Vacation boredom – the art of learning to entertain yourself

Our kids are generally kept very busy with school, sports, extracurricular lessons, homework, play dates and hopefully some family time squeezed in.  Their schedules often need a PA and chauffeur to manage them and if there is any free time technology seems to be the quick and easy filler.  Free time seems to evoke anxiety and cries of boredom or having absolutely nothing to do.

We just barely survived winter break with very few concrete plans and only some skiing on our ‘to do’ agenda. There was a lot of free, unscheduled time.  It seems that life for kids is much easier and time flies by so much faster when every minute is planned for them.  Even though the time away from school was much sought after, suddenly hours with nothing to do makes the days seem endless and ‘boring.’

Life doesn’t always have to be planned and goal driven, it is good for our brains and especially for our kids to have space and time to contemplate their next move or in fact to not do much at all.  While boredom may generate some negative emotions and in my kids case a bunch of whining and complaining it can result in new motivation and a desire to change track and reengage with tasks that we then gain pleasure from.  Boredom can build self-reliance, creativity and self-motivation.  Giving kids an opportunity to plan their own day, make their own choices and figure out a strategy to provide for their own happiness is a great skill builder.  Check out this NY Times article for more support of letting children experience boredom.

There is always time at Camp Runoia to read a good book.

At camp free time is intentionally built into our day so that girls have the space to think about what they would like to do and to fill their own time.  There are organized opportunities provided like rec swim or a bracelet making party along with plenty of opportunities for spontaneous play be it in the gaga pit, on the courts or just around the cabin or in the woods.  Girls may also choose to hang out in the Lodge and look at the logs, read a book or play a board game with friends.  Often they can be found sitting on porches chatting or having fun with friends or visiting a sister or cousin in a different shack.  Campers never seem to be bored at camp. They engage with each other, with adults and with their environment and take advantage of the opportunities provided to keep themselves engaged.

Making friendship bracelets in free time.

We are really doing our children a favor when we let them have the opportunity to get ‘bored,’ maybe we need to schedule boredom in more often during the school year!


Why I work in Maine when I live in Oregon

“Why do you work in Maine when you live in Oregon?” is a question I get fairly often. Between coworkers asking if I’m from somewhere on the East Coast, or if I have family there, or if my mom thinks I’m going to end up moving there, Maine comes up a lot.

If you had asked me a few years ago where Maine was, or the capital, or even if it snows there, I probably would not have been able to tell you. (Yes, I do know these things now.)

I found Runoia when I was looking for a “traditional” camp. The year before I had spent my summer at a day camp with British military kiddos in Germany, and the year before that I had worked at another day camp with kids from the American military in South Korea. After spending a few years in unorthodox camps, I was looking to stay in the US in 2017 (granted Maine is the farthest away from Oregon I could have been).

I had a few ideas of what I was looking for. I wanted a sleepaway camp, I wanted something that worked with my summer break dates since I was still in college, and I wanted a camp that had been open more than 50 years.

Not a very extensive list. I wanted traditions, things that people maybe couldn’t even remember why they started (Pigtail Friday or Hawaiian shirt Monday anybody?)

but were still very present at camp. This was the most important factor to me, since other camps I’ve worked at were relatively new or were still figuring out their own identities. I essentially became a first-time camper myself as I combed through the internet, squirreling out all the information about a camp that I could find.

After the longest weekend ever, I was down from 280 camps across the eastern United States to three that all seemed like good fits. I applied to all three, Runoia being the first one to respond back. I was on the phone with Alex in under 12 hours of applying, and that is not an exaggeration. The second camp and I had a Skype interview, but when I told them I didn’t have a driver’s license they told me I didn’t have a job with them. The third camp and I played phone tag for three days until I gave up on them. This wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, Runoia sounded great from the phone interview and everything I found online, so the fates had made the decision for me.

And Runoia was great! Driving up to the camp for the first time was just wonderful, and the amount of information and history that I got on day one was more than enough to make sure that I chose the right camp. There were similar elements from other camps that I’ve loved in the past, too, like family style dining, field trips offsite, singing songs, and Runoia seemed like a place I could really invest in. I can’t tell you what specifically got me “hooked” on Runoia. If it was the towering trees or the time by Great Pond, or the expectation that if this is what I could do in my first year, what could I do next year? I was sad, to say the least, when we started to pack camp up. How could it be over already?

