Is it camp time yet? the anticipation is real!

I am nervous there are butterflies in my stomach, my nights are often sleepless and I start my days in great anticipation.  It is almost time for camp!   I have spent the whole year since the end of last August preparing for this.  The stage is set and I eagerly anticipate the curtains opening.

I know some of our girls are feeling the same way. I’ve been zooming with new campers who have a list of questions and are excited but also a little nervous about what to expect. The new staff are still a little unsure what to expect and are focused on wrapping up school and figuring out their travel plans to get to us. Even returning folk are apprehensive the world has changed a lot since the last time we were all together. 

These days in June become a blur; with long hours both in the office and out on site.  We are preparing, checking, double checking, chasing down information, finishing up the last projects and filling the waiting with work. Crossing the days off on the calendar is both exciting and a little terrifying. The time gets shorter while the ‘to do’ list seems to get longer. We know from experience it will all get done but still in the moment it can feel a little overwhelming. We want it all to be perfect for our girls!

Even though I have done this many times it is always so new, so exciting and just a little nerve wracking.  I will be met with a new audience while some faces are the same the mix is different.  Will I recognize returning faces?  It has been two years since I have seen some of our girls; they will surely have grown and changed. Will all run smoothly? Will the sun shine?  

I am fully confident in Runoia’s ability to run smoothly like a well-oiled machine as it has for 115 seasons.   We live for and store up our energy for this moment when the gates open and summer camp really begins.  Great Pond is looking beautiful and ready for our summer campers.

We truly can’t wait, staff start arriving this week and our campers will be here in 26 days. We truly cannot wait to have all of our Runoia community together on Great Pond.

See you all soon!


The Last Monday in May

This time of year, people around our town in Maine are busy getting ready for a big weekend. Maine lifted restrictions for capacity for dining and outdoor activities and tourists and families with second homes will be flocking to the lake like Canadian geese in October.

To the other Americans Memorial Day represents family gatherings outside, grilling meals for the first time since last summer and maybe, if you are fortunate, a long weekend off from work.  For some, it means a getaway to a vacation spot. Others are cleaning up their yards, if lucky to have one, and catching up on spring cleaning.

Many people hope their plans for their local parade and celebrations honoring the people who have died serving our country in active military service are safely happening in 2021.

In the spirit of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness, we are grateful for our military who are currently serving, have served or have died in active duty allowing us to run summer camp, have girls from all over safely come to spend time with other wonderful adults and experience a meaningful summer opportunity.

Love, Aionur



Writing in Pencil – a medium for change and flexibility

It’s a bit of a joke around the camp office that I always write in pencil. While I certainly do a lot of typing there are still a multitude of camp jobs that require hand writing and notes so a pencil is always nearby. It’s my go to writing implement and while supplemented by some colored pens there is always typically a sharpened pencil to hand.


It’s always exciting at the start of the season when I find a new box of Dixon Ticonderoga’s, ready sharpened with new erasers set to go on my desk in the Lodge. The Camp Runoia fairies know how to keep me happy. The perfect pencil helps me plan and re-plan schedules with great satisfaction. It has to be the right HB# and sharp is preferred. TheWorking away in the Lodge program office erasers often get worn down quickly so are supplemented by a larger one.

Someone once asked me if I write in pencil due to not being able to commit. Moreover it is an ability to be able to be flexible and be able to make change. The schedules at camp are complex with many moving parts and often things need to get switched around quickly. The act or writing and erasing cements the information better in my mind. I can often then recall it without needing to go back and look at it.

This year we are having to use all of our creative resources to adapt and be flexible as we plan our camp summer. Even though we ran a successful camp last summer, the changes in how we understand and navigate the Covid virus means a slightly different approach this year. A month or so ago vaccinations were only trickling out, now most adults have the opportunity to get them and hopefully older children will be next. We have to keep updating and re-working our policies and plans to accommodate new information and shifting protocols. Having the ability to change and erase what we had in place allows us to be the most current and not be frustrated with information coming in that is outside of our control. It’s a great life skills to be able to erase what you have written and adapt it to what you now need.

I’m going to stick with writing in pencil. I love being able to erase and rewrite, to navigate change without feeling stuck and to create new words as needed over the old ones.

Using my pencil to check of the days until it is camp time. We cannot wait to see all of our girls and staff on Great Pond.

Getting ready for tag up the daily schedule is always fun!

Sharing our Update to Staff

What’s New for Staff at Camp Runoia Harmonyville for Covid-19

This important document communicates what we (you and everyone at Runoia) will be doing to help arrive healthy and stay healthy at camp while having fun, allowing campers to interact meaningfully with peers, building life skills and experiencing camp and the outdoors for three weeks this summer. 

