Spring Equinox Is Almost Here by Guest Blogger Mark Heuberger

The first day of spring is March 20, 2021, which coincides with the vernal equinox. According to astronomers, this is the moment when the sun crosses exactly over the earth’s equator and the length of day and night is approximately the same.  The days then start to become longer than the nights, leading to those long summer days at Camp, when the sun does not set until 8:30 PM.

For Camp Runoia, the first day of spring starts us thinking about the fields, forests, and lakes warming and recovering from winter. We will soon start seeing the tiny sprouts of the ferns emerging from the earth; some ferns will grow to three or four feet high. The trees slowly become colored with buds, flowers, and leaves. We begin combing the woods for lady slippers and trillium flowers.  We are counting the days until Camp (100 till first session 2021!).

And of course, the first day of spring means that “Ice Out” is soon.

Some readers of this blog may not realize that the lake freezes over completely in the winter, covered in several feet of ice. Enough for trucks to drive out on the lake towing ice fishing huts.  At some point in spring, the ice suddenly thaws and disappears. Soon the loons will return and we will hear their calls again. Boats and docks will reappear on the lake and in a few short months we will be swimming, paddling, sailing, and skiing on Great Pond.

According to the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands, who keep records of ice out dates on all Maine lakes, “Ice Out” is defined as the first day when you can navigate from one end of the lake to the other, even though there may still be ice in some coves or along the shoreline.

Ice Out dates for Great Pond over the last 20 years have typically been in middle to late April, but in four of the last 20 years, ice out has been in March, as early as March 20 in 2010, the first day of spring!  When will ice out be this year? Stay tuned.

For many this winter has been especially challenging. The coming of spring, the long warm days, the new beginnings, and the new opportunities are almost here and are welcomed.

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.

Our Alumnae Organization Has Been Busy!

We are excited to share the Camp Runoia Alumnae Organization’s new website. Here they share about their mission and action plan which provides campers with financial assistance to attend camp, the upcoming 115th reunion for alumnae, the most current alumnae news, featuring the president’s letter, operating camp in times of Covid in 2020, our work with Black Women Matter and the replacement of the Bell Post – the CIT project of 2020, wedding and birth announcements and more!

A big congratulations and thanks goes out to Roberta “Boop” Tabell Jordan, the CRAO president, who organized and inspired the help of Marie-Claude Francoeur, Betsy Nicholson (both serving as co-chairs to the 115th reunion), Jenny Sachs Dahnert, Chad Diamond. We give a special shout out to Sofia and Zipporah for sharing why camp matters to them.

The goal of the CRAO board in our 115th year is to inspire 115 NEW donors to donate to Runoia. Might you be able to join in and be a new donor? One of the most exciting bits of news is a few generous alumnae donors have agreed to pool together and match every dollar donated with three dollars! So, if you donate an amount like $25, it will actually turn into $100!! $50 becomes $200, etc. It’s very exciting to have people believe in the experience of camp and broaden the Runoia experience to girls who may not be able to afford camp on their own. No gift is too small! Do you need inspiration to give? Listen to Jen Dahnert’s compelling video message. Roberta has also done tremendous work on camp genealogy. Check out some of the Runoia Family Trees Boop has created – they are so cool!

You can also explore the camp logs  and learn or sing-a-long with some of the camp songs. As Jen says, click around and see what we’re all about! There is also information about the 115th reunion. For alumnae over the age of 18, you may sign up for the reunion. Gather your camp friends and come together! Alumnae under the age of 18 need to have an adult staying at camp with them during the reunion.

More information on Maine history and Maine camps is on the Maine Memory Network!

That’s the news for this week!

Love, Aionur



Update from Camp May 1

Hello Dear Families,

Maine Summer Camps and our lobbyists met with Government officials from the Governor’s administration yesterday. Today over 160 people from Maine camps met with MSC executive board to hear of outcomes of the meeting.

It’s a bit of a hurry up and wait situation, as you can imagine. The governor’s panel collected the questions we had about Phase 3 of Restarting Maine and they will process the questions internally. The Maine State government is establishing a check list for opening by industry.  As they are doing with every other industry, they will come up with a guideline for camps – hopefully in the next two weeks. Grouped into Phase 3 are restaurants and hotels. Maine business owners are eager to figure out how to get back on track for tourism and summer business and summer camp.

Every industry in Maine is trying to meet with the governor’s task force so it was impressive that executive director, Ron Hall, was able to secure an hour meeting for Maine camps. Although you may have heard from the news last night and today about a restaurant in Maine going rogue and opening to serve people today, we hope everyone else follows the guidelines to keep people safe. It is no coincidence that Maine has a lower rate of COVID-19 than other places. Slowing the spread by physical distancing is working. We want to do the right thing and put peoples’ safety first.

American Camp Association released the outline of The Camp Operations Guide 2020.  They hope to release the details in the next two weeks and will hold a town hall in mid-May. They realize the window for camps to get organized to up and running is getting shorter so they are working very hard to get the contents of the guide published. You can see from the table of contents, it is a full document that will go out to over 2000 camps across the United States. Then each camp takes into consideration the guidelines and figures out how to apply them. We are eager to get going on filling out the contents ourselves. We have built some of the guidelines internally – and are waiting to weigh our thoughts with those of the experts and adjust where necessary for our 2020 protocols for health and safety.

