Preparing for Opening

We are busy all year but the merry month of May is a particularly busy time. With camp booked full very early this year, we have been able to focus on making connections with family and campers, prepare the physical camp and work well as a team.

Our summer leadership group has been meeting mostly since the fall, working on our commitment to support each other and in turn support campers to have the best summer ever. We have gotten to know each other better, working on Brene Brown’s Braving Inventory and Radical Candor. Our team of year round directors have done our own community contract, which is something we will do with our leadership team and our staff group. Counselors also do this with campers. It’s about caring and empathy, including things that are important to everyone in the group with a consensus to follow the contract together. Everyone signs the contract and it is posted in a common area. The community contract can be used when there are issues that surface or when someone needs to talk about a situation that arises.

Meanwhile at camp, we are physically busy. The lawn is growing as everyone in New England knows! And boats are going in the water, we are practicing our driving skills, our camp docks are in, the boat house is opened up and ready for camp. This weekend we have a few families coming to visit to see camp – because of Covid, they haven’t been able to come into camp so this weekend they can visit when camp isn’t completely open.  So, on we go…cabins are being cleaned, equipment and other supplies are being delivered. The last touches to staff training and Covid protocols and we are still chasing down families for Forms! Forms! Forms!  Did we mention we already have 10 horses here? Riding staff have worked hard getting ponies and horses back in shape for the summer season.

So, we send our positive thoughts to everyone as you wrap up the school year to stay safe, try to do outdoor low-Covid-risk things and reach out with any questions about packing, uniform, transportation and more.

All our best,

Aionur

Braids, Bracelets and other “Just Camp Things”

When you hear the phrase “just camp things!” what do you think of first? Have you ever had a moment when you realized a normal part of your life was actually not a regular thing for everyone else? There’s a good chance that “it’s a camp thing.”

Recently, I’ve been going to fitness classes where we spend 20 minutes biking, 20 minutes lifting, and 20 minutes doing yoga. I have short, thick hair so I have to get a little creative for it to stay put through three completely different activities. So, I’ve showed up to classes with every version of braids, french twists, and bobble ponies you can possibly imagine.

Normal, right? But it has shocked me how many adults have asked me how I know how to french braid – doesn’t everyone!? But I’ve realized that it was summers spent with “sisters” unrelated to me in braid trains by the lake that afforded me this skill – an experience not many people get to have, I’ve learned. Even as an adult at camp, two braids just can’t be beat for a long day on the waterfront!

The phrase “just camp things” reminds me of friendship bracelets on water bottles, weeks without a phone, singing nonsense songs, skits, footie pajamas, costumes galore, moo-offs!

 

But it’s not just the skills to braid hair or twist embroidery floss into patterned bracelets that are unique gains from camp. Without camp, my friend group wouldn’t have a go-to fire builder when we get together. Maybe you would have never stepped foot on a sailboat, or ridden a horse. Perhaps we would all have a harder time taking a step away from our phones and other technology without knowing we can actually do it for days and weeks on end.

As we get another day closer to camp 2022, I feel so much gratitude for the “just camp things” ahead of us. For all of us currently in the ‘real world’ patiently waiting for our ‘camp world’, the silly novelties of camp life can’t come soon enough. Where else can you rock your tropical shirt Mondays, tie-dye Tuesdays, pigtail Fridays, and footie PJ Sundays with pride?! Nowhere but Runoia!

 

Is It Runoia? The Olympics? A Top Sporting Goods Company?

Words like driven, persistent, visionary, powerful – we design for you, fight for you, connect with you, reflect on you and step up our game for you. “We are the change in sports to get more women to the top of their game. “

They sound like a commercial for Camp Runoia! But it is not actually Runoia.  If you’re familiar with this powerful campaign from Dick’s Sporting Goods, it is a media campaign designed by the strong women team created by Lauren Hobart. “Inside Moves” supports girls and women as leaders and competitors. Check out the campaign for some inspiration!

As we kick off the Winter Olympics in Beijing, seven new sports have been created for winter sports – most of them mixed gender. And yet one sport has been added just for women: the Monobob. Why? Men’s already has two and four-person bobsled and women’s’ just has two person – the addition of the Monobob levels the playing field. The idea? One person runs the icy track and tries to get the top speed without crashing. Pretty gutsy.

