Diversifying our Camp Library

Thanks to the Runoia Diversity Advisory Committee we are adding more books to our camp free-library that diversify our library by adding different authors and protagonist and subject matter.  Thandie Scott, Runoia alum from New York/Columbia University came up with a great list of books.

And Erin Lasher choose a selection of about 24 books we bought this year.

Books are coming into the office! and we are marking them and adding them to our lending library in the camp lodge.

All are Welcome is a favorite for Harmony Land Camp. The Watson’s go to Birmingham is great for our rising 5th grade group and Little Leaders, Bold Women in Black History is a great way to introduce amazing women to any age in a concise one-page presentation.

Campers and staff can borrow books from the library and leave them in the reshelving basket when done.

So, bring your favorite books (paper backs and hard backs as no e-readers at camp) and share what you’re reading with others. We read aloud every night in every cabin which is part of a wonderful Runoia tradition.

Do you have a favorite children’s series or book? Please post your ideas on our Facebook page and we might find them and read them this summer. Perhaps you have ideas for children’s books for certain age groups – please share your expertise! Are you interested in donating new books? Peruse our wish list of books and find one that is not highlighted and send our way – we would love that!

Returning to Runoia – from counselor to camp parent and staff

Guest blogger Mindy (Boyce) Martone-Gulling

Archery and cabin counselor 1998/99. Yoga and farm instructor and camp parent in 2021.

Mindy shares her reflections on returning to Runoia.

Camp friends for always!
Working with Kara (Benken) Garrod once again.

My daughter is the outgoing, kind, and hilarious youngest child of five and she and I have been waiting for years for her to be old enough to go to Runoia. I was a counselor in the late ‘90s and left Runoia in 1999 to go to law school, which was followed by a “real” job, kids, and life that kept me far from Camp. But I never forgot how beautiful, fun, warm, and welcoming the CR community was and knew I wanted my daughter to be a part of it. 

Delayed a year by Covid, this Spring we finally signed her up for a session in Harmony Land, the program for Runoia’s youngest campers. We were all so excited. My memory certainly isn’t what it once was, but apparently there’s a whole section of it that’s full of camp songs and I started teaching her right away. We bought new swimsuits, shoes, and water bottles for her adventure and she insisted on watching the Runoia marketing video at least once a day. Even more exciting was that life was such that I was able to join her at camp as a counselor – after all this time.

We arrived on the first of our many Fine Maine Days at camp, she joined her new friends, and I got my first live glimpse of camp in so many years. New facilities! State-of-The-Art equipment! Exciting new activities and adventures to choose from!  And of course almost all new faces, including counselors who usually said “oh, I was just born then” when I told them the last year I had been at camp.  It was clear that Runoia had grown and changed and constantly improved in the time I had been gone. But just as the new facilities blend smoothly into the camp landscape and the new activities appear on the tag board next to old standards like archery and swimming, the heart and soul of Runoia was the same even amidst the changes. Girls just being themselves, hugging friends, cracking wide smiles at mastering a new skill, and laughing as they walk lightly past the ferns down to the waterfront. Campfires, Fairy Ring, taps, the logs, Blue/White, and birthday songs all endure for new generations of Runoia girls.

As a counselor I got to experience things with my daughter that I would have only heard about at home- her unbridled joy trotting off in her yellow one-piece to every rec swim and the ear-to-ear grin when she got the arrow “in the red” during archery. As a mom, I appreciated so much about how girls are loved and supported at Runoia- from a counselor agreeing to stay late at an activity to make sure a level got passed to a tireless search for a lost but much loved book, to the heartfelt good nights from the Directors.

I have always seen Runoia as a special place, and I was so lucky that I can share it with my own Runoia girl, hopefully for years to come.


It’s blue and white and other camp fun

We are in the final stretch of First Session 2021. Many items are on the bucket list for our last several days, but first we have much to report on from this past week. 

After a couple of rainy days and a cozy Friday movie night, the weekend brought sunshine and new energy and both days saw temperatures in the high seventies. Saturday was the last day of our fourth activity block, and girls enjoyed getting into the lake for swim lessons and getting out on the blue waves for sailing, kayaking, paddleboarding, windsurfing, and skiing. We had our first 2021 American Archer (passing all of the levels) go Charlotte M. and some major level passing in target sports, girls gearing up for the Blue/White horse show, action on the tennis, volleyball, basketball, and badminton courts, fabulous dance and drama lessons going on around camp, baskets and art projects being completed, and so much more. Sunny days have also helped us to get our girls out for tubing, a highly coveted treat here at camp! Saturday night supper was Birthday Tables in which everyone celebrated all of the girls in their cabins who have birthdays during the session by dressing up in different themes and singing silly songs, eating cake, and having a Birthday Party Bash with music, limbo, hula hooping, foursquare, and lots of laughter echoing throughout camp. 