We wanted to finish up with the week with an update to tell you the news as we learn it. What we know at the end of a long week, is we will need to exercise more patience while we wait for guidelines so we can figure out dates. In recognition of how hard this is to plan, we have extended our cancelation date from May 1 to June 1. This should give us time to set dates and protocols, allow you look at and absorb the information and make decisions that are best for your family. Although our cancelation policy was not designed for an entire camp season to be canceled or a majority of our families to cancel, we realize everyone has their own financial tolerance for the current times. We will do everything in our power to do what is fair and reasonable to support you and keep Camp Runoia going strong.

We have a COVID-19 update section of our website as a banner on our website. You can check there for the latest information.

We continue to hold out hope to have Camp Runoia run an amazing, albeit different, camp program this summer for your daughters in our 114th summer of camp.

Sending so much love and Happy May Day. We should all take a deep breath and imagine twirling around a May Pole (at least for a minute).

See you for Campfire on Sunday, May 3rd at 7 pm if you like joining us. We’ll be there with the theme, “Animals”.

With so much love,

For the Runoia Team


The Art of the Handwritten Camp Note

The camp experience at Runoia is profound in many ways – spawning independence, building self-esteem, learning new activities, developing skills in sports and so on. One of the rarely touted benefits of sleepaway camp is practicing and enjoying handwritten notes.

I grew up in the 1960s and the thank you note was a required skill. One year on my birthday my grandmother sent me a paper back about Helen Keller and an unsigned check for $5. To deposit the check in my savings account, I had to write her a thank you letter for the book and the check and enclose the check so she would sign it and return it. This all happened at the speed of molasses in January, but, eventually it happened. Thank-you letters were a must in my family. The skill has been passed onto my daughter and she expects her three girls to write thank you notes. I’m always amazed at the care and thought they put into those notes.

Back in the day at camp, campers were required to write on the back of a paper newsletter every week. Counselors made sure those newsletters were written, put in a “SASE” (self-addressed stamped envelope) and sent home. We were pretty sure this happened at the speed of the Pony Express because it was at least 5-6 days before parents received those newsletters in their mail box.

Still, to this day, letters received and sent at camp are a joy. Campers pin their notes from their family and friends on their bedroom wall and parents save many notes, especially the ones with the circled tear “this is my tear as I miss you so much”. And the letter would go on to talk about different scenarios around camp, what she accomplished, personalities of friends, something funny or gross (most likely a clogged toilet that overflowed) that happened at camp.

Unplugging and face to face contact is only part of the side-benefit to camp. Campers soon realize you have to write letters to get letters. We encourage parents to send a note to their daughter before camp even starts so she has mail on her first day at camp. Campers immediately write home. Campers send a flurry of letters to their friends at camp and at home and wait in anticipation for a letter like a slow-motion volley in tennis. Although penmanship doesn’t matter, campers are practicing writing through camp letters. A bonus is the hand drawn sketch of roommates, the camp dogs, a horse or sailboat. Camp seeps into the letters and tells its own story.

The art of letter writing lives on through camp. Be on the lookout for a hand written thank you note and a bevy of camp letters in your MAIL box this summer.


Into The Swing of Programming at Camp Runoia

Greetings from Camp Runoia!

Camp is in full swing now, with our second block schedule keeping us all busy this week. We have had two full block sessions now, three days each, giving the girls plenty of time to learn new skills, make new friends and become SUGs (Stand Up Gals).

At Camp Runoia we teach the girls how to be the best they can be, and part of that is looking out for each other, or being a Stand Up Gals, aka SUGs. From helping a friend find their way to a new class, or picking up trash when they pass by it, we hope all our gals will look out for one another and build lifelong skills doing it.

Runoia Gals enjoying a Fine Maine Day on Great Pond

On Sunday we had our first all camp Sunday Fun Day, where we don’t have regular lessons, we get to sleep in and even go to breakfast in our pajamas! We got into small teams in the morning and played sports all over camp but then the rain hit, and we moved indoors for more fun. The Junior and Senior Ends played two rousing game of Scatagories.

Every night our camp gets together to be involved in Evening Program (EP). One night we had Country Creation; shack groups came up with a country name, designed a flag, made up a dance or song, what their country was best known for and more. The creativity and out-of-the-box thinking were amazing! Another night was Counselor Hunt where we had all the counselors hide around camp and the campers had to find them–  The more creative the spot, the more points the counselors were worth.

This Thursday is the 4th of July, a big celebration here at camp. Our hard-working CIT’s (Counselors in Training) oversee planning and implementing all the amazing activities. We can’t wait! It’s a big part of the CIT’s summer and we are all very excited to see what the day will bring! Tune in next week to find out all about the 4th of July festivities and more in our next blog!


By: Tess May

Hi Runoia Families!

