You’ve got ‘real’ mail!

Over the past couple of weeks our new Camp Runoia campers should have found a letter or two in their mailbox from a camp ‘penpal’.  The tradition of welcoming new girls to camp and being available to answer any questions has been going on for many, many years.  It  encourages campers to make connections even before their arrivals to camp in June or July.  Returning campers may be writing to a new girl in their cabin group or older girls may be reaching out to a younger ‘little sister.’  Girls look forward to writing notes and often seek out their new camp friend once they arrive at camp.  For new campers we hope that it helps them to feel like a part of the community and to get excited about the new adventure that they are taking.

Handwritten notes from a new camp friend are a long standing Runoia tradition.

In our techno world of texting and social media interactions it seems rare to actually receive a paper letter or card in the actual mail.  Often the mailbox is just full of solicitations and advertising along with some online shopping packages!  What a treat to find a handwritten envelope addressed to you personally.  This short video is a great introduction to letter writing to help kids for whom it may be a new skill.

At camp a campers only option of communicating with the outside world is through regular mail.  While parents can send one way emails, ‘real’ letters are still the most valued and appreciated.  Campers often show up with stationary boxes, a supply of stamps and some cool pens for their letter writing times. Rest hour and before bed are common times that girls will be found writing to family and friends. Campers and staff look forward to rest hour when mail is given out and often share news from home with their bunk mates or pin the notes that they receive to the wall by their beds.

Handwritten letters carry a charm and thoughtfulness that seems so radically different than an email or text message.  The fact that someone took the time to write to you and that it is an unedited conscious stream of thought makes it super special.  Parents often tell of the stacks of camp letters tucked away in memory boxes as treasures from their daughter’s time away at camp.

Send us some ‘real’ mail this summer it will be so greatly appreciated, we love when the PO Box is bursting at the seams.

Life Skills Learned at Camp Runoia

February’s Yearning Toward a Runoia Summer

The end of February comes quickly with the short calendar month and the longer days in Maine’s winter season.  Every day the sun shines longer and brighter and we dream of the days when we hear the screen doors slam, girls voices in laughter, song and friendship.

So much happens at camp.

Wilderness Trips Build Lifelong Skills
Wilderness Trips Build Lifelong Skills

There’s growth and learning, building of lifelong skills in activities and receiving support to navigate independently within the community of camp. Other aspects:

  • Becoming your personal best
  • Finding friends and building relationships throughout the summers of youth and beyond.
  • Working through the agony of defeat and experiencing the glory of trying something for the first time.

Guiding our Runoia campers are dedicated youth professionals; coaching, supporting, and making campers laugh when they thought they were going to cry.  Basically camp counselors become the adults campers treasure and look up to for years to come.  Counselors focus on campers building skills, increasing self-esteem, learning to advocate and being the “stand up girl”. They also create a lot of laugh-out-loud moments in the process.

Skill Building at Camp Runoia...
Skill Building at Camp Runoia…
... Happens All Day Long
… Happens All Day Long

Our parents are thankful Runoia is so much more than s’mores and fun. Sure we have that going on, but, the depth of camp: learning about yourself and what you contribute to the whole, intentional youth development and life skill building is farther afield for your every day camp program.

One parent sent me an email and this link this week:

A letter to a daughter which applies to all young girls and woman – so perfectly written and seems to fit with the Camp Runoia way so wanted to pass it on:

A Dad’s Letter to His Daughter

and this same mom followed up with this note:

When I read Dr. Flanagan’s letter to his daughter I had to share as he so eloquently expressed the message my husband and I hope our 14-year-old daughter and 16 and 18-year-old sons live by.  I only hope my husband and I are teaching these lessons daily by our example.  I am a bit disheartened at the direction corporate culture has taken, not only increasing these societal expectations on young girls but also more recently targeting young boys as well. The eternal optimist in me knows we have wonderful examples all around our children – teachers, neighbors, camp counselors, scientists… to name a few.  We simply need to help our children and ourselves understand these are the people we need to emulate rather then the false role models created by corporate marketers.

This week Camp Runoia recognizes National Eating Disorder week. We encourage parents to take stock in the Runoia parent’s declaration (above). Also:

  • Explore resources with your children that include media literacy*, including awareness of advertising and marketing manipulation of girls (and boys).
  • Help your children to understand how they are marketed toward to “fit in”, “feel good about themselves” and the falseness this perpetuates at the risk of their own youth and their self esteem.
Leadership Skills Happen at Every Age Group at Runoia
Leadership Skills Happen at Every Age Group at Runoia

Hats off to camps around the nation that delve a little deeper into the camp experience; to the camps practicing 21st century skill building, youth development and creating communities to belong to without fear of prejudice, exclusive cliques, look-ism or humiliation.

Thanks to our Camp Runoia parent who brought Dr. Flanagan’s letter to our attention enabling us to share with our camp community, peers and professionals in camp.

And, finally, how many days before we are back in our camp “bubble” where our girls can take pressure off themselves, rub a little dirt in their palms and grow into the young people they will become? Not too many – its nearly noon and the sun is still high in the late February sky!

* is a girl-serving organization teaching media literacy and much more – check it out!