This reminds us of our own Runoia heroes who had the guts to start a girls’ camp on a lake in Maine, to run a girls camp for near 50 years.

Might we borrow the campaign and shout “Runoia is the change in camps to get more campers to the top of their game. “? We think so!

Love, Aionur

Inclusivity at Camp Runoia

Camp is inherently an inclusive experience where youth have the chance be a member of a community, part of something bigger than themself and to develop skills at their own pace. They also have a chance to form and express opinions, try new activities without fear of humiliation and unplug, laugh and be silly.

More recently youth across country found themselves exploring more about pronoun usage, gender identity and wondering who they are in society. Camps became safe harbors (across the country) where youth explored pronoun usage and other gender non-conforming concepts – not because camps were promoting exploration but rather because it was a youth-driven experience.

What surprised me most about the summer of 2021 was not another round of Covid challenges (expected), not a staff shortage (expected), not simple joys of face-to-face connections (expected) but finding out from my peers who operate boys camps, girls camps, co-ed camps, day camps, that they too, had an increased amount of youth exploring their identity. One camp said they had a whole bunk of girls show up in skirts and dresses to support a boy who wanted to wear a skirt to dinner. Another director told me most of the boys in camp painted their nails at one point or another and he also had his nails painted. Another camp owner mentioned an increase in girls who returned to camp wanting to use the pronouns he/him/his and be called by a typically boys’ name. All camps I know of just went with the flow and allowed campers to be themselves and just enjoy camp rather than freak out about being accepted.

At camp we introduce ourselves now as I’m so and so and my pronouns are… it feels normal and fluid although it took some getting used to by many older people. Here’s one camp mom’s perspective.

Are you reading this and wondering how we went down this path and why camp is an inclusive experience? Do you feel like you need a few more tools to figure out what we’re talking about?  Or maybe you have more to share with us. Please do!  We turned to NPR for some better understanding ourselves. We don’t pretend to be experts in diversity and inclusion but we are willing to learn and our leadership staff and summer staff at Runoia are 100% behind us.

The bottom line at Camp Runoia is we want all people to feel safe, accepted and part of our community. We continue to be a girls’ camp offering amazing, top notch, premiere camp experiences for youth. This includes age appropriate conversations about who you are, how you feel about yourself and how you want others to include you. We also want to support parents and collaborate with them to provide the best camp experience possible going into 2022.

Leadership Development Opportunities at Camp Runoia

Our Counselor-in-Training program at Camp Runoia develops leadership opportunities and skills for 16 year old who have graduated from camp or a similar program.

Here’s more about the  CITS of 2021 in photos.

Can you fill in the blank captions? These young leaders learned, helped, built skills, contributed, grew, developed opportunities for others and will forever be woven in the fabric of the Runoia tapestry. 

********************
The CIT gift to Runoia was the new song written by: Melia, Grace,

Emily, Jayda, Micayla

Memories Made (Tune: Suitors)

Trunks are waiting at my door

(oh-ah-lay-oh-bod-y-la)

And I’m not sure what’s in store

(oh-ah-lay-oh-bod-y-la)

But I’m off to camp today

(oh-ah-lay-oh- bod-y-la)

For a while I will stay

(oh-ah-lay-oh- bod-y-la)

 

Chorus: Oh, lay oh la! (oh-ah-lay-oh- bod-y-la)

Oh, lay oh la! (oh-ah-lay-oh- bod-y-la)

Oh, lay oh la! (oh-ah-lay-oh- bod-y-la)

Oh, lay oh la! (oh-ah-lay-oh- bod-y-la)

 

Now that time has slipped away (oh-ah-lay-oh-bod-y-la)

When the leaves begin to fade

(oh-ah-lay-oh-bod-y-la)

And the lake remains so clear

(oh-ah-lay-oh-bod-y-la)

How I long to linger here

(oh-ah-lay-oh-bod-y-la)

Chorus

 

And every single year

(oh-ah-lay-oh-bod-y-la)

I can’t help but shed a tear

(oh-ah-lay-oh-bod-y-la)

For the friendships that I gained

(oh-ah-lay-oh-bod-y-la)

And the memories that I made

(oh-ah-lay-oh-bod-y-la)

Chorus

Thank you CITs 2021! More on our CIT program here.