Training and Management: This year, our medical staff will be trained on COVID-19 management procedures and be equipped with PPE when needed. We have a health cabin to manage the regular needs of camper and staff health issues and an isolation area ready to handle anyone who may get COVID-19.

Health Care Workers: We are committed to running camp in a responsible and health-focused way. To figure this out, we are listening closely to health care professionals and the relevant authorities (for instance, Maine CDC, National CDC, American Camp Association) to ensure we have the most accurate and current information. New guidelines from the CDC came out today.  We are “camp experts,” and have brought onto our team medical professionals to guide our process. Our doctors are also camp parents so really ‘get it’ from all angles of camp care.

Hygiene: We have raised our sanitation standards to match and exceed recommendations from health care professionals. We will increase the frequency with which we perform deep cleanings of shared surfaces and indoor facilities, and deploy extra sanitation teams throughout the day. “Teams” means all of us staff/counselors/administrators/kitchen crew and health team. There will be hand washing stations throughout camp, along with hand sanitizer dispensers (all of this is new) and counselors will be prepared to model best hygiene practices. Campers and staff will shower daily.

Monitoring: In order to ensure camper and staff health this summer we will add monitoring elements including daily temperature and symptoms checks first thing in the morning. In a cabin “household” counselors will take and record temperatures and symptoms of everyone in the household. 

Guidelines: In keeping with public guidelines, we will modify parts of our camp program to achieve physical distancing standards. For example, our Dining Hall will operate in shifts this summer to prevent overlap between neighborhood groups. We also plan to operate camp activities with smaller household (cabin) groups that will not interact with other households unless there is appropriate social distancing and sometimes face coverings. 

Self-Quarantine and Health Screening: Staff will be required to monitor their own health and practice low-risk/low-density distancing 14 days before they arrive. Staff will quarantine on-site before camp and campers will be asked to self-quarantine before and after camp. Counselors will have a health check upon arrival. Campers will have a health check at drop-off on Opening Day and everyone joining the camp community will be tested. We will adjust the way we manage Opening and Closing Day to minimize interaction between camp families.  

Camp in a Bubble: Parents will not be allowed on campus on opening and closing day. Counselors will help all their household campers unpack and organize their rooms.There will be no outside visitors during the summer. We will limit entrances and exits to and from camp property to essential services only. 

Staff have made the extra commitment not to leave camp in a vehicle or go to any other place except camp property and exercise in the area of camp (including walking/running/biking down the Point Road or Woodland Camp Road) during their time off. 

Illness at Camp: In the event that someone does get sick at camp this summer, we have multi-staged quarantine and isolation procedures that will allow us the time to determine the best response, including whether or not the ill camper or staff member will be able to rejoin the camp population after a period of time.  We will have a team of RNs to care for anyone being tested for COVID and isolated. If you have COVID-19 symptoms or you contract COVID-19 at camp, we will have a comfortable place on campus for you to live until we can make a plan with you.

Communication: Camp Runoia will communicate with parents and staff in a thorough and transparent manner. We recognize the importance of sharing the best information available as quickly as possible.  The information also changes and we are providing updates to families and staff. 

This summer, we aspire to be better than ever.  Thoughtful and detailed communication is more important than ever in keeping our community well-informed and highly-prepared. 


Crisp Fall Reflections of Summer

“Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.” -F. Scott Fitzgerald

Looking at the calendar, it’s hard to believe that we are already nearing the end of September, and that our summer at Runoia ended more than seven weeks ago. The last few, scattered warm days here in the Northeast are trying to hold on, but the changing leaves and the smell of the air do not lie- Fall is here. Reflections abound.

Fall brings its share of Fine Maine Days along with it- red and copper colored trees that rustle in the crisp wind, the satisfying crunching noise that our boots make when we walk on fallen leaves, not to mention that perfect “Jeans and Sweater Weather”.

As the trees and weather are changing, the beginning of Fall is also a great time for all of us to think about this


summer and how it may have changed us. Maybe you feel more brave after coming to camp for the first time. Maybe you have more confidence to try new things now, or maybe you’re a better friend, or more conscious of the environment since leaving Runoia this summer.

During this season of embracing change, while the loons are headed for warmer coasts and the rest of us are settling back into school and work, it’s only natural to long for the days of summer that felt like they were going to last forever. But just as summer changed you, the rest of the year will change you too. You will come back to us at Runoia next summer with new stories, experiences, and exciting updates about your life that we can’t wait to hear about and celebrate with you.