After camp I got to spend time back in Oregon with my mom, experiencing what many campers probably feel after camp: being camp-sick. I was trying to decide

Ruby enjoying our Sunday Morning Pajama Breakfast

if I was going back to Runoia in 2018 and my mom basically laughed at me and said, in my sad state, that I had already made my decision.


In addition to building my own life long skills in basket weaving at Runoia, I continue to work with girls who, I think, really just need their own space and time to find themselves! I know I needed that when I was younger, and I’m glad that I can be someone that kiddos can look up to.

Oh no, now I’m campsick again.


Thanksgiving dinner – simple traditions

In the past few weeks I’ve spent countless hours scouring recipe books, looking online and attempting to find the perfect menu for our Thanksgiving dinner.  I am hosting and as it isn’t a tradition I grew up with I don’t want to mess it up and want the dinner to meet the expectations of the family and friends that are invited.  I’ve read articles, looked on Pinterest and jotted down copious amounts of ideas and still haven’t been able to perfect the menu.  I finally asked those attending what they wanted on the table and was somewhat surprised by the simplicity of the answers.

Cooking with friends at Camp Runoia.

‘I just love mixing cranberry sauce with the regular mash potato,’ ‘oh nothing fancy just the ordinary dishes will be perfect,’ there was even a request for ‘green bean casserole’ as it is a fond reminder of growing up in the 1960’s!  Some asked if it was OK if they brought a favorite dish that they enjoy making or offered to share the bounty of their harvested vegetable gardens.  Others have no preferences and are just looking forward to getting together and enjoying the company.  All people really expect is a table to sit around (I’d better make sure we have enough chairs!) and the time to share a meal together.

Dinner at Camp Runoia!

The simplicity of the expectations, the reverence of the tradition and familiarity of having the old favorites remind me so much of summer at Camp Runoia.  While there are changes with the times (yes I will have gluten free and vegetarian options for Thanksgiving!) so many things remain the same.   No  matter how long you have been away or even if you are arriving for the first time the feeling of coming home to a comfortable and welcoming community is all that really matters.

It is often the simple, traditional things that have the most importance and that create the lasting memories.  Here’s to not over doing it and just sharing food with family and friends in whatever way feels right and makes people happy.

The Runoia “Log” and More Traditions

Double entendres abound when I think of the word “log” – all related to Runoia traditions. My mind races to our weekend campfires and the logs we use to build the campfire. To camping trips and “hugging” trees – from before Leave No Trace… “hugging” was our phrase for finding a small standing dead tree we could hug out of the ground and saw into logs for our campfire.

Then I think, “Ah ha!” it’s the camp “logs” – the written logs of each summer’s camp activities and antics dating back to the summer of 1910. The logs have been scanned and uploaded through a generous donation from the Tabell family. They are available on our website – just click here.

And, last but not least, my mind recognizes the bi-annual newsletter of the Camp Runoia Alumnae Organization (CRAO). The CRAO was founded by the Cobb Family with support and guidance from Jody Sataloff and Jack Erler to provide a “Campership” fund for campers to be able to attend camp. A volunteer organization that has developed efficiently and with enthusiasm over the years to provide partial camperships for over 20 campers each summer. 10% of Runoia’s campers receive some kind of assistance.

With the guidance of past-president Andrea “Nandy” Florey Bradford, the name of the fund was updated to honor Betty Cobb. The fund is now the “Betty Cobb Campership Fund”.

Find out more about the CRAO in volume 31, issue 2 and the ongoing mission in the Fall 2018 newsletter “The Log”:

CRAO Fall 2018f LOG



Out on the Blue Waves

Perhaps you’ve paused to wonder, “why does Runoia reference Out on the Blue Waves so frequently”.

Well, it’s a favorite Runoia song, of course. And, it’s more than a song.

It conjures up memories for many. It reminds people of their accomplishments and achievements. It makes women recognize when they were girls, they were sailing boats, paddling canoes, surfing on wind surfers, and swimming to the Big Float, to Oak Island, across the Soapies, out to the Marjorie. Many of these references are Runoia unique names for the names of floating rafts or the area we have recreational swim in at camp. Those tales are another story for another blog!