Ten for Two by Nina Budeiri

Mid-August through Mid-June are a fine ten months of the year; filled with family and vacation and school and re-releases of our favorite Taylor Swift songs.

We get up each day and do what life expects of us- finish that report or group project, sit through that meeting or class, brush the snow off the car.

We enjoy holidays and concerts and road trips and time with loved ones. We grow and change and pursue our life goals.

And while these ten months are just fine, there are two months of the year that go so far beyond “fine”, that sometimes they are all we can talk about for the other ten.

At least once a day, something happens in “regular life” that reminds me of Camp

I’m positive that this experience is not exclusive to myself- How could it be when the summer months are filled with so many memories and unique experiences to share?

From hiking to pottery to nearly every water sport imaginable, to having so many sing alongs, laughs, and stories with our siblings for the summer. We celebrate achievements with excited screams and hugs. We sing silly songs loudly, every day. We gather by the fire and remember how lucky we all are to be together.

Campers and staff alike are currently counting the days to when we can all return to Runoia. Diligently performing our worldly duties for ten months until we can return to the place we all love most.

I look forward to the day when morning assemblies will again consist of weather reports, camper birthdays, laundry schedules, and Evening Programs. I can’t wait to see how much everyone has grown and changed, to hear about school and sports achievements, and their goals this summer at Runoia.

The countdown clock keeps ticking. We’ll be waiting for you all on Great Pond.

Nina Budeiri – Camp Runoia’s Director of Resident Life

Why Camp? Colleen talks about her journey to Runoia

“Why camp?” is a prompt that seemingly pulls my whole life, identity, and personality into question. As my director at my alma mater’s office of outdoor pursuits would say, we are “camp people.” She used this as a way of not necessarily vetting the people and employees she let into her life and office, but more as a sign that she had found a kindred spirit. I remember her delighted reaction – a reaction with the animation of a camp person – during my graduate assistantship interview when I told her that I was a camp kid. To us, it is an indication of just the kind of person we’d like to work with, and someone who we know we can connect to. In my twenty-six years, being a “camp person” remains the quickest, most sincere source of connection to strangers that I’ve personally experienced. It shows in Runoia’s staff training each year, where friendships are forged in two short weeks, grown in the following eight weeks, and maintained for lifetimes following. It reminds me of my own childhood camp, where sessions were only one-week long, yet resulted in friendships that remain in adulthood. Camp is where I found a deeper connection each summer to my sister, who is now my best friend. 

So to us, and to many of my other camp connections, knowing someone is a “camp person” is like a preview to who they are. A “camp person” can be anyone, of any and every identity, but a few things always hold true. To me, they are: a person who values connection with nature, others, and themselves; someone who builds and draws on their community in their toughest moments; a person who shows flexibility, empathy, and devotion to others; a person who shows devotion to themself. I can only speak for myself, but that sounds exactly like someone I’d like in my community and by my side.

I’ve noticed in recent years, in a time where we are almost constantly in front of a screen and expected to be one-hundred-percent available at all times, we sometimes mistake this accessibility for connection. True connection with others this way has, however, fallen short for me and many others. Camp is where we can seek authentic connections when we need them most, and to “build lifelong skills” in a unique place that is designed  to facilitate growth. While our campers head home at the close of each summer eager to share the activities they participated in and the feats they’ve accomplished, they are also sharing their friendships, their personal victories, and the counselors they loved most. Beneath the hands-on skills our campers and staff learn at Runoia, we are quietly building the connection, community, flexibility, empathy, and devotion of “camp people”. 

It’s funny to me, then, that I still identified as a “camp person” even in the time between the end of my own camper experience and landing at Runoia years later – a testament to the idea that camp never leaves us. When I first arrived at Runoia in 2018, I thought I was taking my last opportunity to have one camp summer in the open space between my undergrad and grad years. I did not expect to find a camp community again. I had remembered the importance of being a “camp person” myself, but completely rediscovered the magic of connection with other “camp people” that summer. My absence in summer 2021, taken to move across the country, solidified my need for a connection that most people may not know they’re missing if they’ve never experienced it. 

