Women History Month!

March Blog

Women’s History is celebrated in the month of March. The 1925 Camp Runoia Log was dedicated to the founders of camp – Lucy Weiser and Jessie Pond. The quotes next to Miss Pond’s photo in the log reads, “Grace was in her step, in every gesture dignity and love” and next to Miss Weiser, “Society, friendship, and
love Divinely bestowed upon man.”

These two women had the vision to start a camp for girls. In 1907 they opened Camp Runoia for the first summer. They were courageous and resourceful and certainly are smiling upon us as we begin our 115th consecutive summer of Camp Runoia for girls.

We celebrate Lucy and Jessie during women’s history month and all the years they dedicated to bringing girls and women together on the shores of Great Pond for growth, adventure, friendship and more.

Check out more about Runoia history and the women whose legacy families have helped camp to continue operating on our Runoia family tree section.

So many women have accomplished so many things in this world. If you’d like to dive a little further into Women’s history, check out the US library of congresses resources on women’s history in the United States including women related to arts, culture, government and politics, historic places, women and war, women rights and women’s suffrage, women in science, women in business and more.

Here’s a great resource for teachers for lessons, images, data and research from the library of congress.

Find out more about the 14th Librarian of Congress, Dr. Carla Hayden, the first woman and the first African American to lead the national library, nominated by President Barak Obama in February of 2016 and confirmed by the senate 6 months later.

And realize the #runoiagals were pioneers of owning a business that allowed girls to do what so many boys were able to do – get out of the city, connect with others in camp






Camp Runoia – overnight camp is a hot commodity

We may be in the sparkly depths of winter here in Maine but many people’s minds are on the summer and planning for a season of camp. Overnight camp is a hot commodity this year. Many children missed the opportunity last summer and are longing to get back to nature and friends at their summer home away from home. While there is hope that the pandemic situation will be a little more resolved by June we also have the realization that mass vaccination and development of herd immunity is going to take a good while to accomplish.  We need some hope and fun to look forward to. In some States teachers are slated to be vaccinated soon and there is potential that kids may get back in school before the end of the year but other places lag behind and virtual or hybrid school continues with little end in sight. We are holding out for an awesome summer and are ready to jump right in to camp life!

Camp has the unique opportunity to create a healthy, fun, in person environment where we can spend as much time as possible outdoors and can participate in all kinds of activities, in real life with other people. Our success last summer proved that we can navigate covid protocols and that while it may look a little different to how camp operated in 2019 it is still spectacularly Runoia. If you are curious about our adaptations last summer you can check them out here.

I have spoken with families from California to NY whose children have been in virtual school since last March. Little interaction with peers, no sports or after school activities along with  isolation from places and people that they love has been hard for everyone. Regular family vacations and summer plans are also looking unlikely for this year as travel still remains challenging and there is a great deal of uncertainty about how open States will be. This recent New York Times article sums up the challenges  that parents are currently facing.

Camps in Maine are filling up faster than ever, and Runoia is already almost at capacity. Already signed up are our campers that navigated camp successfully in 2020, those that took a leap year and are excited to be returning, new families that are ready for the opportunity and a myriad of girls that want to get out on their own for some summer fun. Full season spaces are at an all time high as other summer opportunities are currently limited and it seems like once you get to camp it’s the best place to stay for the summer. We are not kidding when we email and tell you there are just one or two spaces left in a cabin and if you want them sign up today!

‘Masks up lets go’ and get enrolled for the best summer ever!

Zoomies – virtual reality

Zooming around the Camp Runoia office this week I managed to miss 2 scheduled virtual meetings. They were on my calendar and I also received those handy reminders directly into my inbox yet somehow I still failed to get onto the calls. How is that possible when I am sitting at my desk working and know that I have them scheduled? Its zoom fatigue and overload for sure. There is now so much available virtually. I would honestly never have attended this many meetings and training sessions in a regular pre-covid week. Not having travel time makes it seem like there is so much more time logistically available to attend sessions. Virtual over booking is definitely becoming a real problem.


It’s hard to resist when opportunities are so accessible.  It’s super easy to sign up for another webinar or training clinic and often far less expensive than when they were previously offered in person.  I have chorus on zoom, camp directors meetings, school conferences and a myriad of other get together’s and meetings that may or may not have once been in person. There are definitely extra connections now that likely would have been a quick email or phone call prior to the zoom room and which now get a scheduled meeting time and link.


