As we anticipate the start of camp, we are aware of the mental health and wellness of our campers and how mindfulness and coping skills will help. For most campers, this is the first excursion away from home in a long time.
In addition to the extensive health plans and protocols for navigating Covid at camp, we recognize most campers will need help to develop coping skills while at camp. Thanks to our Behavior Health Specialist, Amelia Clancey, we have some ideas for your family.
To best support your daughters, we would like all campers to create a list of coping skills with easy access to make her feel good and also to provide clear ways counselors and staff can support her.
A few guidelines about the list:
Self-made List: Feel free to help your daughter AND have her involved. Her thoughts and creations will actually help her when she is at camp revisting her list. (see the last bullet)
Length: The list can be as long as she wants, but ideally a minimum of 5 choices.
The coping skills/activities should be things that are easily accessible and do not require many materials or assembly – perfect for camp!
Variety: Include options of all kinds, such as some for when they can’t sleep at night, some they can do alone, and some they can do with others. Please also think of some options that require materials
(coloring book and pencils) and others that don’t (taking a walk).
Format: It would be best if she brought a hard copy of the list with her to camp. In terms of style, anything goes! Have fun with this! Type it in a fun font that you like, write it in a way that makes you happy, add stickers, add glitter, organize it. The ways to personalize your list are endless!
Take some time with your daughter to think about and practice things that help them to feel safe, calm, and comforted. We have included a couple resources to help with this task and of course are here to answer questions, help brainstorm, and most of all, enjoy a fantastic summer.
There are only 60 days until the first session of camp opens. It will be Camp Runoia’s 115th season on Great Pond and we are preparing for it to be the best yet. After a year of challenges, isolation and unpredictable schedules we are eagerly anticipating the routine and familiarity of camp life. The days until camp are getting shorter and the to do list are getting longer!
For some of us 60 days seems like an eternity. There is school to finish up and end of the year events to attend. As we get ready to open camp we know that 60 days will fly by as there is much to be done to get the campus and program ready to roll for the summer.
This week the focus in the office has been on putting the finishing touches to our 9 days of staff training. The time before the campers arrive is packed with getting our seasonal staff up to speed on all things Runoia and also making sure that everything is perfectly ready to start the summer. There are certification trainings, bonding exercises, cleaning and opening of cabins and activity areas along with a whole lot of fun while building our team and getting to know each other. This year we are really working harder to include more education and awareness about diversity, equity and inclusion and have been tweaking our sessions to reflect our commitment to doing a better job. Staff will come together from many different places looking forward to the opportunity to work with Runoia campers and enjoy all that the Maine outdoors has to offer.
We have also been recruiting the last few staff to join the team, filling the final camper spaces and getting the spring new camper penpal mailing ready to go. The work in the camp office is always diverse. It’s been frequently interspersed with webinars and workshops updating us on covid protocols and best practices for the summer. The bonus of us all working remotely is that it is easy to share information and we can hop onto presentations anywhere in the country. The days are already getting exciting as we get to read letters to the directors and start to ‘meet’ the 2021 Runoia girls.
Our inboxes are filling up with questions from new families mostly about packing as campers excitedly start preparing what they will need. There are uniforms being ordered and crazy creek chairs purchased. In many homes camp is now a daily topic of conversation.
On the campus grounds side of the work, the daffodils are blooming and it’s finally time to get into camp and start the clean up. The winter usually brings downed branches and a lot of acorns so the crew will be in to do a good pick up. It won’t be long before the grass gets its first cut, the water gets turned on and the docks all go in. It will start looking more like the camp our girls are used to once the shutters come down and the cabins are opened up. A few spiders will need to be rehomed into the woods and we will be ready to get year 115 rolling.
We want the next 60 days to be filled with excitement, with preparation and planning. For them to give us enough time to get everything done but also to fly by so that all of our summer family will be ‘home’ soon.
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!
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!
Earning your own dollar makes spending or saving it that much sweeter.
Whether you’ve had your own lemonade stand, done chores in your own home, helped mow a neighbor’s lawn, or shown up with a snow shovel after a storm to offer to remove snow for compensation, you know you learned about the value of money through the experience. For a child, you start to think “I am an entrepreneur!” Some children are naturally inclined to pursue how they can earn money and others may need a little nudge.
Talking about money is a great way to get started. The strategy of earning three dollars a week and putting one dollar in each jar, Save, Share, Spend develops empathy, the concept of saving for something special and the excitement of having some money to spend along the way. The share jar is a project unto itself providing the opportunity for children to figure out where to share their money. Perhaps it’s your local church or synagogue or a family shelter or meals for seniors, or one of our favorites: World of Change, Maine Needs, Good Shepard Food Bank.
Opening a bank account, buying stocks, recording and balancing a check book bring up a lot of opportunities for learning and discovery. Forbes writes about five strategies for teaching children about money including talking about why you buy a generic food, or giving them 5 dollars to pick out the fruit at the grocery store:
Children as young as three can learn about money. Having a play store with a cash register at home is a great start.
As we all reel from the economic reprecussions of the pandemic, this topic may be harder to broach than others but starting simple and using the good intent of teachable moments will scare away the financial monsters we are all battling at this time.
Here’s to 2021 to good health and better lives for all.
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.
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.
Providing opportunity for leadership and growth in personal development is a key component of all of Camp Runoia’s programming. Multi age classes and self directed goals allow campers to navigate their own skill development and girls of all ages are given a chance to have their voices heard. Older campers often take on the role of friend and mentor to younger girls and share their skills and love of camp activities with those that are in need of help. Skippers in sailboats, captains of teams, helpers at the barn and other opportunities to be up front all allow campers to gain leadership skills while working on their own goals.
