending sleep-overs with friends or spending the night at a grandparent’s or trusted family member’s house.

You can also help your child practice independence with tasks that you typically help them with so they can feel more prepared at camp – things like brushing their own hair, picking out outfits for their activities, or making their bed – but rest assured that they will also have caring counselors to help them.

Make a friend

Runoia aims to support new campers by helping them create connections and form bonds leading up to camp. Runoia buddies up penpals between returning and new campers in the spring to help first-time Runoia campers make connections and have a buddy they’ve spent time talking to on the first day they arrive at camp.

Talk about how to self-advocate with your child

One of the most important life skills that we help our campers build every summer is self advocacy. We encourage our campers to speak up for themselves, let someone know when they need help, and to identify and feel comfortable approaching trusted adults in our community.

It helps to talk with your child about self advocacy and how and who to approach for help at camp. Luckily, camp is well-equipped with caring adults prepared to help your child at any moment. Some of the trusted adults and helpers in our community that your child can ask for help are:

  • Directors and assistant directors
  • Leadership staff – look for someone with a walkie talkie
  • Your child’s Head of Cabin (HOC)
  • Your child’s cabin counselors
  • Program staff during classes
  • CITs

No Surprises – Setting Expectations

Having clear expectations and knowing what to anticipate is important for a child’s first camp experience, especially if they are feeling on the apprehensive side. You can help your child form realistic expectations for camp by:

  • Talking regularly about camp leading up to the summer and listen to how they’re imagining it, what they’re most excited for, etc.
  • Going through our website and using different tools like our media galleries, videos, our virtual tour, etc. to help them form an idea of camp
  • Discussing how you will communicate over the summer – including learning how to write and send letters if necessary – campers should know that phone calls, promises to be picked up, etc. are not realistic expectations for camp
  • Identifying and discussing things that will look and feel different at camp – like meals, showers and self care, alone time, etc.
  • Still have questions? Give us a call!

Prepare Coping Skills

When the inevitable does happen at camp – having a bad moment or day, struggling with a new skill, adjusting to a new social situation – it’s important for kids to know that they can do hard things and have the skills and tools to move through those tough feelings. ‘Coping skills’ may sound like a scary term meant for crisis situations, but really they’re helping tools for us all to use when we’re feeling a bit stressed or overwhelmed. Coping skills can be distraction methods, tools for processing emotions, physical calming strategies, and more.

Look through our suggested guide of camp-specific coping skills at the end of this blog and help your camper make their own, individualized list that they can use at camp.

Jump in Anyway!

At the end of the day, we may never really be fully ‘ready’ for anything we try in life – and we think it’s okay to jump in anyway. At camp, our counselors and campers learn that they are capable of doing hard things. Sometimes we have to do things scared, or we’ll never do them at all. And whatever happens along the way, we can handle it with our community by our side.


Coping skills for camp

Camp Teaches us to Love – a reflection on Valentine’s day

Camp teaches us to love and how to be a friend. To love and be a friend to each other, to the earth, to the people who came before us and those who will follow after. We are so lucky that Runoia is a home base of love for campers, staff, family members, and alumni – anyone who has spent a summer at camp knows that you leave a piece of your heart at Runoia, and with a piece of Runoia in your heart.

Valentine’s Day last week had me thinking about all the ways that love shows up in our daily camp lives, and the camp-specific ways that we show love to each other, our earth, and the generations before and after us. So often during the summer, we don’t stop to say ‘I love you’ every day, but rather show that love in Runoia language! These are just a few ways I’ve seen love show up at Runoia, that you can see any day of the summer:

We show love to those who came before us by enjoying the land they cared for.

We show love to those who came before us by honoring traditions that they thoughtfully formed together.

We show love to those who came before us by acknowledging the indigenous communities that stewarded this land.

We show love to the next generation by making progress for our community.

We show love to the next generation by passing down songs, skits, and traditions.

We show love to the next generation by updating our library, our equipment, and our facilities.

We show love to the earth by caring for the animals of Runoia.

We show love to the earth by learning all about her in camp craft, JMG, and on trips.

We show love to the earth by practicing LNT when we go camping and hiking.

We show love to each other by offering kindness in the hard moments.

We show love with the sentence ‘I made you a bracelet.’

We show love when we say, ‘you can come sit next to me.’

We show love by sharing our song book.

We show love by giving someone else the opportunity to be Miss Tacky.

We show love when we celebrate other’s accomplishments.

We show love when we give each other the space to be seen and heard.

We show love by listening about each others’ days at circle time.

