Falling back and looking forward

Up here in Maine, the sun sets now at 4:20pm. On the shores of Great Pond at Camp Runoia it feels like we are hurtling towards the shortest day of the year. The time change sets us into darker days and longer nights. Relishing that extra hour in bed reminds us that we need to get up earlier in order to make the most of the light.  Fall has lasted longer than is typical here in the northern corner. The days have been warm and while early morning frost is seen on the pumpkins it has been balanced by bright, blue skies and trees still clinging to their color and leaves. Camp is already shuttered up tightly against the winter weather and only the animals walk the paths.

There is no argument that winter in Maine is long. Once the leaves fall we won’t see them again until May and life will slow to a crawl as we bundle up against the cold. It’s an awesome time for camp planning, for dreaming of those long summer days, connecting with camp friends and wishing away time until we are all back on Great Pond.

The camp community doesn’t take much rest time and days are filled with professional development, camper recruitment and staff hiring. Program planning meetings, site maintenance and building projects fill in the practical tasks. Connecting with peers in the industry and catching up on common themes and challenges is engaging and revitalizing.

We don’t stagnate in the dark cold months, we energize and look forward with great excitement to the next season.

Here is some fall poetry from one of our younger campers to brighten your day – we love getting log entries from the Runoia community.

By Ari aged 8

Yellow trees

There are a bunch of fellow, yellow trees

I feel the nice fall breeze and join these yellow, fellow trees.

There is so much joyful glee!

So I plee to be these yellow, fellow trees of glee.

The leaves have fallen all the glee is gone

Something I see to be joyful, glee gone to be.



The sun is bright, what a beautiful sight.

It is a wonderful light of that beautiful sight,

Of the bright light.

Whatever the weather it is always a ‘Fine Maine Day’

Rain or shine we are always making the most of our opportunities and have been having a blast with a wider variety of friends at Camp Runoia this week. The Maine weather has certainly thrown everything at us, from bright, sunny, hot days to showers, thunderstorms and fall-like evenings. We navigated around the liquid sunshine and soaked up any available rays as we motored through another amazing week of camp. We are making memories, friends for life and having the most fun outdoors that we can while building our ‘life skills.’

There is so much gratitude for being here. The campers really are so open to sharing time with friends, engaging in whatever is going on and bringing their best selves. Everyone really got into the camp groove this week. Girls that were new last week seem like they have always been here and have joined the old timers with feeling at home and comfortable here. Community living is filled with the opportunity for connection with people of all ages and from all places. We have really been enjoying more mixing and mingling as we celebrated being covid free.

The highlight of the week was definitely getting to ‘tag up’ for the first time. Campers got to choose their own schedule and after trying lots of activities with their shacks over the past week had a good idea of where they wanted to focus their energy. We also ‘dived’ into formal swim lessons and girls are working hard to pass levels and also be ready for the Oak Island swim that will be coming up on one of the last mornings. We practiced for blue/white games and hope to add some volleyball this year. Outside news of the Olympics is often breakfast table conversation.

This week’s ‘in harmony with nature’ moment was brought to you by the squirrel in the mid soapies!

EP’s have been so fun this week, with a ‘pairs party’ and a not so chill ‘chill out’ night topping the list. Thursday saw all of camp out on the fields, courts and under the tent doing whatever they wanted to. Girls of all ages were intermingling, laughing and playing together. While a few campers chose a good book and a quiet spot under the trees or on the old rock wall most were actively engaged in sports and activities. Tennis, basketball, lacrosse, field hockey, four square, parachute games, bracelets and myriad of random made up games were going on. The joy and laughter was palpable and everyone was happily tired and in bed at ‘goodnights’.

The parachute blob was like this a while!

We were sad to see our young Harmony Land friends finish their session on Saturday morning. The HLCB crew are all ready for a full session next summer and were so fun to get to know. The little sisters who finally got to be campers and join their older siblings at camp this summer were pretty excited! We do wonder what their parents got up to having all of their kids off at camp for 12 days. 

Shout out to the Hoffmann’s with all 4 girls in camp at one time. SV, 6th shack, 2nd shack and HLC it could be a Runoia record! 


We will be making the most of every moment over the coming week, maximizing our opportunities, deepening our friendships and enjoying all that Runoia has to offer.


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.

5 year Camp Runoia blankets


Nights in Maine are very chilly, already there is a decent amount of snow on the ground and the dark settles in early. Evenings are perfect for a board game or cuddling up on the couch with a good book. Having the right blanket to snuggle up with is a crucial accessory. There are so many around to choose from,  a multitude of soft and fluffy ones, the scratchy woolen one to be avoided and the most popular recent addition a cozy sherpa fleece.