Sunday morning started with a sleepy breakfast – campers and counselors wore their pajamas to the dining hall and, as always, doughnuts were a hit! Blue/White junior and senior team captains were nominated and elected, and then we all gathered on the beach for swim races. Each girl earned points for her team, and we’re pretty sure our neighbors across the lake heard the awesome team spirit coming from the beach in the form of songs and cheers! Good thing most of them are Runoia alumnae and were probably cheering for their old teams too!

Juniors played kickball and seniors played softball Blue/White games in the afternoon, and then we all got into our uniforms for supper and again gathered at the lake all together for our first Sunday night campfire, revolving around the theme “Better Together”. Each cabin shared a skit with the rest of camp and we taught and sang some of our favorite traditional Runoia songs while watching the sun set over Great Pond. We were joined by three loons who seemed to linger in our cove longer than usual, perhaps entranced by the melodies and harmonies we created together. 


On Monday we began our fifth and final block, this one lasting for four days to allow our girls a good chunk of time to develop and build on their skills in each of the program areas they tagged up for. The farm program is very popular these days, giving girls a chance to learn some gardening and animal care practices. Our Harmony Land campers went horseback riding on Monday evening, while the rest of the camp did “Laundry Bag Skits” – each cabin received a box full of random items and got to write, direct, and perform a short play. There were some truly hilarious moments, and we think we may have some rising stars on our hands! 


Luckily the sun decided to hang around through Tuesday, letting us have a full program day and two excellent recreational swim opportunities. It was wonderful to see so much splashing around, diving for rings, handstand contests, and games of Marco-Polo. First and Second shack each went out for a half-day hike yesterday at “The Mountain”, and made it back to camp before the rain. The sun poked back out for a bit for the late afternoon, and Tuesday night’s evening program was Counselor Hunt – a giant game of hide and seek in which girls ran around camp together trying to find hidden counselors, several of whom got extra creative – up a tree, in an empty(!) trash can! 

Our last several days will be jam-packed with more incredible program opportunities, day hiking trips, the completion of baskets and art projects, healthy and delicious meals, ziplining from the climbing tower, jumping on the water trampoline, the passing of archery, riflery, sailing, windsurfing, and riding levels, an early morning Oak Island swim, Blue/White competition, caring for our chickens and bunnies, end-of-session traditions, dips in the lake, and of course, those unforgettable moments of Camp Runoia magic that all of our Super Star Staff have been working hard to create for our campers. 

Wow – sound like a lot? Sure does, but we always get it done! A huge shoutout to everyone who has made the First Session of Camp Runoia 2021 possible we are so grateful for the opportunity to all be together again in person.


Thanks to Sophie B. for blogging and keeping track of our antics.

First week of fun – Great Pond camp life

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

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

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


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

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

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


The power of the pen – handwritten notes are special

I know I have blogged about handwritten letters before.  Again it feels worthy of a mention. It is of great relevance as we are coming up on the camp season and are reminded that contact with the outside world through mail is so valuable. When technology is not accessible a pen and paper is a great connector.

There is some great commentary and many books written about the art and often ‘lost art’ of letter writing. It’s worth acknowledging that in our high tech times, jumping on face time or a zoom is easier than finding pen and paper and the ever illusive correct postage stamp.

I was inspired this week by a photograph on facebook from my camp friend in Australia. Her daughter had asked for letters so I had pooped a note in the mail and after a long and arduous journey she finally had it in her hands. The pure joy on her face was amazing and she apparently slept with it under her pillow. She has never met me and as her mum explained our connection, they looked on the map at how far the letter had traveled. A lot of lessons were learned just through a piece of mail that took a few minutes to write and the cost of a stamp. I am excitedly awaiting my letter back from her. 

The majority of people that I send postal mail to are my camp friends. While we do keep in touch via electronic means we mostly write to each other. It’s so fun to get an unexpected note in the mail and then know it’s your turn to write back at some point. It’s very casual and doesn’t feel like an obligation, we share daily life news and stay up to date with each other when we feel compelled to.

Mail at camp has extra value,  when you are away from home a fun card, or a letter is a treat at rest hour. It is great to see girls get writing too! As it is there only means of communicating there are stacks of letters waiting to go out in the camp mail bag every morning. I hope parents cherish those notes from camp even the ones that just say ‘camp is fun’ in big letters across the whole card. 

I love sorting the mail at camp, the fun stickers on the envelopes, the scrawly handwriting from younger siblings and the formal notes from older relatives. I laugh at the bills that I know will likely go unopened until August. It always reminds me of our larger camp community, the campers that have graduated that still write to camp friends, the parents who were alums and carry on the traditions of Runoia in their family and all of those people at home wondering how much fun we are having on Great Pond. It’s a whole pile of love coming in letter form.