We show love in so many ways unique to the summer, to camp, to Runoia.




All About Arts Activities – the Classics: a guest blog

One of the beautiful things about Runoia is that we value the differences and interests of all of our campers and offer something for everyone. Whether you choose to focus on riding, sailing, target sports, JMG, or the arts – Runoia is the place for you. And on top of it all, we have some incredibly dedicated, skilled staff members who help our campers explore new activities and build skills. 8-summer staff member Ruby has joined us on the blog this week to tell us all about arts activities at Runoia!

Hey y’all! My name is Ruby, and I’m the Head of the Creative Arts department here at Runoia. This will be my 8th summer coming up, and when I’m not at camp I’m living in the great state of Oregon! I’m stepping in today to talk about our awesome art activities we have at camp.

From our bustling waterfront, to the awe-inspiring equestrian program, there’s so much to choose from! If those don’t excite you, we’ve got target and field sports programs that will keep you on the edge of your seat! Not to mention trips, ropes, farm and garden too. There’s so many programs to choose from! The variety at Camp Runoia is part of what makes a summer here worthwhile, and there’s no better place to see all those differences shine than in the arts program. From graphic arts to visual arts, performing arts to decorative arts, we have an abundance of choices across the creative spectrum for campers to try. On average, one out of four of our campers are in an art program during any class period.

So to those of you who are art inclined, might be trying a new art for the first time this year, or happen to find yourself in one of our many art classes, welcome! Below you’ll find a quick  description of these awesome arts, and recommendations of arts to try!

Arts and Crafts – What a wild card! Each time you come to Arts and Crafts you’ll have a different activity to create. Polymer clay? Print-making? Giant friendship bracelets? Who knows! You could sign up for Arts and Crafts every time it’s available and do something different each time! If you love scrolling on social media to see what random crafts the internet is cooking up (guilty!) you’ll love AC!

Batik – An unusual activity where the artist first creates a design on fabric, and then wax is layered onto the design which helps keep the different water based colors from mixing. Batik reminds me of stained glass, where these strong wax lines contain beautiful colors. If you love painting or find coloring books relaxing this will absolutely be your new favorite activity.

Dance – It’s hard to resist dancing when your favorite song comes on! What about a whole choreographed dance number? Learn some fresh moves, or even teach others some moves you know! Dance is great for all types of skill levels, so don’t count yourself out before you try it!

Yoga – Camp can be stressful! From trying new things and always on the move vibes, it can be hard to catch your breath! Carve out a piece of you-time with yoga. Learn some great stretches, stress relief tips, and how to practice mindfulness. If you’ve never tried it, camp is a great place to get a taste of this body and mind centered practice.

Woodburning – Do you enjoy doodling within the margins of your homework or notes? Taking an existing project and elevating it? Woodburning is just that! Taking a small piece of raw edge wood or trinket box and personalizing the piece in some way. A blueberry bush? A wolf running into the distance? Add both if you have room!

Pottery – There’s nothing more satisfying than starting with a slab of clay and working it into a mug, pinch pot, or even wind chime! What about a tiny woodland scene, or mini Kirby?  Ceramics is one of the oldest art forms out there, and something everyone should have the chance to try! If you like polymer clay or the idea of 3D printing, watch your ideas and hands come together to create!

There are so many art classes at Runoia, I can’t fit them all into one blog! I hope you can join  me next week for six more activities! These ones promise to be a little more unconventional!

See you soon!
Ruby (she/her)

Thanks Ruby, for taking the time to tell us all about arts activities at Runoia – and she’s only just started! We’re excited to check back next week to learn more about the unique offerings at Runoia!

Resilience at Camp

Last month, Dr. Tracy Brenner, “The Camp Counselor”, began a series at the Maine Camp Experience to help guide MCE parents through emotionally preparing for camp, starting with the topic of resilience in the face of homesickness and the absence of parental help.

In the vast majority of introductory conversations with parents of new campers, the inevitable topic of homesickness and preparedness for the camp experience comes up: “How do you help campers through homesickness?”, “What happens if she doesn’t adjust immediately?”

Before diving into explaining our in-depth staff training, our strategies for helping individual campers adjust, and how our social, emotional, and behavioral health specialist provides higher-level support, I always begin by first saying that homesickness is perhaps the most ‘normal’ and expected part of camp. Even the ‘campiest’ of kids experience pangs of homesickness and sadness that can make their way into a letter home, and those letters can be devastating for a parent to read.