The technology is amazing for sure, even with low tech home equipment we can get transported around the world and into meetings all over the place.  It’s great to be able to be in a ‘room’ with my family in the UK as an in person visit still seems a long way off. Interviewing Camp Runoia staff all over the country is easy and efficient and gives me a lot more information than a phone call might do. Camp information is being shared so easily across the country, I loved joining the West Coast camps conference which was much more affordable than it would have been to attend in person.

My favorite training location!


In the past year we have all had to quickly learn a new way to represent ourselves professionally and socially. There are multiple training sessions about getting the most out of your zoom calls. I’m not sure I even ever want to ‘zoom like a pro’. You can also check out appropriate zoom etiquette.  Even with all of the available coaching and our endless hours of experience it is still pretty entertaining that poor internet connections, the infamous mute button and everyone’s pets and small children provide meeting hilarity on a regular basis.


While I am grateful for the technology and happy that we have a solution to the current problems of not being able to be in person I truly cannot wait to be back in real life with actual people and not squares on a screen. I want to see people’s body language, share a laugh that isn’t stuck in cyberspace and be able to interact easily. I am ready for even socially distanced, masked up,  outdoor staff training on Great Pond. I will be sure not to miss any of those in person meetings!

Take me back to the good old simple days.

To Trip or Not to Trip

Yes, let’s Trip! A trip at Camp Runoia is about getting outside on a wilderness camping trip (adventure, journey). Last summer, with the new uncertainty of the pandemic, we stuck close to home and did not make plans to go off campus.

This summer, we are keen to run low-risk out of camp trips to beautiful remote places where we will not be interacting with other people. Camp trip programs are a great opportunity for social distancing, being outside and with the help of hand sanitizer, doing it all quite safely.

Ask any alumnae of Runoia what her camp experience entailed and she will pipe up about a trip. We remember the funny things, the hard things, the team work, the adventure and being in some of the most beautiful places in the world. Moments become memories: that sense of achievement of working hard to climb a mountain, to paddle 8 miles, the joy of cooking your own food (and yes, it does taste better when you cook it yourself), taking a sunset swim in a sandy cove, learning how to purify water and the importance of packing your belongings properly.

Many leadership opportunities and life skills arise from taking trips. Is it the most comfortable sleep you’ve ever had- probably not! But we learn in life there are compromises. Deep in the chill of winter we dream to get out on the trail and out on the Maine lakes. Yes, without a doubt, let’s trip!

Self-Care: Integrating Time for You in the Hectic Schedule of Daily Life

You are catapulting around, working from your hectic home circus, syncing schedules between

hybrid education for your children, after school engagement, managing zoom meetings, connecting with your partner and family, caring for your parents, and hey, by the way, what’s for dinner?

As a reminder to myself and all of us, taking time for self-care during the pandemic is critical. One easy way to ground yourself is through stretching, yoga, movement with meditation. It all starts by rolling out the mat. Can you get up 20 minutes earlier? Can you escape for a lunch time stretch? 20-30 minutes is all you need for restorative healing and self-care.

At camp we are so lucky to have alumna Kara Benken Garrod lead both adults and campers in yoga practice. She teaches yoga in Ohio in the off season and generously helps guide us at camp.  

When we are not at camp, we love at home yoga with Adrienne Mishler.  Her brilliant and accessible at home yoga practice and her annual gift to all of us – 30 days of yoga in January. It is available to you any time of the day for free. She is so generous and beautiful to share her vision about yoga as a lifestyle with millions of viewers.

There are plenty of ways to get your children involved too. Ideas about yoga with children include stories and play about yoga, to classes  Here’s a fun way to introduce yoga, either a deck of yoga cards with some ideas about connecting breath and meditation or a poster of yoga moves for children to do on their own. Just have them roll out their mat and enjoy the fun!

Meanwhile, you can take a deep breath (breath in love, breath out fear) and grab your afternoon cup of coffee to get ready for the next 8 hours of catapulting around!

Love, Aionur






Building life skills through adversity

Building life skills is what we do at Camp Runoia. Little did we know that 2020 would test the skills that we had and encourage us to go far out of our comfort zone to develop new ones. We learned so much about ourselves, our campers and about the meaning and power of camp through being resilient  and adapting.