My name is Nina and I am one of the new Assistant Director/ Head of Cabins at Camp Runoia this year. I’ve been on the edge of my seat, gearing up for the 2019 camp season for a while now, and I am extremely excited to get things going in full swing.

I firmly believe that the value of the camp experience for children goes far beyond the summer. When a kiddo gets their first bullseye in archery or tackles their fear of heights on a ropes course, they get this new found confidence in themselves that is just infectious— it spreads to their friends and peers, creating an incredible energy and sense of camaraderie. This is what kids will remember forever.

Down the road they may forget how to shoot an arrow or navigate a climbing wall, but I know from experience that campers remember less about what exactly was done or said at camp, and much more about how camp made them feel. I believe in cultivating an environment and culture that supports kids’ inherent need to grow and explore and try new things and speak up for themselves.

When training counselors, I like to tell them that as a camp staff member, “You are a TV, and you’re always on,” meaning that kids will watch and often model the behavior and actions of their counselor or CIT. This is a beautiful thing because it cultivates campers who are become strong, loud, passionate individuals, which is important and amazing.

I am excited for Summer 2019, and honored to be a part of the 113th summer at Camp Runoia. See everyone soon!


A Girl from Chicago in 1947

My name (way back then) was Anne T, Nelson.  I came to Runoia from Chicago with Janey Holler and Janey Rose and had a profound camp experience in two summers of my life. The “Janeys”, as they were called, were three years older than I was.  I was in the second cabin my first summer and then in the third cabin. The “Janeys” were in the 4th (the oldest cabin in camp then).

Back in Chicago, the three of us went to Girls’ Latin School. I was living with Janey Holler while my mother was elsewhere. Perhaps she was taking care of her mother who was ill and I was taken in by Janey’s family.

Janey knew of Runoia from living previously in Pennsylvania.  The founder of camp, Lucy Hanson Weiser, lived in Pennsylvania and I’m sure that was the connection. Camp was all word of mouth back in the day. Janey had been to Runoia before. I can only suppose that getting me somewhere away from my mother’s situation was the reason. The three of us took the train to New York from Chicago and all the kids from Cincinnati met us there and we all took the night time train to Maine. Coming back we were left at Grand Central Station and were picked up there by family or friends. From then on I was HOOKED on Camp Runoia, the East Coast and New England.

I stopped by camp about 15 years ago. It is quite bigger than when we were there. but much of it seemed very familiar. Thank you for keeping Runoia going!

I received Janey Holler Rotman’s annual holiday card from AZ last year. Our time together at camp have kept us connected all these years.  I’m glad I traveled from Chicago to Maine in the summers of 1947 and 1948. My life is better because of the experience.

Education for Camp Directors

Once again Maine Summer Camps was hosted by the Migis Lodge resort for our annual membership meeting and education and networking event. Migis provides the quintessential Maine resort experience. At this meeting for directors and owners, educational round tables and a lovely luncheon were offered. The prestigious Halsey Gulick award was given to Alan Kissick of Kingsley Pines. Congratulations Alan!

Educational topics were in a round table format where camp directors and administrators shared their challenging moments and the group helped process together and shared best practices systems. It is always a fantastic opportunity for peers to get together for a common good. It is infrequent in this world where direct competitors actually want to make camps safer and better  for all campers and staff by sharing and helping each other.

Another highlight of the event is seeing friends over an amazing cook out lunch hosted by Migis Lodge. Sitting by the waterside, enjoying the September sun as it pokes its way out of the misty clouds is a great way to wrap up the summer.

We are lucky to have such close ties to the Maine camp community. Thank you Maine Summer Camps and Maine Camp Experience for the networking opportunities and educational opportunities you provide to Maine camps.

Next up for networking and education for Maine camp owners is the fall Maine Camp Experience meeting. Camp owners and board members meet in October in Portland, Maine.

Mixing it Up at Runoia

Each week campers and counselors spend on average 25 hours of their week in “regular program”. The schedule is 5 classes a day and rotate in blocks of 2 day schedules and 3 day schedules. The rest of our day is filled with cabin clean up, recreational swims in Great Pond (a lake 8000 acres in size!) a unique Evening Program, meals, snacks and Rest Hour. Let’s not forget about our wilderness trip program where each shack group is out for 2 -3 days in the beautiful state of Maine.


Two and one half weeks into the session, we mixed it up with a Fun Day Sunday. In 2018 it started with a pirate attack at Assembly:

Followed by loads of fun at different stations from photo booth to Captain’s Coming, tattoo station and Find Your Pirate Name (for instance Iron Claw Captain) lots of competition between the Black Team and the White Team.


Snacks of pirate cookies and popcorn and Pirate Booty were in store for campers and counselors alike.

The evening finale of watching an outoor movie on Mahadin with glow stick necklaces was a hit and a great way to chill out after a long day.

Mixing up our program at camp keeps camp fun and energizing and throws an element of surprise. With Harry Potter Day last year, Summer Olympics, County Fair, and Take me out to the Ball Game in previous years, we can only wonder, what surprise will be discovered in 2019?

With Love from Belgrade Lakes,