So go forward, Runoia Girl, embrace change. Be your best self in everything you do— and we’ll see you back out on the blue waves before you know it.

by Nina Budeiri

Now is the Time

Thank a mentor before it is too late. The other day I was thinking about my 5th grade teacher and how, through his teaching, I was inspired to delve into creative writing, love math and grow curious about science. I think about him frequently. I searched for him online and found out I was too late; he had passed away in 2016.

Like school and other child development experiences, the camp experience transforms lives by increasing self-esteem, connecting face to face with people, building skills in activities and generating meaningful friendships with peers and adults. If you are lucky, you come across someone who influenced you in a way that has lasted throughout your life.

I have a camp counselor like this in my life. Although we aren’t in touch often, the learning experience from the summers of 1974-1975 lives with me in my daily life. That summer I started training for Junior Maine Guide and
she was my counselor: coach, guide and teacher. In the 15th summer of life, I was saved from my own insolent teenage personality. I was physically and mentally challenged. I thrived on the JMG program (solo canoeing, axe work, fire building, cooking, and shelter building) and had to stay focused to learn those skills. I lived in the present. Our JMG group canoed for five days on the St. Croix river – we read rapids and then “shot” the rapids – mostly successfully excepting a flipped canoe that wrapped around a rock. We went to testing camp and had to exhibit our skills through written and physical tests. We lived on our own without adults checking to see we were doing things right. What a learning experience. It was exhilarating and a great diversion from my self-proclaimed boring life.

Little did I know how much those two summers at Camp Runoia and the enduring patience and guidance of a camp counselor would stay with me. Those summers helped shaped who I am today.  I owe this to a person who believed in me through thick and thin and even in my less gracious moments. This week we had lunch together and I had the chance to thank her for who she was for me 44 years ago. Although it wasn’t for my benefit, it felt good.

Who influenced you in your life? Now is the time to reflect on who meant something to you through camp or school and reach out to your mentor to thank her or him.

Taxes, Boat Stickers and What this has to do with Camp

The middle of April means, for most Americans, it’s time to settle up with the IRS on whether you owe taxes or the government refunds you the money you set aside for taxes. Regardless of where you stand, it is not a favorite time for most people.  As Benjamin Franklin quoted “but in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”

Like it or not, tax season is a reality for grownups.

What might help you is a deduction Child and Dependent Care Credit.  Check with your accountant about the possibility of claiming a deduction related to the expense of summer camp or read up on the deduction here. Imagine, your daughter can have a profound camp experience and you may be able to account for the expense and lower your taxes owed.

Speaking of taxes and making things better, did you know Maine’s Environmental Protection Agency and Maine Lakes Society partnered to create the Lake Smart Program and also to make sure the awareness of invasive plant species and reduction of invasive aquatic plants and animals is required of all boat registrations through the “Milfoil Sticker”. A small fee is collected from boat owners to go toward education, inspection, detection and reduction. Our hopes is reduction means 100% avoidance, protecting our dear lakes of Maine. Maine Lakes Society is based in our dear town of Belgrade Lakes with the Seven Lakes Alliance  in the Maine Lakes Resource Center in the village.

Awareness is the best form of prevention of spreading milfoil and other invasive plants and animals from lake to lake. Keeping Maine lakes clear and free of invasive species is a win-win for everyone. It ensures lakes in Maine and our Great Pond continue to remain the amazing lakes they are today. This is win-win for today AND for the next generations of campers, shore-front property owners, visitors and local businesses keeping Maine the state that is dubbed Vacationland.

So, although for some people mid-April is what we think of as tax time, know that programs like the “Milfoil Sticker” help Maine stay the way we love it, “The Way Life Should Be”.

The Value of the Camp Experience

My nine year old daughter is starting to have more sleepovers this year, and I realized her courage about sleepovers and skills about respecting other peoples’ space or room, came from living in a group setting at Runoia.

At Runoia one of the many life skills campers learn is how to live with a group of people and how to work with a bunk mate. Learning how live in a communal living environment isn’t something you learn without living it out in real life. You have to actually do it to get good at it! Learning the skills needed to be patient with your roommate, or respect someone’s space before their first day of boarding school or college is a gift camp provides.

Some children who go to camp have never had to share a room with others. Camp provides the lessons through counselors’ gentle reminders of “respect others” or “think of others”. On the first night of camp individuals of each cabin group sign a community contract, making sure the ideas and goals on how to respect people’s personal space, our camp, the environment and each other are shared.  Cabin groups, with their counselors’ guidance, refer to the contract when they need a boost about living together.