Looking back now we are grateful for the opportunity that a covid summer presented us to. We had to be flexible, grow, reconsider how we have always done things and be willing to modify, change and adapt in an instant. It turned out to be an amazing all be it exhausting summer and one that will certainly go down in the history books of Runoia.

     Takeaways from summer 2020:

  • We practiced doing hard things and did them well
  • We stopped sweating the small stuff
  • We learned new skills and revisited old ones that we hadn’t had time for
  • We reassessed what had value to us
  • We were more appreciative of the people and activities that we missed
  • It’s was OK to let some traditions go and know you can come back to them
  • We adapted and were flexible under ever changing circumstances
  • We used a growth mindset to challenge what we had done in the past and make it viable for the current situation
  • If you ask people will show up to help in ways you may not have thought of
  • You have to make the most of the moment in time that you have
  • Time with family is valuable but you need your friends too!
  • It may not be what you imagined but it can still be spectacular
  • Nature just keeps doing it’s thing. Sunset on the lake is beautiful.
  • Community comes in many forms, when we support each other we are all stronger
  • We maximized the opportunities that we did have rather than lamenting the ones that we didn’t
  • We had an amazing  summer on Great Pond that we never could have imagined   

As the year comes to a close we have deep gratitude for all that we have and look forward to 2021 with joy and eager anticipation. Happy New Year to our Runoia family, see you on Great Pond.

Light in the darkness

What a year! One that none of us could have imagined this time last year as we were planning for the summer of 2020.  What we assumed would be a typical camp summer season turned into anything but and taught us lessons that will guide us as we prepare for 2021. We have so much gratitude for those that were with us along the way, there was so much team effort at all levels. What initially appeared to be a pervading darkness evolved with lots of hard work into joy and light.

The Maine summer camp community pulled together in ways never seen before. For the good of all Maine camps there was advocating at the legislative level and support for all regardless of the decision to operate camp for the season or not. Camps were offering resources and practical help to each other wherever they could. Calling and cheering on those that opened camp, celebrating the wins together and also mourning the losses.  Maine summer camps were definitely stronger together working to support each other in a time that created great hardship and an unprecedented struggle for many small family businesses. The resource sharing continues as we plan for the next season, those of us that opened sharing our journey and all forging ahead to ensure that as many children as possible get to have their summer camp experience.

Our Runoia camp community grew stronger too. Even though we were missing so many of our summer family, the support was incredible. The families that trusted us to take care of their girls and literally dropped them at the gate showed a commitment and bravery to the camp experience that we couldn’t have imagined. Our girls were brave and bold, flexible and willing to adapt to all of the protocols and changes. They showed up ready to have a blast at camp and did just that. 

The staff group that literally came together in May as we decided that yes we would open was such a dedicated and resilient group. We definitely couldn’t have opened without their commitment and flexibility. Our senior staff who after a zoom call about protocols and what camp would look like said ‘let’s do it!’ and dived in with gusto to create a fabulous and safe camp experience. The health team who planned and prepped and took all the protocols seriously and kept everyone healthy. Our amazing kitchen crew who masked up in the incredibly hot kitchen and kept us well fed. Everyone who pitched in, sanitized, cleaned up trash, kept kids entertained, figured out how to operate their program safely and stayed on site for 5 !/2 weeks without complaining! How lucky we were to spend the summer with this group of folk, many whom were feeling the sadness of their own camps being closed yet showed up for us.


In this season of lights and bringing in brightness to our homes on the shortest days we are grateful for the joy that camp brings to us. Although the year has been challenging in so many ways there is so much to be thankful for and so much light in our lives.

We are so grateful for the smiles and laughter of a summer on Great Pond, the  relationships that endure over the years and the promise that Runoia will be there no matter what.

However you are celebrating the holidays may you have light and love around you.

Garage band – creatively navigating covid

My choir has been singing in a parking garage! We literally drive in, park on one side and then can spread out on the other side so that we can sing together. It’s never something I would have imagined doing.  It’s certainly not the same as a typical rehearsal space. The sound is at best interesting but it at least provides us the opportunity for community singing and some choral experience. We have had to be incredibly creative and intentional with the covid protocols.  Numbers are limited, everyone is 13 feet apart, masks and social distancing are strictly enforced when not on your X and the time is restricted to under an hour. Everyone is on board with navigating the rules and enjoys being together far better than when we are  meeting on zoom. Sometimes it’s chilly and as the nights are getting dark earlier the lighting isn’t great so it isn’t going to be a long term solution moving forward into the winter but it has worked for now. Having a great attitude and out of the box thinking has resulted in a workable solution and an unexpected outcome. I was skeptical at first but it has turned out to be incredibly fun and allowed us to shift out of our usual pattern and engage with each other differently with very positive results.