We truly can’t wait for the summer season, so stock up on your stationary because we love getting mail!

Camp Runoia Alumnae Organization Collaboration

Camp Runoia is incredibly fortunate to have a strong alumnae connection with the alumnae group establishing their own 501 ©3 organization in the 1987, a small group of people spear headed by alumna and attorney, Jody Sataloff, to create the organization. Over the past nearly 35 years, the alumnae group has created over $600,000 in “camperships” for support in tuition assistance.

The magic they create is much more than money. The board of directors gathers every summer at camp for the annual board meeting and gets to connect with current campers before and after the meeting.

Every 5 years the alumnae come to camp in droves to celebrate and connect with each other and meet new alumnae, stay in the camp “shacks”, swim in the lake, and share camp with their partners, spouses, families and friends.

2021 marks Runoia’s 115th consecutive season of offering summer camp to girls. The history of camp is recorded in our camp logs and more recently, Roberta “Boop” Tabell Jordan began creating family trees of legacy families at Runoia.

It is with sadness and understanding the announcement of postponement of the 115th reunion till 2022 was heard around the globe. Many international alumnae are relieved as travel looked bleak for this coming summer. People are excited to hange the date in their calendars to August 2022.

This summer, with camp continuing on stronger than ever, we are looking forward to seeing those girls supported by the CRAO coming to camp to stretch and grow in the beautiful Camp Runoia setting and the profound camp experience.

Love, Aionur

College Search Likens to Camp Search by Jennifer Dresdow

The college search begins very similarly to the camp search with factors such as location, size, cost and activity/academic focus at the forefront. As a parent to a current senior, COVID has added another layer to the complex process. Not only has it complicated campus visits, but college response to COVID is now a factor as well when looking at pros/cons of campuses. 

We, my daughter Natalie & I, were actually on a college visit trip last March as the country went into various stages of lockdown and campuses sent their students home. Two of our visits were outright canceled and two modified. We’ve been able to visit campuses this fall with screenings and limitations.

Despite all these hurdles, Natalie has been able to visit her top choice schools this fall and has been accepted to her top choices and is waiting to hear from one last school before making a final decision. Having attended Runoia as a camper for nine summers, a CIT for one summer, and working as Junior Counselor last summer, Natalie found camp to be an obvious choice around which to mold her college essay. Specifically she wrote about Camp in the Time of Covid. Having learned so many lessons about perseverance and the power of camp during this trying time in our history, she was anything but short of material.

As an equestrian, a college with a strong equestrian team was a priority for her. Second, she plans to major in math education, with a goal of teaching middle school math in the future, so a strong teaching program was a necessity. As far as location, Natalie knew she didn’t want to be too cold. As much as she loves Maine in the summer, far north schools were eliminated early. Natalie attends a large high school with 400 in her class, but loves the small community of Runoia, so she narrowed her search to schools with enrollment under 2500. Finally, while gender was not a factor, she has two all girls schools on her final list. Having spent eleven summers at Runoia full season, she values the single gender experience and knows the benefits of building quality relationships with other women.

Senior year has been challenging, as many of your have experienced. Our school system started late due to COVID. Then we were virtual, switched to hybrid, with Natalie attending every two days, then back to virtual after Thanksgiving. We returned to hybrid mode last week for our 2nd semester. Natalie has missed connecting with her friends at school. The riding barn she belongs to has proven to be a place of solace.  A naturally social distanced sport, riding is one thing she can do and it feels fairly normal. 

Just like we hope camp can feel a little more normal this summer, we hope some spring rites of passage can happen. A carefully sought after prom dress still hangs in her closet from last spring and cap and gown are ordered for graduation. Working at camp last summer has left us both with a “Masks up, let’s go” attitude. We have continued to explore schools and take safe trips with the “new normal” precautions. We are both ready to dive into another summer at Runoia and then settling Natalie into college this fall, wherever her final decision may land her.

“Remember who you are and what you represent.” 

Jody Sataloff  – Guest Blog

“Remember who you are and what you represent.”  Back in my camp counselor days in the early 70s (good grief, was it really that long ago?), this was the abiding ethic, the ever present rule of law, that Betty Cobb expected us  to live by.  Anytime we left camp proper she sent us off with that reminder.  We all rolled our eyes and scoffed at this repeated admonition.  I suspect that most, like me, didn’t appreciate the value of those words until we were true adults with kids of our own. 

Remember who you are and what you represent.  Those eight words pack a punch.  For me, they pretty much represent the myriad of life lessons I learned at Camp Runoia.