But here’s a secret: usually by the time that letter has made it to a loved one’s mailbox, the feelings are three-days old, and those three days were full of smiles, laughter, new skills learned, and countless moments of bravery. Experiencing big feelings can be overwhelming at the best of times, and writing can be an exceptional release of those emotions to the people a camper trusts the most. Sometimes it takes time for campers to feel comfortable expressing those feelings to a friend or adult at camp instead, and be able to save the most exciting news for those letters home.

In the meantime, through all the tough moments, what we do know is that camp builds resilience (in my experience, for kids and adults alike!) Imagine a single day at camp and all of the moments a child will experience – some exciting, some disappointing. Each moment is an opportunity for growth in their resilience. From picking their sail back up after dropping it while windsurfing, to committing to fixing a mistake or rolling with it in an art project, to sitting with the disappointment of not getting their dream role in the play and choosing to be happy for their friend. For kids, these are hard things – but hard things that at camp, they are capable of.

And building that resilience can be exhausting and trying – so don’t be surprised if at week three, you find yourself picking up a quiet, tired kid. In a week or so, they might be ready to open upabout all of their amazing experiences – but be patient, they’ve been building resilience at camp for twenty-one days! And one day, that resilience may just develop to carry them up Mt. Katahdin, challenge them to go to JMG test camp, convince them to try the Oak Island swim, or accomplish something like American Archer, Advanced Equestrian, or Advanced Skipper.

Runoia Wrapped: Reflections of 2022

At the end of every year, TikTok buzzes with a variety of creative trends to reflect on the prior year. This year was no exception – the app has been infiltrated with countless videos of reflections on 2022. Of course, we had to hop on the trend to show some of our favorite moments in videos and pictures from the summer of 2022!

It feels a bit odd to be reflecting on the 2022 season in December, as we have really been in 2023 mode since August – filling camper spaces, hiring 2023 staff, and coming up with ideas for the best summer yet. Yet in the camp world, we live “10 for 2” and so much of our best moments of each year are packed into just those two months. And for so many of our campers, you can shorten that to a very concentrated 3-week period.

So our reflection of 2022 is really on 8 weeks of 52 – a mere 15% of the calendar year. The remaining 85% is full of work for some, school for others, time with ‘non-camp friends’ (but if we’re truly lucky, with camp friends too) and family. But for me, and many others, the 8 weeks represents far beyond 15% of my best memories and favorite moments of each year.

So, in case you missed it, you can watch our “Runoia Wrapped” reflections of 2022 TikTok – we can’t wait to see you all in 2023!




Sharing some of the magic of 2022 – make it Runoia Wrapped! See you in 2023 ❤️ • • • #2022wrapped #camp #summer2022 #summer #2023 #goodbye2022 #camplife #summercamp #sailing #horsebackriding #lakelife #newenglandsummer #waterski

♬ original sound – GrandPeachEdits

Rounding a Corner – Winter Solstice

Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year, is finally here, and while that may not feel like something to celebrate, it signifies rounding a corner. We are summiting a peak that allows us to see the end of 2022, and in the distance far below, the longest, sunniest days ahead. Belgrade Lakes will see daylight nearly double in time between now and peak camp season in mid-July. Sunrises will fall from past 7:00 am to before 5:00, and sunsets will grow their patience from 4:00 pm to wait until nearly 9:00 instead. Our own patience is instead probably growing thin – for me, I know that the year changing its last number each January 1st creates a certain eagerness for the camp season to follow.

While we wait steadily in the shortest days, my gratitude for the longest ones grows – and I think of all that we do with our extra hours of sunshine at camp. The Runoia community is an opportunistic one – we know that flat water brings the best skiing, a bit of wind the best sailing, and even the worst of weather brings broom-ball and quality time with our shack-mates. So it follows that Runoia campers and staff are experts at making the most of what they are given and showing gratitude all the while. Here are a few ways that we make the most of our longest days and greatest amount of sunshine in the summer:

An early sunrise means…

  • Staff waking up before their campers to ‘fill their cups’ – with walks with friends, runs, morning paddles
  • Waking up at 7:30 is easier when you’re greeted by the sun
  • We’re ready for our day nice and early, and we can fit in that much more activity time and time with each other
  • Dry grass to eat our Sunday donuts on
  • The chance to swim to Oak Island and back before the wind picks up
  • Light for morning barn chores and time with the horses

A late sunset means…

  • Light for the best EPs (counselor hunt would be a bit more difficult in the dark)
  • Post-dinner cartwheels on the grass
  • Just a few more minutes laying on the grass with your shack-mates before bed
  • The occasional post-dinner beach party on the hottest days
  • Staff enjoying a few more hours of sunshine on their nights off

In this season of gratitude, I am grateful for the Winter Solstice – the shortest day of the year – knowing that memories and hopes of the longest ones at camp will last me until the next time around. We are so appreciative toward our earth and the sunlight that allows our camp days to be just as they are, without missing a thing – and some days we still go to bed wishing there was just a little bit more time together.