But the important thing is girls, young and older are propelling through and over the water and learning skills Out on the Blue Waves. So, it’s a phrase that’s more than a song. Just to satisfy your curiosity, here’s the song lyrics to the chorus:

Out on the blue waves, where summer breezes blow

Our boats go sailing into sunset glow.

We leave the shoreline, to realms of dreams we go,

Out to the center of the lake where breezes blow.

and you can hear the whole song here

Enjoy and be proud of all you accomplish #runoiagals !!


112 Years of Runoia & Special Ingredient: Alum

Camp Runoia will celebrate 112 years this summer of providing girls with an amazing camp experience. We have wonderful staff, a beautiful site, strong traditions, and excellent activities. We also have a special ingredient that supports everything we do: our alum, those dedicated women and men who have come before us. They support us through raising money for our scholarship fund so that girls, who would not be able to come to camp, can join us through their generous support. They introduce their own daughters and granddaughters, as well as new families to our special camp. They love to gather at Runoia or around the country to reminisce and rekindle lifelong friendships. They share their skills in creating beautiful artwork and projects to showcase our site. And always, our alum share their stories and help keep our wonderful history alive and vibrant. We are fortunate to have so many people who love Runoia and treasure their time on Great Pond. Enjoy the latest newsletter of the Camp Runoia Alumnae Organization  SPRING 2018 RUNOIA CRAO and if you’re not a member please consider joining, you’ll be glad you did!


New year new challenges

You can teach an old dog new tricks

I have been singing in various women’s choirs since I was seven years old and have had the pleasure of working alongside some amazing conductors and competing in international choral competitions to great success.  As a member of a choir it is a comfortable easy place for me to be.  You literally can lean on those around you to help carry the tune or maintain the sound.  I have sung with my current chorus for the past 12 years and it is safely within all aspects of my comfort zone.  There is a sense of community and support among the eclectic group of women not unlike that which we have at Camp Runoia.

With my Women In Harmony singing friends.

This fall stepping completely out of my comfort zone and with a little trepidation and a good amount of anxiety I decided to challenge myself and started taking private voice lessons.  In most aspects of my life I am generally a very confident person but when it comes to singing alone I often clam up and feel very uncomfortable.  Leading camp songs isn’t too much of a problem but more formal performance in front of an unknown audience terrifies me.

I wanted to develop my vocal technique, understand my somewhat irrational fear and be able to overcome some of my lack of confidence in solo singing.  Our chorus pianist is one of the most brilliant musicians I have met and is very non-threatening so was a great choice for taking this leap of faith with.  She doesn’t even require a financial commitment so I couldn’t even use the ‘you’ve paid for it so you have to go’ as an incentive for showing up.  It is interesting as an adult to push outside of your comfort zone by choice and then to stick with is even when it is fairly painful.  Not knowing really what to expect I convinced myself that I could at least make it through the first class.  I did! and now look forward to those 45 minutes a week when I focus on my own skill development.  I don’t think my technique has improved all that much yet but I feel more confident walking in and know that I can do things that I find challenging even if I have to give myself a little mental push.

As you welcome in the New Year and perhaps make resolutions to change or start something new, I hope that you will be confident and courageous, try something unexpected and go outside of your comfort zone.  As we often tell our campers ‘it isn’t always easy to try something new.’ It is great for kids to see adults not always be good at something and have to work to get better or to overcome a challenge.  Share your journey with those around you and embrace and enjoy the process.

Bring on 2018!

Bringing in the light

Winter Solstice – when the dark days or winter turn into the light days of summer.

As the Winter Solstice creeps up on us and daylight lasts barely 9 hours up here in Maine, we are thankful for the seasonal celebrations that fill our homes with light and brilliance.  Often around our house at this time of year you will hear laments of ‘but at camp we wouldn’t even have started EP yet!’ as PJ’s are snuggled into and bedtime stories read so much earlier than they would be in the summer.  It is certainly a time for hunkering down, reflecting on the past year and taking time to contemplate the months ahead.

Whether decorating a tree, lighting candles or stringing lights around the house there are plenty of ways to brighten up the dull days and to literally bring in the light.  Luckily  in Maine we now have a lovely coating of snow so the white, brilliance reflects the sunshine and certainly makes our short days more cheerful.