Working from basic goals and using mission based planning, navigating through covid has become a challenge facing many community organizations. While there are often defined protocols and procedures for many operations sometimes you just have to be a bit crafty and do what works best in your individual situation.  It would certainly have been easier to have just cancelled this semester of choir. It isn’t really essential, it’s more a social outlet than anything else and there is no hope of giving a public concert indoors anytime soon so we are not rehearsing for an event. Yet a desire to be together, to maintain our community and to engage in person drove the problem solving and created a workable solution. 

As camps are busy looking towards the summer of 2021 and enrollment is opening up, having a positive ‘can do’ attitude and being able to think outside of the box is going to move us forward. At Runoia we are glad to have had these past summer experiences to build off of.  We feel confident that we can be flexible and navigate covid protocols while still maintaining our camp goals and mission. We want to be part of the solution for camps so that the most children possible get a summer experience that is tech free and engaging. We are planning, thinking, reflecting and know that we will be ready.

We can’t wait to share our 115th continuous summer on Great Pond, creatively navigating whatever comes our way and helping our campers to have an amazing summer. At Runoia we model for our girls that we are resilient, capable, competent and confident. Summer camp is a place to grow and we are confident that we will all be doing that, building life skills that are relevant to the world that we live in.

Collect Loose Change – Start Now!

Camp Runoia families’ efforts to collect loose change from their homes, autos, drawers,
dresser tops and neighbors is making a difference in

Maine. Thanks to our campers who arrived with their change purses filled, and in some cases baggies full of coins, AND those families who mailed in their collection, we were able to raise $344.90. Matt Hoidal and his vision at World of Change WOC has made giving as easy as this

  1. Collect loose change from around your home, vehicles and from relatives
  2. Bring it to camp
  3. We combine it all and Alex delivers it to WOC
  4. WOC partners with organizations in Maine (and other states for other organizations donating).

This is the second summer Runoia collected and donated to WOC as well as our December holiday gift on behalf of our 2019 campers and families. Our donations have contributed to feeding people, providing school supplies, supplying beds to children who sleep on the floor, and more. Check out what WOC is doing and where your change goes.

Our 2020 donation was donated to The Locker Project. From TLP’s website :

Maine has the highest child hunger rate in New England and one of the highest in the nation. One in five Maine children regularly experiences food insecurity. One in three students in Cumberland County and more than half in the Portland schools are at risk of going hungry.

See how The Locker Project is managing to operate with donations and volunteers during the pandemic.

Be on the look out for reminders to collect change for next summer and find out how you can start your own collection in your community with WOC’s ideas about birthdays, Bat Mitvahs, school and business collection sites.

Last year we were able to provide backpacks and school supplies as well as one bedroom set for two children. This year we are feeding many children. Thank you for those of you who collected and contributed to make a difference. It feels good to provide food and meals to children who are food insecure and help to support them to have the band width to learn and participate in education without being hungry.







How Camp Helped Us Prepare for Teaching This Fall During COVID

We hear great news from our teachers, now teaching on the front lines as essential workers in schools. We are grateful for their efforts at camp, helping Runoia have a successful summer, and even more grateful that they are navigating the ever-changing education landscape of teaching during COVID times.

Our Runoia teachers have shared with us about their camp experience and how it has helped them to prepare for being back at school. They feel much more prepared for COVID protocols and have less fear than their teaching cohorts who have yet to experience work with COVID protocols.

Although hand washing sounds so basic, it has proved to be an excellent practice. And, it takes repetitive practice to make into a habit. Our Runoia teachers landed back at school with a routine of mask wearing, hand washing and sanitizing and surface cleaning. They also have helped institute systems in their schools for using things like books and then putting the books in a quarantine area for 3 days. Simple things like getting children to wash hands, cover their cough have come in handy going back to school. Also, knowing and monitoring symptoms of COVID comes second nature to them now, etc. We are so impressed with their efforts.

We are happy to have help prepare both teachers and students alike to dive into the school year. Whether back to school includes hybrid, online or in-person learning and teaching, #Runoiagals are ready to roll!