On Gratitude and Giving

This season unsurprisingly has us reflecting a lot on gratitude and giving, and I’m particularly amazed by all of the gratitude-worthy camp happenings in the last month. In today’s blog, I want to keep it simple and share some thankful-worthy highlights from Runoia.

CRAO Campership Funds

Perhaps one of my very favorite parts of the year, and certainly of my role at camp, is the honor of sending acceptance letters for CRAO Campership funds to recipient campers’ families. This year, the CRAO has supported 17 campers with tuition and additional riders with lesson funding from the CRAO Pam Cobb Heuberger Campership Riding Fund. The generosity of our CRAO and alumnae directly impact campers and our community by opening our gates to more campers each year.

The CRAO’s generosity and support is annual, and if you are able, we invite you to make a donation to the CRAO to support the camp experience for future campers for years to come. The gratitude expressed in our families’ acceptances of their awards is unparalleled and attributable to gift-makers like you.

Giving Tuesday and Supporting our Community

Yesterday, November 29th, was Giving Tuesday and Runoia stepped out once again to donate directly back to the Maine community. A donation of 200 pairs of new underwear was made on behalf of our campers and community to Maine Needs – a grassroots organization located in Portland, Maine, which focuses its efforts on providing clothing, hygiene products, and other necessities to those ‘starting life over from scratch.’

Did you miss Giving Tuesday this year? It’s never the wrong time to do the right thing – we invite you to donate in your home community, explore Giving Tuesday’s suggestions, or make a charitable donation to the CRAO.

Our Staff 

There is never a time during which we are not grateful for our staff – their form of giving is in time, effort, and love for our community. We are especially grateful to have already hired 60+ staff before December for the 2023 season. We are taking advantage of an early hiring season by already connecting and getting to know one-another from a distance – in some cases, entire oceans away!

But what has me feeling an extra glimmer of gratitude for our staff are the responses I’ve received to our staff social media feature survey. In case you missed it, you can catch a new featured staff member every couple of weeks from now all the way to camp on our Instagram and Facebook pages. I can’t selfishly keep these wholesome responses to myself, so here are some highlights from this survey to leave you with a warmed heart:

“[I’m returning to Runoia because of] Amazing connections at my home away from home.”

“I love working with staff to help them be their best, shape the next possible staff members (CITs), and still get so many opportunities to just have fun with the campers!”

“Great pond and everyone at Runoia have a special place in my heart.”

“I love being able to introduce kids who have little to no experience with horses to an amazing sport and community. I also love seeing the more advanced kids skills grow alongside their confidence as the summer progresses.”

“I love teaching sailing because every summer I get to work with an amazing bunch of campers and staff who love to have fun and are just as passionate about sailing as I am!”

“It is not as scary as it seems, I was super overwhelmed last year and everything felt so new but just trust that it’s going to be epic.”
“I love riding, especially at camp, and I want to help other people learn to love it as much as I do!”
“It looks like such an amazing camp and the staff that I have talked to so far have been so kind and lovely to talk to.”
“I love being a part of this community and I’m already counting down the days until the summer!”
My hopes are that you have just as much to be grateful for as we do here at Runoia – the happiest and coziest of holiday seasons, full of gratitude and giving, from us to you!

The Staff Low-Down at Camp Runoia

It’s no secret that at Runoia, we like to plan ahead and be prepared for the coming season so that we can be as spontaneous and in-the-moment as possible during summer. With so many of our camper spaces filled by returners and new friends already, we’ve now set our sights on putting together the best staff ever. In just a few weeks, with lots of effort made by Jen and the team, we have over 30 staff members committed to the 2023 season, with more pending! It’s definitely a puzzle each year, so here’s the low-down on staff at Camp Runoia:

Where do our staff come from?

Currently, with just over 30 staff hired and many more to come, we are representing 12 states from within the country, and 5 total countries already. While our international representation looks a little different each year, the flags hanging in the Lodge act as a historical reference of all of the countries every represented at Runoia, by campers or staff. While it’s increasingly rare each year, when a new country is represented by a camper or staff, the flag is added to the Lodge. So far this hiring season, we’re welcoming staff from Mexico, England, Scotland, and Australia! We can’t wait to hear them sing their national anthem to our community on the 4th of July this summer!