Maine is not my home in the literal sense. I’ve never truly lived there, save for the three summers I’ve spent at Runoia. Even now, I’ve managed to move further away from Runoia, and my home camp for that matter, than I’ve ever been. And yet, coming back to Runoia – even just virtually for now – is a homecoming: a camp person stepping back into her camp-person-self with her camp people. And I am so happy to be home.  

Colleen O’Malley – Assistant Director, Camp Runoia

How old is the ‘right’ age to start camp?

Trying to figure out when the right age to start camp is can be a real challenge for families.  Actual yearly age carries a lot of weight in our society.  We celebrate milestone Birthdays with celebrations and sometimes commiserations!  My daughter just turned 16. There was pressure for a ‘sweet 16’ . We went with the ‘sassy’ version but all the decorations and marketing available were ‘sweet.’ Other friends bemoan that their child is about to become a teenager and by how much emphasis there is surrounding this event.  Mom friends commiserating that they will have a ‘teenager on their hands’ and that it is apparently just the beginning of the ‘tumultuous years’ suggest that the big 13 is bigger than it really is.  Truth is those kids will be the same person today at 12 as they will be tomorrow when they turn 13. There are displays of some of the teenager characteristics for a couple of years before 13, others are sure to develop over time or may never appear for a particular child.  Age does not define us yet it has societal normative behaviors placed up on it.

As a parent I feel like I am often battling the social norms imposed upon my children.  It is hard to go up against them when ‘everyone else’ does it, has it or has been there.  I love that my sons K-8 school used the ‘wait ’til eight’ theory for cell phone use as it took the pressure off getting him one and now as a 9th grader we are just getting into that realm.

Figuring out when your daughter is the right age for camp can also appear to have social norms and external pressure about when is the right time to send kids off to sleep away camp.  We all know that kids develop at their own pace, have varying life experiences and certainly come with an array of different personalities that are more or less conducive to the camp experience.  We often get calls from concerned parents wondering if their rising 7th grader is ‘too old’ now for camp? Or if aged 7 is ‘too young’ to start.   Will she fit in if she didn’t start in 5th grade when all of her classmates went off to camp?  Can we advise them about what truly is the best age to send your child to an overnight camp experience?

The truth is there is only a perfect age for each individual child, some kids are ready at 7 others at 12 or 13 and some girls  just may never have the desire to be away for an extended time period.  As we talk to parents starting the camp research process we are always excited to chat about their daughters and to help them figure out if she may be ready to join the Runoia fun.

Great questions to ponder for prospective families are: how does your daughter feel about camp? is she driving the process? does she enjoy being away from home overnight with family or friends? is she age appropriately confident managing her own belongings and time?

If you are pondering camp for 2022 and are wondering if your daughter is ready give us a call. We are happy to help support you in the process of determining if this is the best summer – Camp Runoia  207 495 2228.

We have limited openings and would love to find the right ‘ready’ campers to fill them!

A new season for Camp Runoia

It is barely a little over a month since we shuttered the buildings and closed down camp for the 2021 summer season. Many of our campers have just gone back to school and the leaves are hardly changing color here in Maine and yet our 2022 summer season is open! Early enrollment is in full swing for next summer which is so exciting. This past summer was amazing, we had a blast on Great Pond with old friends and new and truly cannot wait to do it all again next year. After a tough year with lock downs and quarantines, zoom school and no activities our girls were thrilled to be at camp in real time with people. The fun lasted literally from dawn until dusk and even into the night in some cases! We are grateful that parents had confidence that we could pull it off and recognize the social and emotional growth that happens at camp and is even more necessary as kids have been removed form their typical experiences.

In 2020 we were grateful to be able to open with a limited camper capacity and operating only one three week session. We had no idea what the knock on effect would be for future enrollment and couldn’t have predicted that we would still have been in the midst of a global pandemic as we opened the 2021 season. This past summer saw us welcoming 100 new families into our community. How lucky we were to see many of our old campers returning and to have the opportunity to get to know so many awesome new girls.  Camp was full and it felt so good to be operating our regular season again and while there were still some modifications to navigate covid protocols it felt much more like a regular summer.