The night owls learn to keep things quiet after the lights go out, and girls who are up before the “wake up bell” learn to respect people still sleeping. Campers learn to do their chores and feel a sense of accomplishment leaving their clean cabin for the day.

Some peoples’ perception of summer camp is that it’s just about learning how to horseback ride or pass a swim level (and of course these things are an amazing part of summer camp). However, there are life lessons learned from the moment they wake up in the morning and throughout the day about sharing space, respecting others and learning how to live in harmony with others. Camp Runoia provides life skills at their best.

Jai Cobb Kells – Assistant Director Camp Runoia


Thinking about Camp in 2019?

Natalie Dresdow, Camp Runoia CIT and returning for her 10th summer, shares insights and her thinking about the conscious decision of returning to camp:

Natalie as Willie Wonka with Izzy and Sofia in the camp play

As we’re into the holiday season, soon to be the new year, all of us are spending quality time with our family and friends to celebrate. Personally, I’ve been spending time with my new friends, my family, and my horse.

Some of us haven’t stopped thinking about camp since August or maybe just started to think about next summer. CIT’s have applied, and staff and campers are starting to ask themselves “do I want to go back to camp?” And you might think you don’t want to go back. You’ll be thinking to yourself, you have your family and friends at home that you’re gonna miss, and you’ll miss opportunities at home. Perhaps you think about camp and remember those first few days that were tough, a small disagreement with a shackmate, or something that was hard to do the first time, like getting up on the windsurfing board or making a bowl on the pottery wheel.

    On Top of the World

But as the time gets closer to camp, you’ll probably change your mind. You’ll remember how the lake feels every day when you get in for swim lessons, your first bullseye in archery, the exhilarating feeling you get when you’re riding for your blue or white team in the horse show. You’ll remember your shack trip, whether you canoed to Oak Island or climbed Mount Katahdin. Most of all, you’ll remember all of your friends at camp. You’ll remember the first day you met them and the last night when you’re sitting together, listening to the staff sing.

2019 will be my 10th summer at camp and I can’t imagine spending it anywhere else. There have certainly been ups and downs each summer. I’ve had bumps and bee stings on trips, missed the target more times than I can count, and experienced hurt feelings when my friends and I disagree. But those are all temporary and far eclipsed by the memories and friendships I’ll have for a lifetime. Camp has taught me perseverance, self-reliance, and that the journey is just as important as the goal.

Runoia Suffragettes

Whether it’s the fact that it is Halloween, or the fact that the midterms loom before us (fraught with fear and with some, determination and stamina), it seems appropriate to talk about voting and scary times in our nation’s history, including women suffragettes and their organization and strong voices that changed the US constitution and gave women the right to vote in the United States.

US citizens, who were men, regardless of their race, were allowed to vote in 1870 after the 15thamendment to the US constitution. We are thankful for the people who helped make that happen nearly 150 years ago.

Women’s suffrage in the United States came about through a lot of effort of a lot of people with women leading the charge for their right to vote. The 19thamendment to the US constitution was passed by Congress in 1920 and women were finally able to vote. That’s less than 100 years ago in our history. (So, wow!)

What is unbelievable to me is that the two women who founded Camp Runoia in 1907 did not have the right to vote. And that for the first 13 years of summer camp at Runoia on Great Pond, the directors and counselors at camp, who were of voting age, were not able to have a voice in who represented them… and yet they charged on.

They built a camp, they moved a camp (from Loon Cove to our present location in 1914), they designed and built buildings, marketed the experience, rode horses the 12 miles to Augusta to get supplies, hired local drivers and builders, grew food in gardens, built wells and pumped water, took campers on trips around the state from the rock bound coast to the lakes and mountains, ran drill teams, read the classics, wrote and sang songs, ran track and played basketball and canoed all over the state of Maine. They swam in the lake in long wool bathing suits and slept under canoes on wool blankets when on trips. They bought a car and made a summer camp bringing girls from all over the Northeast to live with other girls and women at a camp on a lake in Maine to have a profound outdoor camp experience. How daring!

To their credit, they built a camp before they could even vote to influence the laws that ruled them while they were building a camp. If I were to dress up this Halloween, I would dress as a Runoia Suffragette.

This picture is from the 1920 and Constance Dowd (the very first camper enrolled at Runoia) blowing the bugle outside the Dining Hall. Radical! Thanks to Matti Bradley who contributed the photo from her mother (Joan “Baynie” Williams)  camp memorabilia.

First Camper, Constance Dowd, as a Counselor