Holly by the Runoia farmhouse.

Bringing light into our homes is an ancient tradition to ward off the dark days of winter and celebrate the return of the light. Feasting and decorating have long been practices used to help the long nights pass more quickly.   Can you imagine bringing in a whole tree to burn as they often did in Europe the Yule log was often burned throughought the festive season – it makes our Sunday night Campfires at Runoia look pretty tame!

However you choose to bring in the light at this dark time of year may the memories of the longer days of summer warm your heart and brighten your spirits.  As we celebrate the turn of the earth into longer days we will be counting them down until it is back to summer and our time to gather again on Great Pond.


Tag up time at Camp Runoia -independent decision making

It is almost time for Camp Runoia on Great Pond in Belgrade Lakes, Maine to open for its 111th season.

As a camp where girls are encouraged to be themselves and grow as individuals one of the greatest legacies that our Runoia founders left us was that of camper led decision making.  From the time Camp Runoia was founded girls and young women have had choices.  Morning ‘tag up’ after breakfast has become a staple of how girls make decisions and plan their own days at camp.  With around twenty different activity choices for each period there is something that appeals to everyone.  Check out the choices!

In a world where many of our campers are in very academic school programs and spend their after school time running from one pre-scheduled activity to another ‘tagging up’ allows for freedom and individuality of choice.  As parents of toddlers we are coached on giving choices to develop independent behavior but as children get older their decision making autonomy decreases.

There are no parents involved in how girls make choices at Runoia.  The great news is that you don’t have to commit for a semester or a 10 week block and if you like something you can do more of it or if you don’t like it all that much you can choose something different next time.  Youth involved decision making is a building block for developing life skills.

When girls make their own activity choices at camp or chose what they would like to do in their free time they can focus on themselves and their own needs and wants at that given moment.  While some girls come to camp with a master plan for their choices others enjoy a more flexible schedule and choose based on their goals, their mood that day or even the weather.  For some the challenge of choosing may initially be overwhelming, for others the days are too short to fit in everything that they want to try or work on. There is no right or wrong way to ‘tag up’ it’s just your own way!

Every camper has her own individual schedule that changes daily.

However a Camp Runoia girl makes her choices she is supported by caring adults who provide encouragement.  Campers are reminded to set and aim for goals,  try new things, stick with projects that need finishing, be an independent thinker and of course maximize the opportunities that camp provides.

In our over scheduled, busy lives, ‘tag up’ provides structured freedom of decision making in a safe place.

Runoia guinea pigs life after camp

Cream Puff and Mount Skittlemore the Camp Runoia guinea pigs were feeling a little jealous that the chickens had their 15 seconds of fame on the Runoia blog so here is their moment of stardom.

Life outside of Camp Runoia is fairly entertaining for everyone’s favorite ‘farm’ pets.  They have a large cage in the living room (‘but mum it’s too cold in the mudroom’!) at the Bolduc-Jacksons so are generally the center of attention.  Most of their day is spent eating  – who knew that 2 such small creatures could eat so much!?  Breakfast is lettuce and leafy greens often with some strawberry tops thrown in, lunch is a delightful blend of guinea pig pellets and all day long the hay buffet is open.  There are always plenty of treats too, their favorites are fresh fruits and veggies but they will happily eat the commercial snacks.

A  change from the summer is that their winter bedding is made of fleece and old towels rather than sawdust and shavings.  It seems to keep them warmer and drier but still needs changing every couple of days.  It helps with waste reduction too as it can just be throw into the wash.

Did you know that we have an entire Runoia Pinterest board dedicated to interesting articles about guinea pig care.  There are even guinea pig birthday cake ideas for those dedicated cavy lovers.

The farm and garden program at Camp Runoia provides campers with the opportunity to experience animal care, grow organic food and learn about farm to table principles.  Many girls enjoy the responsibilities of growing things and taking care of the pets.  We hope that Camp Runoia campers will maximize all of the opportunities that activities at camp have to offer.  Getting to snuggle a guinea pig is certainly a perk.

Cream Puff and Mount Skittlemore look forward to seeing you all back at camp and getting lots of snuggles and snacks from the Runoia vegetable garden.