 

Now here we are looking towards 2022 with an unprecedented early enrollment of returning campers. We have been delightfully shocked by how eager families are to sign up for early enrollment spaces. There have been an increased number of requests for full session spaces and even our younger camper slots and sessions are filling ahead of their usual timeline. This is great news for camp and fantastic from a business perspective yet is certainly a little stressful for folks that are not quite ready to commit yet.

We understand it’s hard to know how life will shake out in the next 11 months. Where we will all be at with covid and its impact on everyday living. The good news is that In uncertain times, camp is a sure thing. Camp Runoia will open in June 2022 for our 116th continuous summer on Great Pond. Campers will swim in the lake, enjoy the great Maine outdoors, connect with friends and learn new skills. There will laughter, bug bites, marshmallows and singing. Camp will welcome old and new faces with the goal of everyone having the best summer ever!

 

We hope that all of our 2021 campers will be back to be joined by some new faces for another amazing summer of building lifelong skills. The season is open for 2022 and we couldn’t be happier.

The 2021 Name Story

The ‘name story’ is a Runoia log tradition – who knows how long it goes back but it’s a fun part of our end of season celebrations. It includes the last name of all the staff and campers who were at camp for the whole summer; around 75 names. It is a little more entertaining when read aloud so use your creative voice and have a go!

 

A Fine Maine day in Lucyland

It was another ‘Fine Maine Day’ on Great Pond that started with an early Marin Bell to wake up the sleepy campers. It was a blue sky day with White fluffy clouds and Raya’s of sun shining down on Camp Runoia. Dresdowed up in their camp uniforms counselors were grabbing their coffee and Mullen over their schedules for the day.

The male staff were hanging out at the picnic tables, ‘Howes it going?’ Johnson Murray asked Alexander. “I have a Budeiri ache and Mahedy really hurts” he replied, “I think I’m coming down with the camp cold.” Oh no! I hope you don’t get the Hoffmann.’ Williams been sick for a week and I bet you Tena bucks Williamson, Jackson gets it next.That Colbourn’s man and we are out of cough drops. Emerson don’t be such a Dorsch I’ve been shopping on Amazon and have all the medicine we need in my Ekart I just need to click the magic button.

It was a busy camp day, trips were out and Melvani was full of the Blauberg team while Morrison, Davis had Chotas the whites. Garcia for closing the Dvorak yelled the counselor before the campers in their Hobbs nailed hiking boots, wandered up and over the Berryhill. They enjoyed their fill of the delicious blueberries and raspberries and all of their fingers were Dyed from the juice. Watch out for that giant Brown Snyder, Russelling in the Mulry bushes yelled the Germain counselor. ‘Get Wachenschwanz against that Bolduc- Jackson while I take care of it. Einzig, three I’ll trap it in that Cavenagh and we can get on with our picking.

Using Morse code, kids in campcraft were enjoying sending smoke signals across the lake.

The waterfront counselors were just getting back from the Marini. They were docking and the driver yelled, ‘Put a Hitch in that rope Grace so the boat doesn’t float away after our Bass fishing adventure with Jacob.’

Up at the Zahn the chickens were Glucking around the barnyard , I bet those chickens are wishing they were Friedman. Riders were Cantrelling around the arena, Korineing over jumps and having a blast.

There were a Millares of things going on. It was time for games at the fields, ‘I’m Sirois said Petersen, Martin,I was supposed to turn on the water Fontaine so that campers could fill their water bottles before the Tenorio of ten kickball game. ‘It Dostie matter, they used the sinks and are Cohen over there to get started.’ replied the sports counselor. Campers excitedly took their places and the Kells rang for the games to begin.

Chef and the kitchen staff were cooking up some Clancy food in the kitchen. ‘Make sure that Durham is Cook-Wright yelled chef ‘the Parsons from the village church are coming for lunch’. I added some Fennelley and Mintz to bring out the flavor and we can serve it with a fine Sinott grigio and Pina coladas. The campers can have their favorite Heubergers with Alvadrado’s so they won’t be Jonesing for the fancy food. I’m sure we have some Perrinier water too so it will be a treat.’ ‘For clean up and mopping Albanisi on us today, we only have to Shieferstein up the Paquette floor in Lodge before lunch.’

It was a perfect day to be at Camp Runoia