My favorite is my Runoia 5 year blanket, it’s a decent fleece, medium weight and a little old these days but it carries with it the warmth of summer. Amazing that a blanket can hold the memories of years on Great Pond.  The lifetime friendships, the hundreds of girls,  the joys and laughter all wrapped up in Runoia blue. 

Getting your 5 year blanket is a big deal for campers and staff, it represents your commitment to the place you have called your summer home, it’s an achievement, a milestone and a celebration. They are much anticipated and presented at cotillion on the last night of the season. You also get to be in the log photos for 5 years or more. You can’t purchase them and you only get one so need to take care of it reverently.

New 5 years in 2020
5 years or more in 2020

More than that achievement though it is the reminder of your summers you when you are not at camp. The blanket stays with you when you are at home in the winter or have long moved on from the shores of Great Pond. It elicits your Runoia a fond reminder of those long summer days. Maybe it gets pushed to the back of a closet for a while, or ends up in your dorm room at college. Perhaps it’s turns up in a carefully shipped package from your childhood home to you when you start your own life in a new place. Could be the dog steals it to curl up on or a younger sibling uses it for fort building. As time goes on it may get a little wash worn or frayed around the edges but it still has a warmth that only Runoia can provide. Alumnae still talk about their blankets and bring them back when they return as staff or attend a reunion.

We hope that there will be many more Runoia blankets to hand out. Celebrating 5 years at Runoia is so much more than receiving your camp blanket. We want all of our summer family to feel the warmth and love of camp the whole year through.

Snow days – dreaming of Camp Runoia summer days

Up here in Maine snow days catch us by surprise and render everything paused for a moment. Even though they may be contemplated and discussed the night before you really have to wait until the actual moment to be rewarded with their surprise reality.

They generally start with waking up to a 5am phone call cancelling school which requires creeping stealthily into rooms to turn off alarms so that everyone can get a few extra hours of sleep. When the kids finally tumble downstairs bleary eyed I am met with questions of ‘no school?’ and ‘is it a snow day?’ There is a celebratory moment of a test missed or an extra day to complete some left over homework and then murmurings of what to do all day. It’s a day of lazy homemade breakfast not rushed bowls of cereal, PJ’s for as long as you like and an open agenda of what can be done. The regular routines of a typical day are thrown off; no one needs to go anywhere except maybe outside to shovel for a bit and the day is free to craft however you would like it.

Being confined to home for the whole day or at least until the plow guy gets to your driveway can sometimes seem endless and often by late afternoon the lament for summer has begun. We dream about swims in Great Pond, what we would be doing at camp at this time of day and how much longer and fuller the days are. At 7pm when it’s already been dark for a couple of hours and we feel like going to bed it’s hard to imagine that it is just time for EP to start. The pull of camp gets us through the cold wintry days.

Can you imagine what it would be like to have a snow day at Camp Runoia? Oh what fun we could have with all of our best summer friends. Skating on the lake, sledding on the hill down to the waterfront, cross country skiing around the fields and a campfire in the snow!

No winter diving!

We will get through the long days of the Maine winter daydreaming about our ‘fine Maine days’ at camp.

‘And the seasons they go round and round’

Today the minutes of day light start lengthening. We have past the shortest day of the year and know that when the summer solstice arrives with its seeming endless day we will be gathering on Great Pond for our 114th summer of Camp Runoia. As we move towards those summer days we are eagerly anticipating all that the new year has to offer and planning for another fantastic summer season.

As we reminisce on the old year, we have a deep gratitude for the people that have touched our lives and the experiences that we have been fortunate enough to have. We have met fabulous new people and dug deeper into strengthening old relationships. We shared successes and challenges and celebrated new beginnings while mourning loses of those dear to us. Being given the gift of watching children and young people grow, develop and build life skills is one of our biggest joys.


We wish for a peaceful and happy 2020.

Runoia provides such a great opportunity for all those that get to have some summer time fun here. We are particularly grateful to all of those that donate to our alumnae organization scholarship fund. The camperships given enable girls whose families may not have the financial means to have a fabulous, often life changing Runoia summer. We truly believe that camp makes a difference in people’s lives and are thankful to touch as many people as possible.

As you welcome the light into your home for the Holidays, with twinkly trees and bright candles we wish you all the best from our Runoia family to yours. However you celebrate may your days be filled with good food, laughter and the love of family and friends. As we sail off into the new year 2020 holds the hope of fresh promise and opportunity; we look forward to sharing it with our Camp Runoia campers and staff.

Sail into the new year with confidence and courage.

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.