Who do we hire?

We focus on hiring people with a child-centered mindset and the flexibility to join us for the summer. Oftentimes, this means college-students, our former CITs and JCs, folks in grad school, teachers or other professionals in education, traveling nurses, and people in-between steps in life. I myself joined the team for what I thought would be just one summer in between undergrad and grad, and well … you know the rest.

What is it like to work a summer at Runoia?

If you really want an inside look at the Runoia staff experience, your best option is to follow our TikTok. We regard our counselors as the hardest workers we know – the job is often challenging and exhausting, but always worth it for the amazing moments and memories made every day. We live “10 for 2” here at Runoia, and we put all of our energy in those 2 months! While the experience could never be captured in just words, here are just a few glimpses of the camp counselor life at Runoia:

  • four periods a day of sharing your skills in an activity area you’re passionate about
  • guaranteed giggles every day
  • finding new best friends amongst fellow staff members
  • feeling proud of yourself for rising to challenges, solving problems, and supporting your campers
  • applicable skills gained for college, your resume, interviews, and your career
  • a summer full of #FMDs – Fine Maine Days – in the New England summer sun
  • a chance to let go and be your silliest, most authentic self – and feel good doing it

Where do our staff go?

Our hope every summer is that our staff will have the ability to return for summers on end – and while some do, like our teachers, not everyone has the flexibility. So many of our staff eventually graduate college and succeed in getting an amazing full-time job. Luckily, camp skills are life skills! You might be surprised to know that there’s a camp situation for just about every interview question there is, so whether our counselors become a teacher or an accountant, it doesn’t matter – those skills and experiences are in their back pocket, ready to go.

Do you know someone who would love to join our team?

Tap your favorite college student or teacher on the shoulder and send them our application!

Caitlin Jacob on the unplugged camp experience

One of the greatest benefits of an unplugged camp experience is the disconnect from social media and the pressures of the ‘outside’ or ‘real’ world. While putting away the tech can be daunting for a new camper, our long-time campers know very well just how freeing putting their phone away can be – that it’s a more-than-fair trade for the friends and experience of camp. Caitlin Jacob, who just finished her 7th summer with her CIT year, wrote the following piece, titled “Summer camps help escape everyday social circles” for her high school paper:

When I’m at home on the weekends, a large amount of my time is spent scrolling through social media. But I’m not on Instagram or TikTok looking at the latest trends or where people spent their summer vacation; instead, I’m looking at Snap Map. In fact, I’d say about an hour of my day is spent seeing where people are, not even necessarily those I’d consider to be my close friends.

I suppose this action stems from my fear of being left out of social gatherings and my resentment towards the feeling of doing nothing. Sometimes, though, I question this routine. After all, why has spying on people’s locations developed into such a large personal pastime ? It’s the times when I don’t have access to my phone, such as at my camp, when I’m truly able to enjoy life and live in the moment.

All too often, people tend to overlook the simple aspects of life experienced when in a remote program, and end up revolving their lives around where others appear to be on social media.

For about seven years, I had been a camper at a small, intimate all girls’ camp in Central Maine. This past summer, I returned once again to be a counselor in training. Whenever I’m there, I feel confident in who I am as a human being. I don’t feel deprived of my phone in the slightest, and am instead able to live in the moment and fully embrace a life that doesn’t involve the actions of others.

I’ll be honest, when the new Staples phone policy first came out I had been extremely frustrated, as my days in a way revolved around the actions of others. Having to put my phone in a small sleeve continuously made me believe I’d be excluded from multiple gatherings, not even knowing.

The more I reflected on this policy, the more I realized that every day when I was at camp I never felt excluded from whatever had happened at home. It was the pure action of not having access to my phone that made my life less “defined” by the actions of others. Maybe if I took a moment to fully embrace a phone and social media free life at home many of my worries regarding my own social life would disappear.

After all, studies have continuously proved that being in a remote location such as a camp does have a positive impact on one’s social skills and confidence. A study conducted by the American Camp Association showed that out of 167 campers, 140 had reported an increase in their social abilities.

Perhaps living a lifestyle not revolving around others’ social lives has overall made me a happier and more confident person, even if only for a couple of months each year. I will be eternally grateful for camp for providing me with an atmosphere free of much of the chaos and drama associated with friendships and friend groups at home.

Thanks, Caitlin, for the testament to the unplugged camp experience, and quelling some of the anxieties of putting our phones away to connect to one another. We hope to see you for another unplugged summer in 2023!