The Counselor in Training program (CIT) is often the capstone of camper years and allows for a very intentional, full summer experience with a leadership focus. In typical summers CIT’s live as a group with their CIT Director and work together in and around camp to build skills. 2020 proved to be a whole lot different. Four amazing young women who were up for a new and evolving challenge joined Harmonyville for a different kind of CIT program.
With the creation of ‘households’ and restricted interactions of groups it meant that in order for the CIT’s to get the best experience of actually working with campers they spent much of their summer living in cabins. The CIT’s also joined us for staff training and were able to live together during that time and get some very intensive skill coaching before their move to live with campers. It was a very different approach yet worked incredibly well under the unusual circumstances. This group of young women were able to navigate not only the transition from being campers to taking on a more comprehensive leadership role but also having to be separated from their peers and fellow CIT’s. They truly were living their leadership development as they actively engaged with all aspects of daily life in camp.
This fabulous four accomplished so much over their unique CIT summer. Even with a reduced amount of time at camp and additional responsibilities they passed archery instructor training, managed to navigate a socially distanced lifeguard class, made connections with their campers, took classes in child development, homesickness and a multitude of other camp related situations and did it all while maintaining and building their personal friendships. Their growth was amazing and they worked through the hard parts and saw the benefits of being at camp even when it wasn’t what they had originally imagined. They built life skills that will serve them well as they head out into their junior years and begin to navigate what life after high school may look like.
We hope that this tenacious group will be back for more Runoia summers. Our counselor staff group will benefit from their skills, capable competence and true Runoia spirit.
In the midst of a global pandemic, our responsibility to the health of our campers and staff, the greater Belgrade Lakes community and campers and staff families, home towns and cities is paramount.
With the results of negative testing at camp, we have rolled out phase !! of our summer. Campers’ household groups expand to at least twice the size, more time is spent with more people without face coverings, and camp is rolling along with activities, surprises memorable moments, face to face connections problem solving, beautiful sunsets and fun. Our careful plan to methodically increase concentric circles for contact tracing is in play.
Due to our cautious roll out of phases, we feel confident by next week we will be able to move into phase III for our final week of camp. Campers’ households will expand to include entire neighborhoods and as in Runoia culture, girls of different ages will be interacting and playing together. Campers will be able to “tag up” for activities and daily camp life will be much more like normal.
We will consider CRH a success when every camper and every staff member returns home safely with memories of playing tennis, swimming in Great Pond, water skiing, horseback riding, connecting with new friends and meeting up with old camp pals become subjects of school essays and college applications.
Meanwhile, our gratitude to the families who believed in us and the hard work of staff at Runoia who are making this possible is enormous. In the camp time warp, every day feels like a week and every week a month. hundreds of things happen in one day and life feels full. We linger on the moments created and take stock in the memories to hold.
We are thinking of anyone who is ill and in self-quarantine or hospitalized. We are sending positive thoughts to loved ones, family and friends.
We are well aware that everyone’s every day lives have been turned upside down. Camp Runoia has preserved through other outbreaks (H1N1, SARS, polio) as well as WW1 and WWII and more recent wars. We will forge forward!
We are also monitoring the CDC, following guidelines, and in touch with other resources that have been extremely helpful including our parents who are doctors, our local health team, our insurance company, and food and supply purveyors; we are ready for camp 2020.
The Maine CDC has this info to help understand transmission of COVID-19 and also help lessen the spread of the virus.
Our basic preparedness: requesting no one arrive at camp if they have a fever, pre-camp reach out to families about any illness at home or exposure, our check in systems at camp with new protocols including temperature checks, being outside a lot of the day and frequent hand washing. We are feeling prepared and will continue to respond to new information and recommendations.
Be safe. Stay active. Get sleep. De-stress. Cover your cough. Help others. Practice Social Distancing. Wash your hands!
As families travel to see loved ones in faraway places and gather around the table to celebrate the Holidays we are reminded of our camp ‘family’ the summer friends that sit deep in our hearts. Many of the people we are close to at camp live far away, some are even separated by a whole ocean. Most of our campers don’t get to see their shack mates through the year and miss those friends dearly. They often refer to their camp friends as their ‘summer sisters’ as that is how close the relationship feels. Even as adults our camp cohorts are geographically dispersed and missed greatly through the ‘off’ season. As the Camp Runoia song says the people you spend your ‘long summer days’ with definitely become ‘old friends for always’.
The bonds that you make at camp are unlike any others. Sharing day to day living, successes, frustrations, time by the campfire or in a tent under the stars just can’t be replicate by sharing a math class at school!
Social media is a connecting force for our older girls, Instagram, snap-chat, face time and text groups keep them in touch when they are not at camp. It is interesting that relationships generated in our tech free world at camp are nurtured through the ease of communication via technology when we can’t be together. It’s fun for our Runoia girls to share parts of their everyday non camp life with their besties from the summer. Our alumnae facebook page is bustling with activity especially when old photos are shared with a call out of ‘who is that?’. They generate interactions and the sharing of stories and ‘remember when’s…’ It is amazing what people remember even when camp was many, many years ago.
Recently a camp mom emailed to get the contact information for her daughter’s entire cabin group which included friends in Europe. A life milestone Bat Mitzvah celebration warranted the attendance of all of her daughters camp friends. Long after their camping days are done so many Runoia friends share other big life events together. Another Mom of a younger girl asked about addresses so that her daughter can send homemade Holiday cards to her shack mates.
Camp is so much more than just a few weeks of doing incredible activities in a beautiful location. It is friendships that last a lifetime, relationships that truly have deep and meaningful value. Camp is where many people make their life friends and truly have their ‘summer sisters.’