Old friends for always

An old camp friend flew in from Australia this past weekend. She traveled alone so that she could see New England in the fall and re tramp some of the footpaths of her young adulthood. We met at camp at a time when social media wasn’t even imagined and there were certainly no smart phone so connections through the years have been loose. How incredible is was to see someone again after 14 years we had only spent one 9 week summer together  yet reconnected like it was just yesterday.

Though her memories were a little fuzzy the draw to return to Runoia was strong. We walked through camp, past the many things that have changed, the new buildings, additions, different program options and reminisced about all the things that were still the same.  She found her name on the 5th shack plaque and could recall each of her campers and the laughs they had shared together that summer.



We sat on the boathouse steps for a long time just quietly taking it all in. She was amazed at how deeply she was moved by being back and how the memories of one summer so long ago returned so quickly. As a swim instructor she had spent many hours on and in the lake and could recount memorable moments and the day to days of camp life. We talked about how camp was life changing for so many reasons. As young adults our futures were impacted greatly by the time that we spent on Great Pond and the relationships that formed that have and will truly last a life time. How hard it is to describe this powerful experiential force to those that haven’t been here.

So many times our Runoia girls will say they come back to camp be with their friends. They love all that camp has to offer, the activities, silly evening programs and Sunday campfires, but it is the relationships that draw them back. As our cabins rapidly fill up for the 2020 season we are already anticipating the strengthening of those bonds and the development of new ones. Camp is the place where you come as you are and are welcomed in and appreciated for just being you. The friends that you make be it for one summer or over many truly are the people that stay with you for a lifetime.

She  left the Runoia gates with a million photographs and the strong certainty that she would be back someday. I left with a great reminder that the work we do here is powerful and has great value.  The Runoia experience is far more than just one summer moment in time, it’s magic that can resonate for a lifetime.

Camp Runoia Alumnae Organization Spring Newsletter

The spring news from the Camp Runoia Alumnae includes the president’s greeting, a word from camp, info on alumnae daughters in camp and other news including reminders of the 115th reunion!

If you’d like to receive the CRAO twice-yearly newsletter by email, just let us know. Email office@runoia.com and ask to save paper by receiving your newsletter by email. Fundraising is part of the newsletter so be sure to check in on the CRAO page to use your PayPal account or info on where to send a check.

The power of camp friendships

Throughout the school year we often get photos from camp families of our Runoia girls getting together outside of camp.  The power of camp friendships is very strong and often travels great distances for a hug and to reconnect.  Family vacations might be planned around the location of a camp friends home and as girls get older they may head off alone on an adventure to see their camp people.


I recently had a weekend, whirlwind trip to NYC with my 13 year old daughter.  We had been planning it for over a year as a camp friend was celebrating her Bat Mitzvah.  The girls have been full season campers together since they were small and have a strong bond. Even though they may not typically see each other through the school year their friendship reignites once camp rolls around.  It was with much excitement that we planned the journey from Maine, fancy outfits and dress shoes packed as we travelled in snow boots and parkas!

Camp friends made up a large chunk of the kids present at the party.  It was amazing to see that our  Runoia parents recognized the value of these summer relationships and the importance of sharing non camp special events together.  They had made a huge effort to get their girls to NYC.  For some it included traveling long distances  some of it through a snow storm and also other camp families hosting sleepovers and helping with transportation.  The love and joy in the room was palpable, the hugs and bright smiles just continued all afternoon.  New memories were made in a radically different venue with heads bent close together in deep conversation, wild dancing on the dance floor and of course sad goodbyes at the end.   I often tell prospective parents to make their choice wisely and try and help them to understand that their commitment is not just to the next 5- 8 summers but also to all of the in between times.

Runoia girls love to hit the slopes and often spend time together at Sugarloaf. Maine mountains are as great as Maine camps.
Horse friends end up showing together in the Mid West










Personally it was such a treat to spend non camp, social time with our girls , an added bonus was seeing the younger and older sisters of those invited and of course our awesome camp parents.  The Runoia community is truly a large family, we show up for each other and celebrate all that we individually are.

Our Camp Runoia alumnae  also love getting together and have spring  gatherings coming up.   March 31st in Boston and April 7th in DC.  It is a great opportunity to share camp stories and fellowship.  It really doesn’t matter what years you were at camp or if you even know the other women attending.  The spirit of Camp Runoia transcends the generations and the connections, traditions,  songs and stories are common to all.

PA gathering with “Runoia Gals”

Camp is not only about having amazing summers together on Great Pond, we truly hope that our girls will remain friends long into adulthood and will share many other lifetime experiences and memory making opportunities together. As the Runoia song says ‘camp friends for long days old friends for always.’