  1. Who are you, and who do you want to be?  Are you a leader?  Are you a risk taker?  Are you an optimist? Are you kind, empathetic, generous?  Runoia taught me to try and be all those things.  I might have been one of them when I arrived there….I hope I was many by the time I left.  I remember the thrill as a young counselor of being in charge of my first camping trip with young girls — that rushing sense of responsibility, the new feeling of a sort of power to be in charge of the kind of experience others would have.  And I remember the nervousness of leading my first overnight sailing trip, recognizing the risk of all that could go wrong, but forcing myself to charge into the experience with enthusiasm.  I remember being stuck on a rainy day in the boathouse with a class of young sailors, miserable with the weather and being “grounded…and realizing the importance of putting a sunny side on the experience and coming up with games like Dr. Knickerbocker and Pin the Telltale on the Sail.  I remember wanting nothing more than a quiet rest hour to myself and having a 5th shacker suffering from homesickness need comfort that took up the entire hour.  Wonderful growth, wonderful life lessons.
  2. We are all part of something bigger, be it a camp, a family, a place of employment, a school….and when we are out in the world, our actions reflect back on that bigger thing we are part of.  It’s important to remember that, that what we say and what we do has a giant ripple effect and we have a responsibility to those to whom we are attached in one way or another.  We represent them.  We are obliged to do it well.
  3. Throughout our lives we will encounter one tough situation after another.  It’s not the ones we walk away from that are remembered.  It’s the ones we face, and how we choose to face them.  Remember who you are and what you represent.  For me, going through life, recalling these words, I try to reach deep inside myself and locate the strong girl/woman Runoia  helped me to become.  I try to make decisions based on that strength and on the good judgement I learned to try to use in life.  While at camp you had no choice but to become flexible, learn to make compromises while you were living in close proximity to others, combat fear to try new things, be kind and caring all along the way.  In other words, you learned to be responsible.  And learning this at camp, it was all important to me when I had kids of my own to instill this same sense of responsibility, this same sense that we do not walk through life alone, that our steps have consequences on all whose lives we touch, that we owe it to them, to our families, our friends, our co-workers, our communities to take those steps with courage, with strength, with compassion, with grace.


I carry Betty’s phrase with me throughout both my personal and professional lives.  Whenever my kids walked out the door, I heard it emanating from my mouth.  I have it in my head when I speak or act in public.  It is just one of the many Runoia building blocks that have hopefully made me a better person than I ever could have been without it, without Runoia.




News from the Camp Runoia Alumnae Organization

Get your news! Here is the latest newsletter from the Camp Runoia Alumnae Organization

Mission and Beginnings

The CRAO’s mission is to raise money for “Camperships” to help girls be able to go to camp who otherwise would not have the experience. For those of us who believe of camp as a profound growth and belonging experience that lasts a lifetime, it’s amazing to share this experience with others who can’t afford the full price of camp.

The CRAO was founded in 1999 and has provided camperships for 21 summers. Approximately 300 girls have received financial aid to help them attend Runoia.

The CRAO LOG – The Newsletter Name

The newsletter gets its namesake from the logs of information at camp. From 1910 until current day the “logs” at Runoia have been written and crafted to reflect the summer events at camp. The logs live in the Lodge building at camp and many have been scanned and are available online.

In 2018, the CRAO started a new fund for Equestrian Camperships to help support girls who want to learn how to ride or continue their passion for riding at Runoia.

The board of directors meets annually at camp and continues meeting by phone and email throughout the year to raise funds, process campership applications, host regional gatherings for alumnae to connect and plan for the 115th reunion at camp in 2021.

Find your Favorite Camp Runoia Song!

Hail! Hail! Comrades all! Greetings from Camp Runoia. As chilly temperatures settle in this fall, are you feeling

nostalgic about your camp days? Relive them through camp songs – find your favorite in this blog. You can also peruse recordings of Runoia songs on our website.

It won’t be long before we’ll be gazing at sunlight on the water and hearing the wind blow through the mid pine trees by the waterside. Where does the wind come from? We often ask ourselves in our leisurely tech-free time at Runoia. For many girls these days it’s a long road to freedom to detach from their cell phones and screen time. But it’s like a cowboy’s lullaby to give in and unplug for a few short weeks.

When the girls arrive and turn down Point Road you can hear the ring of oh here we come as campers burst with excitement. It’s been months they’ve been dreaming of sailing out on the blue waves and canoeing with paddles softly dip, dip and swing-ing across the cove. Whether they’ve come from out in Wyoming or nearby.

It’s that first sunset at camp where we shout give me the light of the campfire so we can continue our evening as darkness descends. That’s’ the moment when mmm-mmm I want to linger is audible across the beach.

The summer flies by in a flash and it’s not long before girls are leaving on a jet plane. Reflections of somethingspecial there at Camp Runoia stand out as girls return home to study hard and then, back to canoes and paddles.

Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like camp!